Another of Barrington Bayley’s swinging philosophical space operas. This is no less than the decline and fall of an empire that rules not only space, but time. Unlike H. Beam Piper’s Paratime worlds, they don’t simply observe and exploit the past, the people of Chronopolis have gone beyond Fritz Leiber’s Spiders and Snakes, they are not content to infiltrate and alter the time stream. In true imperial fashion, Chronopolis just re-makes it, with vast temporal roadblocks keeping their bubble of time pristine and free of any influence save the empire’s. Time exists in nodes, wave peaks and troughs, always marching onward serenely, never interfering with one another.
But no wave can avoid ripples. Imperial princes may form misalliances between past and future selves. The borders are under attack. Within secretive cults seek to spread chaos and fear. Against the rising tide of temporal decay, a hero arises, Aton, a disgraced time-ship commander on a deadly mission to confront the demonic forces at the heart of time.
This is classic Bayley, part science fiction, part fantasy; sharp, to the point, with a headlong pace that has room to offer wild insights into science, philosophy, and human nature.