6 May 2017

Transformation: A Review of Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky

As our resident Elm is tussled by rainy wind, I have been contemplating the process of transformation. When I quit my nine to fiver, announcing publicly that my time was now my own, I focused intensely on the present. That first summer before the little one entered school stretches out into one long sunny joy bubble. It was a celebration of life one unbothered by schedules or boxed into quick week-end activities. My decision to quit was less a knee-jerk response to an unhappy work-life, rather it was the fulcrum of a life plan the hubby and I embarked on the moment we became naive parents. When the child entered school I would  be home. It wasn't a secret, I voiced it loudly, yet the moment it became a reality shock, fear and even anger started to whisper about me. The corporate reactions were generally easy to unravel, and as I dropped that last bundle of files off at my director's office I felt unhinged with happiness.

And then the questions started to bounce around me from all corners of my social sphere - But what do you do all day? 

Bewilderingly, being a Mom wasn't an adequate reply. Passively aggressive, that query haunted my thoughts, undermining my sense of self. I spun stories of writing ambitions, quickly adding the tagline that I used to work. Walks home from the playground, grateful for the time invested with my son were tinged with embarrassment. What did, I do all day?

As those first few months piled up into a year, and that year has now become three, I know not only who I am, but why being a Mom will always be enough. The moment I realized that the answer I sought was an impossibility, I was released. Margaret Atwood while being interviewed on the CBC radio program, Q discussed how once a novel is published, it's no longer in the writer's hands but in the hands of the reader's, subjective to a myriad of interpretations. How I spend my day, or even navigate my way through motherhood has little to do with anyone but those within my family capsule. I write my own life, how you wish to value it is completely within your own realm. 

Navigating the writing world, I marvel at how far I had to emotionally go to finally become myself. High-school defined me as the resident poet, shipped off to day camps to hone my skills, crafting essays stamped with acceptance by all my teachers. Weaving together words to create a tapestry of stories is my concept of art. I agonize in word choice, despair in trite sentiments, ponder better ways to connect my life to that spider book I just read. My complete adoration of the written word manifests itself through Thank the Maker, it was time to accept who I am, a writer.  

First crack at the SF genre, and Adrian Tchaikovsky walks away in 2016 with the Arthur C. Clarke - Britain's premier SF award for Children in Time. The hubby has voiced his wonder how I connect motherhood to sci-fi, admittedly it can be an interesting process. By page 58, Children of Time had traipsed me across two thousand years, destroying Earth, marooning my thoughts with a lone scientist above a terraformed planet that consequentially is crawling with spiders budding into sentience. The obvious connections seemed lacking as I woke, overwhelmed with spider societal dreams, pondering the transformation of living nightmares into accepting images of alien speciation. 

Earth is a husk - pulverized by war, no longer a safe harbour for humanity. Those who have survived the ice age, try to glean information from ancient technology that highlighted homo sapiens progressive golden age. The spaceships follow star charts, desperate in the belief that a new home will be found. And a new home is found, unfortunately it is occupied.

Children of Time is a master work of science fiction. A hefty tome, it seamlessly navigates from spiders to humans, mirroring each species transformations of survival. Adrian Tchaikovsky has tackled evolution successfully, wrapping it all up in a neat bow with eight legs. Of late, I have come to love a well-written Arc book - human expansion aboard multi-generational space ships designed solely for species longevity. What with the spiders, and a desperate ship of Earth's children trying to survive, you have a juggernaut of a novel. It will turn your perceptions of intelligence on end, revealing the wonders of life, the need to protect our only home. Children of Time is unapologetically science fiction. It is fun, easily readable, highly engaging, a good read for any long weekend.