Caleb Carr's mindblowing Killing Time has ruined the future for me. Now I'm going to spend the next 25 years waiting for the world to turn out exactly the way Carr eloquently imagines it in this twisted, hilarious, touching yarn that involves so many mysterious threads that I'm reading it again. Killing Time is an intimate family drama told against a global backdrop, from a born storyteller who's invented a new way to write.
Mind-blowing...twisted, hilarious, touching...an intimate family drama told against a global backdrop, from a born storyteller who's invented a new way to write.
Startling...a daring step...a book of ideas and an allegorical warning against a future that must be avoided.
Washington Post Book World
Fast-moving...a high-velocity tour of the year 2023.
A non-stop thrill ride...Carr is a master of the cliffhanger.
Fans of Caleb Carr will be astounded by Killing Time, a techno-terrifying tale of the information age run amok. It's a high-speed connection to our most paranoid thoughts about where our wired world is heading.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Famous for his bestselling thrillers re-creating old New York (The Alienist; The Angel of Darkness) and trained as a military historian (The Devil Soldier), Carr leaps into the future for his third novel--and lands with a thud. Set about 25 years ahead, the first-person narrative describes the grim adventures of Gideon Wolfe, a bestselling author who joins forces with a band of outsiders intent on alerting the world to the dangers of excess information untempered by wisdom. By 2023, the Internet has multiplied wildly the ability of power possessors to deceive the general populace, resulting in a globe devastated by ecological blight and filled with near-zombies glued to computer screens. Some groups have escaped this fate--particularly those living in unwired if disease-ravaged areas of Africa and Asia--and a few, led by the enormously wealthy and brilliant brother-and-sister team of Malcolm and Larissa Tressalian, have vowed to fight it. These two, with a small crew, bring Gideon aboard their fantastic flying/diving fortress vehicle. They explain that for years they've seeded world-shaking disinformation--for instance, that Winston Churchill plotted the outbreak of WWI and that St. Paul advocated lying about the life and miracles of Jesus in order to spread the faith. They've planned to reveal these hoaxes as such, to warn about the power of disinformation, but they're stymied by both the cleverness of their own lies and by a new threat that sees one of their hoaxes lead to possible nuclear Armageddon. This book is as much didactic essay as novel, filled with preachy talk. Characters are broad but memorable, and there's some brisk action, but the suspense relies too much on forebodings and cliffhangers--no doubt because the text originally appeared as a serial in Time magazine, from November 1999 to June 2000 (it's been slightly revised for this edition). The prose Carr uses is elaborate, near-Victorian--perhaps a holdover from his other novels--and ill suits a futuristic tale. As readers navigate it, they won't be quite killing time, but they'll be wounding it for sure. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
In 2023, Gideon Wolfe, psychiatrist and historian, receives a disk from the widow of a famous special effects wizard. Wolfe takes it to a detective friend, and while discovering that the disk contains altered footage of the president's assassination, the detective is killed. Shocked, Wolfe begins seeking answers. During his quest, he is abducted by an invisible air (and water) craft headed by Malcolm Tressalian, the brilliant, physically handicapped son of the creator of the satellite system that supports the twenty-first century Internet. Malcolm's beautiful sister, Larissa, also on board, instantly falls in love with Wolfe. He learns that he was selected to join the members of the group and assist in their quest to alter the world by creating and manipulating information. Malcolm and Larissa, horribly abused by their parents (whom they murdered), use their father' s wealth and their talents to outwit the ruling political and economic powers that have destroyed the environment and caused worldwide wars and devastation. What follows is a hodgepodge of hectic chases and pursuits, international intrigue, and political diatribe, interspersed with Malcolm' s periodic seizures and the obligatory Wolfe-Larissa love moments, all leaving the reader asking, "What happened?" and sometimes, "Who cares?" Every conceivable science fiction device is in this novel. Additionally, the adolescent prose and caricaturenot characterdevelopment are quite disappointing. The transparent ending is no improvement. This is, as one young reader stated, a "bore of a book." Although Carr's previous novels, The Alienist (Random House, 1994) and The Angel of Darkness (1997), are widely enjoyed, sympatheticfans should discourage his further attempts at science fiction. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P J S A/YA (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2000, Random House, 274p, . Ages 14 to Adult. Reviewer: Laura Woodruff SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
Historical novelist Carr moves from the past to the future in his latest novel. The year is 2023, and narrator Dr. Gideon Wolfe, a noted criminal psychologist, has just been asked to solve the murder of a special-effects man. The victim left behind an encrypted computer disc that revealed the existence of conspiracies at the highest level. Someone out there has been manipulating information to mislead and even terrorize the public. Who are they, and why are they doing this? During the course of his investigation, Wolfe makes some unusual allies who are experts in advanced technology. Perhaps they can shed some light on the matter, before Wolfe's enemies catch up to him. As usual, Carr's well-written prose deftly combines character development and a fast-paced plot. Fans of The Alienist and Angel of Darkness won't be disappointed by this futuristic adventure. Highly recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/00.]--Laurel Bliss, Yale Univ. Lib. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
And now for something (almost) completely different from the author of the popular literary thrillers The Alienist (1994) and The Angel of Darkness (1997). Carr's bizarre cautionary tale, subtitled "A Novel of the Future" (and reminiscent of both H.G. Wells's tough-minded speculative romances and Jack London at his most engagingly deranged), examines the consequences of information overload and "image manipulation" in a craven new world in which two percent of the US population is in prison, the Balkans have re-erupted, and an ongoing war between India and Pakistan complicates international diplomacy and threatens the global community's stability, if not its survival. It's all a bit much for renowned criminologist Dr. Gideon Wolfe, whose employment by the widow of a murdered "special effects wizard" leads him to the discovery that the Afghani "terrorist" accused of the murder of US President Emily Forrester was framed by powerful anonymous vested interests. Dr. Wolfe is taken aboard an "airship" commanded by wheelchair-bound genius Malcolm Tressalian (images of Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove instantly leap to mind) and his gorgeous sister Larissa (an accomplished scientist and phlegmatic assassin). Wolfe gradually deciphers the full connotative meaning of the Latin epigram (Mundus vult decipi) that motivates the Tressalians' highly skilled crew, but finds he cannot share Malcolm's obsession with "the deceptions of this age, and my own attempts to reveal them through deception." The ensuing melodrama moves (in and out of earth's orbit, with the greatest of ease) from the uninhabited island of St. Kilda off the coast of Scotland to Kuala Lumpur in search of Israeli terrorist DovEshkol,thence to Moscow, and darkest Africa. Carr whizzes quickly through this entertaining nonsense in a hit-or-miss manner that's perhaps a little too compressed, especially at the rather hurried close, which (just barely) manages to suggest that Malcolmfar and away the most potentially interesting of the book's paper-thin characters"had actually succeeded in his quest to conquer time." Fun, but awfully sketchy. Carr seems more at home in the past than in the future. Connelly, Michael A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT Little, Brown (400 pp.) Jan. 2001
Read an Excerpt
SOMEWHERE IN THE MITUMBA MOUNTAIN RANGE OF CENTRAL AFRICA, SEPTEMBER 2024
We leave at daylight, so I must write quickly. All reports indicate that my pursuers are now very close: the same scouts who for the last two days have reported seeing a phantom airship moving steadily down from the northeast, setting fire to the earth as it goes, now say that they have spotted the vessel near Lake Albert. My host, Chief Dugumbe, has at last given up his insistence that I allow his warriors to help me stand and fight, and instead offers an escort of fifty men to cover my escape. Although I'm grateful, I've told him that so large a group would be too conspicuous. I'll take only my good friend Mutesa, the man who first dragged my exhausted body out of this high jungle, along with two or three others armed with some of the better French and American automatic weapons. We'll make straight for the coast, where I hope to find passage to a place even more remote than these mountains.
It seems years since fate cast me among Dugumbe's tribe, though in reality it's been only nine months; but then reality has ceased to have much meaning for me. It was a desire to get that meaning back that originally made me choose this place to hide, this remote, beautiful corner of Africa that has been forever plagued by tribal wars. At the time the brutality of such conflicts seemed to me secondary to the fact that the ancient grievances fueling them had been handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth alone; I thought this a place where I might be at least marginally sure that the human behavior around me was not being manipulated by the unseen hands of those who, through mastery of the wondrous yet sinister technologies of our "information age," have obliterated the line between truth and fiction, between reality and a terrifying world in which one's eyes, ears, and heart can no longer be trusted.
There are no newspapers here, no televisions, and above all no computers, which means no damned Internet. Dugumbe forbids it all. His explanation for this stance is simple, though no less profound for its simplicity: information, he insists, is not knowledge. The lessons passed on from one's elders, taught by the wisest of them but recorded only in the mind, these, Dugumbe has always said, represent true knowledge. The media I've mentioned can only divert a man from such wisdom and enslave him to what Dugumbe calls the worst of all devils: confusion. There was a time when I—a man of the West, the possessor of not one but two doctorates—would have laughed at and disdained such beliefs; and in truth, during the time I've been here the laws and folklore of these people have come to trouble me deeply. Yet in a world stuffed full of deliberately warped information, of manufactured "truths" that have ignited conflicts far greater than Dugumbe's tribal struggles, I now find myself clinging to the core of the old king's philosophy even more tightly than he does.
There—I've just heard it. Distant but unmistakable: the thunderous rumble that heralds their approach. It'll appear out of the sky soon, that spectral ship; or perhaps it will rise up out of the waters of Lake Albert. And then the burning will begin again, particularly if Dugumbe attempts to forcefully resist the extraordinary brother and sister who command the vessel. Yes, time is running out, and I must write faster—though just what purpose my writing serves is not quite so clear. Is it for the sake of my own sanity, to reassure myself that it all truly happened? Or is it for some larger goal, perhaps the creation of a document that I can feed out over what has become my own devil, the Internet, and thereby fight fire with fire? The latter theory assumes, of course, that someone will believe me. But I can't let such doubts prevent the attempt. Someone must listen, and, even more important, someone must understand . . .
For it is the greatest truth of our age: information is not knowledge.
From the Hardcover edition.