One of the most consistent pieces of advice for writers is, read. So, let’s talk about reading. The book I most recently finished was the amazing and inspiring Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It’s a sci-fi novel that deftly handles enormous spans of time and very thought-provoking topics, from the evolution of a (non-human) sentient species to challenge humanity, to the near-extinction of humanity and the lengths it must go to to survive. The two species struggle in tandem, with one rising from hunter-gatherers to reaching the stars, while humanity races to keep its cobbled-together technological inheritance long enough for them to find a new home for the species.
There were a few times reading this that I actually put the book down for a second to savor the visual or the concept of what had just happened, and I will tell you no spoilers by saying the author that when Tchaikovsky decided to make his sentient species spiders, he almost couldn’t have come up with a less sympathetic creature. But he succeeds brilliantly, with a very distinct and believable evolutionary and civilizational path that will really make you think.
The book is not perfect. The ending seemed a little too convenient for me, and some more foreshadowing of the solution would have kept the ending from feeling too simple for all the build-up it got. I think some of the characterization, particularly among the humans, got short shrift and made most of the key humans a bit one dimensional, but given the span of time involved and number of generations of characters, it’s understandable, at least. But overall this book deserved the awards it got, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, even for people who generally aren’t sci-fi readers. Ever since I read it, I have been randomly sending my boyfriend pictures of spiders, because I am convinced there is some way they could be made cute.
He doesn’t necessarily agree.