Time’s Eye – Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter

For some reason or other, this book, the first in a series named A Time Odyssey[1], had been sitting on my pile of things to read for a long time. But a few days ago, I noticed that the second volume[2] in the series is out, which prompted me to pick up Time’s Eye.[3]

The Earth has been fragmented in time. People from different periods in history find themselves cut off from their societies and thrown together. A British garrison on the North West Frontier[4] in the nineteenth century is joined by the crew of a helicopter from 2037, and also encounter a pre-human hominid and her child[5]. Scouting parties find an army not far away, whose soldiers speak ancient Greek, and whose leader is revered as a god-king. Yes, it’s Alexander…

Meanwhile, the crew of a Soyuz capsule that has just left the International Space Station, having made radio contact with the helicopter crew, make a landing in central Asia, where they are captured by Genghis Khan’s Mongol horde.

Both armies and their 21st century additions converge on Babylon, where battle is joined.

Overseeing all of this are unmovable and apparently alien reflective spheres that are soon given the name “Eyes”. As the battle begins, more Eyes gather, suggesting that they are indeed there to observe what the displaced humans will do.

Bisesa Dutt, one of the helicopter crew manages to communicate with the biggest Eye of them all, located in the Temple of Marduk, in Babylon, and finds herself returned to her own time. But she takes with her the knowledge that the world may not have much time left – while there are groups of people from widely scattered periods, there is nobody from later than 2037.

And that’s where the first volume ends. I’ll be reviewing Sunstorm in a month or two, but until then, I’m happy to recommend this. There are some intriguing ideas – even if it is a kind of remix of earlier ideas, such as vastly superior alien wossnames manipulating humanity for unguessable reasons.

There’s also the thought that the fragmenting of time idea was done nearly 40 years ago by Fred Hoyle in October the First is too Late[7], but Clarke and Baxter are doing their own thing with the concept, so I think we can let them off.

[1] A not so subtle indicator that this relates in an oblique fashion to Clarke’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequels.


[3] Note: not “A Time’s Eye”, as Amazon currently show it :rolleyes:
[4] Including a young journalist called Rudyard Kipling[6]
[5] A nod in the direction of Moonwatcher in 2001, and at some of Baxter’s solo work…
[6] Q: Do you like Kipling? A: I don’t know, I’ve never kipled
[7] Which I haven’t read in, err, well a lot of years

3 thoughts on “Time’s Eye – Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter

  1. Pingback: Sunstorm – Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter : Losing it

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