Adrian Tchaikovsky - “Children of Time”
No filler, just good ideas. At neck-breaking speed!
A story thousands of years in the making but told in a way that makes it feel like it’s an action thriller. There are descriptions of how things work and combine, but they never take over, like in the case of "Seveneves". It’s natural to compare the two books as they kinda sorta touch on the same subject. I was a little worried, in fact, that they might get too close and that would overshadow my experience of both. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
You could complain that some aspects of the story require serious suspension of disbelief, and there are definitely parts that aren’t very fleshed out. The characters, for instance, aren’t given the same weight description-wise as the protagonists of “Seveneves” were. Some of the technology required to make the story work is hand-waved to such an extent that it’s closer to fantasy than science-fiction.
That being said, I believe the author chose a good compromise. I believe it’s the same literary device as the one used by Arthur C. Clarke in "Rendezvous with Rama". As I mentioned in my review of that book, “just like in good photography, its depth of focus is just narrow enough to blur out the details that the author doesn’t want us to worry about”.
The narrow depth of field allows Tchaikovsky to tell a riveting epic of unforeseen consequences, where rational actors at each stage create a mosaic that leads to entirely novel situations. Maybe some hardcore science-fiction readers will tell me the ideas in the book appeared elsewhere before. To me though, the story was refreshingly off-the-wall. It’s almost as if Tchaikovsky kept asking, “okay what’s the most ludicrous but plausible thing to happen now?” every few chapters. And amazingly, all of it leads to a satisfactory conclusion.
Read it: it’s good, short, and to the point.