Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The basics

Title: Children of Time


Series: Children of Time #1

- Children of Time (2015)
- Children of Ruin (2019)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

A race for survival among the stars... Humanity's last survivors escaped earth's ruins to find a new home. But when they find it, can their desperation overcome its dangers?


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?

Read a full summary of Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky below. If you can’t remember what happened in Children of Time and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

What happened in Children of Time?

  • Kern and her crew are planning on terraforming a planet (called Kern’s World, because that’s the kind of person she is). Kern plans to send monkeys down with a virus to escalate their evolution. This should, in theory, create intelligent life to be slaves for the OG humans.
  • This somewhat questionable plan is sabotaged, though, by Sering, who is part of a rebellion. He blows up the ships and the apes.
  • Kern has to put her body into hibernation and await rescue in an escape pod.
  • Portia: We see that the virus did work, but on invertebrates instead of primates. Portia is about to be the start of a very intelligent species of jumping spider.
  • Holsten Mason wakes up from cryo on the Gilgamesh, and his ship picks up a distress signal. The crew have to go back into cryo to reach it.
  • The Gilgamesh reaches Kern’s World and starts conversing with the being on the satellite. They send a drone down to Kern’s World and it sends back an image of a spider (although the crew don’t exactly know what it is at this point). It warns them off and starts threatening them, so they have to flee. They head towards other terraforming projects that will hopefully be safer.
  • Portia: Portia heads towards the ants’ temple and after observing them for a while, she steals their holy crystal.
  • Holsten wakes up from cryo again and the Gilgamesh is being taken over by moon colonist mutineers. They are led by Scoles.
  • Portia: The ants attack Seven Trees.
  • The mutineers want to head back to Kern’s World and get on the planet there. They’re planning on taking the Gilgamesh back there.
  • Portia: Portia returns to Great Nest after Seven Trees is burnt down. She heads to the temple to seek advice from the Messenger.
  • Holsten speaks to Dr Kern and tries to sweet talk her into letting them onto the planet. He shows her the photo the drone took during their last encounter, and Kern seems confused about the lack of monkeys.
  • Portia: Portia plans to infiltrate the ant colony. The priestesses can hear faint whisperings from the crystal, and they start to worry.
  • Kern cuts contact with the shuttle, and Holsten and the mutineers head towards the planet. The Gilgamesh follows the shuttle into the planet’s orbit.
  • Kern quickly kicks off again and tells them to get off her planet. 
  • The spiders see something fall from the sky and go to investigate.
  • Holsten’s cabin catches fire while they’re on the planet, so they have to evacuate. Thankfully, they don’t stick around for long because Karst and his crew arrive to save them. They spot some spiders before they leave. One human gets left behind.
  • The spiders observe the human until it dies. They think it’s weird that it opens its mouth to try to communicate.
  • The Gilgamesh reaches another planet that was partway through being terraformed. They call it Fungus World and it’s not inhabitable.
  • A plague takes out a lot of the spiders. Bianca and Portia work together to try to find a cure.
  • The Gilgamesh crew come across an abandoned station and loot it for supplies.
  • Guyen decides he wants to upload his brain to a computer. He takes over the ship.
  • Kern wakes up and talks to her spiders. After some generations they learn to communicate.
  • Fabian speaks to Portia about how the male spiders are treated, and how it’s all very unfair. I’m inclined to agree.
  • Bianca says she knows that the Messenger is a rock of metal. Portia warns her that if she tells people this, she’ll be exiled.
  • The people from the moon colony are all dead at this point.
  • Fabian goes to the lower reaches of Great Nest and Portia freaks out over the possibility of him being killed. I think that was his point… He fights for male rights and does a grand job, but Portia doesn’t listen. He heads to Seven Trees to try his luck there. Bianca goes with him.
  • Fabian goes to war with Great Nest.
  • Holsten and Guyen discuss the moon colony’s fate. Guyen reveals that he refused to go back for them when he had the choice. Guyen wants to lead people as the ship, and he uploads himself as what is essentially a virus. The Gilgamesh was never supposed to be lived on, so Holsten needs to stop him.
  • The spiders plan to reach the Messenger using a Sky Nest.
  • Holsten is woken up again by people claiming to be engineering who are fixing the ship. They’re taking him somewhere.
  • Kern finally accepts the spiders as her children.
  • Holsten is taken ti Lain,who is now a lot older. She has been looking after the ship. She managed to keep the ship running and take out Guyen. She’s planning on putting Holsten in charge when they hit the green planet system.
  • The spiders communicate with Kern and ask what their purpose is. Kern tells them about humans.
  • Things go wrong on the Sky Nest and Fabian sacrifices himself for Portia in a really sweet moment.
  • The crew of the Gilgamesh plan to land on Kern’s World for a second time. The spiders send them messages saying they don’t want to fight them.
  • The crew wake Lain up and this time she is pretty ancient.
  • They try to speak to Kern again. Instead they receive messages from the spiders, seemingly seeking peace. The spiders don’t want a war.
  • The spiders attack as the Gilgamesh reaches their orbit. They hit the ship with rocks. They get into the ship.
  • The spiders infect the humans with the nanovirus which tells everyone that they’re basically in this together and they’re the same. It’s actually quite a nice, emotional ending. Lain dies after all this goes down.
  • Together, the spiders and humans make a new ship called the Voyager and they head off into space together.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!


  • salavora says:

    Thank you
    Love the characters a lot and am close to the end.
    I want to finish but I also do not want to read about one side obliterating the other. Unfortunately I am consuming the book as an audiobook and thus could not “skip to the last paragraph” to see if it is a happy ending or not.
    Thanks to your summary I will now finish listening to it

Leave a reply