Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

After reading a bunch of (wonderful) research books focussing on Victorian England and biographies of a few major figures from that era, I was in the mood for something a bit different. I’ve always loved a good science fiction book, but frankly, since reading Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (sensational), I was hard-pressed to find something (just from reading blurbs) that took my fancy. That was, until I saw Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I figured that with a name like that, chances were, he’d be good. (I know that’s very peculiar reasoning for choosing a book, but hey, the blurbs weren’t doing it for me :)). Well, I wasn’t NOT disappointed. On the contrary, I was stunned.

This is the story of the last of humanity hurtling through space in an effort to find a planet that, long-ago, humans began to to terraform and then, using what was at the time advanced science, released nano-technology to help advance the new colonists – primates no less – sent to the planet’s surface to settle (I’m trying hard not to give spoilers), so they could prepare it for the humans when they eventually arrived. Only, things don’t go according to plan (a massive understatement) and what’s waiting for humanity is anything but -the species closest to us on the evolutionary scale…in fact, what’s lurking the surface is absolutely terrifying….

This story is epic in scope and yet subtle and riveting in execution. It takes the readers on a journey through time and space, through the evolution of a species that so many of us (me included) are terrified of, and yet by illustrating how they develop over centuries, evolve because of the nano-technology that was released and then encoded in their DNA, giving them distinct personalities, purpose, morality, ingenuity, and so much more, you end up cheering for them and wanting them to succeed. Instead of being the monsters we anticipate, we understand them as connected, political and even caring creatures that, like the humans threatening their planet (and it is theirs by now), they’ll do anything to keep it.

I have not been so impressed by a book for a long time. I cannot stop thinking about it despite finishing it a while ago now. I will read the sequels as they sound amazing. But if sci-fi stories set in the distant future that feature rapidly developing races (and a devolving one!), space travel, politics, war, fights for survival and so much more are your cup of tea, this is one for you. Actually, even if you don’t like that kind of stuff, give this book a go. It is absolutely astounding.

NB: I would like to say this book cured a particular phobia I have. It didn’t but, surprisingly, it didn’t make it worse either 🙂

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