I spent much of Phoenix Comicon trying to track down Wesley Chu for an interview. After reading his wonderful new novel Time Salvager, I wish I’d been able to nail him down for a few minutes. Oh well.
Chu was already one of the hottest up-and-coming sci-fi authors, thanks to his humorous “Tao” series, which concluded with The Rebirths of Tao in May. That series earned him a pair of Campbell Not-a-Hugo Award nominations, and have him as a heavy favorite to win at Sasquan in August.
Time Salvager fulfills the promise of that first series. A mind-bending time travel adventure set 500 years in the future, the novel follows James Griffin-Mars, a “chronman” who is sent to critical moments in the past to recover essential technology to help preserve humanity. Pollution has destroyed Earth, pirates rule the spaceways and humans are creeping slowly towards extinction.
The job takes a toll on Griffin-Mars’ health and sanity, as he is haunted by the doomed souls he meets in the past, spending his downtime drowned in cheap liquor and picking fights with the ordinary humans. So when he is offered a risky rainmaker job in the late 20th Century which will allow him to fulfill his contract and retire early he jumps at the opportunity.
Griffin-Mars runs into trouble however, when he brings something back from the past that he shouldn’t, and soon finds himself on the run from his bosses as well as the interstellar corporation that contracted the job.
But while his disobedience may have condemned him, it also offers the best hope for humanity’s survival.
Time Salvager simply bursts with energy. Chu’s writing is fun and electric, filled with humor even as he chronicles the slow destruction of Earth and the extinction of mankind. The fight sequences, featuring chronmen in energy shield armor, blending Yuen Wu-Ping with David Lynch’s Dune. No wonder it was quickly optioned by Michael Bay.
And while I’m not looking forward to the wait for the sequel, at least I’ve got the “Tao” novels to keep me company for a while.
Read more at “The Nameless Zine.”