Monday, June 12, 2017

Review: Children of Time

Title: Children of Time
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Pages: 600
ISBN: 9781447273301
Publisher: Tor
Published: 2015
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Purchased

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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. 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?

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time weaves a fascinating tale of truly epic scope. Spanning the depths of time there are two very distinct storylines at play. The first follows the last remnants of humanity on board the colony ship Gilgamesh as they trace the ruins of their long lost ancestors in search of a world where they can start anew. The second follows the newly uplifted inhabitants of Kern’s World, a terraformed planet, as they shape a future for themselves.

Time is the most powerful force at work in the novel and it is used to tremendous effect. For the humans on board the Gilgamesh it results in entropy and decay. As their ship deteriorates and the cryonics keeping them alive slowly break down there is a growing desperation and urgency to find a new world to call home. This fractures their shipboard society leading to conflict and turmoil. For the non-human inhabitants of Kern’s World the passage of time means the opposite – an endless future of opportunity and discovery as they grow not only in intelligence but also in technological aptitude. Soon they are the ones reaching for the stars in wonder.

When these two societies finally collide the inevitable conflict has all the hallmarks of a desperate last stand that will have you on the edge of your seat. The conclusion is powerful, satisfying and unexpected. Perfect in so many ways, it simply blew me away and left a warm afterglow for days afterward.

The world-building is wonderfully intricate and imaginative. Tchaikovsky manages to take our phobias and allow us to see them in an entirely different light. Throughout the novel my sympathies quickly shifted to the uplifted spiders. As each generation grew more and more fascinating I grew increasingly attached to them and their society. By the end I was firmly rooting for the space spiders to kick some human ass.

To say that I loved Children of Time would be a huge understatement. It had everything I love in a space opera: epic scope, staggering timelines, advanced technology, alien creatures and most importantly a huge sense of wonder. The only issue I had was with the pacing. Towards the middle there are some events on the Gilgamesh that didn’t much interest me at all, and could have easily been condensed into a more compact form. While Adrian Tchaikovsky might be better known for his fantasy work Children of Time proves he is also a deft hand when it comes to science fiction and easily ranks him among the best science fiction authors I’ve read. It’s no wonder that this won the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award. Truly a remarkable story with startling, awe-inspiring implications and an intricately woven narrative. Definitely not to be missed!

While this was a standalone novel it left me craving more. Near the end I kept putting off reading the final chapters because I wanted it to last longer. I would absolutely love to see more of this universe. Hopefully we’ll get to see a sequel someday. I’ll be all over it like a jumping spider stalking prey...

The Verdict:
Children of Time is an astounding space opera that will have you re-evaluate your allegiance to humanity. It’s fascinating and terrifying in equal measure with a truly fantastic ending. Space spiders have never been more captivating. You have to read this!

The Rating: 9 (Excellent!)