I’m extremely picky when it comes to science fiction. The longer a book is, the more I begin to dissect the sentences, which too often contain extraneous syntax.
This one is sprinkled with a sloppy dialogue tag and unnecessary gesticulations clutter the dialogue every once in a while. A few too many speech patterns described. I only need to be shown palp-flopping sign language a dozen times to get the point. Not likely to bother most people. Commercially successful S-f epics are not polished to the level of the usual hoity-toity stuff I read. Yet, I’m drawn to magnificent space operas, and this is certainly one.
Non-traditional in approach, it depicts alien life entirely different from our current society. Where’s the fun in a book describing aliens that resemble humans? If you’re going to have aliens, don’t make them Star Trek aliens. But the set-up was brilliant here. The spider colonies were fascinating. I was pulling for spider characters more than the human side characters.
Why are the gene-manipulators called nanoviruses? Aren’t viruses already beyond microscopic? Are these supposed to be even smaller than viruses? A better name would be smart viruses or something similar. Another nitpick.
The spider civilization, rendered with consummate skill, served to contrast the human situation well. Seems like a relatively realistic consequence of human foibles. Made me think of Terra Formars, the manga about cockroaches evolving past human capabilities on a fresh colony planet, and humanity’s race to combat them. The set up was similar, but the execution wildly dissimilar. Tchaikovsky isn’t as interested in battles, but in displaying the concert of forces at work in his cosmic creation.
Will I read more Adrian Tchaikovsky? I don’t know. Will he cut out the fluff and give us those solid ideas without distracting me every twenty seconds? My cringe muscles are sore after this one and it makes me feel like a heartless critic pointing out these minuscule cracks in a masterpiece.