Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Time's Eye
Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter
Del Rey, 337 pages

Arthur C. Clarke
Born in 1917 in Minehead, Somerset, England, and living in Sri Lanka since 1956, Arthur C. Clarke is best known for his 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), based on his short story "Sentinel of Eternity." His Against the Fall of Night (1948) and Childhood's End (1953) are also among his best titles. Clarke was voted Grand Master at the 1986 Nebula Awards. His short story "The Star" (1955) won him a Hugo award, as did the movie adaptation of 2001. A writer of hard SF, though not without some elements of mysticism, Clarke has also written a large volume of science-popularizing non-fiction for which he has won UNESCO's Kalinga Prize (1962) and a non-fiction International Fantasy Award in 1972 (for The Exploration of Space). Clarke has also received many honours from the scientific community, in particular for his work in the development of today's geosynchronous communication satellites.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Other Side of the Sky
SF Site Review: Childhood's End
SF Site Review: The Collected Stories
SF Site Review: The Fountains of Paradise
SF Site Review: The Light Of Other Days
SF Site Review: The Light Of Other Days
SF Site Review: Profiles of the Future
SF Site Review: Arthur C. Clarke & Lord Dunsany: A Correspondence
Arthur C. Clarke Tribute Site
Arthur C. Clarke Tribute Site

Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter was born in 1957 and was raised in Liverpool. He studied mathematics at Cambridge and got a PhD from Southampton. He worked in information technology and lives in Buckinghamshire, England. His first story, "The Xeelee Flower," was published in Interzone 19.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Coalescent
SF Site Review: Phase Space
SF Site Review: Reality Dust
SF Site Review: The Time Ships
SF Site Review: Origin
SF Site Review: Origin
SF Site Review: Longtusk and Deep Future
SF Site Review: Manifold: Space
SF Site Review: Longtusk
SF Site Review: Vacuum Diagrams
SF Site Review: Titan

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Advertisement
Time's Eye In the Dawn times, Seeker, an ape woman, is looking at the stars when the world shivers around her, while in 2037 Bisesa Dutt and her companions are flying an observation helicopter in Pakistan. Josh White and Rudyard Kipling are journalists acting as correspondents in the same land, though the year is now 1885. Back in 2037, a trio of astronauts don't notice the shift so much. They're still in space, riding the ferry down to the planet. Little do any of them know what this Discontinuity will do. But soon they all discover the world they know is hopelessly changed forever, chunks of different eras, different people, different years cut out of their proper time and stitched back together like a scrap work quilt. The observers in the helicopter are shot down by a rebel, but before they land they manage to communicate with the astronauts. Both groups realize that there is only one strong signal left on the planet -- at Babylon.

The astronauts crash land near the Mongol army, led by none other than Genghis Khan. One of them is swiftly murdered and the others manage to convince the Khan that they're helpers sent from heaven. The rest end up joining the entourage of Alexander the Great. It becomes a race of sorts, for one army to get to Babylon and its signal before the other, a face-off between two of the most well known and often ruthless conquerors that our world has ever known.

Time's Eye is a very well wrought book. I won't speak much of the characters, because in some ways they're extraneous, vehicles to take us around the book where many wonders await. I loved the descriptions of the various times, and the small paradoxes, the clever ironies. In one place, we see a now-dying forest transplanted in the middle of the desert, in another we meet two men in a Buddhist temple and discover that they are the same being. The Babylon we eventually see is neatly dived between a beautiful city and a melted, Dali-esque nightmare. And everywhere, through out the story are eyes -- large silver spheres that seem to be observing every move. Indestructible and silent, they hover creepily over the torn landscape.

Also, the ways the different cultures mix and clash is interesting. You have a British army of tommies and sepoys from the late 1800's trying to get along with the much larger Macedonian army. They even try to teach each other games. And it's not just the clash of cultures, but the clash of times. People of different lands have a hard time being on the same footing at first because the expectations, the cultural mores, are so different. But when you add the expectations of different times -- technological as well as social -- you have a real mess, one that makes for some interesting reading.

Time is the one thing we never consider as something that can betray us. People can, the very air we breathe can, and eventually the world we live on probably will. It's all inevitable. But time? To turn things inside out, to fracture and rebuild itself, now that's terrifying. What's even scarier is that it's not time itself that does this, but aliens who, unlike in Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey series, are basically not benevolent, if bumbling, creatures, but creatures of great power who don't care what happens.

In the hardcover edition of Time's Eye a CD-ROM is included. It has two of Stephen Baxter's books, which, like Clarke's Odyssey, are tenuously related -- Manifold: Time and Evolution. Also included are essays, interviews, bios and bibliographies. The interviews, in particular, make for enjoyable reading. On the cover, it says this is book one of A Time Odyssey, and until I looked at the cover a few moments ago, that didn't really sink in. This book feels finished to me, which is nice, because it means it'll stand well alone, and because it'll be extra interesting to see how they tie in further books to this story.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to editor@sfsite.com.
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide