Children of Time
By: Adrian Tchaikovsky
My Rating: FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS!
Best For: Adults
Well, that was a mind bender. I hope you’re not scared of spiders…
Children of Time won the Arthur C. Clark Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of 2015, which puts it in pretty great company. If you’re a fan of ScyFy, you’re going to want to check this out.
Future us are reaching for the stars, setting up terraforming stations around potential new colony planets, and developing viral tech that advances evolution of species to help spread humanity far and wide. Introduce the manufactured virus to monkeys, wait a few hundred years, and wah-lah: you have new humans. Back home on Earth, war breaks out between science and religion, everything gets destroyed, nuclear winter begins, and all the terraforming equipment is abandoned. And the virus? Well, on the test planet the monkey’s didn’t work out. But there were these native spiders…
Fast forward a couple thousand years, and the survivors of the old Human Race are once again reaching for the stars, looking for humanity’s new home. Those ancient terraformed planets seem like a good place to start. Like, for example, that one where they tried to establish the monkey project? Ya, let’s move to THAT planet. Too bad they didn’t know about the spiders…
Children of Time was a really cool take on First Contact. The science is heavy here, and it might turn some off–this is not light and fluffy ScyFy, this is Neil DeGrasse Tyson x Charles Darwin x Albert Einstein stuff. I loved the clever applications of the relativity of time and space travel, and the evolution of the spiders into sentient beings was incredible to experience. There was SO MUCH creativity here, turning spiders into “people,” yet keeping them spiders. Fascinating AND entertaining! Whose side was I supposed to be on? Was I team Spider or team Human? I loved the contractions there, and I bet you will too.
A side benefit to watching the spiders evolve from instinct-driven hunters to self-aware thinkers was watching the evolution of their social constructs–particularly as related to gender roles. Think of our colored history relating to this topic, and imagine what a society might look like if females were larger, stronger, and better hunters than males. Like maybe…the way it is with spiders, for example? If this topic is of interest to you, I bet you’ll find as much value as I did in watching the transformation and realizing I was looking into a mirror reflecting our own selves. I found it tremendously valuable and enlightening.
The science was cool. The spiders were creepy. The twist ending was unexpected and left me perfectly satisfied.
This was a really great story!
There is strong language that’s part of the personality of two of the key characters. Other content concerns are very minimal. Some reviewers found the detailed descriptions of spider life monotonous–I found it fascinating. It did feel like a long 600 pages, though, so if you’re one who likes to move fast and not swim though details, you might get frustrated with the pace.
If you’re a ScyFy fan Children of Time is a must read!
Best for adults.