Time Salvager: a fast-paced time travel adventure from Wesley Chu, the award-winning author of The Lives of Tao.
Convicted criminal James Griffin-Mars is no one's hero. In his time, Earth is a toxic, abandoned world, and humans have fled into the outer solar system to survive, eking out a fragile, doomed existence among the other planets and their moons. Those responsible for delaying humanity's demise believe time travel holds the key, and they have identified James, troubled though he is, as one of a select and expendable few ideally suited for the most dangerous job in history.
James is a chronman, undertaking missions into Earth's past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. The laws governing use of time travel are absolute; break any one of them and, one way or another, your life is over. Most chronmen never reach old age; the stress of each jump through time, compounded by the risk to themselves and to the future, means that many chronmen rapidly reach their breaking point, and James Griffin-Mars is nearing his.
On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets Elise Kim, an intriguing scientist from a previous century who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, and in violation of the chronmen's highest law, James brings Elise back to the future with him, saving her life but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, somehow finding allies, and perhaps discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity's home world.
©2015 Wesley Chu (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
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"Good story almost ruined by narration"
For the most part a good story that ends on a cliffhanger. Most of the characters were good, unfortunately one of the main characters was a little on the lame side. When I got immersed in the story ---which was easy to do in many parts, I could ignore the narrator.
I realize everybody has different tastes about narration, but for me he detracted from the story.
Anyone who did not use the fake, forced, breathless style for the narrative parts in main character.
I cannot say that I wanted to listen to it in all one sitting because of the narrator. However I listen to these books while I commute, and admit there were a few times when I continued to listen to the story when I got home because the story at that point was that good.
Chu has potential, and I look forward do the rest of the books in the series. I wish he had gotten a head start on them.
"Thrilling time-traveling adventure full of twists."
Any of the great time-travel books, like The Man Who Folded Himself or The Accident Time Machine, Millennium, or Time Travelers Never Die
Yes, but not my first choice.
This is a little long for listening in one sitting, but the story definitely had me wanting to keep knowing what was going to happen next.
I have not read the entire Lives of Tao series, by Wesley Chu, but I enjoyed the book I read and I know that it's put Chu's name at the forefront of a new wave of sci-fi writers. But his latest book, Time Salvager, is the book (series) that will cement his status as a powerhouse in the genre.
Time Salvager follows James Griffin-Mars, a chronman (a time traveler) with the agency called ChronoCom. Being a chronman is difficult and lonely. Not many make it to becoming chronmen, and of those, not many survive to the age of retirement due to the dangers inherent in time-travel. And so chronmen tend to be angry, bitter, and best left alone. Chronmen have a partner, rooted in the current time, to monitor them and try to get them back before they get in too much danger. James' only 'friend' is his handler, and even that is a tenuous relationship.
And because we are dealing with time travel, there are rules, and there are laws. The rules are directions, placed on the chronmen, by the organization. The rules are laws about time travel that everyone accepts to be true and not to be violated. Most of these rules and laws were established by the Mother of Time, a brilliant woman named Grace (who's approaching a very old age when we first meet her in a trip back in time).
The current world is a terrible dystopia. A planet that has been ravaged without respect or regard for the future from ages past. This isn't too hard to imagine as we already live in a world where scientific evidence of our destruction of the planet is disregarded by too many. A chronman's job, then, is to travel back in time and harvest valuable resources. This is done at a point in history, just prior to a disaster, so that the theft isn't noticeable and change the timeline. (For instance...let's say history reports a forest fire that destroys 800 acres of woodland...you travel back in time to harvest every other tree, sending 400 acres-worth of timber ahead to the future. The fire still happens and still burns the 800 acres...nobody misses the 400 acres-worth of trees, but it is extremely valuable to a period that doesn't have the lumber.)
The dangers, then, to the chronmen are obvious...they are traveling back to a disaster of some sort, and they are also interacting with people who they often know are about to be killed ... often is horrible ways. It's no wonder that chronmen are surly sorts.
But James can't bear the thought of a specific woman dying during one of his jobs, and he brings her back with him, violating one of the LAWS about time travel, even though he suspects she won't survive long since everything he's been taught suggests that living things can't travel forward in time. Bringing the woman back makes him a traitor to ChonoCom and an outlaw. And he has the ability to not only hide anywhere he wants, but anyWHEN as well. And the woman's survival has James questioning everything he ever thought he knew about time travel.
This book is brilliant. The concepts are fantastic. Any sci-fi book that deals with time travel faces some tricky maneuvering, but Chu weaves his way around some of the thorny issues quite well, and the whole purpose of the chronmen is simply fantastic.
There are so many wonderful things at work here. First there is the concept and the story of the resource-poor world in the future ... so badly in need of materials that it's worth paying to send people back in time to harvest things. There is the story of corruption and greed that goes along with any multi-billion dollar industry and the secrets that those in power will kill to protect. But there is also the remarkably personal story of James Griffin-Mars ... the daily struggles with all that he has seen and experienced in the past, as well as his unexpected future. And somehow Wesley Chu has managed to build on all of these pieces and still write an action-packed sci-fi thriller that will have you turning the pages, anxious to read what's next.
The characters are all wonderfully built. Certainly James is the most well-rounded as far as the writing goes, but all of the characters are unique and with personalities that are easy to identify and not just sci-fi stereotypes.
This is a fast-paced thriller, full of complex characters in a well-imagined world. What more can you ask for?
It's pretty clear that there will be a sequel, though I feel the book stands on its own well enough, and I will certainly look forward to the next story in this realm.
And I'd also like to add that I think the cover, as shown above, is really fantastic.
"excellent story well narrated"
This was a good story with likeable characters and a novel story line. It wasn't too predictable and it wasn't too unbelievable. Lots of room for a sequel and I hope we'll see one, because we all want to see Valta (?hard to tell spelling in an audiobook) get their comeuppance.
"Grew on me like a beard."
Didn't much like the narrator at first but would not like to hear anyone else to finish out the series. .. only complaint is the constant misuse of the phrase couldn't care less.
"Entertaining but flawed time travel story"
3.5 stars for a solid and fairly original story from Wesley Chu. One of my biggest complaints is that I thought this was a standalone, and it appears it's going to be another trilogy. But that's not really a problem, just my expectations.
I really gravitate toward good time travel stories, and I was hoping for something really gripping and original here. Chu didn't disappoint as he paints a very cinematic opening quarter of this novel. The character of James and his flaws feel very familiar yet interesting, and the concept of traveling back in time to retrieve artifacts that would otherwise be lost to history feels very original. There was, to me, a bit of a falloff though after he goes on the run, and the main female lead just didn't work for me. Their relationship has a lot of stereotypical elements to it as well.
It felt like there was a lot more harsh language in this book than in Chu's first book, "The Lives of Tao." The story got more predictable near the end as well, with more tropes I didn't really care to see done again. Ultimately I'm glad things get tied up to a certain extent, because I'm not sure I want to read more in this particular series.
I don't often complain about the readers, but I find myself getting tense listening to the rushed delivery of Kevin Collins. Mostly it is in the prose sections as he rushes from one sentence to another with desperate sounding gasps for breath as he barrels on to the next line. Augh. Makes me clench my jaws. I tried slowing it down to 75%, but that was painfully slow. Audible needs a variable scale speed controller on their App. I think if I could have made it 90% it wouldn't be so nerve wracking. Collins did slow down whenever he does the dialog, which was nice. It's going to be a tough decision on whether or not I continue with the series given the same reader.
So far (only half way through), the story is very good.
"Narrator is too hyper"
This is actually a great book but the narrator's cadence leaves much to be desired and distracts from the story.
"Strong setting good characters, plot lost me @half"
Time Salvager is the first book in the newest series by John W. Campbell Award winner, Wesley Chu, published by Tor. Whereas Chu made a name for himself with his Tao trilogy, an action-packed alien symbiosis war on Earth soil, Time Salvager matches the action on a future earth where chronmen go back in time to mine materials essential to prolonging the resource supplies of their dying world.
The first chapter does a great job of establishing this fascinating setting, where people can travel back in time, but are restricted from doing anything that will alter their timeline. We all know how futile that attempt will be, but that is their goal, and it is fun watching all sides of this battle do their best to preserve the future they want. The first chapter’s shock ending exemplifies Chu’s willingness to kill anyone of his characters, then kind of start over. (I have to be careful here not to spoil even one chapter in.)
The best part of Time Salvager is how much thought Chu put into how time travel has affected this society on a big picture scale as well as the chronman that we follow most closely, James. Chu’s ideas kindle the love I’ve had for time travel stories ever since Quantum Leap. James is an interesting character who is a kind of indentured servant battling PTSD and alcoholism. His darkness makes this story grim in the face of hope. Early on in our story, he is offered a job that could pay enough to nearly wipe all of his debt and allow him to retire. His trips back in time show his struggle with the people he has to kill, how unsuccessful his drinking is to healing those scars, and ultimately his sadness over losing his sister early in life. (I think it was his sister, could be brother, but the point is he lost a sibling and feels guilt over it.)
I enjoyed this story through to what James does with Elise during the above mentioned mission that would pay most of his debt. The writing was exciting and the outcome exactly the high-stakes result I look for in compelling stories. Elise also started off as an interesting character, and I was glad to see a romantic angle inserted into James’ life.
Unfortunately, not long after this moment, the plot went into a wasteland area of the city and I really lost interest in the story. I’m being vague here to not spoil anything. I know a handful of respected reviewers who really enjoyed the story, but for me, from about the midpoint on to the end, I was very disappointed. I think it is more of a plot choice than that this series is not worth reading after book one, but if this wasn’t written by one of my favorite authors, I would have stopped around the 60% mark. The very end had a good conclusion, and some subplots (such as Levin and James’ sidekick) helped offset the boredom that I felt in the cure-the-environment plot.
I listened to the audiobook version, which in this case did not help. I get that this is a thriller, but the narrator, Kevin T. Collins sounds like every word is super exciting, and it becomes tiring after awhile. A comparison to William Shatner is not far off and could also mean that some like his work here. Personally, I wish the narrator of Chu’s Tao series, Mikael Naramore would have done this series as well.
In short, Time Salvager has a great setting with strong action and some solid characters, but which took a direction that failed to maintain my interest beyond halfway. Book Two, Time Siege, which releases May 2016, is still on my radar, but not without concern that it disappoints like this did. I really hope, based on what Chu has done to impress me with all of his other stories, that Time Siege will right the ship for this reader.
Review copy provided by Audible in exchange for an honest review.
Time Salvager was a decent book. It kept my interest.
I enjoyed the author's take on time travel.
When listening to the narrator, his voice didn't seem to fit the type of story and characters in the book. This probably isn't fair of me to say but he seemed to be a little too highbrow for the gritty characters in this book.
The Mother of Time
This audiobook had a "popping/crackling" sound that reminded me of listening to an old vinyl record. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not but it was mildly irritating.
"A Fantastic Beginning to a New Time Travel Series!"
Time Salvager is the first novel by Wesley Chu that I have listened to, let alone read. Having said that, I was blown away by the originality of the characters and environment, but definitely by the story line. The book takes place on a future Earth; a future Earth that is dying and devoid of critical resources needed for survival. Though there doesn't seem to be much hope, these humans have become masters of time travel. Groups of highly skilled agents, known as chronmen, are sent back in time to salvage items needed in order to create a future. Of course, that's easier said than done. These chronmen are sent back to a point in time just before a major disaster threatens, making it easier not to screw with the past and in order to avoid disrupting the natural progression of time. Of course, this is a very dangerous lifestyle and it doesn't come as a surprise that chronmen have very short lifespans.
Our main character, James Griffin-Mars, is a chronman and has been at it for a long while. Though he fulfills the job requirements and is one of the best, he is haunted by the deaths of those he has come across during his many salvages. I mean, don't you think it would be difficult to ignore the fact that you could stop a disaster from happening or save someone from dying? Too bad doing this could dramatically re-write the future as you know it. There are strict Time Laws put into effect to keep this from happening. In fact, the first law put into place is to never bring someone back from the past, and as you can imagine, doing so results in some very harsh consequences. Well, it was the only unbroken law until James went on his mission to the Nutris Platform. In a moment of panic, and maybe just a little out of love for her, James grabs a scientist named Elise and brings her back to the future. If the pace wasn't quick enough, it begins to pick up as the two are now on the run from the corporations that enforce the laws that James has broken.
I am so glad I chose to listen to the audiobook as Kevin T. Collins gave a great performance. His pacing sort of reminds me of William Shatner's Kirk as his sentences have distinct pauses and his speech is very articulate. The novel will really get your heart racing and by the end of it, you will feel as though you watched it instead of read/listened to it. Chu did a wonderful job with describing the characters and environments and Collins did a great job bringing the characters to life. I'm very much looking forward to the next book in this series.
"Disappointing story with no clonclusion"
I stared this book with excitement as the setting is interesting and I was looking forward to a fun adventure. I wasn't expecting anything extraordinary but even my mediocre expectations were let down as the book wore on.
From an good start the book sets up an interesting conspiracy with massive ramifications and then almost completely ignores it before ending with no real conclusion to events. The whole future time line has some serious holes and the magical technology is unconvincing, even for a time travel book. The characters arent anything special either so what's left is fairly weak. It's a shame because I feel the author failed to exploit a good setup here.
Not up to Audible usual standard of recording and editing.
The performance was inconsistent.
Enjoyed the story despite this.
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