Welcome to my very first audiobook review! I’ve talked with a lot of runners that use music or podcasts to get through their runs, but audiobooks are so underutilized. I hoped that here I could combine my passion for reading and great stories with my passion for running. I decided to start with a new book that’s quickly become a favorite of mine: Children of Time.
Children of Time is a science fiction novel authored by Adrian Tchaikovsky in 2015 and as an audiobook, Children of Time clocks in at 16.5 hours.
Basic Plot Summary
At its pinnacle, humanity has begun to terraform and seed new worlds with intelligence, but then war destroys the civilizations of Earth and these experiments literally grow minds of their own.
At the height of the Human Empire, Dr. Veronica Kern begins an experiment on a terraformed world to “reevolve” humanity using a super virus that promotes intelligence in whatever it infects. With rebellion is on the rise, a rebel ruins her experiment by destroying their ship and killing the subjects that were destined to be infected by her designed virus. Not knowing the death of her targeted monkeys, Kern enters stasis within a satellite around her terraformed planet. She awaits rescue from Earth or to be awakened by her newly intelligent monkeys communicating with her satellite.
This rebellion reaches Earth, and destroys human civilization. Thousands of years pass, and the last dregs of humanity depart the planet upon the Ark ship Gilgamesh to reach the Old Empire’s terraformed planets. During this time, Dr. Kern’s world remains untouched by humanity or the primates originally destined for it. The virus begins to infect the most complex creatures that dwell upon the planet: the common spider.
Children of Time is truly two stories running in parallel. One story of humans desperately grasping on to what was, while the spiders blooming into what could be. The last of the human race is grasping at the last straws of their civilization. We watch them fall from the pinnacle of a large empire to back into the dark ages while trying to survive on the very last space ark that is slowly falling apart around them. As their ship continues to age thousands of years as they move from one failed terraform project to another, the spiders continue to evolve and begin establishing their own civilization. The spiders are building and creating their civilization from the ground up, and even become astronauts themselves. This all comes to a head when humanity finds that the spiders’ world is their last hope.
Children of Time Narrator:
Children of Time is narrated by Mel Hudson. For the early spider chapters, while they’re still basically animals, her soft British accent reminded me of a David Attenborough nature documentary. On the other end of the spectrum, she does an amazing job really portraying the madness and desperation of various human characters.
The Reading Runner’s Thoughts:
Adrian Tchaikovsky does an amazing job at world-building and spends a good deal of time explaining the Spider’s culture. He really did his research on spider biology and behavior! Though, it can tend to drag a bit if that isn’t something that grabs your attention. I found that I was really more drawn to the spiders’ portions of the story. They go through war, plague, dealing with science versus religion, and even gender equality. The human perspective can sometimes read more as horror science fiction. I mean, giant sentient space spiders are terrifying! Even explaining the humans from the spider’s perspective can be utterly terrifying, if you really think about it from the human’s side.
However, if you are a listener that loves character driven plot, you may not enjoy Children of Time. As this novel covers thousands of years, the plot is more the civilization as a whole rather than individual characters. (However, the Spiders carry memories through their genetic line so each generation has new characters with the same names.) There are also human characters who pop in and out of stasis to stretch through the timeline, but they really aren’t the focus of the story.
Overall, I adore this book. It’s such a unique idea and is excellently executed. I must not be the only one that thinks so, as Children of Time was awarded the Arthur C. Clark award in 2016.
My Recommendation: Definitely worth picking up for a few long runs, but only if you’re okay with Spiders!
How to Listen to Children of Time:
If my review of Children of Time convinced to pick up this audiobook here are a few suggestions to get your hands on this great science fiction tale.
Audible Membership: For most of my audiobooks, I’m a member of Audible. When you start the trial membership you get 2 free books, so you can try out Children of Time at no cost. I’ve been using audible for about 7 years now, and it’s great to build your own library.
Amazon: Not wanting a membership? You can get it straight from Amazon.
Your Local Library: Check out the Libby app and see if your local library is a member. You can apply for a library card through the app and then listen to audiobooks right away for free. However, it does have a few restrictions. Usually only so many copies of a book are available and you might have to go on a waitlist. Additionally, you have a allotted time to finish your book. But hey, it’s free!
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