Bonus Review #4: ‘Children of Time’, by Adrian Tchaikovsky


Published by: Pan Macmillan

Publication Date: 21st April 2016 (First published June 2015)

I.S.B.N.: 9781447273301

Format: Paperback

Price: 8.99





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?

My Review

The blurb does not do justice to this book. It is marvellous.

Dr Avrana Kern has led the terraforming projects in a far off solar system, hoping to seed the planet in question, Kern’s World, with monkeys and a nanovirus that will help them advance. Unfortunately, things go wrong. The monkeys burn up in the atmosphere, but the nanovirus survives and finds a new host. Portiid spiders and other insects.

Several thousand years later.

The ark ship Gilgamesh has left earth, the crew have been asleep for one thousand eight hunded and thirty-seven years when the commander Guyen wakes key crew members, including head of security, Karst, chief engineer Lain and historian, Holsten. They have found a planet, a green planet. Transmissions are coming from a small satellite around the planet, but Guyen can’t understand them. Holsten, with some work, can. The satellite is the Second Brin Sentry Habitat, home to Dr Avrana Kern, and it is broadcasting a distress signal. They respond, amazed at proof of ‘Old Empire’ technology and terraforming projects long thought to be myths.

Kern is not happy with them. Half mad and jealously protective of her project, she threatens them with complete destruction. Backing off, Guyen considers the long plan. They send drones down to the planet for a closer look at the place, they hope, will be their new home. Kern destroys all but one of the drones, and that gets a view that nobody quite believes.

On Kern’s World, the nanovirus has made a home in insects, especially the Portiid spiders. The forced evolution has produced a large spider with complex thought patterns and a social structure to match. They develop farming and co-opt ants after a war, developing chemical warfare and eventually radio technology. They make contact with Kern after several generations of only receiving her maths problems. Throughout the generations the many Portias, Biancas and Fabians, innovate, lead and fight for their species.

I really enjoyed this book. It managed to make giant spiders sympathetic. Giant spiders, I tell you! I found Tchikovsky’s depictions of the complex society of the Portiids, with it’s inversions of historical human norms – the females are ‘natural leaders’, the males are ‘decorative’ – and the evolution of their culture, science and engineering absolutely intriguing. It was intelligently written and easy to read. The human relationships and the tale of the Gilgamesh were as interesting, but I really found the evolution of the spiders of Kern’s World the most interesting. Their solution to the problem of the arriving humans is more sensible than either Kern or the crew of the Gilgamesh come up with.

I read three quarters of the 593 pages yesterday, i was completely immersed in the world and only surfaced again when I finished. I felt bereft, I need something equally gripping to read now.

I definitely recommend this book, even if you aren’t into sci-fi.


Published by

R Cawkwell

Hi I'm Rosemarie and I like to write. I write short stories and longer fiction, poetry and occasionally articles. I'm working on quite a few things at the minute and wouldn't mind one day actually getting published in print.


  1. I’ve been on the fence about this one, mainly because one friend of mine said he really didn’t like this book. But you’ve sold me on this one. I’ll give it a shot. The part about spider society sounds especially interesting to me.

  2. Hi Rosie.

    After reading several of your reviews on your blog, I think you might enjoy my newly (self) published science fiction novel. Your review of ‘Children of Time’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky displayed the depth of insight that I am seeking for an early reviewer.

    My book, Perfect Imperfection, centers around the adventures of a not-too-smart, over-weight young man with a receding hairline who stumbles onto and into a secret benevolent society of scientists, called Perfect Imperfection or PI. With assistance PI’s accelerated learning and artificial intelligence technologies, Billings trains to become a virtual secret agent that helps humanity in the face of accelerating scientific, ecological and social evolution. The antagonist, Blackbeard, an elite black hat hacker, employs cutting-edge tech to land the biggest score of his career. An epic virtual game of cat and mouse ensues, with everything in the balance.

    I’ve tried to give hope to the reader despite the path the world is on, there is a way to save us. The point behind the story is to show we can overcome the trivialness of all our imperfections, be they physical, social, intelligence or economic. I will donate all profits of the book to causes that are consistent the book’s key themes.

    By way of introduction, my name is S. E. Gould, and I’m a recovering software entrepreneur and corporate finance executive, looking to spend the best part of my life writing fiction that may help inspire the world to choose a better path.

    If you are interested in reviewing, I am happy to send you a pdf, epub or can gift you a free amazon kindle version or paperback. Lastly, if you want an interview or run a giveaway for your followers, I can help you out there as well. I appreciate your consideration.


    S. E. Gould

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