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Spiders, Space, and Sentience: A Journey into Adrian Tchaikovsky’s ‘Children of Time’

book review

In ‘Children of Time,’ Adrian Tchaikovsky compels us to step onto the web of an intricate world infused with grand evolutionary narratives, moral dilemmas, and a terrifyingly fascinating cast of non-human characters. It’s an undoubtedly unique venture into the realm of science fiction.


The concept is daring and ambitious: the last vestiges of humankind journey through space seeking habitable worlds. They stumble upon a terraformed planet, an experiment of Prime Scientist Avrana Kern. The intended subjects of the experiment are monkeys. But in the tale of evolution, life spins its own yarn. Enter the Spiders. These are not your ordinary arachnids but an entirely sentient civilization.

Notable Quotes:

“Knowledge is more precious than life.” – Holsten Mason
“It is always easier to blame gods or demons than to look into the face of a cold universe. The soul of the universe cares nothing for our existence.”


Navigator Kern’s dialogues with the ‘Voice of the ship,’ adds an uncanny element to the narrative while showcasing Tchaikovsky’s adroit play with AI and human intelligence. However, the real tour de force is the depiction of sentient spiders. Tchaikovsky meticulously crafts the spider civilization, showing us evolution in a way never seen before.

However, the pacing does slow down in parts, and the anthropomorphized spiders may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you stick the course, you’ll be rewarded with an audacious exploration of survival, sentience, and evolution.



Author Bio

Adrian Tchaikovsky is a British fantasy and science fiction author. He’s known for his ten-volume epic fantasy series, ‘Shadows of the Apt,’ and for his stand-alone novels such as ‘Children of Time’ and ‘Children of Ruin.’ His works often explore themes of evolution and the capacity for sentience.


  1. How does Children of Time reflect on the concept of intelligence and sentience?
  2. How does the arachnid civilization develop compared to the human one?
  3. Would you recommend this book to someone who has arachnophobia? Why or why not?
  4. What are the parallels between the predicaments of the humans and the spiders?
  5. Do the interspecies interactions shed any light on our understanding of communication?

Where to buy

Ready for some spider-tastic fun? Buy ‘Children of Time’ from Amazon here.

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