What if the planet you are attempting to colonize is already occupied? This is the question that Adrian Tchaikovsky’s CHILDREN OF TIME attempts to answer, but while doing so, asks so many more questions along the way.
When an ark ship, holding what remains of humanity, comes upon a long-forgotten project of Old Earth, a terraformed planet, what could be wrong? Instead of being a new hope, the planet has become occupied by another life-form entirely, and one that is utterly alien to humanity, despite growing up beside them for epochs…spiders…the planet is inhabited by actual sentient spiders.
Tchaikovsky weaves together human psychology and rich zoological knowledge to challenge everything we have come to expect of our bestial neighbors. Explaining any further of how it happens would spoil the twist here, but the plans of having an uplifted species on the terraformed planet did not go as planned. Yet, with an ark ship that has traveled untold distances and several millennia, time is running out for humanity and such terrestrial threats may seem small in the face of extinction.
This book has become one of my favorites in recent memory and it is by far one of my new favorite science fiction novels in the last five years. The sheer originality of the work, alongside the larger themes of humanity all coming together to illustrate an epic of two races meeting for the first time. This is not a character-driven novel by any stretch of the imagination, but that does not detract from the ideas and story that still plays out. I have to hand it to Tchaikovsky for weaving such a complex and thrilling story.
A blend of science and sociological speculation, there is something for anyone, who enjoys spaceships and the limits of science. One of my favorite podcasts, Spectology, covered this book in November, so if you like this book a lot, I highly recommend it. I know some people may have hang-ups with this book based on the obvious, which is totally natural, I had them too, but don’t let it stop you!