Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 22, 2022
The completion of the story which began with Children of Time brings the arc to a satisfyingly triumphal conclusion - the triumphalism of which is ironic, in as much as the hostile reviews of that first volume appear to be written by manifest human destiny ideologues who found the obsolescence of Earth and the sparsity of it's diaspora an intolerable diminishment. This is no Starship Troopers, but it does dénoue with a more mature and subtle kind of victory, one of peace rather than war.

Tchaikovsky's logopraxis is excellent, and the arc he draws is very much a book of ideas, with a firm, albeit not hard, science foundation. One principal theme is interspecies communication, and he does a competent and enjoyable job of conveying perspectives of intelligences - primate, spider, octopus, and slime mold - in the process developing distinctly textured characters of each species, albeit increasingly shallow as the departure from human baseline compounds.

The space opera element is competently developed as a coherent background for the interplay of characters and ideas, but is quite lean. The focus throughout is on character perspectives and adventures, on the embodiment of consciousness, cognition, and communication, with physics playing much less of a role than biology, sociology, and network science.

Reader downtime does occur sporadically, and the author does occasionally lapse into telling, rather than showing, but overall it has a good flow, with frequently vivid scene setting and dramatic action. One could describe this as Redwall for literate and scientific grown-ups.

5 stars instead of 4 simply because it stands clearly above 95% of it's contemporaries. This sequence will be a speculative fiction benchmark for decades to come, on par with all time greats from the scifi back catalogue.
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