Time travel is a popular theme in science fiction. It’s one I use throughout my main series, The Alysian Universe, and some in the second series, the Terran Trilogy.
For a while, I’ve had Time Salvager by Wesley Chu on my to-read list. Now that the rains have finally come to quench our Oregon fires, and Irma has blown away, I made time to read it.
The story: The far future is heavily polluted and Earth is dying. Humanity has fled to the stars to survive. Convicted criminal James Griffen-Mars is a Chronman, one of Chronocom’s more elite time traveler who ventures into the past to retrieve valuable items for various reasons. Retrieving a precious painting out of Hitler’s stolen stash for a wealthy client or bringing forward needed resources of food and energy is a dangerous job and takes a toll on all those trained to travel. Often, those in the cadre break down, either mentally or physically.
Close to burn-out, James takes one last lucrative job to retrieve a device off an oceanic rig that would halt the encroaching bloom of microscopic algae beginning to choke Earth’s waters. The job is risky since the past records an explosion, which destroyed the whole installation, killing everyone. Desperately needing the money for his retirement, James and his handler, Smitt, accept the job.
Upon arriving in the past, the clean air and clear waters provide a strong contrast to the ruined future James now inhabits. While attempting the snatch, James meets a sassy scientist, Elise Kim, with whom he forms an attachment. When the destruction event begins, for the first time in his career, James finds he can’t leave her behind to die and breaks the first law of time travel by bringing her forward with him to the future. The penalty is trial and death.
So, they run.
This makes both of them fugitives in a dystopian world.
However, Elise believes she can recreate the machine and save Earth’s current environment. Unfortunately, the mega corporation, Valta, had backed the venture and now wants James and Elise dead or captured due to their knowledge of the project. Their grip is strong on the present, and they do not want things changed.
This is the first book of currently two and is not a strand-alone. The other, Time Siege, continues the story.
I found this book to be one of fast-paced action, containing the usual big corporation against the-two-fugitive-lovers theme. I expected a more complete ending, but I might have to read the second novel to get the resolution I want. However, for time travel enthusiasts, it’s a good read and I recommend it.
Time Salvagers resonates with a current Netflix original series called Travelers, which I am currently watching. It has the same storyline of a polluted Earth with time travelers that invade the past to save the future. This series, however, is more complex and character driven. Travelers from the future take over bodies in the past as they are about to die. At the point of death, the original personality leaves, and the new future consciousness gains control. In this case, there are five travelers who are the main characters. Others show up throughout the story, but play minor roles. One traveler is an old man who finds himself in a teenage boy’s body. At first, the experience of a young,, healthy body is exhilarating, but then an abusive father and a strict high school system, complete with a circle of bullying football friends and bitch girlfriend, create difficulties. Another in the group of time travelers is a numbers genius who finds himself in an addict’s body. Able to make lucrative racing bets brings in wealth that soon feeds the addiction. He fights to stay coherent during missions and struggles with his new life. Another future traveler lands in the body of a black girl with a new baby and abusive husband, who is also a cop. Trying to juggle a young child, avoid a jealous, abusive husband, and complete dangerous missions soon becomes near impossible. Each of the travelers has to deal with difficult issues in their new lives while responding to orders from a shadowy Director that can come at any moment. A series of dangerous missions form each episode, each one leading up to the final mission which aims at saving Earth ‘s destruction…and then the aftermath.
For these travelers, returning to the future whatever it has become, is not an option. They will have to adapt to their new personalities and their new lives—and that may be the hardest mission of all.