Bewildering Stories

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Arthur C. Clarke and Steven Baxter's Time's Eye

Time's Eye
Author: Arthur C. Clarke and Steven Baxter
DelRey Books
Hardcover, Jan. 2004 337 pages
ISBN: 0-345-45248-8
Price: $26.95

Arthur C. Clarke is considered to be one of the great treasures of Sri Lanka. He's been writing for a long time, and certainly deserves the title of "Grandmaster". He's been paired with other writers, sadly to his detriment, but the recent collaborations with Steven Baxter are gold. The Light Of Other Days won raves from many of its readers. The new collaboration Time's Eye is not only a writing collaboration, but a conceptual collaboration. The writers made the comment that the story was "orthogonal to previous stories", and it does head at right angles to both the "Space Odyssey" stories, and to Baxter's "Manifold" stories. And this one is the first of a series of "Time Odyssey" novels.

The story starts back in paleohistory with Scratcher and Sniffer. No, I'm sorry. That was rude. With Seeker and Grasper, a pre-human mom and her daughter. In scenes very reminiscent (and no doubt purposeful) of the pre-humans in "Space Odyssey" Seeker is just starting on the toolusing path when she is caught in a time anomaly (of course, she has no clue as to what is happening, nor do the readers). We are then treated to this same fate occurring to a UN Military crew from 2037 patrolling Afghanistan, a crew from the same era descending to Earth in a Soyuz Lander, 19th Century Brits, including a young Rudyard Kipling, Alexander the Great and crew, and the Mongol Hordes of Ghengis Khan.

All these variant times are jammed together in what the 21st Century types call "The Discontinuity", and watching all of this are a myriad of small golden globes hovering in the air, courtesy of "The FirstBorn". I was reminded of Time Storm by Gordon R. Dickson, except that instead of the time segments being kept apart, all the different times are now together, jungles and ice ages, continental shifts, and weather like you've never seen.

This book reads very much like a Clarke book. However, from what I've pieced together, it was primarily written by Baxter, whose sturdy workman-like prose makes the story march. The book goes in directions you'd not expect, and people behave in ways appropriate to their early delineations, but sometimes in evil disgusting ways.

Time's Eye is well written, and when you are finished with the story, which does stand on its own, you want more, and the way it is finished you know there will be more, but you won't have a clue what direction that Clarke and Baxter are going to take you.

Copyright © 2004 by Jerry Wright