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Children of Time cover art

Children of Time

Written by: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Narrated by: Mel Hudson
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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)

Featured Article: 20 Best Sci-Fi Audiobooks for Exploring New Worlds

There is no genre that lends itself better to audio narrative than Science Fiction does. There is a magic that transports listeners to new worlds of wonder and mystery that is heightened by expert voice actors and narrators. A great writer can create an imaginative new world or dystopian civilisation, but it is up to the narrator to bring this world to life around you. We’ve gathered together 20 of the top science fiction audiobooks ranked not only for their stories but for the emotive and compelling narrative performances. Let these award winning tales and voices carry you away to worlds unknown.

What listeners say about Children of Time

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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

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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

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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 sub plot that really set this one apart, but it is smart and delightful and will make you think n giggle. try it

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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.

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Loved it.

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

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  • Ev
  • 2019-11-26

not enjoyable

Struggled to finish this book. It has a good, perhaps overly ambitious story line and kack character development, so I did not feel connected to any one of the characters, therefore not vested.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 2017-07-07

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.

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  • Secret Elf
  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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  • Ginger
  • 2017-05-18

Great Narrator and a good if flawed story

What made the experience of listening to Children of Time the most enjoyable?

The narrator is excellent. I really enjoyed listening. The story is at times excellent but at other times it is very flawed where its motivations and portrayals of HUman nature are concerned.

Any additional comments?

The story is an excellent and compelling idea with one huge flaw that appears right at the beginning. The author seems to have a very black, almost cliche view of what motivates humanity, its response to the strange and unknown and does not even allow them the ability to understand blindingly obvious observations. The lead character of the book is timid, essentially contributes nothing aside from internal dialogue and in the end is unable to even suggest what he has already figured out as a result of a combination of cowardice and insecurity.

It was frustrating to have listened to 14 hours only to have the book end with the humans still unable to comprehend the most basic of things. They are supposed to have lifted themselves up from tragedy yet do not in any way reflect the necessary growth in perspective nor driving curiosity that had to be present for them to have restored so much of their lost civilization. The reasons and methods of humanity's initial collapse are very thin. To the point of contrivance.

I can see why so many consider this a great book. It smacks of the kind of great sci-fi you would find in the 60's and 70's. The problem is that where other great authors recognized the breath of Human emotion, experience and capacity with in their characters, or at least had a counter-balance, this book from beginning to end seems to exist on the premise that all humans do is attack what they do not know and will always destroy vs investigate or explore other possibilities.

It seems not to far a leep to think the author views HUmanity in a very narrow way and does not recognize our ability to deduct or take seriously any potential reaction than to attack all that is strange before ever trying to understand it. At the very least I find it unlikely in the extreme that people who lifted themselves out of near extinction as a result of a turning on each other, would so easily always turn to violence to solve problems. I really think that if the author had shown more balance in the scope of human emotion, motivations and capacity for curiosity this book would truly shine. Instead, almost as if the author simply thinks Mankind is nothing but a bunch of monkey destroyers, Humans have to be genetically modified to accept the strange and unusual.

If you do not mind having a lot of essentially, "Human bad all else good" you will like this book to the end. As for others, if they are honest with themselves, they will see how almost from the beginning every human is frankly a violent idiot. It is largely because of the last two hours that I found the story to be broken where motivation.

I don't know how to present this book to others. One is the dystopian view of humanity, One is the uplifting view but everything seems to come down to problems with the very poor dialogue and a poor understanding of the breath of HUman potential. It is almost written as if the author lives a very sheltered existence and thus does not any potential potential for Humans.

Be prepared to dislike the last two hours after spending 14+ hours listening to the book.

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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.

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  • Kapi
  • 2023-07-30

Une idée originale et différente mais pas pour moi

Une idée originale et différente avec beaucoup d'imagination de la part de l'auteur pour nous mettre dans la peau (carapace ?) d'une araignée.


Certaines parties rentrent trop dans le détail et font la narrative très lourde.

Je n'ai pas accroché à l'histoire donc pas de continuité pour moi...

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  • Goldman
  • 2023-05-21

Great Novel / Great storytelling

Great science-fiction / the storytelling is very proficient.I almost enjoyed it more than Fondation from Asimov.

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  • Alexandre GUETAT
  • 2021-08-12

To boldly go

I will boldly go start the next book in the series ! It was a great pleasure to listen to this story.

For anyone suffering from arachnophobia, a fair warning is in order, but for everyone else, just listen or read it, it is a magnificent piece of modern science fiction.

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  • Brian Katz
  • 2021-08-07

superb world building

Very well thought out concepts of non-human and human life. Engaging from start to finish.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-01-27

Un classique contemporain

L'histoire se déroule de façon très satisfaisante, alternant entre les deux "espèces" et leur évolution. Cette évolution est justement ce qui fait le sel de ce roman et Tchaikovsky réussi à faire passer ses concepts de façon admirable. Les thèmes abordés sont passionnants : l'émergence de l'intelligence, le poid du temps passé, le besoin génétique de survie et de reproduction de la vie...
Comme souvent dans les romans SF avec un accent mis sur les concepts, les personnages sont un peu sous développés et l'action est plutôt rare mais ce n'est pas vraiment un problème. C'est plutôt dans la ligné Arthur C. Clarke si ça peut donner une idée du style de SF.
La narratrice est plutôt bonne sans faire partie des meilleures, les intonations de voix sont là et le rythme plaisant mais ça manque un peu de "mise en scène" peut être. je préfère des narrateurs un peu plus théâtraux mais c'est un goût personnel. L'enregistrement est quand à lui un peu bancal par moment, souvent j'ai eu besoin de monter le volume pour ensuite devoir le redescendre quelques minutes plus tard, mais cela reste un défaut mineur.
Dans l'ensemble je conseil vivement, je pense que ce roman va vite devenir un classique moderne !!

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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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  • Rentomi
  • 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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  • Dan A
  • 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.

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  • sonia.b
  • 2023-11-22

Excellent.

This was a really good book. Enjoyed it a lot. Highly recommend to anyone. Pkease do download.

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