The Chronoliths (original title: The Chronoliths) is a science-fiction novel by Canadian writer Robert Charles Wilson, published in the United States in 2001 and in France in 2003.
The novel won the 2002 John Wood Campbell Memorial Award, tied with Jack Williamson’s Terraforming Earth, and was nominated the same year for the Hugo Award for Best Novel.
The novel, which begins in 2021 and ends on an unspecified date, is composed of three parts of different lengths.
The novel begins in 2021. A gigantic monolith of bluish color suddenly appears in the Thai jungle near Chumphon. Its peculiarity is twofold: on the one hand it is composed of an unknown material, stainless and apparently indestructible, which has an immense volume but with a very low mass; on the other hand he announces the victory of a warlord called “Kuin” against his opponents on December 21, 2041. This monument, which has the shape of a huge Obelisk, comes from twenty years in the future, and has was sent as a challenge to humans in 2021, announcing the inevitable arrival of this unknown political and military adversary. A few months later, a second Chronolith appeared in Bangkok, and a third materialized in Pyongyang, North Korea. The narrator, Scott (“Scotty”) Warden, a computer programmer, tells how, while touring Thailand with his friend Hitch Paley, he was on the scene of the arrival of the first Chronolith and how people – and himself – reacted to this intrusion of the Strange into everyday life. He also explains his marital failure, the remarriage of Janice with Whit, the ear-to-ear operation of his deaf daughter Kait, as well as the events that punctuate the march of the world: climate change, pollution and the disappearance of water tables, urban riots and revolts, the conquest of space, etc.Scott meets a young and brilliant scientist of Asian origin, Sulamith Chopra (called “Sue”), expert in Calabi-Yau geometry, new branch of quantum physics. She wants to understand the nature of the material composing the Chronoliths. In the years that followed, many other Chronoliths appeared in Asia (Ho Chi Minh City, Taipai, Macau, Sapporo, Kanto, Yichang), but none of them appeared in North America or Europe. Sue is in charge of coordinating a scientific team studying Chronoliths. We have discovered how to detect the “arrival of the future” of such an object. We know that a Chronolith will soon appear in Jerusalem. Sue decides to go there, including with her Ray and Scott. Earthworks are being carried out to allow a perfect observation of the phenomenon and a meeting is held with Israeli politicians; however, an attack takes place, killing a young engineer named Cassie. This is the first tangible manifestation of “pro-Kuin”, which will be followed soon after by “anti-Kuin” movements. Chronolith does indeed appear as a challenge to the three main monotheistic religions. The first part of the novel ends with these words: “The Kuin of Jerusalem: a four-sided column standing up to form a throne on which Kuin sits. Kuin’s placid gaze crosses the Dome of the Rock, now crumbling, to scrutinize the desert of Judea. The man is dressed in peasant pants and a shirt. On his head, a headband that could be a modest crown, decorated with half-moons and laurel leaves. His face is solemn and majestic, but his features imprecise. The immense base of the monument meets the earth at the bottom of the ruins of the Sion Square. The peak reaches four hundred and twenty meters altitude. “.
During the following years, as the Chronoliths arrived, pro- and anti-Kuin movements were created and organized in the midst of repeated economic and environmental crises. Many young people take a stand and engage in one of these currents, who make war more or less openly. Scott’s teenage daughter, Kait, was convinced to engage in the pro-Kuin movement. She has run away from her mother’s house and we do not know where she is. Janice calls for help Scott, who is actively searching for her daughter and discovers she has fled with her boyfriend Adam Mills. Scott questions Adam’s mother, Ashlee, who is single like him. Accompanied by Hitch Haley and Ashlee, Scott continues his hunt for Kait and Adam to Mexico, where a new Chronolith was predicted in Portillo. Scott witnesses scenes of violence and drugs, manages to find Kait, just before the sudden arrival of the Chronolith, which razes a part of the plain where were located pro-Kuin, onlookers and police. Adam Mills has disappeared, we do not know if he’s dead and Ashlee is very unhappy. tofour are returning to their city of residence; an idyll is formed between Scott and Ashlee.