Monday, April 30, 2007

The Winds of Time

Despite having been written in 1957, The Winds of Time remains an interesting twist on the usual time travel novel because these time travelers don’t use any sort of time machine to project themselves more than 15,000 years into the future. Rather, they use a potent drug to place themselves into suspended animation and let time itself travel at its normal pace. When they awaken, they are in the future. But all is not well.

Doctor Wes Chase, on a fishing vacation with his wife in Colorado, has his life forever changed when he is taken prisoner near a remote mountain lake by one of a group of aliens who crash landed on Earth some 15.000 years before his fateful encounter with them. When they crashed, these explorers, who closely resembled Earthlings, had been on a mission to find another race of men with whom they could partner up for the good of both groups. They quickly realized that Earth humans were in such a primitive stage of development that their only chance to ever see their home planet again required them to travel approximately 15,000 years into the future. Unfortunately for them, they awoke to find themselves still 200 years too early to expect any help from the people of Earth.

That’s where Wes Chase’s life changing adventure begins.

Chad Oliver, who died in 1993, was an anthropologist and his science fiction focused primarily on the kind of culture clash that results from the sudden contact of different cultural systems. Such a culture clash, and the way that both sides adapt and change each other in the process, is the most fascinating part of The Winds of Time. Oliver’s style and his vision of what alien contact would be like influenced countless writers who followed him and he is regarded by many to be the equal of Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke.

I have a fondness for time travel novels that goes back all the way to my teen years and that’s why I picked up The Winds of Time. I was disappointed when I first realized that the novel did not employ the use of some kind of time travel hardware and relied instead on medicine to get the job done. But the longer that I read, and the more that I considered this twist, the more I realized that if time travel is ever to occur, Oliver’s idea is one of the more likely ways that it could actually happen. This isn’t a complicated novel, nor one filled with exotic battles and weaponry, but it is definitely one that fans of the genre will enjoy. It deserves to be remembered as one Science Fiction’s early classic volumes.

Rated at: 3.0


  1. A very similar story is "The Awakening" (1951) by Arthur Clarke: ""

    Only the sleep is not for a few thousands of years, but for millions of years.

  2. Sounds like an interesting story. I'd never heard of it until your post. I might have to check it out.

  3. Thanks for the heads-up about the Clarke story, Anonymous, I'll try to find a copy of that one...sounds like fun.

  4. Matt, the plot holds up pretty well despite this being a 50-year-old science fiction tale. Chad Oliver's style is not dated at all and his terminology of some of the "science" he writes about has held up also.

  5. Oh I like time travel too. I must look for this one!

  6. It's a solid scifi tale, Stefanie, from one of the genre's pioneers. I hope you enjoy it if you find a copy.