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 civilisations 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?
Peter F Hamilton described this book as “smart” and after reading it I can only agree with him. The premise of this book is that part of the human race think that humans should be the only beings in the universe. They end up in conflict with other humans who are trying to expand to other worlds and in combination with a virus that speeds up the intelligence in animals, are seeding these planets with chimpanzees that hopefully will become smart enough to be slaves for the humans. The book starts with this conflict finally getting to a breaking point and the next 580 pages are the results of that war.
But on the planet where this book takes place, the seeding doesn’t go to plan. The virus gets to the surface but the chimpanzees don’t. Which means the virus starts acting on the other life on the planet. And this results in my favourite thing about this book: smart spiders. I feel this would be a good point to mention if you don’t like insects or have arachnophobia, this book probably isn’t for you. The clever thing the author has done with this book is he has taken the nature of spiders and extrapolated what they would do if they were able to evolve to the point of thinking for themselves. He has also pointed out some problems that come with this and it actually is relevant to our modern day.
Okay so female spiders eat the males. So in this book it has got to the point where the females are strong and the males are almost a weaker race. The males have virtually no rights and are basically just there to please the females. At any point they could be killed and it’s not against any type of law the spiders have. It even gets to the point (and I bookmarked this page because I loved it so much), that the elder female spiders justify the younger ones hunting and killing males because “girls will be girls”. The whole thing is our modern day problems but turned on it’s head and I love it so much.
And then we have the humans, the whole way through you have this overwhelming sense of doom when it comes to the humans. They are literally the last of their race fighting to find a planet where they can start again. Of course they come across the planet full of spiders and as you can imagine it doesn’t go well for the humans. Now the really clever thing is the humans have got to the point where they have the technology to put people in stasis for long periods of time. So over the course of the book, which takes around 2500 years. You have the same human characters and they get to see (along with the reader) how the spiders go from tiny little normal spiders into a spacefaring race.
I really don’t want to say too much about the end, but it was fantastic because it did not end the way I expected it to and yet considering the nature of the spiders it made total sense that it would the way it did. And if I still haven’t convinced you to read this book I don’t think anything else will. Unless you’re scared of spiders in which case don’t read it.