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Time Salvager  By  cover art

Time Salvager

By: Wesley Chu
Narrated by: Kevin T. Collins
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Publisher's Summary

Time Salvager: a fast-paced time travel adventure from Wesley Chu, the award-winning author of The Lives of Tao.

Convicted criminal James Griffin-Mars is no one's hero. In his time, Earth is a toxic, abandoned world, and humans have fled into the outer solar system to survive, eking out a fragile, doomed existence among the other planets and their moons. Those responsible for delaying humanity's demise believe time travel holds the key, and they have identified James, troubled though he is, as one of a select and expendable few ideally suited for the most dangerous job in history.

James is a chronman, undertaking missions into Earth's past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. The laws governing use of time travel are absolute; break any one of them and, one way or another, your life is over. Most chronmen never reach old age; the stress of each jump through time, compounded by the risk to themselves and to the future, means that many chronmen rapidly reach their breaking points, and James Griffin-Mars is nearing his.

On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets Elise Kim, an intriguing scientist from a previous century who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, and in violation of the chronmen's highest law, James brings Elise back to the future with him, saving her life but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, somehow finding allies, and perhaps discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity's home world.

©2015 Wesley Chu (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Time Salvager

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Thrilling time-traveling adventure full of twists.

Would you consider the audio edition of Time Salvager to be better than the print version?

No...about even.

What other book might you compare Time Salvager to and why?

Any of the great time-travel books, like The Man Who Folded Himself or The Accident Time Machine, Millennium, or Time Travelers Never Die

Would you listen to another book narrated by Kevin T. Collins?

Yes, but not my first choice.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

This is a little long for listening in one sitting, but the story definitely had me wanting to keep knowing what was going to happen next.

Any additional comments?

I have not read the entire Lives of Tao series, by Wesley Chu, but I enjoyed the book I read and I know that it's put Chu's name at the forefront of a new wave of sci-fi writers. But his latest book, Time Salvager, is the book (series) that will cement his status as a powerhouse in the genre.

Time Salvager follows James Griffin-Mars, a chronman (a time traveler) with the agency called ChronoCom. Being a chronman is difficult and lonely. Not many make it to becoming chronmen, and of those, not many survive to the age of retirement due to the dangers inherent in time-travel. And so chronmen tend to be angry, bitter, and best left alone. Chronmen have a partner, rooted in the current time, to monitor them and try to get them back before they get in too much danger. James' only 'friend' is his handler, and even that is a tenuous relationship.

And because we are dealing with time travel, there are rules, and there are laws. The rules are directions, placed on the chronmen, by the organization. The rules are laws about time travel that everyone accepts to be true and not to be violated. Most of these rules and laws were established by the Mother of Time, a brilliant woman named Grace (who's approaching a very old age when we first meet her in a trip back in time).

The current world is a terrible dystopia. A planet that has been ravaged without respect or regard for the future from ages past. This isn't too hard to imagine as we already live in a world where scientific evidence of our destruction of the planet is disregarded by too many. A chronman's job, then, is to travel back in time and harvest valuable resources. This is done at a point in history, just prior to a disaster, so that the theft isn't noticeable and change the timeline. (For instance...let's say history reports a forest fire that destroys 800 acres of woodland...you travel back in time to harvest every other tree, sending 400 acres-worth of timber ahead to the future. The fire still happens and still burns the 800 acres...nobody misses the 400 acres-worth of trees, but it is extremely valuable to a period that doesn't have the lumber.)

The dangers, then, to the chronmen are obvious...they are traveling back to a disaster of some sort, and they are also interacting with people who they often know are about to be killed ... often is horrible ways. It's no wonder that chronmen are surly sorts.

But James can't bear the thought of a specific woman dying during one of his jobs, and he brings her back with him, violating one of the LAWS about time travel, even though he suspects she won't survive long since everything he's been taught suggests that living things can't travel forward in time. Bringing the woman back makes him a traitor to ChonoCom and an outlaw. And he has the ability to not only hide anywhere he wants, but anyWHEN as well. And the woman's survival has James questioning everything he ever thought he knew about time travel.

This book is brilliant. The concepts are fantastic. Any sci-fi book that deals with time travel faces some tricky maneuvering, but Chu weaves his way around some of the thorny issues quite well, and the whole purpose of the chronmen is simply fantastic.

There are so many wonderful things at work here. First there is the concept and the story of the resource-poor world in the future ... so badly in need of materials that it's worth paying to send people back in time to harvest things. There is the story of corruption and greed that goes along with any multi-billion dollar industry and the secrets that those in power will kill to protect. But there is also the remarkably personal story of James Griffin-Mars ... the daily struggles with all that he has seen and experienced in the past, as well as his unexpected future. And somehow Wesley Chu has managed to build on all of these pieces and still write an action-packed sci-fi thriller that will have you turning the pages, anxious to read what's next.

The characters are all wonderfully built. Certainly James is the most well-rounded as far as the writing goes, but all of the characters are unique and with personalities that are easy to identify and not just sci-fi stereotypes.

This is a fast-paced thriller, full of complex characters in a well-imagined world. What more can you ask for?

It's pretty clear that there will be a sequel, though I feel the book stands on its own well enough, and I will certainly look forward to the next story in this realm.

And I'd also like to add that I think the cover, as shown above, is really fantastic.

14 people found this helpful

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Good story almost ruined by narration

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

For the most part a good story that ends on a cliffhanger. Most of the characters were good, unfortunately one of the main characters was a little on the lame side. When I got immersed in the story ---which was easy to do in many parts, I could ignore the narrator.
I realize everybody has different tastes about narration, but for me he detracted from the story.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kevin T. Collins?

Anyone who did not use the fake, forced, breathless style for the narrative parts in main character.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I cannot say that I wanted to listen to it in all one sitting because of the narrator. However I listen to these books while I commute, and admit there were a few times when I continued to listen to the story when I got home because the story at that point was that good.

Any additional comments?

Chu has potential, and I look forward do the rest of the books in the series. I wish he had gotten a head start on them.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Rushed delivery

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I don't often complain about the readers, but I find myself getting tense listening to the rushed delivery of Kevin Collins. Mostly it is in the prose sections as he rushes from one sentence to another with desperate sounding gasps for breath as he barrels on to the next line. Augh. Makes me clench my jaws. I tried slowing it down to 75%, but that was painfully slow. Audible needs a variable scale speed controller on their App. I think if I could have made it 90% it wouldn't be so nerve wracking. Collins did slow down whenever he does the dialog, which was nice. It's going to be a tough decision on whether or not I continue with the series given the same reader.

So far (only half way through), the story is very good.

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Entertaining but flawed time travel story

3.5 stars for a solid and fairly original story from Wesley Chu. One of my biggest complaints is that I thought this was a standalone, and it appears it's going to be another trilogy. But that's not really a problem, just my expectations.

I really gravitate toward good time travel stories, and I was hoping for something really gripping and original here. Chu didn't disappoint as he paints a very cinematic opening quarter of this novel. The character of James and his flaws feel very familiar yet interesting, and the concept of traveling back in time to retrieve artifacts that would otherwise be lost to history feels very original. There was, to me, a bit of a falloff though after he goes on the run, and the main female lead just didn't work for me. Their relationship has a lot of stereotypical elements to it as well.

It felt like there was a lot more harsh language in this book than in Chu's first book, "The Lives of Tao." The story got more predictable near the end as well, with more tropes I didn't really care to see done again. Ultimately I'm glad things get tied up to a certain extent, because I'm not sure I want to read more in this particular series.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Narrator is too hyper

This is actually a great book but the narrator's cadence leaves much to be desired and distracts from the story.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Strong setting good characters, plot lost me @half

Time Salvager is the first book in the newest series by John W. Campbell Award winner, Wesley Chu, published by Tor. Whereas Chu made a name for himself with his Tao trilogy, an action-packed alien symbiosis war on Earth soil, Time Salvager matches the action on a future earth where chronmen go back in time to mine materials essential to prolonging the resource supplies of their dying world.

The first chapter does a great job of establishing this fascinating setting, where people can travel back in time, but are restricted from doing anything that will alter their timeline. We all know how futile that attempt will be, but that is their goal, and it is fun watching all sides of this battle do their best to preserve the future they want. The first chapter’s shock ending exemplifies Chu’s willingness to kill anyone of his characters, then kind of start over. (I have to be careful here not to spoil even one chapter in.)

The best part of Time Salvager is how much thought Chu put into how time travel has affected this society on a big picture scale as well as the chronman that we follow most closely, James. Chu’s ideas kindle the love I’ve had for time travel stories ever since Quantum Leap. James is an interesting character who is a kind of indentured servant battling PTSD and alcoholism. His darkness makes this story grim in the face of hope. Early on in our story, he is offered a job that could pay enough to nearly wipe all of his debt and allow him to retire. His trips back in time show his struggle with the people he has to kill, how unsuccessful his drinking is to healing those scars, and ultimately his sadness over losing his sister early in life. (I think it was his sister, could be brother, but the point is he lost a sibling and feels guilt over it.)

I enjoyed this story through to what James does with Elise during the above mentioned mission that would pay most of his debt. The writing was exciting and the outcome exactly the high-stakes result I look for in compelling stories. Elise also started off as an interesting character, and I was glad to see a romantic angle inserted into James’ life.

Unfortunately, not long after this moment, the plot went into a wasteland area of the city and I really lost interest in the story. I’m being vague here to not spoil anything. I know a handful of respected reviewers who really enjoyed the story, but for me, from about the midpoint on to the end, I was very disappointed. I think it is more of a plot choice than that this series is not worth reading after book one, but if this wasn’t written by one of my favorite authors, I would have stopped around the 60% mark. The very end had a good conclusion, and some subplots (such as Levin and James’ sidekick) helped offset the boredom that I felt in the cure-the-environment plot.

I listened to the audiobook version, which in this case did not help. I get that this is a thriller, but the narrator, Kevin T. Collins sounds like every word is super exciting, and it becomes tiring after awhile. A comparison to William Shatner is not far off and could also mean that some like his work here. Personally, I wish the narrator of Chu’s Tao series, Mikael Naramore would have done this series as well.

In short, Time Salvager has a great setting with strong action and some solid characters, but which took a direction that failed to maintain my interest beyond halfway. Book Two, Time Siege, which releases May 2016, is still on my radar, but not without concern that it disappoints like this did. I really hope, based on what Chu has done to impress me with all of his other stories, that Time Siege will right the ship for this reader.

Review copy provided by Audible in exchange for an honest review.

5 people found this helpful

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Grew on me like a beard.

Didn't much like the narrator at first but would not like to hear anyone else to finish out the series. .. only complaint is the constant misuse of the phrase couldn't care less.


5 people found this helpful

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Awesome

Time travel and awesome action!! Really enjoyed the book can't wait until the next one!

5 people found this helpful

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excellent story well narrated

This was a good story with likeable characters and a novel story line. It wasn't too predictable and it wasn't too unbelievable. Lots of room for a sequel and I hope we'll see one, because we all want to see Valta (?hard to tell spelling in an audiobook) get their comeuppance.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Fast forward performance

I never rated a book before but I regret getting this book. It sounds like a cool story but the narrator sounds like he's rushing it. It's very monotone and quick. I don't think I'll be able to finish this book only because of the narrator.

3 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 03-25-16

Disappointing story with no clonclusion

I stared this book with excitement as the setting is interesting and I was looking forward to a fun adventure. I wasn't expecting anything extraordinary but even my mediocre expectations were let down as the book wore on.

From an good start the book sets up an interesting conspiracy with massive ramifications and then almost completely ignores it before ending with no real conclusion to events. The whole future time line has some serious holes and the magical technology is unconvincing, even for a time travel book. The characters arent anything special either so what's left is fairly weak. It's a shame because I feel the author failed to exploit a good setup here.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Call me Bob
  • 03-03-19

Horrible story and narrator combined in one

I hated it.
Really struggled to finish it.
It has the worst of both worlds.
A cringe-worthy story and a bombastic narrator.
Do you know that taste of 80's Sci-Fi? With lasers blasters, pew-pew, zooming flying cars? This story manages to take everything i disliked about it and trow it in something written in 2015.
It is incredible! the stupid names for all the things, the unexplained and ungrounded science, everything was there.
And the narrator felt like he was REALLY living the most thrilling adventure of his life every single moment!
It is crap. All of it. No idea why it has such a big rating.

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  • Mrs
  • 10-13-16

Spotty editing

Not up to Audible usual standard of recording and editing.

The performance was inconsistent.

Enjoyed the story despite this.