Time's Eye (novel)
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|Author(s)||Arthur C. Clarke
|Series||A Time Odyssey|
|Genre(s)||Science fiction novel|
|Publication date||3 March 2003|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
Time's Eye is a 2003 science fiction novel co-written by Arthur C. Clarke (author of 2001: A Space Odyssey) and Stephen Baxter. It is the first book in the A Time Odyssey series. The next book in the series is Sunstorm.
In the year 2037 (in which the events of 2001: A Space Odyssey would take place by the 3001 Space Odyssey universe), the still-turbulent North West Frontier province of Pakistan near Afghanistan is being patrolled by U.N. peacekeepers. A helicopter, known as Little Bird, crewed by an American pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Casey Othic, a British observer, Lieutenant Bisesa Dutt, and back-up pilot Chief Warrant Officer Abdikadir Omar, an Afghan, is badly damaged by a villager using a RPG. Forced to ditch, the crew are met by soldiers based at nearby Jamrud fortress, which houses a garrison of British troops from northern India, part of the British Empire. The soldiers believe the year is 1885.
Casey is injured but Bisesa and Abdikadir are relatively uninjured and all three survivors are escorted to the fort to meet the commander, Captain Grove. Bisesa and Abdikadir explain to an initially unbelieving Grove what happened to them. Both parties eventually realise and accept the fact that they are from different periods. Both parties lost all communications before the crash and they hypothesise that it coincided with the “time-slip”.
Many strange metal orbs, known as the Eyes, are seen floating in the sky and they defy all attempts to examine them, even using advanced equipment scavenged from Little Bird.
Other ‘visitors’ from different time periods appear in the vicinity; two hominids, known as ‘Seeker’, a mother, and her infant daughter ‘Grasper’. They are somewhere in the genetic chain between humans and apes (never clearly stated, but probably Australopithecus). They are captured and imprisoned by the soldiers.
Simultaneously, Musa and Kolya, two Russian cosmonauts, and Sable, a North American astronaut, are returning to Earth from the International Space Station. They have also lost contact with ground control, but they manage to establish contact with Abdikadir, who’s using equipment from Little Bird. The cosmonauts orbit the Earth and take photographs. Abdikadir suggests that the Earth now comprises a conglomerate of different time periods from two million years ago, up to 2037, but have no clue as to why or who/what caused it.
The cosmonauts decide to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere unaided and land near some camp fires spotted in central Asia, in the hope that the humans there will help them.
Upon exiting the craft, Musa is decapitated by a Mongolian warrior, while Sable and Kolya are loaded onto a cart heading east. They have arrived in Central Asia when the Mongols were at the height of their power. The Cosmonauts are eventually taken to meet Genghis Khan, with whom they are able to communicate in the Mongolian language. The Khan keeps them alive as he believes they have been sent from heaven. Yeh-lu – an astrologer and adviser to The Khan - and Kolya work together to plan what they should do with the Mongol army. They decide that the Khan should lead his army into China to rebuild the trading posts and towns that were lost in the Discontinuity/time slip. Sable disagrees and convinces the Khan to take the army to Babylon as this is the only place on Earth (other than Abdikadir’s radio) that is broadcasting a radio signal of any sort. Sable believes this is where the power of this new world – which they name Mir (Russian for "world") - lies.
Meanwhile, in Northern India, Bisesa encounters the army of Alexander the Great. Using a factor who speaks some Greek as an interpreter, the British forces and the Macedonians form an alliance and look toward Babylon. Alexander intends to establish a new capital there. Like Sable, Bisesa wants to examine the source of the radio signal.
Alexander’s army arrives at Babylon before the Khan and has time to explore it. They discover that the western side of the city has been destroyed by an unknown disaster while the eastern side is filled with temples and ziggurats. An orb at least three times larger than those previously seen is discovered in the Temple of Marduk and is found to be the source of the radio signals.
Casey receives a radio transmission from Kolya warning him that the Mongolians are heading to Babylon. Casey immediately informs Alexander who prepares his army for the battle. Sable catches Kolya's treachery, and The Khan punishes him by pouring molten silver into his eyes and ears and burying him alive beneath the throne.
In battle, the Mongols are held at bay by Alexander’s forces, which have been supplied with firearms by the British forces and taught ‘modern’ military tactics. Sable manages to reach the Temple of Marduk; Ruddy attempts to stop her and is shot dead. Bisesa then confronts Sable and manages to turn the gun on her.
The tide of the battle shifts toward the Mongols, but Kolya, who is barely alive, manages to kill the Khan, whilst committing suicide. In confusion, the Mongols retreat.
Alexander has prevailed, and Babylon is now his to shape as he sees fit. The Macedonian, British, and modern humans spend the next five years rebuilding the city, while Bisesa devotes her time to studying the Marduk orb. Casey and Abdikadir are worried for her and lead her on an expedition exploring the Mediterranean Sea.
Upon returning to Babylon, Bisesa reveals that she has established some manner of communication with the Orb and that it has agreed to take her home to her own time. Josh requests that she take him along and she agrees. The orb takes them to a large nuclear blast crater. Another orb arrives and takes her back to her apartment where her daughter Myra is waiting for her. The orb intended to leave Josh in the crater but, at Bisesa's request, it returned him to the Marduk orb.
The penultimate chapter of the novel implies that the entities that created the orbs and the Discontinuity are similar or perhaps identical to those entities mentioned in Clarke’s earlier book 2001: A Space Odyssey, but does not explain why this happened.