CHILDREN OF TIME by ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY
HB, 600 pages, Tor
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS.
Bug-loving fantasy author Adrian Tchaikovsky (Shadows of the Apt) turns his deft hand to space opera in Children of Time, which is not only his first science fiction novel but his second 600+ page novel in six months, following the brilliant Guns of the Dawn. Frankly, he’s making the rest of us look a little bit lazy….
Children of Time is set in the far-flung future, where the last surviving ark ship, the Gilgamesh, is limping through the cosmos trying to find a home for the remnants of the human race. They discover a green planet which seems perfect for their needs, but what they don’t know is that their race has already been here, thousands of years before. The planet was part of a terrestrial seeding experiment, the brainchild of Doctor Avrana Kern. But something has gone awry – Kern has merged her personality with that of an orbiting AI, while below on the planet, something unexpected is evolving at a startling rate…
(If you have a real problem with great big clever spiders you might want to look away now….)
For the people still with us… 🙂
This is a story on an epic scale, spanning thousands of years, split into two distinct narratives, human and spider. It’s also a study of societies in microcosm, how they rise and fall, how they evolve and change, from the constricted shipboard humans gradually retreating into ancestor-worship, losing control system by system of the failing Gilgamesh, to the spiders, wrestling with changes in their own society, their own technology, over the centuries. Expanding their equality, finding and losing their faith, learning to work with and co-opt the semi-sentient creatures around them. And there comes a point, inevitably, when the failing humans finally come into conflict with the advancing spiders…
Children of Time is clever, it’s funny, it’s unexpectedly optimistic and warm-hearted and it makes you think, makes you care. And it’s still only the second-best book Adrian Tchaikovsky has released this year – seriously, if you don’t like the idea of giant sentient space-spiders just go and read Guns of The Dawn instead, you won’t regret it. I started this year never having read any Tchaikovsky and in the space of two novels I now count myself a confirmed fan.
Brilliant stuff, can’t wait for the next one.
*disclaimer – I received a free copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.