[ARC] Time Salvager (Time Salvager #1) by Wesley Chu

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Wesley Chu, autore già noto per la serie Tao (The lives of Tao, The deaths of Tao, The rebirths of Tao), si avventura in un diverso ambito della fantascienza con questa nuova serie legata ai viaggi nel tempo.

Time Salvager introduce un futuro post apocalittico, la Terra è sostanzialmente inabitabile a causa di catastrofi ambientali e anche sui pianeti colonizzati si contrappongono le potenti multinazionali alla generale povertà della popolazione.

Una categoria a parte sono i viaggiatori nel tempo, impiegati per recuperare oggetti di valore (scientifico, artistico,..) da varie epoche passate. Tra questi James Griffin-Mars spicca per abilità e viene assoldato per una missione molto pericolosa, James però è anche afflitto dal senso di colpa per tutte le persone che non ha potuto salvare nella sua vita, a partire da quelle a lui più care, e impulsivamente durante la missione decide di salvare Elise Kim da morte certa, contravvenendo alla prima regola imposta ai viaggiatori: è vietato portare persone nel futuro.

Time Salvager è un romanzo sicuramente avvincente, soprattutto nella parte iniziale in cui sono introdotte le dinamiche di viaggio e l’inizio della fuga di James ed Elise, mentre ho trovato meno interessante e è più lenta la parte successiva, centrata sullo stanziamento di Elise e James in una colonia terrestre.

I personaggi non mi hanno convinto del tutto, molto standard anche rispetto alla sci-fi più classica, mentre ad esempio in Tao erano presenti elementi di novità e ironia legati ai personaggi.

Leggendo poi mi sono sorte alcune perplessità rispetto al viaggio nel tempo, e proprio alla missione cruciale che fa incontrare James ed Elise. [spoiler] Ma se la piattaforma esplode per la bomba mandata dal futuro allora l’inquinamento terrestre è derivato da un’azione successiva, ma viaggi nel tempo e world build post apocalittico dipendono anche dall’esplosione del sito volto a disinquinare il pianeta. [/spoiler].

Ringrazio l’editore per avermi fornito la copia necessaria per stendere questa recensione.

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Wesley Chu, already known for the Tao series (The lives of Tao, The deaths of Tao, The rebirths of Tao), exploits another sci-fi theme in this new series about time travel.

Time Salvager is set in a post apocalyptic world, Earth is now mostly impossible to inhabit due to extreme pollution and war outcomes, and also the space colonies are divided among the rich corporation and the general poor people who inhabits them.

A side category are the time traveller, who works to salvage valuable object (scientifical, artistic,..) from the past. Among them James Griffin-Mars stands out  for his skill and he his selected for a dangerous salvaging mission. James is also grieving for all the people he was unable to help during time travels, so during the mission he choses to save Elise Kim from her death on impulse, and so he breaks the first rule for time traveller: it is forbidden to take people from the past in the future.

Time Salvager is an engagin novel, mostly in the beginning, where the time travels mechanics are described and where the world build is set. I think the latter part is less interesting, since it is mainly about Elise and James setteling in an Earth colony.

In my opinion the characters are way to standard with respect to classic sci-fi (in Tao series there was something new about them) and I found hard emphatizing with them.

During the read I had also some doubts about the time travel, in particular concerning the key missionduring which James and Elise meets. [spoiler] The story implies that the platform was destroyed by the bomb sent by future corporation. The Earth pollution derives also from the platform destruction – since they were trying to find a cure – so it derives from a future action? But it is said that main changes to the past are forbidden, it seems like a giant loop. [/spoiler].

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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Time Salvager by Wesley Chu ★★★☆

Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov

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Paria dei Cieli è un romanzo particolare: è il primo romanzo scritto da Isaac Asimov (nel 1950), ma è anche il terzo romanzo della serie dell’Impero Galattico (serie preceduta da quella dei robot e seguita dal Ciclo della Fondazione). Il romanzo dunque non è tanto interessante per la storia in sè – che ricalca nelle linee base lo stampo della fantascienza classica – ma quanto per questa sua duplice natura di primo ma anche conclusivo di una serie.

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Pebble in the Sky is a particular novel: it’s the first written by Isaac Asimov (in 1950), and it’s the third novel of the Galactic Empire series (that comes after the Robot Cycle and before the Foundation Cycle). The novel is then not interesting for the story in itself – that follows the general plot of a classic science fiction one – but for its double nature of first but also last novel of a series.

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[ARC] The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen

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Since being a child, Alex has visions that bring her living some historical moments, this fact distanced her from her peers who think she is quite strange / weird (Note. Alex does nothing to prove them wrong).

One day she is told the truth: these are not visions, but she has the ability to descend back in time by entering in one of her previous lives; Alex in fact has lived 56 lives because she, unique in the world, has the possibility to reincarnate after dying.
Then there is the conspiracy, the multinational corporation that seems good – but in truth it’s evil – that uses the ability to go back in time for evil purposes. Now another note is due: this fact that some people can go back in time must be accepted by the reader in faith, in fact the reader will not ever know how they are able to do this, he will only know that they can and that they also can teach it to other people.

In the end the novel is a great disappointment, a lot of elements are given without explanations (the limbo, the descenders, reincarnations etc.. ), the main character is insufferable, vexed by self-pity, scared but suddenly ready to face dangerous missions in the past.

Moreover it seems that the purpose of the whole novel is to fulfill the love between Alex and an unknown boy with blue eyes (she nicknamed Blue) she meets in every of each her previous lives (or so it seems, since of the 56 previous lives we are allowed to grasp a view of only three of them), in fact for almost half of the novel we follow Alex and Blue adventures, completely unuseful for the whole plot.

In the end the idea could have worked but the execution is not good enough.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M. G. Buehrlen ★★☆☆☆

*I read this book in English

The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick

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This novel is full of different characters, whose stories starts uncorrelated and then start intersecting in the plot, of various topic, such time travel machines, trip to Mars, kinetic powers and so on.

The novel is set in a future Earth where the WWII ended differently  (this same theme is present also in  The Man in the High Castle) and where the democratic republican that governs the America  and part of Europe is represented by the president (der Alte) and by the first lady (Nicole). The political situation is full of secrets and the fact of knowing them divides the population among the Ge (the few who know) and the Bes (the rest of the people).

IOn this background the novel follows what happens to a couple of brothers employed in the competitor factories that produce the simulacra, the story of another couple of brother who want to win the talent show of the White House (this story is a born as a stand alone story: “Novelty Act”, from here Dick built the whole novel), and the story of a telekinetic but psychotic piano player and the one of the last alive psychiatrist and so on (because there is a lot more).

The novel skips from a story to the other ones until they have more and more common point until the conclusion; the themes are various, but one – declared by the title of the book itself – is about the fact that sometimes what we believe to be true is not, what we see is sometimes a simulacra, which function is to confuse and reassure us, while the actual power – and our fate – is in other hands.

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* The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick – ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

Pax Romana by Jonathan Hickman

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2054, the social, political and religious instabilities brings the main exponents of the Cristian Catholic religion – the Pope and some cardinals – to a drastic decision: being discovered a way to time travel history must be rewrote to create a better, more stable and manageable world.

The story of this mission is told – as a  collective genetic memory – by the Gene Pope of series 7 to the newest younger emperor.

The historical changes have to start during the age of Constantine the Great by a team of selected soldiers provided by every kind of military technology.

The graphic novel is like a mind experiment: how the world can change modifying some key elements? It’s an interesting experiment, also because it’s rich in historical documentation, the only drawback is the fact that some time travel detail are sometimes not linear.

The style of images and the unconventional structure of the book are two elements I liked: images contain few colors and the longer dialogues are displayed without bubbles but more like a theatre text.

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* Pax Romana by Jonathan Hickman ★★★★☆

*I read this book in Italian

Time travels by Connie Willis

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Connie Willis is the author of various novels and stories based on time travels that are used by historical faculties to have a detailed first person knowledge of historical periods. The travel works in such a way that it does not allow the change of key events, so the arrival time-space point could be different from the computed one.

The novels can rise ambivalent opinions: time travels are usually linked to science fiction themes, here sci-fi is only the expedient to begin, the novels are historical.

The settings are to me very good: way of living and locations are depicted accurately and with care; the plots are engaging (however I may second the people who think the books have a feuilleton tendency), so I suggest to read the novels.

In the following my opinions about four novels:

  • To say nothing of the dog
  • Doomsday book
  • Blackout
  • All Clear

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