Time's Eye: A Time Odyssey Book One (Gollancz S.F.) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2004/7/3
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1885, the North West Frontier. Rudyard Kipling is witness to a British army action to repress a local uprising. And to a terrifying intervention by a squadron of tanks from 2137. Before the full impact of this extraordinary event has even begun to sink in, Kipling, his friends and the tanks are themselves flung back to the 4th century and the midst of Alexander the Great's army. Mankind's time odyssey has begun. It is a journey that will see Alexander avoid his premature death and carve out an Empire that expands from Carthage to China. And it will present mankind with two devastating truths. Aliens are amongst us and have been manipulating our past and our future. And that future extends only as far as 2137, for that is the date Earth will be destroyed. This is SF that spans countless centuries and carries cutting edge ideas on time travel and alien intervention. It shows two of the genre's masters at their groundbreaking best.
Arthur C. Clarke is the visionary grandmaster of 20th and 21st century SF. In a writing career than spans seven decades he has both prophesied key, world-changing technologies and written SF that has become a benchmark for the genre. Stephen Baxter is the most significant SF writer of his generation. His books are bestsellers and award-winners the world over.
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On a conceptual level, this series of books is phenomenal. I knew I had to get it when I read that it was orthogonally related to the Firstborn, the never-seen aliens responsible for the Monolith in Clarke's Space Odyssey series. But this Time Odyssey series, especially the first installment, felt lacking to me. For one, it had some annoying overuses of words, such as "clamber." Second, the cosmonauts were irritating characters. Third, I'm not a huge fan of history, even in the context of sci-fi, so having the world split into various eras was only of passing interest to me.
As I recall, the second book was better.
Alas, that excitment didn't last long. As the first book in the trilogy, Time's Eye doesn't have much to recommend it except for die-hard Clarke fans. After a promising start in which small reflective "eyes" begin appearing all over the globe, Earth is seemingly chopped up into sections and reassembled. The sections are from differing time lines ranging from the prehistoric to the 21st century. Three U.N. peacekeepers are suddenly thrown into 19th century Afghanistan where they join up with British and Indian soldiers battling the Pashtuns. This group, in turn, joins with Alexander the Great's army. Three other 21st century travelers are returning from a mission aboard the Mir space station and end up in the nomadic army of Genghis Khan. Using patched-together technology, the groups detect a radio signal in the ancient city of Babylon. Thus the stage is set as both armies rush toward Babylon.
There's spectacle, action, clashing swords, betrayal, and all the things one would expect to find in a story that pits Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. But if you're expecting challenging sci-fi ... eh, not so much. It seems like Time's Eye has little purpose besides setting up the next novel in the series. The book's not a bad read, but it's just never gets around to answering any of the questions it poses. Granted, I know the second and third novels will answer questions ... but it seems so much of the first book is about mechanically moving characters into position for the next book that in the end the first book comes across as pretty hollow. I'll stick with reading the rest of the story, but I hope the rest of the series will be more thought-provoking than Time's Eye.
The end became interesting again. I am not sure if I want to continue reading the next book. I believe the authors started with a good idea and lost their way soon after the beginning.