Time Seige by Wesley Chu. The Interminables by Paige Orwin. Book reviews.
Time Siege by Wesley Chu
After James Griffin Mars went renegade and illegally brought scientist Elise Kim back from the past, his former employers have been pursuing him. Now James and Kim are hiding on Earth, a toxic wasteland with its few occupants living very a basic existence as tribes. Along with the ‘mother of time’ Grace Priestly, the inventor of time travel, who James also brought to the future, they hope to restore the stricken planet to its former ecological glory. But first they have to deal with the small problem of keeping one step ahead of what is now a planetary task force wanting to find and eliminate them.
James is the type of self-indulgent hero you want to scream at. Affected by his troubled past and nearing the end of his ability to time jump, he is wallowing in alcoholic self-pity. But this is typical of the subtly and the layers of narrative which Wesley Chu manages to weave into his stories ensuring this series of books is so much more than an action packed, macho thriller with lots of people running around waving guns. James does indeed do lots of that, but he also serves as a really great narrative counterpoint to the trials and tribulations of Elise, left in charge of the Elfreth, the tribe who adopted them in the last book (Time Salvagers) and who believe Elise will be able to restore the health of the Earth along with Grace. Both women are the antithesis of the alcoholic James. Although James is not without his moments and is capable, when stretched, of doing things that Grace and Elise cannot in order to complement their efforts.
Chu also writes great characters. Feisty, man-eating, near centenarian Grace Priestley is one of my favourites. A genius, with the habit of making hulking great men feel like little boys and addressing them as ‘pet’, she will not let anything get in the way of what she wants to do. And she is only one of the wonderful character dynamics in the story.
But it is probably Chu’s world building that really impresses, whether it be some off-world pirate haven, a deep space prison, or the main place of interest, Earth. You can really whiff the rather unpleasant smells and that it really might not be safe to breath it all in, never mind needing a good shower to wash off all the sweat and grime.
Did I mention the inventive plot twists? Time Siege is not yet the end of the narrative and the cliffhanger is excellent.
The Interminables by Paige Orwin
In the future a magical cataclysm has radically changed the reality of the world as we currently know it. Edmund Templeton, a wizard and time thief, capable of shifting backwards and forwards through time, and Istvan Czernin, a gifted surgeon and ghost, are sent to track down a dangerous arms shipment. But the mission is not as straightforward as it seems, for reasons they are soon to find out.
The Interminables is the type of book that Angry Robot was made for. In other words it is the type of book a main publishing house might not have the courage to take up and nurture. This because The Interminables contains the type of writing a reader will either consider the work of genius or wonder what the hell is going on.
The narrative is delivered in short, sharp bursts and leaps all over the place, with very little text that concentrates on an extended linear exposition of an event. Maybe this is not surprising, because the story is set in a world where reality has been fractured and that life may well not be experienced in an entirely linear fashion by many of the people in it. Paige Orwin also manages to convey a good impression of what it must be like to be Edmund, with the potential disorientation of moving backwards and forwards in time.
This way of writing also creates real sense of intensity and a visceral response to a particular scene, planting you more in the heads of the main characters than a conventional narrative might be capable of doing.
Although the constant shift of episodes might appear confusing, under it all the author keeps it all under control, as well as managing to successfully build a highly original world.
Yes, this approach does make the reading experience very challenging. But thank goodness for independent publishers, because this type of writing makes books so much more interesting.
Time Siege and The Interminables were courtesy of Angry Robot via NetGalley