Children of Time: Too long but fascinating

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsChildren of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsChildren of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Time (2015), the first book in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s CHILDREN OF TIME series, is an expansive and visionary epic that speculates about the future of humanity.

In the first chapter, we meet a scientist who has managed to extend her life so that she can create her own world. Her plan is to drop monkeys on a terraformed planet, let loose a virus that will uplift them, wait until they evolve, and then introduce herself as their god. Without her knowledge, something goes wrong and evolution goes off in a very different direction than planned.

Next we meet a spaceship whose crew is in grave danger because Earth, which has been ruined and is at war, has cut off resources and support, purposely stranding all of its space-faring brethren. The spaceship crew twice attempt to land on the scientist’s planet, but are thwarted. Generations pass as the universe’s last humans look for a new place to live.

That is the short version. As I mentioned, this story is epic. It spans millennia and Tchaikovsky evokes a sense of huge amounts of time passing by using long descriptive passages interspersed with bouts of action. In one plotline, the spaceship crew experiences captures, battles, mutiny, crash landings, deep sleep, and drastic changes in society and culture.

Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsMeanwhile, on the scientist’s planet, a species is gradually evolving but, thanks to the virus, it’s going faster than usual. Tchaikovsky presents a case for how the triggers and pressures of the planet would drive evolution of both the species’ physical bodies and their society. It’s fascinating.

Children of Time requires some patience. The story is long — 640 pages in the paperback version and 16.5 hours in the audiobook version I listened to (produced by Audible Studios and nicely read by Mel Hudson). Some scenes seem unnecessary or go on way too long, yet I found the story intelligent, thoughtful, and never dull. I’d recommend Children of Time especially to readers interested in biology, anthropology, sociology, and evolution. Next I’ll be reading the sequel, Children of Ruin.

Published in 2015. 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 born 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?

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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