Time's Eye : Time Odyssey

  • by Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Baxter
  • Narrated by John Lee
  • Series: Time Odyssey
  • 11 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For eons, Earth has been under observation by the Firstborn, beings almost as old as the universe itself. The Firstborn are unknown to humankind - until they act. In an instant, Earth is carved up and reassembled like a huge jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly the planet and every living thing on it no longer exist in a single timeline. Instead, the world becomes a patchwork of eras, from prehistory to 2037, each with its own indigenous inhabitants.Scattered across the planet are floating silver orbs impervious to all weapons and impossible to communicate with. Are these technologically advanced devices responsible for creating and sustaining the rifts in time? Are they cameras through which inscrutable alien eyes are watching? Or are they something stranger and more terrifying still?The answer may lie in the ancient city of Babylon, where two groups of refugees from 2037 - three cosmonauts returning to Earth from the International Space Station, and three United Nations peacekeepers on a mission in Afghanistan - have detected radio signals: the only such signals on the planet, apart from their own. The peacekeepers find allies in nineteenth-century British troops and in the armies of Alexander the Great. The astronauts, crash-landed in the steppes of Asia, join forces with the Mongol horde led by Genghis Khan. The two sides set out for Babylon, each determined to win the race for knowledge...and the power that lies within.Yet the real power is beyond human control, perhaps even human understanding. As two great armies face off before the gates of Babylon, it watches, waiting.


What the Critics Say

"An exciting tale full of high-tech physics, military tactics and larger-than-life characters in the first of two novels related to the bestselling senior author's Space Odyssey series." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I expected better from these two

This is my first exposure to a novel by Stephen Baxter. I've read a number of his short stories and love them. While the book wasn't awful, while listening to it, I got the unshakable feeling that Baxter only wrote it to pay the bills.

This book is not science fiction. It is fantasy. Few attempts are made at explaining the "science" behind the storyline. Of those few attempts, most of them are laughably broken. Baxter is no slouch when it comes to scientific knowledge, so I can only assume it wasn't a priority for him.

The book is a flimsy premise for creating anachronistic confrontations. The plot runs on rails. By the one hour mark, you will know exactly where the plot is going. There is some enjoyment to be had from listening to it unfold. However, the ending seems a bit hurried, and relies heavily upon deus ex machina.

What really bugged me about the book was the characters. They are all one-dimensional cliches. Every character is built with cartoonish exaggeration, and an unwavering path through the story. Making this even worse, it becomes clear that each of the characters is a ham-handed attempt at modern social or political commentary. The arrogant, ambitious character from the modern American South is a transparent George W. Bush knock-off. There's an uptight, 19th century Yankee and an even more uptight 19th century Anglo-Indian. Every character who is not an American is even tempered and smarter than the Americans. I appreciate social commentary, and I'm not especially nationalistic myself, but I found the hyperbole with which the characters were drawn to be tantamount to a bunch of straw man arguments. Social commentary in novels is best when subtle. Listening to long winded, heavy handed social commentary for 11 hours is a bit of a drag on the experience.

The reader is pretty good. He mispronounced a few words here and there, but spoke clearly and with reasonably good inflection.

On the whole, it's interesting but forgettable.
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- Kennet

A nice road to nowhere

This is really a review of the series of three books. The premise is interesting - an earth suddenly reassembled from fragments of deferent epochs - and the writing reasonably good, but the resolution is at best unsatisfying. I'm not convinced that the central premise (the actions of the firstborn) is even that sound.

Two quibbles. First, as many have noted the contrived accents are horrible in the first book, particularly those of the Americans. Second, anti-American prejudice underscores the series. American characters are at best chauvanistic cowboys and at worst mass murderers, while the non-Americans are sensitive and enlightened. The authors matter-of-factly trumpet some questionable philosophy as an easy panacea for all the worlds ills. This sort of thing can usually be shrugged off, or may in fact appeal to many readers.

The idea of an earth reassembled in time has been explored before, notably in the excellant "October the First is Too Late" by Fred Hoyle (1966, no audio that I am aware of).
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- Tim

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-08-2008
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.