Children of Time (novel)

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Children of Time
Children of Time (novel).jpg
First edition
AuthorAdrian Tchaikovsky
GenreScience fiction
Space opera
PublisherTor UK
Publication date
2015 (hardcover)
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback)
Followed byChildren of Ruin Children of Memory 

Children of Time is a 2015 science fiction novel by author Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The work was praised by Financial Times for "tackling big themes—gods, messiahs, artificial intelligence, alienness—with brio."[1]

It was selected from a shortlist of six works[2] and a total pool of 113 books to be awarded the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction of the year in August 2016.[3][4] The director of the award program appraised the novel as having "universal scale and sense of wonder reminiscent of Clarke himself."[5]

In July 2017, the rights were optioned for a potential film adaptation.[6]

The next in the series, Children of Ruin, was published in 2019, followed by Children of Memory, in 2022.[7]


In the far future (inferred), Dr. Avrana Kern is the head of a science team that has terraformed an uninhabitable planet and released a genetically designed nanovirus to speed the evolution of monkeys. Back home, a war stirs, and there are multiple factions opposing this "non natura" idea. Unfortunately, Kern discovers there is an opposing faction on their very ship, and she takes the escape pod before anyone else can - the terrorist belonging to the faction is about to melt the reactor and destroy the ship. The monkeys jettison from the ship in a barrel. Being made out of wood, the barrel burns up in atmospheric reentry. With no monkeys on Kern's World, the virus spends its time infecting a multitude of living creatures, a notable example being jumping spiders (Portia labiata) - referred to in the book as Portiids. Meanwhile, the last human remnants of a dying Earth are en route to the promised paradise planet unaware of the uplifted spiders.[8][9][10] The work plays off the contrast between the rapid advancement of the spiders and the barbaric descent of the starship crew of the last humans.[11]


Old Empire[edit]

Dr. Avrana Kern[edit]

A cynical and egotistic woman determined to "beget new sentient life" in humanity's own image. She escapes the destruction of her ship and spends millennia in suspended animation inside an observation satellite, hovering above the only world she managed to seed with the gene-editing nano-virus as it works its wonders on the population below.[12]

Gilgamesh Key Crew[edit]

Commander Guyen[edit]

Leader of the Gilgamesh who exercises often autocratic authority over the expedition and its human cargo. After Kern forces his hand, Guyen leads the ship to another terraformed world and discovers experimental old empire tech capable of uploading a human mind to a sufficiently sized computer. He eventually becomes dedicated to a new mission, uploading himself to the Gilgamesh computer, as a means of establishing firmer control over the ship itself before returning to Kern's world.[12]

Holsten [edit]

Chief classicist of the Gilgamesh, he is charged with the translation of a popular Old Empire language - “Imperial C”. Holsten's primary responsibility is to help the ark ship navigate the territories and tech of the old empire, though he eventually embraces a higher mission, the establishment of a new cultural heritage for humanity based upon the historical narrative through which he lived while aboard the Gil.[12]


Chief engineer of the Gilgamesh and its eventual de facto leader, Lain is often forced to hold the ship together in the face of near-insurmountable technological breakdown. She becomes the spiritual leader of the Gil's generations of inhabitants after spending decades of her life guiding and protecting “the tribe” as well as the vessel itself. If Guyen is the villain in Holsten's historical narrative, then Lain is most certainly the heroine.[12]


Chief science officer of the Gilgamesh and a stern adherent to professional objectivity, Vitas is more than capable of performing notable research. However, her ambitious scientific curiosity can often guide her down the wrong path. She is described as somewhat robotic and uncannily ageless by Holsten.[12]


The Gil's chief of security, though flamboyantly blunt, eventually proves himself a somewhat cautious leader by limiting weapons access during the ship's periods of internal confrontation. Originally intimidated by the gruff gunslinger, Holsten grows to respect Karst by the end of the novel.[12]


The story covers many thousands of years and generations of Portiids. The spiders have their own names, but the novel refers to the major spiders by four names.


Female Spider, warrior, priestess, leader


Female Spider, warrior, Scientist, leader, genius


Male Spider, Scientist, Rebel, genius, leader


Female Spider, Scientist, genius


  1. ^ Lovegrove, James (July 3, 2015). "'Children of Time', by Adrian Tchaikovsky". Nikkei Inc. Archived from the original on May 4, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  2. ^ "The Arthur C. Clarke Award". The Arthur C. Clarke Award. Retrieved 2022-10-11.
  3. ^ "Adrian Tchaikovsky wins Arthur C Clarke Award for science fiction". British Broadcasting Corporation. August 25, 2016. Archived from the original on October 17, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  4. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (April 27, 2016). "The Clarke Award Shortlist Includes Some Great Surprises". Gizmodo. Gizmodo Media Group / Univision. Archived from the original on March 19, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  5. ^ Flood, Alison (August 24, 2016). "Arthur C Clarke award goes to Adrian Tchaikovsky's novel of 'universal scale'". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  6. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine (July 19, 2017). "Pan Mac's Children of Time optioned for film". The Bookseller. Bookseller Media Ltd.
  7. ^ " Adrian Tchaikovsky Continues His Epic Series With Children of Memory". June 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Gaschke, Susanne [in German] (February 28, 2017). "Wie Spinnen die Welt sehen" [How Spiders See the World]. (in German). de:WeltN24. Archived from the original on December 22, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  9. ^ Pearson, Gwen (June 17, 2016). "Bugging Out: The Must-Read Insect Books of the Summer". Conde Nast. Archived from the original on December 22, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  10. ^ Quach, Katyanna (August 25, 2016). "Arthur C Clarke award won by Adrian Tchaikovsky: Children of Time features talking space spiders". Situation Publishing. Archived from the original on May 1, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  11. ^ Quach, Katyanna (August 25, 2016). "Tale of world of supersmart spiders takes Clarke SF award". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on August 26, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Tchaikovsky, Adrian (18 September 2018). Children of Time. ISBN 9780316452496.

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