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Children of Time

Written by: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Narrated by: Mel Hudson
Length: 16 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (712 ratings)

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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

What the critics say

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

SF masterwork in the style of Brin or Vinge

OK, wow. Occasionally a book comes along that makes me want to go back and downgrade all my previous 5-star reviews to 4-stars just so this one can be clearly ahead of all the rest. This is definitely that book. I picked it up fairly randomly on Audible and holy crap, this is an amazing masterwork. Apparently winner of the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and can we give it all the other awards too? If you enjoyed David Brin's Uplift Trilogy, if you enjoyed Diane Duane's spider scientist K't'lk, if you enjoyed Raising the Stones by Sherri Tepper .... then you will love this book, and love finding elements of all of these in it.

It starts with a clear nod to the Uplift Trilogy as the terraforming ship "Brin II" begins preparing a potential colony world for a long process of terraforming, ultimately with the hope of creating a new earthlike planet and "uplifting" monkeys using a custom nanovirus. Long story short - things don't go according to plan, either for the human race or the monkeys, nor for a charming and unusually intelligent species of jumping spider that turns out to be somewhat susceptible to the virus also.

The scope is literally epic, spanning millenia, and touching on humanity's self-destructive instincts, the end of the human race as we know it, space exploration, uplift, insane artificial intelligence, extremely sympathetic spider characters, and programming via ants (couldn't help wondering if this was a nod to Terry Pratchett also...) It is a LONG book, 16.5 hours in audio form and massive in scope, but beautifully written and I can't imagine any science fiction fan who enjoys authors like Brin and Vinge would not also enjoy this. But enough review writing, I must now go and read everything else by this author. #Audible1

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Simply wonderful

I'm not sure if it's the wonderfully written semi hard SciFi, so deep her approachable, or the Rincewind in space feeling sup plot that really set this one apart, but it is smart and delightful and will make you think n giggle. try it

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Great expectations lost.

Interesting idea meets lost opportunity. So many windows on rich alien perspectives could have been opened but words were not enough. Combine an author's narrative style of mostly passive lecture with an unfortunate habit of recurrent nagging and no matter how well read the story I found my self day dreaming about my next book choice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Overall, it was “okay”...?

So without giving anything away, this wasn’t a stand out book. The narration was decent. I think that the story didn’t afford the narrator the opportunity to shine.

Now, for the story itself... the human characters feel lacking. Very little depth to them. However the other characters in the story seem to have far more, and thus far more interesting.

It’s not a bad book, but it did have some elements that teasing that it could have been much better than it was.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An original masterpiece!

incredibly well written and well performed story. one of the most original science fiction stories I've listened to in years. the narrator does an amazing job.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Unique, fascinating and a bit confusing

The concept and time passage of this novel is ambitious and mostly successful. It’s an interesting thing, to read about the genesis of a sentient species so alien from our own. Star Trek fans would be impressed with that aspect of it. The cynicism about humanity though, I was not as much a fan of. The time jumps make following the story, at least listening to it, very difficult. I was often confused about time passage and by the time I caught up I felt like I’d missed important character beats. The spiders’ descendants were an interesting attempt to keep us engaged in characters with short lifespans, but because spiders are so alien, it really is difficult to empathize with them. That may be the point, but it also makes for difficult storytelling and I don’t think it’s always successful. The story on the Gilgamesh was a bit frustrating too, because for a human perspective it lacked humanity, or any kind of argument for humanities survival. As for the villain, Kern (unsure on the spelling), she doesn’t have much depth or much of an ending and her story is perhaps the most fascinating. Some really good ideas, a great reading from Hudson, but not much feeling. Hardcore science fiction fans looking for something unique might enjoy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A sci-fi masterpiece

It's very creative, inventive and masterfully executed. The author can intertwine 2 tales at once.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Really great sci fi

This was the best book I've read in a while. Engaging story with compelling characters, fabulous prose, and a wonderfully hopeful twist at the end of what seemed like a bleak prospect for humanity. The narrator did a fantastic job as well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not just great science fiction

This is the best book I have read in years. It's intelligent, fun, interesting, and emotional. I loved it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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good beginning

the beginning is nice enough. but their is to much techno-magic going on with the spiders. it killed my suspension of disbelief. I skipped a full chapter toward the end, it was just useless tension building for a punch not quite that punchy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kurt Schwoppe
  • 2017-07-30

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.

346 of 378 people found this review helpful

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  • Jarno
  • 2017-05-16

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.

297 of 329 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 2017-06-17

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.

440 of 489 people found this review helpful

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  • Debera
  • 2018-12-20

Interesting Plot

Intersting story with a couple twists that keeps the listener engaged till the end. Unfortunately the narrator is a little flat when it comes to story telling. She was spot on with the character "Lane," but a limited repertoire when it came to differentiating the others.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • 2017-06-24

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.

191 of 215 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian Douglas
  • 2019-08-17

Accountability

Instead of writing the Pros and Cons of this book (nothing wrong with the book just not necessary to write a review on everything) I think it is time we discuss the elephant in the room. Namely, the never ending fake reviews being generated to artificially inflate the ratings of mediocre books. If you have no idea what I’m talking about go check out “Dead Moon by Peter Clines” It currently has a 4 star average, but if you look at the first 30 top reviews they are all negative ratings. This went from being an exception to the new norm for Audible/Amazon. I’m sure you have seen other books with similar ratings which the reviews do not support.

Most of the fake reviewers only have 1 book (the book they are currently reviewing) in their reviews. So who are these fake reviewers? Why does Audible/Amazon allow it? Why is the rating system based upon number of reviews instead of helpful ratings? Do they condone it?

I understand they have a product they wish to sell and I do buy it (I have an Audible and Amazon account with over 600 books). I love audible books. I loved them from back in the 80’s where most narrators were monotonic, and I love how they have evolved.

Once again, there is nothing wrong with this book where you find this review. I just needed to vent and wanted to see if anyone else is feeling my pain. Is a little accountability too much to ask for?

273 of 312 people found this review helpful

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  • Kirk
  • 2017-12-07

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.

74 of 86 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • HannahBeth
  • 2019-08-09

Couldn't finish what should have been an amazing read

This book has an amazing story, and It starts out with all guns blazing. The premise was astoundingly brilliant and I was hooked.
But-halfway through-I had to abandon the book. Simply because I can. A well-written book would not allow me to do that! The story is cold. I honestly think some warmth and affection could redeem it. A character or two who hooks you and therefore guides you through the cold, empty, and lonely story spaces. But then again considering the storyline-it's a bit paradoxical, if the story is going for accuracy-then cold and lonely is accurately depicted.
I feel no connection to the characters. More annoyance than anything for their lack of development, and lack of development with each other. I think the author tries with Holsten and Lane, but it was not enough. I felt slightly affectionate for the spiders as they evolve and self-actualize-absolutely brilliant and a mirror to humanity-but I could not feel any real connection to them, and whenever it was their story's turn, I endured a cold, creepy feeling all throughout while imagining them.
But such technically intelligent concepts about space, technology, AI, evolution, and science. I can't help but be totally impressed by the author's knowledge and imagination. But-like the observation of so many other readers, the story needed better execution to pull it along and see it through.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Anna gold
  • 2018-02-25

Beyond inspiring

As a huge fan of science fiction I have read countless works by countless authors, non have ever touched me as this book. An understanding of life, in my opinion, has never been expressed so eloquently and so broad at the same time. This story is possibly a gateway to a new and improved perspective of humanity and of life itself. Amazing fantasy yet hopeful potential to be so much more. What we can achieve if only we can identify ourselves and the commonality between us and any other sentient being in the vast cosmos. A small, simple unique something that can bridge all the differences, that can connect to others and express one simple thought “This is us, we are like you”. This book deeply touches on all aspects of known and unknown qualities that make up our human intellectual capacity as well as those of other life forms. Then the question of “what can be achieved” is explored from a very unique alien yet familiar perspective. I cannot get enough of this book, and I pray that Adrien Tchaikovsky has planned more books along the same idea : “this is us” and what can we not reach together if we can break barriers of division. Beyond great, this book is a start in understanding more in every direction possible.

46 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • Nathanael
  • 2017-11-01

Ending is horrible

Interesting story-ending makes no sense and story falls apart lacking any logical reasoning. Really disappointed.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • dimitri sonier
  • 2019-11-17

Un pur chef d’oeuvre de la SF

L’histoire elle-même et la qualité de l’écriture emporteront à n’en pas douter tous les amateurs de SF.
La narratrice est excellente.
Pour ceux qui comme moi ne sont pas bilingues en anglais, je conseille de ralentir la narration.

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  • Mr Vincent SONG
  • 2019-03-18

prenant, visionnaire, mais aussi décevant ...

difficile d'expliquer sans spoilers... bref pas déçu de l'aventure, mais déçu par l'histoire :) j'ai bien aimé la lecture, par contre la fin semble bâclée et trop simpliste

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  • leloo
  • 2018-01-25

Une autre vision d'humanité

J'ai adoré. Une redéfinition de l'humanité. Une histoire raconté sur deux perspectives dont l'une a des milles de toute personification.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-08-09

Captivating and imaginative.

The amount of time which passes during this story is fantastic and kept me hooked to the tale. Listening at every opportunity to ideas and concepts which are unique and inspirational. Great listen, highly recommend.