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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 (442 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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    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

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Loved it.

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

5 of 7 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

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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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Really enjoyable

This book is full of great imaginative ideas and weaves them into an awesome story. It was pure fun and had a very satisfying ending.

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Just may be my favorite Sci Fi ever...

Dune will alwYs be Dune, and the old Asimov and Clarke classics are, well, classic. But Children of Time may just be my favorite sci fi ever. definitely recommend going in blind and just enjoying the ride. Narration is top quality as well.

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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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Quality Scifi

It is a different story than I am used to but that is what I was looking for. Was pleasantly surprised and afterwards immediately pre-ordered the next book. Looking forward to more books from this author.

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A staggeringly imaginative epic.

To review this story would be a spoiler. if you enjoy epic scifi this is unlike anything. Takes place over 10s of 1000s of years...with the same characters and does it well. can't wait for the 2nd.

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A sci-fi masterpiece

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

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  • Kurt Schwoppe
  • Alexandria, VA United States
  • 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.

271 of 291 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 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.

382 of 421 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jarno
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • 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.

253 of 280 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • ROCKVILLE, MD, United States
  • 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.

148 of 165 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.

31 of 35 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jazo
  • 2018-12-06

Great concept, but characters were a bit flat.

I really liked the overall plot of the book, description of the worlds, and technology. However, the characters were all a bit flat. I wanted to see how the conflict between the humans and their evolving creation resolved, but not did not really care which side won.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kirk
  • Bay Area, CA
  • 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.

51 of 59 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul B Lembo
  • 2019-01-01

Narration excellent, story so-so

Mel Hudson does a fine job playing many different characters. That's the best part of this book, the narration.

The story starts out well and the while the core ideas and style are not new (a failing multi-planet humanity, scientists experimenting with forced animal evolution) , they are still presented in a way that feels fresh. This was a four star start, but sadly the book has a one star feel by the end.

Where it goes wrong hard is in the second half. An obvious sub-story and overlong wait just to go full circle back to where any adult will realize it has to go half way in.... I listened to the last couple hours at 2X just to get done. The final short chapter has a good/interesting ending note, but there were too many issues in the second half getting there.

Complaints - I won't do full spoilers but mild spoiler warning (please stop here for no spoilers at all)

the sci-fi of the book goes further and further into the "fi" with less credible "sci" in the second half, the spider race becomes almost magical with their abilities. Its approaches farce in the finale as physics just go out the window when convenient.

Just as bad, there's an uptight, bland Doctor character who I grew no sympathy for, whose name and title we have to almost always hear at full-length, 'title first name last name' over, over... and over which became a form of audio water torture! If this author thinks she's an interesting character and has her in the sequel in new ant robot brain form that is reason alone to skip it. She's an arrogant, murdering maniac.

I've been a harsh but only b/c the book had of promise and some fresh takes on old ideas to start. With strong editing this could've been a great story. Classic case of less would've been more.

I think this author could -develop- to be truly excellent with experience and veteran guidance. The five star reviews are just silly! Overheated or written by people who have never read the staples of sci-fi.

I expect book 2 to be even better but I'll wait for more reviews before jumping in.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Craven
  • PLANO, TX, United States
  • 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.

51 of 61 people found this review helpful

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  • The Zombie Specialist
  • Secret Fortress
  • 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’

44 of 55 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.