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The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson
Published by Tor Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
It began in the jungles of Thailand, with a sound like a bomb going off. Curious, expat Scott Warden left his wife and daughter in Bangkok to accompany an old chum on a harebrained chase to find out what happened. They find a circle of felled trees surrounding a strange cold pillar upon which is inscribed the announcement of a victory by a mysterious conqueror named Kuin.
The date of the victory is twenty years in the future.
Meanwhile, Scott's daughter comes down with a form of flesh-eating strep that destroys one of her ears, leaving her partially deaf. His wife, disgusted at what she perceives as abandonment, takes their daughter back to America and files for divorce.
The rest of the novel carries Scott through his struggles to pull his life back together while more monuments from the future continue to appear, destroying whole cities with the powerful phenomena associated with forcing something into the past. Worse, society is rapidly disintegrating into a madness of fanaticism and Kuin-cultism. Medical advances such as the regeneration technique that restored Scott's daughter's hearing are lost, apparently irrevocably, since the damage to her reproductive system done by an infection while she's on the run with a Kuin-cult is described as irreversable.
Although the concept of monuments from the future is science-fictional, the protagonist and storyline are fundamentally mainstream. Scott Warden is someone to which things happen, rather than someone who makes things happen, and all he can do is cope, or fail to cope.
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Review posted April 23, 2003
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