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review 2018-04-10 11:38
milSF Without Story: "Ironclads" by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Ironclads - Adrian Tchaikovsky

As a seasoned SF reader, I've always disagree strongly with the assessment of milSF as glorification of war; "The Forever War", after all, betrays the political strand of extreme dubiousness about war that also exists in science fiction, a strand demonstrated also in novels such as John Scalzi's “Old Man's War”, but that could equally be seen in “Veteran” by Gavin Smith (which contains a number of other left-wing themes) and the aforementioned New Model Army by Adam Roberts, which is deeply entrenched in liberal, democratised thinking about war, glorifying it to some extent but also attacking it. The fact is this: milSF has a certain concern, and that isn't to show war in its grand scale and all its effects, but to show it from the perspective, normally, of the troops. Dan Abnett's “Gaunt's Ghosts” is a great example of a series that does this - a Warhammer 40k spinoff series, I might add - without glorifying war as a whole, beyond the fact that certain characters believe in the glory of war; to deny that soldiers may think war is glorious is to simplify it in the exact opposite way that you accuse milSF of doing, but is just as problematic and perilous. That's all just scratching the surface, without looking at the glorification of war in fantasy such as Terry Brooks' “Sword of Shannara” and Markus Heitz' “The Dwarves”, either. War and milSF are not the same. War has been a topic for Story since forever but the mil SF tends to have more weapon, tactics, etc., stuff, I guess. But the way that conflict is treated varies a lot and is more complex than it's been given credit for. A few things: the "military fantasy" that viewers get drawn into in “Battlestar Galactica” IS the fact that only the military can save humanity (as microbes were the saving grace in Well's “War of the Worlds.”) Yeah, civilian government, yada, yada - except one that is mightily curtailed by the state of martial law that's imposed, figuratively if not actually (would have made a much better story if they'd offed the civilians for purported collaboration with the Cylons, imposed full conscription and then all died in the end, lol)



If you're into milSF, read on.

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review 2018-02-28 14:52
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky

From the blurb:

"The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age—a world terraformed and prepared for human life. But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind's worst nightmare. Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?"


In "Children of Time", Tchaikovsky explores the ideas of a dead Earth, humans in an ark spaceship, sentient species evolution, rise and fall of civilizations and first contact with an "alien" species, amongst others.  The interactions between these concepts has produced an interesting story.  The writing style was easy to read, though not particularly inspiring.  I loved how the spider society was elaborated upon - how it rose and fell and evolved - until it started mirroring human evolution too much.  And the spiders were cute.  But for some reason this book just didn't work for me, something was just missing.  Maybe it was the somewhat flat characters, lack of character development, the harping on the "evil ancient humans", lack of originality (see novels by Brin, Clarke and Vinge), the lack of details (especially since the book is 600 pages long),  or the flow interruption with all the flip/flopping between planet events and ship events with every chapter?  In the end I simply didn't care about any of the characters, either 2 legged or 6 legged.  The pacing was also rather slow, especially the first 2/3 of the book.  The end was rather a disappointment - the idea was interesting, though a bit too convenient, and then just goes nowhere.  We don't even get to find out how the three main human characters feel about finally landing on the planet!  The book was interesting in terms of concept, though not particularly original and lacking in execution, or at least an editor!


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text 2018-01-30 20:56
Reading progress update: I've read 608 out of 608 pages.
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Oh my, that ending. What a fantastic read. I absolutely loved it.

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text 2018-01-28 09:32
Reading progress update: I've read 242 out of 608 pages.
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Wow, this is really, really good. I´m getting a whole new appreciation for spiders, they are absolutely awesome in this book. 


And despite it being a science fiction book, the last couple of chapters felt more like a horror novel:


The attack of the ants! And imagine yourself being in the shoes of Nessel, held captive on that planet by intelligent spiders as a kind of guinea pig and not being able to communicate with them.

(spoiler show)





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review 2017-12-21 23:23
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (audiobook)
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky,Mel Hudson

Narrator: Mel Hudson


All the stars. This was a reread by audio and I honestly had just as much fun the second time around, and I quite liked the narrator.


In a far-flung future, Adrian Tchaikovsky explores humanity, empathy, and how to overcome your species's past. It's awesome. And he makes you empathize with the spiders. That's quite an achievement. Spiders make awesome alien species, by the way.


I'm counting this for square 12 Saturnalia: read any work of science fiction that takes place in space. Half the book takes place on board a cryogenic space ship.


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