I’ve been going through a bit of a sci fi kick over the last couple of months after realising I hadn’t read many of the space greats during my fantasy saturated childhood. Reading Herbert and Banks lead me to understand what I really love about the genre, creative world building and fresh technology. Wesley Chu’s ‘Time Salvager’ series has both of these qualities in heaps.
I was actually half way through ‘Time Salvager’, the first book in the series, when I realised ‘Time Siege’ was available as an ARC. I devoured them in a handful of days, being that annoying person on public transport who isn’t ignoring you but just isn’t in the same timeframe as the rest of the bus. I’ll be keeping this as spoiler free as possible because if you read ‘Time Salvager’ then you should read ‘Time Siege’ and, if you haven’t read either, then I strongly urge you to go and read both.
To cover the basic premise, enter James Griffin-Mars, a Tier 1 Chronman who salvages resources from dead end timelines and likes to drown his loneliness in a bottle. Elise Kim is a young scientist whose timeline is ticking down towards annihilation when James meets her on a tricky salvage. Knowing just how illegal and in violation of every time law he’s every upheld it is, he decides to bring her back to his timeline anyway and that is where the fun begins. Broken time laws, super corps that really want access to the ‘time anomaly’, an escape to a polluted and toxic earth with the Chronocom version of Agent Smith hot on their heels…I had a lot of fun reading these books.
One thing that really hooked me to these books is the character development. James is an asshole but you still grow to love him, ditto for Levin. Elise just…well, I’m not surprised that James sometimes feels inadequate around her.
I’m in love with the Tech and the idea of Chronocom and chronomen. There is just such a bleakness to the idea that the future is so bereft that they literally have to plunder the past to keep afloat. The Bands used by chronomen and the position they hold in society due to these aweinspiring augmented abilities is really cool. I got this really strong feeling of what it would be like to grow up in this desolate future and kids growing up wanting to be ‘just like the High Auditor of Earth, daddy’. Yeah, the tier and chain structure of Chronocom is such a great piece of world building. I fell in love.
Everything about this book is really big. It’s cinematic in scope.
Space is vast.
Time is vast.
And I couldn’t help but feel like the ‘big bads’ of this book were worryingly relevant to the current political climate.
Big blood sucking, workforce subjugating corporations.
No governments left, just Corps.
Chu’s writing of Securitate Kuo, our POV in the corps, is so chilling and ruthless that it made me feel a little sick. Now, that’s good character building. A character who genuinely believes she makes the decisions but is so controlled and brainwashed that at times you realise she is little more than a mindless corporate drone, a fight dog on a leash to her Valta overlords.
So let’s get to the nitty gritty of ‘Time Siege’ as a book. There was a mild problem with the first book that I found it sometimes dragged a little, not too much and probably more because you have to take in a lot of world building. ‘Time Siege’ didn’t suffer from lags as such. However, if you want a super fast, action packed book this might not be it? It sounds ridiculous saying that based on how much action there is in this book, but, you have these big set piece fights, parts that really make you worry for the longevity of the characters you’ve come to love and then lulls. I, personally, believe these lulls are necessary, I’m not a big fan of continuous action, I like a little introspection, a little character reflection. And James really needed to have a little time for self reflection is all I’m saying.
It’s a clever book with clever concepts and characters that need page time to grow and flourish and it does that really really well. It also leads beautifully (painfully) and seductively (a cliffhanger) into the third book which I now really want to read…
So to round this all up I’d say that this book series comes with serious emotional clout. I’d also say that ‘Time Siege’ is a better book than ‘Time Salvager’ (which I really loved anyway) maybe because you already know the world and therefore require less info dumps, but also because I think the pacing is tighter and having the extra POVs really adds to the narrative (that’s pretty rare I know…)
So, I’m going to give a hefty five stars to ‘Time Siege’ and say that, if you’re looking for fresh sci fi with cool as hell world building, time travel and bloodthirsty capitalist corporations vying for intergalactic dominance then this is the series for you.
This review was originally posted here on my tumblr.