When I went on holiday I knew that this was the book that I wanted to take with me. I knew it from the moment I realised that there was a sequel to Children of Time, which was one of my favourite books in recent times. I also knew that the last time I went on holiday I read the entire first Game of Thrones book in a week, so also knew that I would easily be able to nail this one, which I imagine if I was reading at home would take me some few months to complete.
I preordered from Waterstones (love them or hate them, they are my local bookshop and I’ve spent many an hour in there browsing book after book), and I managed to pick it up on the day it was released. I also managed to get a signed copy of the book which was a surprise too! So, without further adieu, here’s the synopsis of my favourite spider/human coalition set some many years into the future:
Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.
Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth.
But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.
And it’s been waiting for them.
So I think that the first thing I should say is that I wholly didn’t understand all the concepts behind the science in this. There are things carried over from the previous book, like the cold stasis – this time including spider stasis – Avarna Kern, the human turned AI turned computer – the spider/ Portiid social structure, even though it wasn’t as prevalent as before, and the ‘Voyager’ which I totally got a kick out of being as though that is my favourite Trek, but this Voyager was made of spider silk and could change form at the whim of Kern.
We are first of all introduced to a set of humans intent on terraforming a planet some distance away, and before the EMP that wipes out all the humans in the known universe. That EMP is the cause of the events in the first book, and is like year 0. The humans on this terraforming mission are just as flawed as the humans on the other terraforming missions, where we have leaders who regret decisions they make almost instantly, are after self glory and can’t control their deputies. Their deputy an isolationist, for want of a better word, creates his own world and his own mission using…. octopuses. In much the same way Kern wanted to use monkeys to terraform her world, Senkovi (oh god, I think that’s the right name!) creates octopuses from the DNA database and injects them with a virus to make them more sentient and then creates a whole new world in which they will be the creators and janitors. It is thanks to these octopi that a few of these humans survive the EMP blast and creates their timeline.
Nod is the planet that humans have documented with original life. Nowhere else in the galaxy have they come across a planet teaming with life, and it is so vastly different to their own that the team leader expresses his desire to land on it, explore it, document it, and have his glory in a universe with no humans left (as far as they know). But the planet doesn’t want that, the planet fights back, and ultimately Nod should be avoided.
Enter Voyager, who creates a smaller vessel to go and explore these worlds. The octopi have evolved their own space fairing mission, after the long ago death of Senkovi. They express themselves emotionally, visibly, and fall out with each other just as much as they love each other. They are plagued by the virus from the planet Nod, which has wiped out most of their own planet (which Senkovi was planning a Waterworld type planet where people lived on boats), and they are constantly trying to solve the problem or ignore the problem.
Much like the first book the generations are named. We have Paul’s and Simone’s which carry their name down to the next generation much like Portia and Bianca from the Portiid society. They communicate visually with each other using the colour of their skins to express their emotions, their convictions, and this is transposed to their ships too. Giant, spherical ships that communicate whole colours to each other – it was very vivid to imagine this I have to say.
Voyager and her crew are looking for the source of some radio signals that led them to the discovery of these planets that are at war with each other, and even themselves, and we get the delightful mess that is Children of Ruin, and I loved absolutely every minute of it!
Like I say there are definitely things that I didn’t fully understand, like Kern and her evolution. The ship run on ant energy and computing power. The virus and it’s resolution from the planet Nod (I mean I understood the resolution but the epilogue confused me a bit).
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and if you like space opera of sorts then please go pick this book up and give it a go. I already am hoping for a further sequel as the epilogue suggested that there would be. It’s a riot!
My next review will be soonish and that will be for the last book I finished on holiday.