Audiobook Review: Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
Narrator: Kevin T. Collins
Also by this author: The Lives of Tao
Published by Audible Studios on July 7th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Time Travel
Length: 15 hours 37 minutes
Time Salvager: a fast-paced time travel adventure from Wesley Chu, the award-winning author of The Lives of Tao.
In a future when Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humanity has spread into the outer solar system to survive, the tightly controlled use of time travel holds the key maintaining a fragile existence among the other planets and their moons. James Griffin-Mars is a chronman--a convicted criminal recruited for his unique psychological makeup to undertake the most dangerous job there is: missions into Earth's past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. Most chronmen never reach old age, and James is reaching his breaking point.
On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets an intriguing woman from a previous century, scientist Elise Kim, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, James brings her 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, and discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity's home world.
Time Salvager has all the strengths of the Tao series (action, humor, etc. etc.), but with a completely fresh world and setting. I found the entire world and plot to be very original and captivating. In a future (and not so accommodating) earth, not only have humans mastered the art and science of time travel, but they are also running short on some critical resources. The solution is to send key teams of highly trained operatives (chronmen) back in time to retrieve what they need. In order to not disrupt the natural order of time, they salvage these resources from just before some disaster strikes that would destroy them.
This aspect of it reminded me of Jo Walton’s Thessaly series, but instead of procuring art, they are preserving and cultivating resources that would normally have been destroyed. But where Walton’s books are slow and full of art and philosophy, this book is full of fast paced action, adrenaline, and a filthy earth that has has been through some devastating events between now and then.
Needless to say, sending men back in time just as disaster strikes is a dangerous thing, and chronmen don’t have a very impressive life span. James is starting to break, he’s been doing this for long time by chronmen standards. He is haunted by deaths of people long dead, people he has seen die during his salvages. It’s a hard thing to step into a disaster zone and know even if you could stop it, you can’t because time is a fickle thing and who knows what changes he could trigger by altering anything. History is written, it is their job to preserve that. He has just one final mission. Surely he can do that, right? Well…. we like stories, so of course something can and will go wrong.
There is only one law that is a bigger offense to break than altering history itself. And that is bringing back people from the past. But in a moment of panic (or clarity, depending on how you look at it), James ends his final mission with a passenger. A woman who should have died in the explosion that occurred at his last salvage site. This quickly put him (and her) on the run, and exposes a whole set of fun politics and agendas within the corporate world that enforces time travel laws.
Listening to this as an audiobook was actually a great decision. I have no doubt I would have loved the print version as I did with Chu’s other books. But I have always felt those books would make great audiobooks as well. Kevin T. Collins gave a wonderful performance, bringing life to Chu’s words. This is one of the books that after listening to it, I almost feel more like I watched it. This is a wonderful credit to both Chu’s ability to allow the reader to so clearly visualize what is going on (without any excess of words), and Collins ability to do those words justice with just the right amount of personality and emphasis.
Chu once again gives a world full of excitement and action, and of course, there is also a brilliant sense of humor that shines through at all the right parts.