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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Excerpt: CITY BEYOND TIME

CITY BEYOND TIME: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis by John C. Wright. Now in paperback.

Smiling down into her eyes, he said, “I have something wonderful to show you, my dear, my love. Come along.”

He put his long, buff-colored coat around her shoulders. “But it's not cold today.”

“Not today,” he said, and he took her by the hand and led her up the hill.

At first they passed the trees which lined the stream, and when they came among the trees, autumn colors were blooming among the leaves. And with their next few steps, they trod upon a multi-colored carpet of fallen leaves, and bare branches overhead swayed in wintry winds.

When they reached the gardens, he picked her up, so that her slim white shoes would not be wetted by the snow. The fountains were clogged with ice, the marble goddesses and heroes were pale with frost, and the dry grape arbors had icicles depending from the lattice work. She shivered against his chest.

He put her down once they had circled the main house, and little shoots of spring grass were shooting up amidst the profuse beds and congregations of Maytime flowers.

By the time they approached the main door, the grass was green and long, the sun was hot, and the elms and oaks had gone from buds to thick and verdant summer leaves.

A double row of oaks lined the drive leading to the main doors of Ophion House. Lelantos gently pushed Catherine into hiding behind a tree, and pressed close behind her, his arms to either side of her, supporting her. She was nearly fainting, and stood grasping the tree for support, staring at the house.

She saw that his Roadster stood idling in the circle before the doors, festooned with ribbons and flowers, with long strands tied to the rear bumper trailing shoes and cans. On the stairs of the portico, a noisy, cheerful crowd stood facing the doors, men dressed in handsome black tuxedos, women garbed in silks and satins, with flowers woven in their hair.

“It is now a year later,” he breathed in her ear. “I wanted you to see our wedding day.”

A great cheer went up from the house, and the women threw rice into the air as the bride and groom appeared at the door.

Catherine clutched the bark to the oak, and her breath caught in her throat. “That's me!”

“That's you. Run forward now, and you might catch the bouquet.”

But Catherine did not move. “Oh,” she sighed, “Oh my… I look so happy. Look at how I'm laughing! Look at my dress! It's gorgeous! I want a dress just like that for my wedding!”

Her face flushed with joy, standing on tip-toes, the bride smiled and waved toward the oak trees as if she knew they were there, as a lacey white veil, sheer as smoke, floated around her flower-crowned head. The bridegroom winked in their direction. Then the crowd swirled in around the newly-married pair, shouting with good cheer.

The couple fled the pelting rice, laughing, and leapt into the waiting Roadster. With a humming roar, the machine whirled down the lane between the trees, a cloud of dust speeding away behind it.

The noise of the crowd faded away like the sound of an old newsreel. Lelantos walked toward the house, drawing an amazed Catherine drifting, eyes wide, behind him. By the time they reached the lowest step, it was dusk, and the crowd had vanished. When they reached the door, the stars were gleaming cold in the dark above, and the hall clock was whirring and ringing midnight.

“How can this be possible?” Catherine breathed softly.

“All men can reach with their minds into the past and future, with memory and imagination. My family was forced to learn how to bring ourselves along as well.”

“Forced?”

“We come from a future of fire. The smoke of the burning has blotted out the sun, moon, and stars. It is a time of darkness; the streams and seas are turned to blood. Earthquakes swallow islands into the ocean and throw down mountains. Mankind has died in plague and poison, or burnt, or choked, or starved, or drowned or been buried alive. The first father and mother of my family, Lif and Lifrasir, the last of all mankind, escaped death by fleeing down the corridors of Time. We don't know why. Perhaps the moment when there was no future left at all allowed the past to open up her gates. The pair fled to the farthest future, after time itself had ceased, exhausted, and discovered the empty towers of Metachronopolis, the golden City Beyond Time. New names were given them, Chronos and Rhea, when they mounted the diamond thrones and donned the robes of pallid mist. They opened the mirrored gates of splendor into the creation reborn.”

She looked around at the summer night, at the rustling trees and the silent statues in the moonlight. “I thought things would blur and flicker when we time-traveled.”

“I only stepped on the same hour each day as we came up the hill.”

“And what year is it now?”

“It is midnight of our wedding day; as we came up stairs, I only took strides measuring an hour. The house is empty; all have gone to celebrate.”

“But why didn't things jump when we went from one hour to the next? I didn't see the stars spin, or the clouds whip past.”

“Nature admits of no discontinuities, no gaps. The force of Time will always mend itself, to make things appear as likely and as near to right as they may be.”

“And if you go back and shoot your father before you were born?”

“I would never shoot my father. He owes me money.”

“No, seriously.”

“Time would conspire to supply you with a father as near to yours as it might do. Even his name might stay the same. You have encountered odd and inexplicable coincidences? These are the scars of time, the ripples of my brothers as they pass among you. Where time cannot make a clean and even compensation for some paradox, unlikely coincidences attempt to supply the deficit. If they can. If they can.”

“And if no coincidence will stretch that far?”

A strange and haunted look came onto his face. “Without the strong foundation of cause and effect to sustain oneself, one fades. One becomes a paradox, an apparition, and then a ghost, a shadow, a whisper, a memory, a forgotten dream, and eventually… nothing.”

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43 Comments:

Blogger Jack Vibe May 30, 2017 7:39 PM  

Always wary of time travel in fiction, however this seems brilliantly done!

Blogger eharmonica May 30, 2017 8:01 PM  

I've read a couple of these stories. Well worth your time.

Anonymous Zion's Paladin May 30, 2017 8:41 PM  

Confound it Vox, I'm going to end up buried by my to-read pile if you keep this up.

Blogger DeploraBard May 30, 2017 9:09 PM  

Great book.

Blogger en_forcer May 30, 2017 9:23 PM  

After we move this summer and I settle in, I've decided to simply order the entire Castalia house catalogue. That way I'm sure to have plenty of good reading.

Blogger Culture War Draftee May 30, 2017 9:24 PM  

All of John Wright's work is wonderful, but City Beyond Time is something special.

Blogger Bellguard May 30, 2017 9:26 PM  

Damnit, why must you post about such good books?

Blogger Nate Winchester May 30, 2017 9:27 PM  

One of my favorites of John. Definitely recommend.

Blogger Kristophr May 30, 2017 9:38 PM  

Buy this book. Wright writes like Stephanson wished he did.

Anonymous David-093 May 30, 2017 9:53 PM  

Probably my favorite of his stories. Time travel is a tricky plot device but JCW makes it work brilliantly.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan May 30, 2017 9:53 PM  

Yes a time travel book that I really liked

Anonymous Readed May 31, 2017 12:06 AM  

Ugh! Gimme N. Stephenson!

Anonymous JAG May 31, 2017 12:07 AM  

One of my favorite discussions in science fiction is time travel, and the implications of it. The paradoxes, alternate histories, and future ramifications of it all provide ample ground for authors to explore.

This sample leaves me wanting more. I also like the connection to the Greek Titans Chronos (time, of course) and Rhea.

OT - s01ep02 of When Keeping it SJW Goes Wrong!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/30/entertainment/kathy-griffin-trump-tyler-shields/index.html

The hag has managed to get even the left to turn on her. She is groveling for forgiveness.

Personally, I don't care about her stupid Trump joke photo, but I am enjoying once again an SJW getting hoisted by their own libtard. Karmanfreude.

Anonymous JAG May 31, 2017 12:14 AM  

Another musing I have had on the implications of time travel is the fine tuning aspect of the universe. If an object with mass were to travel back in time, would this not violate conservation of mass in the present? This question also applies to traveling to another universe.

I have also pondered whether or not the extra mass that suddenly shows up in the future or past (or another universe) would tip the gravitational balance, thus causing a universal collapse back into a singularity.

Blogger wreckage May 31, 2017 12:58 AM  

In any universe where time travel can exist, it has. Any universe that exists and in which time travel is possible must be resilient to time travel. Any universe in which time travel can happen, and universe-ending paradox result, has already ended, and depending on the size and type of paradox, may simply have miscarried in the first discrete moment/volume of existence.

Anonymous bluto May 31, 2017 1:08 AM  

This was probably my favorite of Wright's works. Each story was excellent on it's own but the little clues about Metachronopolis rise and fall kicked it up to the sublime.

Anonymous Deplorable Winning May 31, 2017 1:16 AM  

“Without the strong foundation of cause and effect to sustain oneself, one fades. One becomes a paradox, an apparition, and then a ghost, a shadow, a whisper, a memory, a forgotten dream, and eventually… nothing.”

Read the post from the bottom up. Thought it was about SJWs.

Anonymous Clever prose isn't a substitute for content May 31, 2017 3:37 AM  

All time travel fiction is either Sophiac nonsense or thinly veiled wish fulfillment. See the Back to the Future movies for how this story ends.

Blogger Resident Moron™ May 31, 2017 5:14 AM  

All fiction is wish-fulfillment one way or another. That ain't saying nothing.

Nothing wrong with escapism as a minor peccadillo, so long as it's not a full-blown obsession.

Like, you know, spending all day every day dreaming about a world in which everyone is equal and associated crazinesses ...

Anonymous Morons should have posting limits May 31, 2017 5:27 AM  

All fiction is Gamma delusion, check.

Blogger VD May 31, 2017 5:38 AM  

Ugh! Gimme N. Stephenson!

You can have him. He appears to have peaked and is on the decline.

All time travel fiction is either Sophiac nonsense or thinly veiled wish fulfillment. See the Back to the Future movies for how this story ends.

You could not be more wrong as you're forgetting one important factor: John C. Wright is a brilliant writer. This is actually an original take on time travel.

Blogger VD May 31, 2017 5:39 AM  

Perhaps you should have read the reviews:

I don't normally care for time-travel books. Often, they have multiple logical errors, or feature cliched paradoxes presented as if they were something new. Most of all, they often seem to have time-travel occur without the logical full consequences of such a thing. Jhon C. Wright does something with the familiar subject of time travel I hadn't thought I would see: something new.

Anonymous Clever prose isn't a substitute for content May 31, 2017 6:21 AM  

John C. Wright is, primarily, a man. Secondarily, he is an author. Rewriting time is cheap fiction.

That said, the excerpt was compelling, and I bought into it quickly.

Book sold.

Blogger Cataline Sergius May 31, 2017 6:45 AM  

All time travel fiction is either Sophiac nonsense or thinly veiled wish fulfillment. See the Back to the Future movies for how this story ends.

I couldn't agree with you more.

However, City Beyond Time is absolutely nothing like those things at all. Not even a little bit.

CBT is an amazing exploration in so many things it's hard to pick one. But I'll do it just to prove a point.

The intrinsic evil of time travel.

What if you could erase everything bad you ever did in your life?

And what if you could keep doing it?

Again and again and again. What if you could whatever you want to whoever you want and your victim would never know you'd done it to him or worse yet her?

What is left of your soul at the end of that little journey?

Blogger Cataline Sergius May 31, 2017 6:54 AM  

City Beyond is one of those very few books that I would buy in a heartbeat, if it ever came out in a high end, prestige style edition.

No pressure Vox. No pressure.

Anonymous Clever prose isn't a substitute for content May 31, 2017 6:58 AM  

That's why I bought the book.

Anonymous Harambe May 31, 2017 8:02 AM  

And I'm just sitting here waiting for Count to Infinity

Blogger VD May 31, 2017 9:08 AM  

John C. Wright is, primarily, a man. Secondarily, he is an author. Rewriting time is cheap fiction.

It will be interesting to see if you continue to stand by your third assertion after reading the book.

Anonymous Clever prose isn't a substitute for content May 31, 2017 9:33 AM  

You'll know my position if I post a review.

My assertion stands so long as you can watch Timecop on DVD.

Blogger JP May 31, 2017 10:57 AM  

Clever prose isn't a substitute for content wrote:

My assertion stands so long as you can watch Timecop on DVD.


JCW wrote Timecop?

Anonymous Clever prose, etc. May 31, 2017 11:24 AM  

JP wrote:Clever prose isn't a substitute for content wrote:

My assertion stands so long as you can watch Timecop on DVD.


JCW wrote Timecop?


Yes, and he also invented Narnia and the PB&J sandwich.

Anonymous Ezekiel Cassandros May 31, 2017 11:49 AM  

"JCW wrote Timecop?"

No, but he did sell the concept behind the movie The Time Shifters (1999), which was actually a pretty decent B flick.

Anonymous Mr. Tong May 31, 2017 1:12 PM  

"Ugh! Gimme N. Stephenson!

You can have him. He appears to have peaked and is on the decline."

You are a poor judge of Science Fiction writers

Blogger Mish in Utah May 31, 2017 1:28 PM  

Wow.

Blogger Amos Bellomy May 31, 2017 1:49 PM  

City Beyond Time is fantastic. Utterly brilliant. Anyway, nothing wrong with wish fulfillment fiction besides.

Blogger VD May 31, 2017 3:04 PM  

You are a poor judge of Science Fiction writers

You are wrong. And you also clearly haven't read his latest. Stephenson is one of the best, but both ANATHEM and REAMDE is much better than SEVENEVES. And now he's starting "collaborations". Not a good sign.

Anonymous Mr. Tong May 31, 2017 4:13 PM  

"You are wrong"

I don't believe I am. Seveneves was award winning, well received and sold well for a reason. Additionally, it was evidence that he still does more homework on his subject than nearly any SF working. God knows Wright doesn't.

Finally, as you well know there is a long history of collaborative efforts resulting in classic SF.

You take Wright and I'll take Stephenson. We will see who sells more, who attracts more interest from publisher, and who gets more awards. You ride theediocre horse.

Blogger Esmar Tuek May 31, 2017 5:07 PM  

This looks excellent, am going to buy now

Blogger Cataline Sergius May 31, 2017 6:53 PM  

You take Wright and I'll take Stephenson. We will see who sells more, who attracts more interest from publisher, and who gets more awards.

*blinks*

*shakes head to clear it*

Okay...that was...okay...

Go google, "Rabid Puppies".

That might give you a clue as to the regard with which those things are held around here.

If you are trying to impress us you are going about it the wrong way.

Anonymous Mr. Tong May 31, 2017 8:17 PM  

"That might give you a clue as to the regard with which those things are held around here. "

Hmmm...I don't care what you say. You don't matter.

Blogger Thucydides May 31, 2017 11:36 PM  

Amazing as always. Thank you

Anonymous Eli June 01, 2017 12:11 AM  

@40 I have to laugh because if you truly didn't care you wouldn't have responded and posted on this topic more than once. You care and it burns you up.

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I don't believe I am. Seveneves was award winning, well received and sold well for a reason. Additionally, it was evidence that he still does more homework on his subject than nearly any SF working. God knows Wright doesn't

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