January 10, 2017
Time Salvager, by Wes Chu
Convicted criminal James Griffin-Mars is no one’s hero. In his time, Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humans have fled into the outer solar system to survive, eking out a fragile, doomed existence among the other planets and their moons. Those responsible for delaying humanity’s demise believe time travel holds the key, and they have identified James, troubled though he is, as one of a select and expendable few ideally suited for the most dangerous job in history. James is a chronman, undertaking missions into Earth’s past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. The laws governing use of time travel are absolute; break any one of them and, one way or another, your life is over. Most chronmen never reach old age; the stress of each jump through time, compounded by the risk to themselves and to the future, means that many chronmen rapidly reach their breaking point, and James Griffin-Mars is nearing his. On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets Elise Kim, an intriguing scientist from a previous century, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, and in violation of the chronmen’s highest law, James brings Elise back to the future with him, saving her life, but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, somehow finding allies, and perhaps discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity’s home world.
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Time Salvager. I think I only read the first paragraph of the synopsis before I decided to read it. Post-apocalyptic Earth… check. Time travel… check. Author has a sense of humor… check. Published by TOR… check.
This sci-fi story is pretty straightforward. The tropes have been done before. I liked the entire book. I’d like to read book two. There seemed to be a lot of hate in the reviews, but I’m not sure what all the consternation was all about. Time Salvager is fun sci-fi. The ending was a little soft for my taste. It didn’t quite wrap up the story, but that’s the latest craze in these new-fangled books.
If you like standard sci-fi, without all the cerebral time travel paradox thinking, then read this book. If you like an adventure through a toxic post-apocalyptic Earth, read this book. If you want to read an excellent storyteller, read this book. Four stars.
Unfortunately, Chu’s goals of using Hanes underwear commercials to launch a lucrative career following in Marky Mark’s footsteps came to naught. Despite phenomenal hair and manicured eyebrows, his inability to turn left led his destiny down another road. Instead of creating new realities with his skills as a thespian, Chu would dazzle audiences with his pen. Well, it’s a computer really, but the whole technology thing really sucks for metaphors. He had spirit fingers maybe? In 2015, Wesley Chu won the John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award. Chu’s debut novel from Angry Robot Books, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Finalist slot. His new series, Time Salvager, published by Tor Books, was released on July 7th, featuring an energy stealing time traveler with addiction issues.