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Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Time

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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2571744,496 (4.13)22

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
What an imaginative and deeply thought and well-executed look at the far future. I can't say much more to spoil it, but read it! ( )
  majkia | Jul 25, 2017 |
"Children of Time" is a standalone sci-fi novel by Adrian Tchaikovsky - who writes mostly fantasy (probably most well known for his 10-volume Shadows of the Apt series which I have yet to read) but, if this novel is any indication, can also write pretty good sci-fi.

It's a bit hard to write a review for this one without revealing too much - but let's give it a go...

Firstly... the timeline is pretty epic - spanning literally thousands of years from start to finish. You well and truly feel the passage of time as the plot tends to jump ahead a few hundred or a few thousand years at a time. Space has never felt so vast or quite so lonely.

There are two separate concurrent plots going on (with their eventual convergence at the end). On one hand we have the evolution of a species from ground zero to civilized society and on the other hand we have the last remnants of humanity travelling in an ark ship across the cosmos looking for a planet to settle on. Which pretty much gives us a wide scope to work with as so much can go on within said plot lines... and a LOT goes on.

The characters are memorable and engaging and I found the character development to be one of the strong points of the novel (Avrana Kern ( manifestations) probably being my favourite in terms of 'something different'). Everyone was well fleshed out, believable and relate-able (even the non-humans). There is even a teensy bit of romance thrown in (which I felt was a dash in just the right amount).

One of the things that endears me any sff/speculative fiction work is how it explores a diverse array of concepts and this story totally delivered for me in that sense. You can find (the aforementioned) evolution, genetic engineering, nano virus programming, singularity, AI, the long term effects of cryo sleep, planet terraforming, history (and it's importance), social structure, social engineering, social revolutions, language, physiology, megalomania(!)... among other things.

Phew. Overall it was a satisfying read with a solid 4.5 rating. It was just short of the ('it's amazing') 5-star because (although I have no major qualms) I just felt that the ending may have been a bit too neatly done. But that may just be me*.

(*Or maybe I just wanted an all out space battle. Haha.)

Off topic: This is the second novel (out of those recently I've read) where there were:
i) two engaging separate plots that didn't annoy me (Magician King, L. Grossman); and,
ii) spiders/webbing in zero-g space (again!!) (Hothouse, B. Aldiss). The recurrence of spiders just really made me twitch.

PS: Probably not a story for those inclined to arachnophobia. Just saying.

Disclaimer: received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  kephradyx | Jun 20, 2017 |
I’ve read an enormous amount of science fiction over the years, so it takes more than a run of the mill space opera to get my attention. That having been said, this was a very good work, which while not completely original, certainly could not be considered hackneyed or derivative.


In a distant future, the Earth undergoes something of a civil war, between those who wish to explore the stars and those who adamantly do not. The former seek to terraform and colonize nearby star systems. As this project is progressing, the opposition sparks an Armageddon that takes life on Earth back to the Stone Age.

Meanwhile, life on one of the terraformed planets develops, quickened by a catalyst, though this life progression is nothing like what had originally been planned. Over the years, life on Earth undergoes a slow return to pre-cataclysm technological capability, including space flight. The Earth is slowly becoming less and less habitable, and the remnants of the human race depart the earth aboard a space ark of sorts, destination our terraformed planet.

So, with all this background, the novel tracks both the alien life on the terraformed planet and the Earth colonists in alternating story threads that ultimately converge in the final fifty pages.

The alien life form (not entirely alien in nature) and its evolution are presented very cleverly by the author. The human characters are outstanding. I can very heartily recommend this novel to anyone that enjoys science fiction. ( )
  santhony | Apr 28, 2017 |
Materialistic determinism will only get you so far. This book lacked the basic plausibility found in others of this genre. Generations of humans acting as machines with no soul or independent thought is a little dull after 600 pages. The story bogged down a lot in the middle chapters as well. The typical pointless gender switching is getting a little old as well. Dune and Hyperion are infinitely better reads. Three Body Problem is infinitely better. ( )
  wrevans | Apr 25, 2017 |
Very mild spoilers.

There's a lot to like about this book. It was really a 3 star book, but the author gets a pass since its an early book and I think he has a lot of potential.

The good:
- Good, hard science fiction. I liked the main characters: the bumbling classicist, the self-obsessed captain, although the "bad-ass female engineer troupe" is getting a little tired.
- The spider society was interesting. The author clearly thought out how it would work, and spent time on the details.
- A good overall story with an ending that lands.

The bad:
- A little long. I could have lived with a 500 page book rather than a 700 page book. Did we really need to see every single stage of spider society? Yes, I get it: the scenes on the ship and the scenes on the spider planet follow a parallel thematic arch. But you could have done that with several fewer chapters.
- The spider characters were a tiny bit flat. Since we get a new set every chapter, its hard to get to know them with any
- I think "inspired" is the word. There is another desperate-earthlings-orbiting-a-society-of-primitive-spider-aliens-and-we-observe-the-aliens-developing-through-time book by Vernor Vinge ([b:A Deepness in the Sky|226004|A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought, #2)|Vernor Vinge|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1217218691s/226004.jpg|1270006]), which is better in my opinion. The Spider stories remind me of [b:The Years of Rice and Salt|2723|The Years of Rice and Salt|Kim Stanley Robinson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1419079388s/2723.jpg|74882] by Kim Stanley Robinson. If you liked this, try those.

The wasted opportunities:
- Why have a prologue at all? Wouldn't this have been a much better book if we never learned who was in the satellite? Wouldn't it have been great, having the earthers interact with this eerie, distant, half-crazed power? Wouldn't it have made the captains actions that much more crazed, standing up to this remnant of a fallen empire? Wouldn't it be great to see the spiders learn about a literal god in their sky? It even would have fit thematically: we would get to see how these two societies react to the unknown.

Overall, 3 stars. Probably would have been 4 stars without the prologue,
( )
  dwkenefick | Apr 20, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
The concept of “uplift” has been around for a while; in this version, humans have destroyed Earth, and are making a last ditch effort to terraform a new home planet. The last stage of the terraforming includes uplifting some apes to serve as slaves for colonists via a nanovirus.

Alas for the humans, things do not go as planned. They accidentally create a planet of sentient spiders.
added by bug_girl | editWIRED.com, Gwen Pearson (Jun 17, 2015)
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To Portia
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There were no windows in the Brin 2 facility - rotation meant that 'outside' was always 'down', underfoot, out of mind.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Alas, Earth is Dead.
Space, the final frontier. Hey!
Form new Earth? UH OH. (Bug Girl)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 144727329X, Paperback)

WHO WILL INHERIT THIS NEW EARTH? The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life. But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind's worst nightmare. Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 04 Jul 2015 11:25:28 -0400)

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