Review of 'Time's Eye'

Time's Eye by Stephen Baxter, and Arthur C. Clarke
Book 1 of the A Time Odyssey series

At the beginning of this novel we find that a fantastic event has occurred that leads to slices of the planet from different time periods merged into a rather disjointed whole leaving peoples from these eras to intermingle and try to make sense of it all. The crew from a helicopter from the 21st century crash land in 1885 in the NW frontier near to the British Army along with a young Rudyard Kipling who eventually meet up (en-masse) with Alexander the Great's army. In other developments a group of three Russian astronauts find themselves orbiting the patchwork planet (dubbed “Mir”) with no one on the ground to talk to so they eventually land amongst the armies of Genghis Khan. Of course, as may be sensibly predicted, the climax of this book is when the two armies come together in ancient Babylon. Why or how the time event has occurred in the first place and who did it is not explained (likely because this is the first book in a series) though there are clues in, for example, the floating “eyes” placed throughout the surface of the planet that appear to be watching events unfold.

As might be expected from these two greats of SF, Clarke (known for his historical and personal work) and Baxter (known for his hard, scientific, approach to SF) bring their various talents together to form a not entirely seamless work of fantastic fiction. I found the book quite readable if not entirely enthralling though certainly the climax does keep one turning the pages it is a bit of an unsatisfying conclusion obviously readers are supposed to go onto the subsequent books in the series. The characters are reasonably realistic if not a bit stereotypical (the power-hungry woman from the Russian contingent along with the weaker men of her party springs to mind here). A number of surprises occur here including the idea that not all of the principal characters will come out of it (though, unfortunately, I have to admit it was quite obvious in advance how the battle between Khan and Alexander would turn out). The whole premise is quite unusual and does lead one to wonder how these two masters of SF will attempt to explain in a reasonably scientific way the reason why this has occurred. I guess I will have to pick up the next book to find out (or perhaps the one after that…).

Not exactly a page-turner for me but interesting nonetheless.

Rating:

Review Date: 2010-08-14


Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2004


Other reviewed books by Stephen Baxter, and Arthur C. Clarke: