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Children of Time (Children of Time, #1)
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Group Reads 2018 > September 2018 Group Read - The Children of Time

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4280 comments Mod
Here's the topic to discuss the September 2018 group read Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky first publish in June 2015.


message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4280 comments Mod
I see this won the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award. Most on GR have shelved it as SF, but my library has it shelved as fantasy. Weird.


message 3: by Leo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leo | 640 comments I think that must be because all his other books are fantasy.


Buck (spectru) | 899 comments So here are my excuses: My library doesn't have it; I've never heard of the author; It's 600 pages; I have too many others ahead of it on my to-read list.

But... it has a 4.29 rating here on Goodreads.

I ordered it from Amazon. It'll be here Saturday.


message 5: by Leo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leo | 640 comments My library only offered me some music on 'Tchaikovsky'.


message 6: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1093 comments It may have 600 pages but it's pretty good so far. Plenty of ideas and written on a big scale. I'm not sure it counts as a spoiler as it's in the first 50 pages but (view spoiler).


Cheryl  (cherylllr) I've requested a copy from my library, but the due date for the current patron is Oct. 1 so I dunno if I'll get it. It does look almost good enough to buy.


Buck (spectru) | 899 comments I bought it. I've started it. It's good (so far).


Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Children of Time is very good science fiction. I'd not heard of Adrian Tchaikovsky before. I expect this will put him on the SF map.

However, somewhere between a third and halfway through, I'm suspending my reading of it since I have obtained a copy of a book just released yesterday and about which there has been much in the news of late.

So I encourage others to read Children of Time. It could generate a good discussion. I'll rejoin you after my little interruption.


message 10: by Leo (last edited Sep 13, 2018 02:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leo | 640 comments At home I told my children I was reading about spiders vs ants and even they were interested in the outcome. I think this is a very original book. The writer has a lot of ideas and manages to fit them together in one story. There are a lot of well written more or less 'classic' SF-situations but the combination with what's going on on the green planet makes this a unique book imo.


message 11: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 2098 comments Mod
This sounds really interesting, and I want to read it. Like Cheryl and Buck above, though, there may be a delay before I get to it.

My library doesn't have it. I checked 5 bookstores, including one specializing in SF/Horror/Mystery, and none had it. The specialist shop did have his new short SF novella, and about 10 fantasy titles by him, but not this one. Maybe it sold more copies than expected? The guy at the genre store looked it up and says a new printing is expected in December. All was not lost, I enjoy going to bookstores.

Guess I'll get this on one Kindle, but after I finish a few others.


message 12: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1093 comments It really is good, the spider chapters are fascinating. He really has paid a lot of attention to detail. I'm about 3/4 through now, so reaching the part where it has all been leading up to. I really hope the quality will not dip at the end....


message 13: by Buck (new) - rated it 5 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Jo wrote: "It really is good, the spider chapters are fascinating. He really has paid a lot of attention to detail. I'm about 3/4 through now, so reaching the part where it has all been leading up to. I reall..."

I'm just behind you, Jo, and I agree - it is really good.


message 14: by Oleksandr (last edited Sep 21, 2018 10:01PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 970 comments I second other opinions, it is a very good novel. I finished it yesterday and I was impressed enough to get a few more books by the author, both fantasy and SF. For the last several months I've read several new SF books (I often prefer old SF, not just hot from the press) and I found they too heavy handed in delivering social messages (which I usually support, I just don't like them repeated i every novel). This one also speaks for example about gender equality but much more neatly.


message 15: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1093 comments I have a question about the ending. (view spoiler)


Oleksandr Zholud | 970 comments Jo wrote: "I have a question about the ending. [spoilers removed]"

My take on it is not an enslavement but symbiotic relations - both species benefit.


message 17: by Buck (last edited Sep 25, 2018 05:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Jo wrote: "I have a question about the ending. [spoilers removed]"

My reaction was that (view spoiler) I have a notion to go back and re-read the last chapter or two.


message 18: by Buck (last edited Sep 28, 2018 01:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments I felt that this was a great science fiction book, though the climax wasn't as climactic as I had expected. It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel in 2016, but apparently wasn't nominated for other awards. Winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards sometimes are a little disappointing. Children of Time, IMO, was worthy but wasn't even nominated.


Oleksandr Zholud | 970 comments Buck wrote: "Winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards sometimes are a little disappointing. Children of Time, IMO, was worthy but wasn't even nominated. "

Fully agree, I'd blame the fact that both the largest and longest lived SFF market in the US, and the rewards, thus even good stuff from the UK can be underrepresented. And in this case they don't even need to translate!


message 20: by Leo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leo | 640 comments Jo wrote: "I have a question about the ending. [spoilers removed]"
I would have to reread the end, don't remember it well enough. I don't recall though that is was like the second option you mention.


message 21: by Leo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leo | 640 comments Oleksandr wrote: "thus even good stuff from the UK can be underrepresented...."
That would be a shame, as I thought Hugo is the most respected award and it 's competiton should be open. A jury's verdict I think will not be bothered by country of origin. Is it the system of nomination then what causes this?


Oleksandr Zholud | 970 comments Leo wrote: "A jury's verdict I think will not be bothered by country of origin. Is it the system of nomination then what causes this? "

I guess it is an awareness problem. for example, the only translated novel ever to win Hugo was The Three-Body Problem and I guess it was due to the "sad puppies" controversy. British won both Hugo and Nebula, for example J.K. Rowling and Arthur C. Clarke. At the same time there are prominent SFF writers from The UK who haven't been ever nominated IIRC, like Peter F. Hamilton, Michael Moorcock or Adrian Tchaikovsky. Germans and French weren't nominated...


message 23: by Marc-André (new) - added it

Marc-André | 298 comments The Nebula is selected by jury. The Hugo is by popular vote.


message 24: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 2098 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "... the only translated novel ever to win Hugo was The Three-Body Problem ..."

I just looked at the rules, and theoretically a book in non-English is eligible both when it is first published (in any language) and again when it is translated to English. I would be surprised if any non-translated, non-English book has actually been on the ballot.

Anyhow, I'm still hoping to get to this book some time this year, but not this month.


message 25: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 2098 comments Mod
I also just noticed this:


The members of WSFS have been concerned that works published in English outside of the USA are not getting sufficient exposure to the voting public (the largest group of whom are Americans even when Worldcon is in another country). Frequently US publishers will pick up on successful British, Canadian or Australian books (amongst others) a year or two after their initial publication. American voters want to nominate them, but by then it is too late because the eligibility year is passed. So effective with the 2015 Hugo Awards, WSFS granted an additional year of eligibility for such works when they are first published in the USA. This extension only applies to works that did not make the final ballot in their initial publication.



message 26: by Sabri (last edited Oct 05, 2018 03:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sabri | 141 comments Bit late to the action - I didn't manage to start the book until mid/late September as I was reading a different book gifted by a friend. Funnily enough that other book was The Three-Body Problem mentioned above. Both were really good reads and thoughtful constructions of alien culture but I think Children of Time tips it for combining a slew of fascinating hard sci-fi ideas with incredibly gripping prose and plot.

As others have said the spider chapters were really something else. I've never read anything like it! There were sections of the book where I was practically skim-reading the Gilgamesh chapters just to get back to the spiders as quickly as I could. Those chapters turned the book into the kind of page-turner I only come across once or twice a year.

I'm still not sure what made the spider culture so captivating. There was the struggle and thrill of survival against insurmountable odds; the gradual dawning of an alien-yet-coherent culture; the cultural twist provided by the virus; the sequence of heroic individual narratives - linked through time by the virus - which propel the society's technology and social cohesion; the collective ant consciousness being the first to discover the signals; the all-too-human yearning for understanding and exploration. It's no surprise to find out that the author has studied both zoology and psychology; it's immensely thoughtful and tenable. But he also does a great job of getting the reader to identify with and root for the spiders. I almost did a jump for joy when Kern decides that they are still her children, and another one when the spiders refuse to stoop to humanity's level and kill the last of the humans. I think the ideas will stick with me for a long time.

For what it's worth I doubt the spiders intended to enslave humans as they did the ants, although they do seem to draw a very fine line between "ally" and "tool". Thinking about it, the nano-virus sort of suggests a Brave New World style utopia/dystopia ambiguity: are we really free if we're somehow conditioned to be nice to others and happy with society?

Anyway, a cracking read and exactly the sort of book I was hoping to find by joining this group!


message 27: by Buck (last edited Oct 05, 2018 06:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments I often write a review on Goodreads of the books I read. Especially if I rated them low or high. I rated Children of Time 5 stars. (My first of the year, I think.) I didn't write a review. I don't know why. Maybe I was just at a loss for words.

Like Sabri, I probably wouldn't have read this book if not for this group.


message 28: by Buck (new) - rated it 5 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Jo wrote: "I have a question about the ending. [spoilers removed]"

I re-read the last two chapters. (view spoiler)


Sabri | 141 comments I agree Buck. (view spoiler)


Cheryl  (cherylllr) I've finally got my copy and am about halfway, looking forward to reading all those comments!


Cheryl  (cherylllr) Y'all did note that Kern's station is named after, presumably, David Brin, right? I've not read anything by him, but I suppose it's a tribute to the concept of Uplifting, in the series starting with Sundiver....

Any fans of Brin here?


Oleksandr Zholud | 970 comments Cheryl wrote: "Y'all did note that Kern's station is named after, presumably, David Brin, right? "

Yes, I noted this too.


message 33: by Buck (new) - rated it 5 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments Cheryl wrote: "Y'all did note that Kern's station is named after, presumably, David Brin, right? I've not read anything by him, but I suppose it's a tribute to the concept of Uplifting, in the seri..."

Yes, I noticed that, too. I've read a few Brin books. Sundiver was the first in his Uplift series, and for me it wasn't worth reading. The later ones are much better, and you don't really need Sundiver to set the stage.


Cheryl  (cherylllr) So, I finished. Imo, brilliant, amazing, and just barely long enough for all that it had to say. Thank you, group, for pushing me to read such a doorstopper.

I will say that I feel compelled to give it only four stars because:
1. there were a few minor awkward grammatical constructions that took me out of the story (try and understand, try and negotiate, and "a battle ensues that is only a faint echo of the tumult promised for the future."
2. I did find it easy to put down, not so easy to pick up again.
3. I can't recommend it to everybody, even everybody who avidly reads speculative fiction.


Cheryl  (cherylllr) But still, so many interesting ideas. I happen to also be reading Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived in which the author reminds us that one of the things that make humans so much smarter than other animals is the extreme plasticity of our brain post-birth, how very long our childhood is, how critical our early environment. CoT makes it very clear, early in the book, that spiders don't have anything special going on during childhood... they naturally inherit Understandings and don't nurture spiderlings at all.

Now, that kind of changes later on as some of them adopt specific Understandings and even let go of ones no longer needed to make room for the new ones, by a mechanism that I don't understand. But still, bravo for truly alien aliens that are actually based on Earth's DNA....


Cheryl  (cherylllr) Then there's the theme of repeating Old Empire's history and its mistakes... I think of the spiders as our saviors, not as our children, otherwise we certainly would have bickered ourselves to extinction.

And the obsession of Guyen. Yes, by the end he was insane, but he wasn't a villain. Nobody was, really.

Cool new word, too: abseil. "An abseil, also called a rappel after its French name, is a controlled descent off a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope. "Abseil" is the normal term in the UK, whereas "Rappel" is used in the US."

And motto/ saying: "Come the hour, come the man."


message 37: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 2098 comments Mod
I'm very late to this party, but I am reading it now, spurred on by another group.

I'm halfway through, and basically loving it. I do think some parts could be shorter, but it isn't a big problem.

The chapters with the spiders and ants remind me a little of Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber. (Not to be confused with The Empire of the Ants by H.G. Wells.) I don't remember many details of that book, but do remember it told some things from the point of view of ants.

There is now a sequel to this. Will y'all be reading it? Do you think he had a sequel in mind while writing this book?


message 38: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 2098 comments Mod
I'm very late to this party, but I am reading it now, spurred on by another group.

I'm halfway through, and basically loving it. I do think some parts could be shorter, but it isn't a big problem.

The chapters with the spiders and ants remind me a little of Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber. (Not to be confused with The Empire of the Ants by H.G. Wells.) I don't remember many details of that book, but do remember it told some things from the point of view of ants.

There is now a sequel to this. Will y'all be reading it? Do you think he had a sequel in mind while writing this book?


message 39: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 2098 comments Mod
To the author of Nefertiti, the Spidernaut: The Jumping Spider Who Learned to Hunt in Space,

You might think it is a good idea to send spiders into space, but just look where it leads!


Oleksandr Zholud | 970 comments Ed wrote: "There is now a sequel to this. Will y'all be reading it? Do you think he had a sequel in mind while writing this book?
."


I've read the sequel and liked it enough to nominate for Hugo


message 41: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed Erwin | 2098 comments Mod
I've noticed that a recent episode of "LeVar Burton Reads" has a story by Tchaikovsky: "Low Energy Economy".


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