Second collaborative effort (The Light of Other Days, 2000) from these two individually famous authors, and first of a two-book series exploring the manipulation of time.
In 2037, planet Earth is split into thousands of independent segments, from core to space, and then reassembled—but now each segment is from a different epoch! The oldest captures mother-and-daughter Australopithecines; others feature Neanderthals, Babylon, 1885 India, modern Chicago, and ancient Greeks. The newly stitched-together planet is wildly unstable, with volcanoes, earthquakes, storms, and dramatic climatic variations; in astronomical terms, it resides in the 13th century. Everywhere, mirrored spheres hover nearby, apparently watching. Three UN observers from 2037—Britisher Bisesa Dutt, American Casey Othic, and Afghan Abdikadir Omar—join forces with the survivors from 1885: Rudyard Kipling (yes, him), reporter Josh White of the Boston Globe, and British and Indian soldiers in the old fort of Jamrud on the northwest frontier; they pick up radio signals emanating from Babylon and decide to head there. Along the way they meet up with empire-builder Alexander the Great and his army, and join forces. Meanwhile, when a Soyuz capsule lands in Asia, its crew is promptly captured by Genghis Khan and his cruel, barbaric Mongol hordes; they also head for Babylon. Clearly, the spheres, or Eyes, have used their godlike powers to arrange the forthcoming battle, but to what ends? Are they merely voyeurs? Bisesa, who has a curious rapport with the Eyes, intends to find out.
Curiously sloppy, with biographical contradictions and a rationale that's inconsistently applied: despite the many echoes of 2001, more spectacle than substance.