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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 (343 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 31.42
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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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not what I expected.

There were a lot of positive reviews for this book on both the Canadian site and the US site but I fail to understand what people found intriguing about the book. Yes it was science fiction but more precisely it was a story about biology let loose.
I did a lot of skipping ahead in the book just to get the feel for the story and to get to the end. Too strange for me.
Obviously I’m in the minority.
#Audible1

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved it.

Really great read. very enjoyable hard SciFi. has a different perspective that was fascinating to see.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

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  • C8y
  • 2019-01-15

Must read/listen

A fascinating story brought to life by a masterful narrator. Adrian weaves a complex tale that is engaging and all encompassing.

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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.

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Gripping.

I really enjoyed listening to this. It takes you on a journey to the far reaches of space and time and is surprisingly heartfelt considering its co-narrators. If you like science fiction you will enjoy this book. The performance is as excellent as the story.

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Strong Characters, Vast Time Scales

I really enjoyed this novel. The characters and thrust of history they experience are so well done they feel like they could be real.

The likeable main character experiences a dizzying array of moments throughout humanity's quest for a new home in this novel. As their plight becomes more desperate, he struggles with others' willingness to take extreme measures.

At the same time, it's exciting seeing life on the terraformed planet evolve and develop, seen through the eyes of a recurring set of characters that retain the same names, but are different individuals each time you read about them.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A weird one...

Not entirely sure how to describe this... While it has some great and grand ideas, the story is quite predictable and the end falls flat on its face. It's also bloated with gimmicks and "events" that feel like there are there just to make the story more substantial, but they only make it slow and diluted. Also, the style nothing to write home about... Not a bad book, but in my list definitely not a worthy award winner...
Performance was good.

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A New Twist on SciFi without the need for Horror

Listening to books like these gives me hope for TV and Movies in the future. I wouldn't my watching this in a movie someday. A lot of movies and TV shows are just rehashed from older versions. I think it's a good team to spice things up with a fresh coat of stories.

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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.

234 of 248 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

358 of 393 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

244 of 269 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.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

140 of 155 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.

45 of 51 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Craven
  • 2018-07-18

Confused and Disinterested

The meandering nature of the simultaneous arcs and the jarring timescale jumps left me confused toward the end. I found myself listening just to get to the resolution. As I have now made it to the end I can see the reasoning, but the execution is just so massively bad.

The main flaw of this book is that it tries to be an epic series in just one book. Each Porsche, Bianca, and time jump between Holston chapters could have been one in a series of novels. The lack of focus on the characters made the overall story lose cohesion. Asimov's Foundation series did this the right way in telling compartmentalized "hero" arcs inside a rich background universe over the course of several books.

Narrated very well despite all of the drawbacks of the story.

I'd recommend passing on this one unless you're into some pretty niche sci-fi that I don't want to spoil due to the story implications.

41 of 47 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Irene
  • 2017-06-10

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!

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • logicwins
  • 2017-06-04

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.

28 of 33 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • The Zombie Specialist
  • 2017-07-09

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’

43 of 52 people found this review helpful

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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.