The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home. Following their ancestors’ star maps, they discovered the greatest treasure of a past age – a world terraformed and prepared for human life.
But all is not right in this new Eden. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New master have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare. Now two civilizations are on a collision course and must fight to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?
Having read Tchaikovsky’s latest publication, The Tiger and the Wolf – I had told myself that I would eventually pick up his later works and hope that his impeccable writing style and ability to create a vivid world would be evident there. I came across Children of Time by pure chance, browsing the science-fiction and fantasy shelves at my local Waterstones. I had been desperately seeking the first book in the Shadows of Apt series by Tchaikovsky but found that my store never seemed to stock it; so I thought I would give this one a go.
I was not disappointed! Considering I had only become aware of Tchaikovsky through Twitter and one of his works of fantasy, his ability to write science fiction is on par. Children of Time doesn’t require as much world-building as a fantasy novel, however Tchaikovsky sets himself the task of presenting to the reader an altogether different sentient species that we – somehow – must sympathise and relate to. I did at times find this a bit hard due to the nature of the species and trying to understand their way of living, however, as the novel progressed I found this easier and easier as they developed and behaved similarly to the human race. An element I did wholly enjoy in regards to this species was the similarities to the human race and how they had been flipped – instead of being a patriarchal society, we are presented with a matriarchal society and this species experiences everything we do; equal rights for both genders and equal job opportunities etc.
Tchaikovsky brings a lot of prevalent themes to the narrative of Children of Time that left me thinking for hours on end whenever I put the book down. It really makes you contemplate the existence of the human race and how, as a species, we are vulnerable not just to ourselves as we fight wars and slowly destroy the planet – but that we could easily be wiped out by a alien species we have never met before. Themes of evolution and genetics also come into play in regards to this species inhabiting this new Earth as well as within our own species – our inability to adapt and understand that we are all one and the same, our inability to put the past behind us and move forward – to set aside our old ways of fighting amongst ourselves. In the end, it becomes evident that humans can never stop being primal and will continue to fight against each other in factions.
I really loved the concept put forward by Tchaikovsky and found it to be a quick read. As with most science fiction, I found it easier to pace myself through the novel with quick, frequent sprints as opposed to long, drawn out reading sessions that would leave me feeling groggy and hungover. Tchaikovsky’s writing style did not disappoint yet again, it was succinct where it needed to be, providing information as and when needed but still pushing the narrative forward. You know a novel is good when good writing, vivid detail and thought-provoking themes come together seamlessly!