Where Time Winds BlowRobert Holdstock
British Science Fiction Association Award nominee 1982.
The Time Phantom was an ancient, shriveled figure; it was difficult to make out detail in the fading light, but he seemed to be staring straight at Faulcon as the viewscope peered down upon him, staring from shrunken eyes hidden in massive wrinkles of flesh and twisted facial muscle. His nose was squat, giving every appearance of having been crushed; it seemed to twitch as if he smelled Faulcon's scrutiny, but this was almost certainly imagination. His hair was lank, long, grey as ash – and from this distance seemed filthy; it blew in the breeze. By way of breathing apparatus, he seemed to wear a corrupted respirator that covered the lower face, held in place only by the pressure of his lips...
Kris Dojaan is sure that the Time Phantom is Mark, his brother, lost on Kamelios a year before. Though Mark was not precisely lost – stolen, on Kamelios, is a better word to describe the disappearance of the rifters, those workers who come the valleys for artifacts of past and future civilizations.
For Kamelios, with its atmosphere made breathable for unmodified humans only through the use of sealed, movable cities and respirators, poses another threat to its colonists: the time winds, which scramble chronology in both its geological and historical aspects. Those who explore the ruins risk being swept off in the winds – vanishing forever. Yet Kris feels that if he can enter one freely, he will survive – riding the winds like the Phantom – to find his time-lost brother.
But jaded by years of experiences and by the effects of the fiersigs – fields of energy which sweep randomly over the planet causing abrupt emotional changes – the other rifters feel differently. Veterans Leo Faulcon and his lover, Lena Tanoway, are given charge of Kris, to protect him from his wild scheme, on orders from Commander Gulio Ensavlion, whose hope for solving Kamelios' riddles lies in communicating with the time-traveling aliens which he alone has glimpsed.
Caught in his anticipation of a reunion with Mark, Kris begins to venture into the rift-valleys without the protection of his r-suit, which is equipped with a warning siren and enables the wearer to out-run the wind. One morning, Lena and Leo find him wandering in the valley, filled with important news. He has seen the Time Phantom close up, and though the figure is not Mark, the Phantom has told him he can take him to his brother.
And then the worst time wind in Kamelios' history begins to blow, taking Lena and Kris with it, leaving Leo behind to find them... somehow.
Genres: science fiction