If you’re in the mood for an epic science fiction novel with an evolutionary theme, look no further than Children of Time. Spanning thousands of years, this thoughtfully crafted story has certainly been influenced by Arthur C Clarke (and won the award named after him).
What helped to keep me engaged throughout this lengthy book was the continuity of characters. An evolving colony of sentient space-spiders (yes, you heard right) keeps the same names throughout the generations, while the last humans are in stasis on a huge spaceship, which allows them to survive for a long time while periodically being woken up to repair the ship and deal with problems. The main characters include peace-loving Holsten Mason, a classicist specialising in languages of the Old Empire (which I’m guessing is us); Isa Lain, the courageous and foul-mouthed chief engineer who is Holsten’s best friend on the ship; Avrana Kern, an ancient scientist who watches over the spiders’ world from a satellite; Portia, one of the pioneering spiders; and Fabian, another genius spider who champions the rights of males in their matriarchal world.
It’s an absorbing and fascinating novel. I liked everything about it. Essentially it does what all good sci-fi does – holds a mirror up to ourselves, questioning what it means to be human and emphasising the need to learn from mistakes. Sure, I could’ve done without the spiders, but I found that as their society became more advanced, I was more interested in them. I also enjoyed the tension which built up throughout the novel, as there would surely be a confrontation between the two seemingly incompatible species.
First published in 2015. There may be a film on the way but I don’t know if I could watch it, because… spiders.
There is a sequel, Children of Ruin, which I will be reading soon.