Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Children of Time #1)
Reviewed by Parker AKA P$
WTF GOIN ON
I have been guzzling this box of cab sav with* sam and had a few two hearted IPAs. We agree vehemently that Julie and the Phantoms deserves another season or 5, instead of getting the Taina treatment. I’ve also sipped a sativa or 3 in the meantime/in betweeentime. So sated, I awake from my suspension pod and warn you that I write, a few sections from now, perhaps the only spoiler I’ve written in one of these booze’d reviews. Its unprecedented but well deserved. CoT is so formidable a text. I convened this whole shenanigous rendezvous between Sam and I, because finished Children of Time this morning and I had ants in my pants about it. Pun intended. CoT is a novel about evolution and possibility and the absolute terror that human nature inspires. I run out of adjectives—it is amazing.
A race for survival among the stars… Humanity’s last survivors escaped earth’s ruins to find a new home. But when they find it, can their desperation overcome its dangers?
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 borne 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?
Imagine: a few thousand years from now, the dregs of humanity have launched arks from a poisoned planet, piloted by narcissists. these have crudely rebuilt their long-ancient forebears spacefaring technology, and packed the remnants of us in stasis. One of these arks, the Gilgamesh, is dead-set on making a home of the only green planet humanity has found. Turns out, it’s a planet that another society bioengineered and terraformed– earthlings from an epoch ago. Hilarity ensues as the Ais (plural) and the leaders of humanity (plural) and the green planet’s inhabitants—aka “the monkeys”— grapple for control, over generations. by hilarity, of course, I mean genocide.
I could not stop reading this novel. Not only because it was really really long and I could not stop reading it. But because the world was so intricate and layered and rich. The plot traverses time, and similarly the prose seems to have no respect for the puny aperture through which humans experience it. Across light-years of space and thousands of years, Tchaikovsky orchestrates the complex social relationships of parallel civilizations, diametrically different: loving, warring and everything in between. via incredible subtlety we learn about these pro/antagonists beliefs and biology their genealogy, the very ontologies of their species through characters’ actions. Its goddam exquisite. I also found it guaranteed to make me sleepy, or, if I was sleepy, to knock me all the way out. I do take this as a personal failure, for what it’s worth.
***SPOIDLERS***SPIDERS. SPIDERS WORSHIPPING AT TEMPLE; SPIDERS EVOLVING PAST GENDER MORES. SPIDERS HARNESSING THE HIVEMIND OF ANT COLONIES TO BIOENGINEER GODDAM CLOUD COMPUTING!!!!!! OH AND SPIDERS COUNTERATTACKING AN INVADING FORCE OF HUMANS IN ORBIT, BOARDING, AMBUSHING, INJECTING EMPATHY INTO THEM VIA FANG AND AEROSOL. SPIDERS SAVING US FROM OUR NATURE!!! SPODERS!!1! THIS SHIT WAS BONKERS!!!
Booze comp: Mezcal. This book was so good out the gates. I was shocked and thrilled and then…. confused about what was going on in the middle there. Indeed, I was, dare I say: bored. But then at the end? Sublimity. Smoky and sweet. Loamy. Spicy. Surprising, but in retrospect and exactly what I was looking for.
Rating: 4.75/5. I would have elided a section or two, but then again, no one nominated me for an Arthur C Clarke so. Grain of salt.