The first book in the Children of Time SF series.


Publication year: 2015

Format: Audio

Running time: 16 hours, 31 minutes

Narrator: Mel Hudson

I haven’t read a book like this before. It has an alien perspective and a human perspective.

In the distant future, humans have engineered a nano-virus that can “elevate” an animal to a human level of intelligence and consciousness. The virus will also accelerate the process. Doctor Avrana Kern needs to spread human intelligence throughout the stars. She starts by seeding an alien planet with monkeys and the virus. Their evolution will, of course, take thousands of years, so she won’t be there to witness it. Instead, she will seed other planets. Unfortunately, Earth has a strong movement against tampering with other planets. One of those people infiltrated Kern’s mission and sabotages the launch of the monkeys to the planet. He also destroys Kern’s ship and the monkeys. Kern manages to upload her mind to the satellite she has left orbiting the alien planet. The virus spreads on the planet but doesn’t have Earthlike mammals to infect. Instead, it infests spiders.

A couple of thousand years later, humanity’s last ark ship the Gilgamesh is nearing Kern’s world. The ship simply doesn’t have the resources to maintain its cargo of thousands of cryosleeping humans infinitely. So, based on old, old records the ship’s captain, Guyen, has chosen this world as most likely to be able to support human life. He wakes up a classicist, Holsten, who has studied the old Earth. Guyen commands Holsten to translate the old Empire’s language and contact the satellite around the planet.

Meanwhile on the planet, the spiders have grown intelligent and are forming societies. We see through the eyes of Portia and her descendants how the spiders develop languages and customs. Eventually, they also form religion and organized warfare. They also keep ants as servants. Because of their different physiology, their language isn’t human-like and they command ants through scents.

The humans aboard the Gilgamesh start to fight among themselves (as usual). Holsten is in cryosleep for much of the time and each time when he wakes up, the situation has changed. However, I was far more interested in the spiders. The curious spiders with their scientific mindsets seemed more interesting than the power-hungry and increasingly savage humans who just love to fight each other. Of course, the two species are heading toward a confrontation.

The writing styles for the two factions are different. Holsten is the POV character in the human chapters which are written in a tight third POV. But the spider chapters are from an omniscient view. They have a spider POV character but the narrator also summarises the development of the spider society.

This was a very entertaining and compelling read. The final chapter continues the story but it’s not a cliffhanger.