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Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
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Time Salvager

by Wesley Chu

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Time trilogy (1)

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2181453,416 (3.83)9

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I hadn’t read anything by Wesley Chu before, but I’ve heard extravagant praise for the Lives of Tao series, so I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I didn’t think Time Salvager was very good – it had a great premise, but the writing was clunky, the plot is riddled with clichés and the characters seemed more like archetypes than people.

It’s the 26th century, and humanity is in danger of extinction due to centuries of war and resource limitations. The only thing keeping humanity going are the chronmen, who take difficult excursions into the past and salvage material for present day rebuilding. James Griffin-Mars is a chronman who gets a “golden ticket” job offer, accelerating his retirement considerably. However, on his way back, he breaks the cardinal Time Law, bringing a doomed scientist, Elise Kim back with him, and now they’re both fugitives.

Like I said, the premise of this book is interesting – time travel as a way to gather resources. What it actually ended up being was a mostly a lot of different action scenes with a clichéd evil corporation as the villain. There are a few forays into various historical periods, but they’re sparse on detail and atmosphere – in fact, the whole world it builds doesn’t seem compelling at all. Some of the lack of color makes sense with the whole “humanity is desperate” thing, but how desperate can humanity be with roving spaceship malls being commonplace?

None of the characters were engaging either, their decisions didn’t make any sense, and they seemed like a bunch of stereotypes thrown together – for example, the protagonist James is going somewhat crazy (complete with hallucinations of people whose lives he didn’t save), he likes Elise Kim, and I don’t know anything else about him. I can’t describe him as brave or determined or pretty much anything, he’s just someone who feels and thinks what the plot needs him to. Every other character has the same flaws, any attributes they have are just described by the text, not shown.

The book isn’t even self-contained – it’s clear setup for a trilogy, it raises a bunch of questions and answers none of them, and since the entire book has been fighting and running, the climactic fight doesn’t even seem much different from the rest of the book. I’m not sure how this book got so many glowing blurbs, I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of this series. ( )
  kgodey | Apr 11, 2017 |
An excellent time travel novel. Terrific world building and the manner in which the time travel laws are applied. Very satisfying. ( )
  skraft001 | Mar 12, 2017 |
First book in the time traveler series, moves quickly and is a good, but not exceptional read. Wesley Chu weaves an interesting tale that slowly becomes a page turner. He does a good job portraying his lead characters, but not so good on secondary characters. ( )
  rondoctor | Oct 14, 2016 |
great concept, almost great execution; really look forward to his next book. maybe his reach exceeded his grasp here. a few annoying inconsistencies (how powerful chronmen were seemed to fluctuate); few implausibilites (can fly but can't see in infrared) but I still liked it a lot
  FKarr | Jan 16, 2016 |
Don't you just love when some of your most anticipated books of the year turn out to be worth the wait? I was very happy with Time Salvager, ladies and gents.


You might have noticed that I've been on sci-fi binge for the last couple of weeks. I took a break from this genre a few months ago, and had a craving. Time Salvager fit the bill.


I would describe this book as time travel dystopia. Very little happens in space, mostly the action concentrates on Earth in a very bleak distant future. To my delight Wesley Chu's writing reminded me of Max Barry's Jennifer Government and Lexicon. There is a unique concept. It's super gritty, harsh and heavy on evil corporations conspiracies. Needless to say, I loved it!


James Griffin-Mars is a cynical, highly depressed chronman, one of the oldest in his profession, and he loathes his job so very much he wonders if each new job will be his last as he turns his ship to the sun and just let it burn. What he does is salvages pieces of precious equipment and resources from the past timestreams for interplanetary corporations, because in the last few centuries the civilisation went to hell and lost the majority of its technological advances.


Then he lands a very lucrative job which will allow him to retire within a year and live like a king on a luxurious planet. All he needs is to salvage precious equipment from a sinking research facility in the past within a very short time frame.


However, it all goes wrong from the very beginning. He meets a brilliant scientist committed to saving the environment from the plague, which decimated the Earth of his time; his information about the project is incorrect, and what's even worse, he detects a presence of another chronman at the same facility.


Too many questions and not enough time. Suspecting the worst sort of conspiracy, James goes rogue and saves the scientist, breaking the most important rule of his organisation: don't bring people back from the past.


Now both hide on polluted, abandoned Earth and try to find a way to cure it from the plague, while an army of chronmen and corporate security ruthlessly search for them all over the place.



Time Salvager is action-packed and intense, full of fresh, innovative ideas and has great, dramatic world-building. However, you might have noticed that I didn't give it higher rating. There were issues.


First of all, the romantic involvement between James and Elise was neither here nor there. I had an impression that the author felt it necessary to include one, but it did nothing for the plot development, and was very unconvincing.


Secondly, the ending let me down. I expected some sort of a wrap up, but everything ended very suddenly, leaving me dissatisfied. I invested myself in this book, and I felt slightly cheated.


Otherwise, I can't recommend it highly enough. Fascinating characters, great background and non-stop action with juicy time travel tidbits. Read it! ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wesley Chuprimary authorall editionscalculated
Anderson, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my grandparents and those who came before me
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A sliver of light cut through the void, shooting toward the center of the battle display. Every soul on the bridge, breaths collectively held, eyed its path as it streaked across space. The room was dead quiet, except for the droning voice counting down to the point of impact. An explosion the size of a thumbnail blinked and flowered to fill half the display, then darkened again.
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