“The Chronoliths” by Robert Charles Wilson


An almost classic novel written by Robert Charles Wilson is another comment on self-fulfilling prophecies. In the future not far from us (but still quite far from 1999 when the novel was written) in the future, in 2021, something incredible is happening on the Thai island of Chumphon: a 60-meter column carved or cast from an unknown one literally materializes from nowhere. Blue material like glass. The inscription on the column proclaims that this monument came from the future and was erected in honor of the great victory of the troops of a certain Kuin, which he would gain in this place exactly twenty years later – in 2041.

This event changes not only the course of world history, but also the life of the protagonist – a young and irresponsible programmer Scott Warden, who by chance turned out to be one of the first witnesses to the arrival of chronolith – the name the press comes up with for this mysterious stone. The Chronoliths of Chumphon turns out to be the first, but far from the last: one after another, new sculptures, heralding the quick victories of Kuin, appear all over Asia, gradually get to Europe and now come close to the borders of the United States.

The arrival of each new stone – with the passage of time they become more massive – turns into quite a material catastrophe, destroying cities and destroying millions of lives, but chronoliths have even more frightening effects on the spiritual and political life of humanity. Opening the future, they demonstrate with deceptive clarity the inevitability of the triumphant procession of Kuin across the planet, and this knowledge radically changes people’s behavior. The world is plunging into a destructive war, America frantically shifts the economy onto a war footing, preparing to repel the blow of kuanistes, young people rave up unseen for the time being Kuin, considering it to be the messiah, and the main character again seems to be accidentally at the very heart of secret scientific studies designed to shed light on the phenomenon chronolites. Soon he realizes that tomorrow is growing from today, and that he, Scott Warden, from the very beginning is not without reason in dangerously close to his toxic source…

Wilson’s novel clearly thought with a broad philosophical scope, but here the author, perhaps, did not succeed too much. The idea of a prophecy concerning the future, but modifying the present, has been extensively developed in world literature, starting with “Oedipus Rex” or Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and ending with “Harry Potter” by Joanne Rowling – so adding something radically new to this topic is difficult. However, the world itself, crumbling under the blows of huge blue stones, and the heroes who are trying to fussily build their shortened human future in their long shadow, look convincing, lively and touching. In short, if you don’t tune in to an excessively serious tune, then a great science fiction novel – with action, love, and an unexpected – no matter what – outcome.

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2 Responses

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    March 16, 2019 12:42 AM

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