In Time Salvager, Wesley Chu introduced readers to a brutal, dystopian world where Earth is primarily a toxic wasteland, and most of humanity has fled to live on the moons of the gas giants. Mega-corporations exert influence on everything and everyone, with the exception of ChronoCom, the non-profit entity that manages time travel and enforces the time laws. Time travel is used to plunder the past for resources to keep the present functioning. It is into this world that chronman James Griffin-Mars brings Elise Kim. Elise is a 21st century scientist, and now a temporal anomaly, who may hold the key to solving some of the earth’s largest bio-chemical problems. As wanted criminals in the 26th century, James and Elise now have to focus on staying alive and one step ahead of ChronoCom and the mega-corporations, that are unusually interested in Elise.
In Time Siege, the pursuit continues. James and Elise have been hiding with the Elfreth, a group of Earth natives living in the former New England area of the US. While the Elfreth are initially hesitant in their dealings with James, they immediately take to Elise and agree to help protect both of them from ChronoCom and the mega-corporations. While they have lived for generations in the ruins of skyscrapers in what was once Boston, it is decided that the only way for them to all survive is to keep moving. It is a daunting challenge for an entire tribe. And they need a way to hide from their pursuers, so Elise decides that the tribe needs to go to “The Mist Isle” where the aftereffects of an EMP bomb still linger, providing the island with its name and an effective block to most communications and surveillance. It seems like the best place to hide, but the only way to get there is to negotiate the remnants of the bridges that are the only way onto the island, leaving the Elfreth exposed as they travel. Then there are the people and creatures that call the island their home. Despite the dangers, this may be the break they have needed, because if ChronoCom or the Megacorporations catch them, it could end any hope of curing the plague and saving Earth.
Time Siege and Time Salvager are great time travel adventures. Both offer scathing comments on the way corporations, and their interests, are regularly put ahead of those of the individual, resulting in an ever growing divide between the “haves” and the “have nots." Chu continues the story begun in Time Salvager, deepening our understanding of the characters, raising the stakes for the actions they are taking, and continuing to show how the economic and environmental choices made could play out in a very bleak future. (A personal favorite being that Amazon of the future runs prison planets that are simultaneously brutal, believable and surprisingly easy to breach with a bit of well planned strategy!)
Time Salvager and Time Siege are great examples of why Chu won the John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award in 2015! The only downside to Time Siege is that the story will continue in another book, which is yet to be published.