This is yet another book I’ve had sitting on my audible account for a long time and just never got around to it since I forgot why I put it on there in the first place. There are 60+ more titles in the same position in my audible account that I hope to rectify over the course of this year.
I didn’t check the blurb until I was about 20% through the book because I thought I was misunderstanding things, but I was not lol. This is an EPIC book and I mean that in the original sense of the word. The scope of what this book addresses, the sheer timescales and the amount of people and working parts involved was enormous. It starts out with humanity trying to settle a new colony since Earth is in rough shape – now that’s fairly standard fare for science fiction. The twist here though is that instead of humans terraforming the planet… they were going to create a species of super ape able to follow directions that would terraform the planet for us as we waited in stasis pods. Ok, that sounds cool — but very soon thereafter you figure out it’s not the apes that will be greeting us down there. Oh, no. It’s fucking spiders. And they did not build their world to share.
AMAZING. SIGN ME UP. GIVE ME MORE. YES.
There are a handful of POVs, some more pervasive and with more page time than others. Dr. Kern starts us off, she’s the one who’s responsible for the virus and one thing lead to another and she becomes like… part of the ship. I honestly am a little fuzzy since it happens so early and so much comes after it, but I believe she downloaded herself into the ship which was supposed to be someone else’s job but shit went wrong and she had to make fast decisions. The important part is that she’s a part of the ship’s AI and she’s gone batshit bananas. She keeps screaming about her Monkeys and saying how cold it is, and that she’s blind and can’t see, where are her eyes??? It was very eerie to read about and very believable.
There are people aboard the Gilgamesh ship and they’re divided into two factions, those who are the “cargo” who are supposed to be asleep for the journey and waiting to be released onto the planet when it’s time. Then there’s the core crew, the ones who keep things running — the Gilgamesh eventually breaks down into fighting over the course of a few generations and the mission is nearly lost to time with generations having lived and died in the ship.
Then we get to my favorite POV and my favorite part of the book. The spiders. So, the first POV, Dr. Kern created a nanovirus that was supposed to make super Monkeys but instead made super Spiders. However, the nanovirus didn’t attach itself to all spider species which created a gradient of intelligence across the spider species. Imagine if humans had like….. 45,000 different subspecies like spiders do. Jumping spiders, burrowing spiders, sea spiders etc. There is a species of jumping spiders that the nanovirus latched onto hard and they have developed human level sentience, but because of their biological background, their intelligence feels very alien. Their culture is so different, the way they think and feel are so surreal and original. This is exactly what I’m looking for when I want a well developed completely alien culture. This scratched that itch so hard and was so satisyfing. It’s a female dominated culture that parallels male dominated culture but to a bigger extreme… since females usually EAT the males in nature after sex males aren’t just second class, they’re little more than consumable slaves. There’s a big subplot involving a male trying to claw his way to respect and recognition and bring the whole male gender with him. Fabian was probably my favorite character, lol. I love how everything was thought out including like, domesticated animals/farming. They’ve got domesticated aphids make dew they can drink. There are rituals revolving around molting. There are trade deals with various other factions of spiders. Then there are the ants they occasionally go to war with – I mean there is just SO MUCH going on all the time.
THERE ARE SENTIENT CRABS WITH THEIR OWN CULTURE AND TECHNOLOGY INCLUDING RADIOS DOWN UNDER THE SEA. It was mentioned in fucking passing. Omg. Give me fucking crab people under the sea and tell me all about them. I demand another series.
It has to be said though that I didn’t care much for the human characters… which is kind of a big detriment if I want to look at the book objectively. I thought the plot, circumstances, and worldbuilding were so compelling I didn’t care that I didn’t root for any of the humans in the story. I still wanted to know what happened next because I found the situation itself so compelling.
What an absolutely bananas ride.
- Plot: 13.5/15
- Characters: 10/15
- World Building: 13.5/15
- Writing: 13/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 14/15
- Enjoyment: 9.25/10
Final Score: 85/100 or 5/5 stars on Goodreads