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Reviews Tue Jul 07 2015

Review: Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Time Salvager by Wesley ChuIn the year 2511, Chicago isn't somewhere you'd want to live anymore. "Everywhere they looked, rust dominated the landscape...Occasionally, a dim pale ray of light would sneak past the thick gray clouds, laying down an orange glaze across a surface...In the far distance over Lake Michigan, an electric storm sparked..."

"What happened to this place?" asks Elise Kim, a scientist who should have died over 400 years earlier. Her savior, James Griffin-Mars, responds, "Not just this place. Everywhere on Earth."

Chicago author Wesley Chu's new science fiction adventure novel from Tor Books, Time Salvager -- which hits bookstores today, July 7 -- is an impressive, ridiculously fun cross between Looper and Star Trek. Michael Bay, the pyromaniacal director of Transformers, has already optioned the book for a feature film.

While Earth has become a brown, toxic husk of its former self in the 26th century, Chicago is the home base for ChronoCom, a bureaucratic organization of time travelers tasked with supplying the rest of the solar system with scarce resources. Mankind has managed to colonize Mars, Europa, Eris, and other planetary bodies, but technological progress came to a crashing halt in the late 21st century, known as the Cliffside of Humanity. A series of wars followed, leading to the Great Decay.

Now, humanity relies on resources salvaged from the past, since they've used up or destroyed most of the solar system's bounty in the present. Guided by a series of strict Time Laws, "chronmen" like James Griffin-Mars travel back to a specific point in the past. Since they have to be extraordinarily careful not to cause ripples in the timeline that could adversely affect the present, they can only steal things right before they were going to be destroyed anyway.

Don't be misled by the disorienting opening scene, filled with space war jargon straight out of "Battlestar Galactica." Once Chu's time-traveling, Han Solo-esque antihero James Griffin-Mars shows up to steal the original Time Charter from a starship just before it explodes, the story's momentum kicks into gear and never lets up.

Griffin-Mars bounces from the outer solar system to 16th-century China, Nazi Germany, and a floating city near Greenland in 2079, where he meets the charming scientist Elise Kim and does the unthinkable: he saves her from the city's destruction and brings her into the present, breaking the first and most important time law.

Their ensuing adventure through time and space (and Chicago) is a kick-ass science fiction thrill ride that's hands-down one of the most entertaining books of the year so far.

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