Home > Books > Adrian Tchaikovsky – Children of Time (2015)

Adrian Tchaikovsky – Children of Time (2015)


If I understand correctly, this book has been making waves (gravitational waves?) in the sci-fi community. Regardless of whether or not that’s actually the case, Children of Time made it onto my reading list and found itself devoured pretty quickly; I was burping up papery sci-fi gas for a while after that. This book is a pretty good example of what happens when two stories collide – a grand terraforming project gone mad meets the last vestiges of the civilization that birthed it. That alone you could glean from the dust jacket, but it was more than enough to grab my attention.

I don’t know what your tolerance for spoilers are, but at the risk of revealing too much, read on beyond the line.

The human sympathizers and arachnophobes in the audience might not be pleased with me for this, but to be honest, I found the alien spiders in this story to have a more interesting arc (or series of arcs, perhaps) than the humans. I guess that says more about me than the book – I have quite the appetite for history and worldbuilding. Still, these are truly alien spiders, and their bizarre social, political, technological, and even biological development made for a fascinating read. The human characters, in particular the spiders’ creator (Avrana Kern) have an absolute terror of a time trying to deal with them, and much of the excitement in this book is wondering what will happen when their respective civilizations collide. Will one exterminate the other, or can they achieve some sort of consensus? Tchaikovsky doesn’t reveal the answer until the very end, but this part of the narrative alone went through enough twists to keep me guessing and speculating.

Even if the spiders take the spotlight, the shattered remains of humanity have a great deal of trouble on their plate as well. Before the events of Children of Time begin, humanity suffers two apocalypses, although the second is indirectly the result of the first. All that’s really left is the crew and cryogenic sector of the Gilgamesh, a generation ship that ends up far beyond its prime and in desperate need of repair as it makes numerous non-FTL journeys between the stars. The Gilgamesh is also home to a great deal of political intrigue, as various factions try to steer its mission in various directions, or subvert it to their own ends. Through this, we primarily follow Holsten Mason, the ship’s “classicist”; his expertise in decrypting the knowledge of humanity’s past civilizations moves that part of the plot along, leading to much of the Gilgamesh‘s escapades and ensuring that the spiders don’t go unmolested. I probably would’ve willingly read a book that was entirely about the spiders, but even the humanity-focused parts of the novel managed to keep my interest.

In short, Children of Time was more than enough to sell me on Adrian Tchaikovsky’s skill as a writer, and it’s enough to get me interested in his other work, even if I don’t read a whole lot of non-skiffy fantasy.

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