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Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
Book Name: Time Salvager
Author: Wesley Chu
Publisher(s): Tor Books
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Science Fiction / Time Travel
Release Date: July 7, 2015

It’s always an exciting time when an author you follow releases something new. Not new, as in the next book of an established series, but something brand new. Something you have never experienced before from that writer. Something you didn’t even know you wanted until you had it, then look back and wonder how you ever coped before having it. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I’m getting at.

I have been reading a lot of new things from familiar faces of late. Amongst them is Time Salvager, the latest offering from Wesley Chu. Time Salvager, if the name didn’t give it away, is a time travelling story set in a bleak, dystopian future. In the book, mankind has bled the solar system dry of resources and now has to pillage the past for fuel and technology in order to stave off the end of civilisation.

We follow James Griffin-Mars, a “chronman”. His thankless task is to travel to the past and collect fuel sources and technology at the behest of corporations that rule the future. He is a troubled character with plenty of emotional baggage due to the things he has seen and decisions he has made. He fits very well into this world, which is cold and unsympathetic to anyone, especially people like him.

I love the worldbuilding in this book. Every aspect of this advanced future human culture is explained well. Chu paints a very detailed, if not depressing future, where mankind struggles to survive. The golden age of our species is long behind us in Time Salvager and it feels like humanity is simply surviving on because it has nothing better to do. Despite being set far in the future, the issues and concerns people of the time face mirror many of the things we as a society discuss today. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it social commentary but it certainly echoes concerns we are discussing in 2015. To that end I totally bought into this future of humanity. It felt very believable and terrifyingly so.

The adventure truly kicks off when James Griffin-Mars breaks the most important and sacred law of the time travelling organisation he is part of. He brings a person from the past back to the future, (great Scott!). This decision forces our heroes to go on the run as they try to unravel a mystery that will see them become the most wanted people in the solar system. It’s a great conspiracy/cover up story with plenty of twists along the way.

The narrative builds to a great conclusion that left me satisfied by the end of the book, yet still hungry for more. It sets up events nicely for the next book whilst also providing a story that stands up on its own two feet.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Time Salvager was the tone. It’s a much darker outing than Chu’s previous books, the excellent Tao series. It felt different whilst retaining the familiar writing style of the author, with plenty of Chu’s humour to make it recognisable whilst carrying a different tone. I feel that if this book had been written by another sci-fi author it might have come across as too dark. Chu finds a great balance here, which kept me engaged and entertained.

As I have come to expect, Chu delivers a great range of characters, all with their own interesting arcs and development. The villains are just as compelling as the heroes of the story. Each character brought something unique and I enjoyed learning about them all and seeing them interact.

I am always wary about time travel stories. It’s an easy subject to write badly or to bog down with technical justifications. Chu proves with Time Salvager that he can tackle this concept head on with confidence whilst also bringing several original ideas to the formula. This is one of the most inventive stories I have read this year and it shows in the worldbuilding and explanations. I don’t think I have enjoyed a time travel concept this much since The Time Machine.

On top of being a great time travelling, science-fiction adventure, the book has some great 80s action themes laced between the future tech and awesome science. This book is a nice blend of science fiction, with thriller elements, and I believe when the film adaptation hits the big screen, it will be an excellent watch.

If you’re a fan of time travelling, eighties action films, or simply want to experience the story before the film drops, you should read this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m sure you will too.


One Comment

  1. Avatar Charlie says:

    Nice review. Personally I found it to be a big let down with the ending amounting to – “Lets send in the bigger badder soldiers with the bigger badder guns”.

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