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Publisher's Summary

Adrian Tchaikovksy's critically acclaimed stand-alone novel Children of Time is the epic story of humanity's battle for survival on a terraformed planet.

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?

©2016 Adrian Tchaikovsky (P)2017 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Children of Time is a joy from start to finish. Entertaining, smart, surprising and unexpectedly human." (Patrick Ness)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • Jarno
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • 05-16-17

A unique take on the alien

This was a very nice surprise. I read a lot of science fiction, and it's rare to come across a take on an alien society that is unique, and as well fleshed out as the author has achieved here.

The story concept is great, and the execution does not disappoint.

The start of the book didn't leave me expecting much - I found the main character in that early part pretty... cliche. Very glad to say that quickly got better though, much better.

130 of 137 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 06-17-17

A very pleasant surprise

What a pleasant surprise. I had never heard of this author and have become very hesitant to download books by authors new to me. In a time where the traditional barriers to publishing have crumbled, I tend to start with listening to the narrator in the sample on the premise that a talentless self publisher probably cannot afford a professional.

This is a well written and expertly narrated book. The premise interesting and the science believable. The characters are engaging and the storyline moves along at a nice pace.

Sorry for not giving away any of the storyline. Let's just say it's a story of humanity, survival, and some really intelligent mistakes. I enjoyed it and hope ypu will too.

173 of 188 people found this review helpful

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All we need is enough time

Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time presents an interesting take on intelligence development among insect species (mainly spiders) due to unintended human intervention. After an experiment designed to observe evolution at an accelerated pace in primates goes awry and Earth implodes itself, a colony ship is all that remains of humanity. While the terraformed world is lush and inviting, a psychotic human / AI chimera refuses to allow the last remnants of the human race to settle and forces them to wander, all the while slowly devolving, while the rapidly developing insect world is progressing through the stages of creating a sustainable civilization. With nowhere else to turn, humanity must make a play for the planet to survive.

The sci-fi elements are mainly centered around evolutionary biology and the development of intelligence and civilization. Intriguingly, spiders come to dominate with females being the dominant gender evolving as a mirror image of humanity. Rather than a random or artificial rationale for this development, the author identifies size (females being larger as a consequence of reproductive necessity) and the lack of need for child rearing duties as the basis for this development which provides a sharp juxtaposition and contrast relative to humanity. The devolution of humanity on the colony was less well handled and the final denouement was tending towards the preachy, but overall the tale is a fresh take on the evolution of intelligent life in a somewhat alien species without simply "aping" human developmental lines.

The narration was excellent overall with a solid range of voices of both genders. In addition, the insectoid vocals were handled nicely without resorting to nasal or flat affect renditions and rapid transitions between the human / AI chimera were skillfully relayed. This is a thought provoking tale that starkly portrays evolution as an unfeeling taskmaster without the concept of right or wrong, but rather only consequences.

69 of 76 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating Premise Within an Excellent Story

This is everything you expect from good Science Fiction. I love it when an author can take a potentially hokey storyline and turn it into a stunning work of believable fiction. A work of this type takes detailed knowledge and superior writing ability. Mostly this is a book about the known characteristics and behavior of a certain species, and how that species would hyper evolve with the right catalyst. But it also has some awesome hard science fiction involving terraforming, long distance space travel, and an number of other more common sci-fi themes. The science was logical throughout while the story remained unpredictable - a great combination. Sometimes female narrators struggle with male voices, but Mel Hudson does an excellent job. This book is at the top of my list so far for 2017, so it gets 5 stars across the board.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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THE HUMANS ARE COMING

THE PROCESS BY WHICH NEW UNDERSTANDING WAS NOT LAID DOWN WAS NOT UNDERSTOOD
This is an excellent book, but is not for everyone. I would call this semi-hard science fiction. A lot of it involves biology and many are not fans. Imagine playing Sid Meir's Civilization with insects. There are shades of many well know writers in this eons long epic. I thought of David Brin's UPLIFT trilogy, Harry Harrison's WEST OF EDEN trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson's RED MARS, BLUE MARS, GREEN MARS, Stephen Baxter's ARK and EVOLUTION, Isaac Asimov's FOUNDATION, with hints of Alastair Reynolds, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford and Neal Stephenson, with a character created similar to the Bob's in Dennis E. Taylor's BOBIVERSE. Don't get too excited, there are no talking beer cans, no levity, just old fashioned science. I enjoy both types and I enjoy anything to do with biology.

GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS
I especially like the way Adrian handled the uplift of spiders. He made them more intelligent, but he did not turn them into humans. They maintained their spiderness throughout the book. A world of civilized spiders that were dominated by females, had to be especially challenging.

Howard Zinn
Some reviewers have a problem in the negative view of the human race. I don't want to spoil the ending, but I agreed with it. If you have read Howard Zinn's History book, than you know where I am coming from.

THAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH IGNORANCE, YOU CAN NEVER KNOW TO WHAT EXTENT YOU ARE IGNORANT ABOUT
As a whole, I loved this book, but I had a few tiny grievances. Races are not mentioned, matter of fact few people are described physically at all, which is good. I hate when I am reading a book, picturing a character in my mind and than the author says they have blond hair are some other physical attribute which makes me alter the character well set in my mind. What the author did do through the naming of characters and the English used (and the narrator agrees) was make them all British. The last 500,000 humans are all British. The uplifted spiders are British. The deranged scientist is British. I don't believe England even has a space program and besides, as things stand today, the future space adventurers will be Chinese or even Japanese. I also did find the book to be a slight too long. Towards the end my mind did do some wondering. I loved the ending, but leading to that I slept listened for a while.

Narrator
I have to mention Mel Hudson. Her work is fantastic. I was very impressed and will be seeking her out in the future.

181 of 220 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant

Really well thought out very different and unique. The start may come off as slow but its worth it once things get going.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Kirk
  • Bay Area, CA
  • 12-07-17

Thought provoking, timely and optimistic

Adrian Tchaikovsky is a busy author. Children of Time is the first book of his I have read and visits a familiar landscape in contemporary sci-fi: the Earth is becoming unlivable and great ships are being built to send stores of humans to far off worlds to begin new, terraformed colonies.  In this story there are some fascinating wrinkles.

The story opens with a ceremony marking the beginning of a terraforming project on one such far off world. The point of view is the narcissistic designer of this world drearily waiting through the formalities of her grand plan being put into effect. At the penultimate moment the pilot of the lead ship reveals himself to be a saboteur, a man whose personal convictions are that humans should not be imposing their view of the Universe on unsuspecting worlds. His efforts result in the grand plan mostly failing and the designer escaping death by placing herself in a hibernation chamber.

The plan for this project centered on a proto-virus that was introduced into the planetary ecosystem. The intent was for it to act as a catalyst and accelerator for evolutionary development of monkeys who were also to be introduced. The idea was to inoculate the planet with these elements, wait a few thousand years then descend a world pre-populated with humans at an early technological age and live as gods.

The monkeys did not make it and though the proto-virus had constraints to keep it from affecting every species, because only the monkeys were supposed to be affected, it turns out the native spider and ant populations were affected.

Meanwhile, time passes for the Earth. A lot of time. Time enough for the fall of the technological greatness allowing such project, an ice age, and a rebirth of technology eventually allowing for a new series of colony ships to be built and sent out.

Time is everywhere in this story. We watch the spiders evolve on their planet. The humans traveling in their colony ship have a stasis like sleep which can last for hundreds of years. They are periodically woken by the ship when their input or expertise is required to deal with issues and return to sleep. It's a fascinating plot device that allows for characters to age at different rates and wake to completely different realities within the confines of the same ship they start in.

The inevitable meeting of the two species, humans and spiders, in space is entertaining and exciting. I've written before about an author's ability to tell a story without breaking my suspension of disbelief and Tchaikovsky manages it well with his telling of the battle that ensues.

There is a fair amount of what I consider contemporary commentary of issues of the day like power, fairness, equality and the effects of technology on life.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely fantastic book

This book is so well written and intelligent. For me, this was the perfect book. Fantastic characters, amazing plot. Great performance. I'd say more but I wouldn't want to spoil anything. One of the best books I have read in a long time, I needed a smart, thoughtful, and believable story like this.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

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I want more!

Crazy people – deep space travel – artificial intelligence – search for life – human attempts to interfere in the process of evolution – end of the world… all within the first chapter! What more could you ask for?

Zombies! That would have been awesome!

But alas… even without zombies I loved this one. Because at the heart of this amazing story is the basic human desire for security, self-worth and significance. In all of the far-fetched extremes of the story is something all of us can relate to. I forgot to mention there is also a love story, and mutant spiders!

In regards to the narrator. I can report that there is nothing to say other than the usual ‘I turned it up to 1.25x speed’. But that wasn’t a drama because the length of this one is over 16 hours. Giving the listener great dollar per hour value! I would have no hesitation with purchasing a title narrated by Mel Hudson.

Adrian Tchaikovsky is an awesome story writer. The imagination needed to come up with this one is incredible. Things did speed up dramatically towards the end. Which honestly I felt was a shame, because it could have easily been fleshed out more and made into two parts. I liked it that much I would be willing to pay more for an extended version. That is saying a lot because I am the cheapest person you could ever meet. I am so cheap I let my hair fall out to save on haircuts.

This very cheap fatman is giving this one two BIG thumbs up and a loud and long ‘Heeeeeeeeeeey’

35 of 44 people found this review helpful

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  • Irene
  • Thornleigh, Australia
  • 06-10-17

Extraordinary, mind-twisting ideas

Any additional comments?

Absolutely riveting, unexpected. Best book I've listened to since The Name of the Wind (different genre completely but I have very eclectic tastes) Ending did not quite resonate, Octavia Butler would have done better with the concept, but it is what it is. Still, what a concept!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Vickster
  • 06-14-17

A beautiful take on evolution and hope

Loved this. Was a deeply satisfying story of humanity and something else... Wonderfully thought out intricacies of the evolution to sentience from an entirely different point of view and cleverly written to encompass great swathes of time with continuity. Who knew you could feel such empathy for spiders. And empathy is the fundamental message for us all if we are to not only survive, but also thrive.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Damo
  • 05-31-17

Brilliant

I enjoyed the originality of this book. It is told in such a way that I found myself rooting for both sides, and I felt the development of an 'alien' intelligence that is derived from something not alien at all was particularly interesting. The means by which the author deals with untold generations of spiders cohesively is also very clever.

My thanks to Adrian Tchaikovsky, and to Mel Hudson for bringing me on such an exciting, unpredictable journey. I highly recommend this book and will be looking out for more work from this author.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Max
  • 07-06-17

Cool concept but average execution

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I think I would use it in conversation because it raised some great discussion points, but no i would not recommend it to a friend. The narrator is really bland, and the writing, which showed promise in the first few chapters with the introduction of the first spider hunting in the terraformed world, it sloped off massively and never really recovered.

Would you be willing to try another book from Adrian Tchaikovsky? Why or why not?

Adrian Tchaikovsky would probably write good films. The book has a good cinematic feel to it and I really can see this book being adapted to the big screen, web cities, space battles with sentient spiders, hypersleep, ant colony supercomputers etc. But his skills as a writer leave much to be desired. I didn't care about any of the characters with the exception of the early hunting spiders in the jungle and Fabian, the male spider fighting for emancipation. The characterisation of even the human characters was sluggish and frustrating, and at the conclusion I found myself really ambivalent to who ended up on top. So thanks but no thanks.

Would you be willing to try another one of Mel Hudson’s performances?

Hell no. She's boring after the first chapter, her accents are laughable, and her dramatic monologue performances were really embarrassing.

Was Children of Time worth the listening time?

It was worth half the listening time. Some really cool concepts in it, I really liked the stuff about ants and the early hunting scenes, also charting the rise of a civilisation under different circumstances. But sadly no I think I would take back about 8 of those hours.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 05-11-17

Tchaikovsky is still writing Symphonies!

This is genuine high-quality science fiction, in terms of pacing it's probably closer to Heinlein than Scalzi or Star Wars but it's innovative, well thought-out and fairly challenging. It's definitely at the thinking reader's end of sci-fi.

It has to be a clever book that gets you rooting for spiders and sympathising with them. This book covers issues of morality, decency, survival and has probably one of the most unique treatments of the age-old battle of the sexes I have ever read.

The treatment of time and lifespan is equally clever. There are almost three distinct timelines here. The relatively short-lived spiders together with the humans being able to engage in various uses of suspended animation could have resulted in a real mess with dozens and dozens of varied characters. I thought this was particularly well-covered with the implementation of a logical mechanism to provide consistency of character among the arachnids and longevity with key humans.

Mel Hudson does a fine job of the narration, no easy task this one making this in all a very high quality entry to the genre and I would echo Carl's thought's that we need more of this author on Audible. It seems Tchaikovsky is still writing Symphonies!

23 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary Sereno
  • 09-25-17

Good book, but at times forced.

I do like the concept behind this story and for much of the book it works well. However it at times also feels forced and some of the characters do not seem to fit roles that were meant to have been psychometrically assessed (as is explained behind the selection for one of the characters).
While towards the end it feels expected, partly due to it's forced nature, it also was not wholly predictable, which was nice.
Narration was decent, again not great, but certainly above average, which seems to just fit in with this book.

If you're after an exceptional story, I personally would recommend you give this one a miss, however if you want a decent book, which is slightly different, then this could be a tale for you.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • D. Menashy
  • 07-02-17

A Web of delight.

An interesting concept, very well carried off. A story that's engaging populated by interesting characters. I know more about spiders than ever before, but in a good way!
Superbly narrated by Mel Hudson.


6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • 01-15-18

Intelligence has many forms and we are but one.


What an amazing book, it moves through inhuman quantities of time and maintains the story but most importantly the humanity of the story (and humanity is used for lack of a better term). The ideas and the ease with which we are made to accept them is incredible.

I loved the societies and the AI half human half mad, also the use of crimpers to describe accelerated evolutions and the unintended results.

If you want to read a fresh book full of ideas, this is the one, if you like good science fiction this is one.

As good as it gets.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs. K. J. Salt
  • 11-27-17

imaginative

different from most scifi and in a good way. A familiar storyline but with a different treatment bringing alive something that could be abhorrent and making it real and acceptable. Engaging, riveting and enjoyable!

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Baz
  • 11-23-17

takes a while to get into the story line

once you do it's a great story and I love the character development and biological background

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • saori
  • 11-17-17

great novel fascinating idea

i found the pace was good enough to keep me entertained and the idea a good one. there was a twist at the end when game theory was turned on its head. i recommend as something not too heavy but good company as you drive around.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • emmoff
  • 05-30-17

Enjoyable book with a rather swift ending.

An enjoyable, imaginative book exploring the evolution of a Spider society - an accidental by-product of a human terraforming project and a nano virus invented to accelerate the evolution of Monkey to Human. As the Monkeys never arrived planet-side, the Spiders become the dominant species. The inventor of this project is a computerised remnant of an ego-driven scientist from a previous Human era, still housed in a satellite revolving the planet. She is quite possibly insane.
The book also follows the survivors of a defunct and war-ravaged, planet Earth, struggling on a cold storage Ark-ship for thousands of years in space. The Humans inevitably need to resettle on the planet inhabited by the Spiders to survive. The Spiders evolve culturally and scientifically, whilst the Humans fight entropy and themselves over the two millennial time frame, with a few of the main crew disjointedly awoken for brief often bizarre periods. Both storylines are insightful and character driven. My only criticism is that the ending felt rushed and abrupt.
Good narration and Highly Recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dianne Henderson
  • 11-26-17

Beautifully Read

Couldn't put my device down. Fascinating story. Lovely female voice. 5 stars. Future of humanity?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Trent
  • 08-23-17

Brilliant, thought provoking.

I loved the concept, the 2 different storylines happening side by side of humans and spiders and the struggles they both went through driven by the most basic of instincts of all living things, trying to survive.

The ending caught me by surprise and what a way to wrap up the story. Excellent book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-11-17

This really makes you think

It took me a little while to get the story. But before long I was hooked. It is a believable story in a weird way. I was getting concerned on how it would end as the author has you sympathetic to both sides plight. But the ending was great. I really enjoyed it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • 06-17-17

Worth every minute

Evolution of imagination. This book proves that not all science fiction has to be formulaic and predictable.

When you find yourself moved by the fate of spiders, you know the author has led you into another world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Panayotis Geou
  • 06-03-17

Great and insightful

An idea of alien species and a possible future or even present. Kept my mind busy from itself, good work :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-16-18

next level sci fi

just a brilliant book.. I'll be thinking about this for weeks, Then undoubtedly i will revisit...

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  • Bart Primrose
  • 12-20-17

truly outstanding

I don't have the words let alone the grace to explain this true masterpiece. my life will be forever richer having read it

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  • Adam
  • 12-07-17

Wow, strange and amazing

Who'd have thought that in a book about space battle between people and giant spiders, you'd sympathise with the giant spiders?