Children of Time - a unique story about evolution
Children of Time won the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel and it is easy to see why. The story is rather unique despite the fact that the sci-fi concepts within are familiar ones: accelerated evolution, humanity seeking a new home after destroying Earth, cryostasis for long space journeys, and uploading one's persona into a computer, to name just a few. The story takes place in two main locales - a planet that has been terraformed by humanity for the sole purpose of running an accelerated evolution experiment and an ark ship that contains 500,000 humans in cryostasis looking for a new home. It is the evolutionary side of the story that is very unique and that makes things all the more interesting when the two threads finally converge.
The very beginning of the story sets the stage as we learn about the experiment to be conducted by Dr. Kurn and her engineered nanovirus that causes accelerated evolution to take place. Dr Kurn and her like-minded associates view this as a step forward for humanity as life from Earth is spread to other worlds and evolution is initiated in the manner of gods. Of course humanity is not united in this perspective and there are those among the population who oppose such arrogance and are willing to fight to the death to stop it from happening. These two points of view clash in a somewhat contrived start to the story that results in the unplanned outcome which is what makes this story so unique.
Suffice it to say that I quickly got over the contrived start and became very interested in how things progressed on Kurn's world. The manner in which Tchaikovsky reveals the evolution taking place is well done and although this book is far from perfect it was refreshing to experience such a unique story with an ending that did not disappoint. I definitely recommend it and understand why it won the award for best novel. For audiobook fans Mel Hudson does an excellent job on the narration and makes it easy to keep track of all the different characters.