From the talented Wilson, another yarn whose central theme is a weird time travel variant (Darwinia, 1998, etc.). In 2021, programmer Scott Warden, now a beach bum in Thailand, his marriage disintegrating, goes with a friend, ex-marine Hitch Paley, to investigate an odd phenomenon in the jungle near Chumphon: the sudden, explosive appearance of a strange glasslike pillar, accompanied by downed trees, radiation, and freezing temperatures. The pillar bears an inscription recording a military victory by someone named Kuin—and it’s dated 20 years in the future! Meanwhile, Scott’s daughter Kaitlin falls deathly ill and his wife Janice whisks her back to the US. The pillar, or Chronolith, it emerges, is composed of exotic matter projected through time. Another soon another arrives in the middle of Bangkok, obliterating large parts of the city and killing thousands; others touch down all over southeast Asia, causing governments to collapse. Scott returns to Minneapolis, divorces, and finds work as a programmer; he runs into Sue Chopra, a genius physicist he knew at college, now studying the Chronoliths. She’s convinced that the key involves temporal feedback in which the future creates the past, and that meetings and occurrences that appear coincidental aren’t. Scott agrees to work for Sue; more and more Chronoliths arrive; crazy Kuin cults spring up everywhere. Is the future inevitable, or merely one possibility among many?
Spellbinding and searing. After you finish, though, you realize that the time-hopping logic doesn’t hold up.