Skip to main content


Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Blog Tour Review - Alien Clay by Adrian Tchaikovsky

 Blog Tour Review - Alien Clay by Adrian Tchaikovsky

On the distant world of Kiln lie the ruins of an alien civilization. It’s the greatest discovery in humanity’s spacefaring history – yet who were its builders and where did they go?

Professor Arton Daghdev had always wanted to study alien life up close. Then his wishes become a reality in the worst way. His political activism sees him exiled from Earth to Kiln’s extrasolar labour camp. There, he’s condemned to work under an alien sky until he dies.

Kiln boasts a ravenous, chaotic ecosystem like nothing seen on Earth. The monstrous alien life interacts in surprising, sometimes shocking ways with the human body, so Arton will risk death on a daily basis. However, the camp’s oppressive regime might just kill him first. If Arton can somehow escape both fates, the world of Kiln holds a wondrous, terrible secret. It will redefine life and intelligence as he knows it, and might just set him free . . .

Alien Clay is a stunning, innovative and constantly surprising science fiction novel.

There are two core focuses of this story. One is the dictatorial, totalitarian regime that has taken over Earth, and the other is the unique biological and archaeological situation on the alien world of Kiln. 

Both elements are slowly revealed over the course of the story. The situation on Earth we see more of earlier on, despite none of the novel being set there (here?). Professor Arton Daghdav, our point of view character, tells us from the start some of the actions of the state in control, and as the story progresses he reveals more of his own past, telling us in the process about a state that shut down intellectual thought and debate, opposing viewpoints, any fuzziness between two binary points, in short anything that contradicted their philosophical methodology. This reflects some of what we're seeing in our own society, with debates being pushed to two strongly opposing viewpoints, losing track of any middle ground, and some of the arguments used to dismiss contradicting points. Of course here we see it taken to extremes, with purges and executions for people who disagree with the prevailing view. 

A major focus of this part of the story is on the nature of rebellions and revolutions, how they come together, how people are pulled in and then how they fall apart. The traitors, the torture victims, and the infiltrating spies are all shown to be part of what makes rebellions fail. It feels despairing at times, hopeless, but then it is being told from a very particular point of view, someone sentenced to life on an alien world. 

I don't think I've seen a depiction of a totalitarian regime before where the cost of human life is approached quite like it is here. It's so cold, so brutal, just a balance sheet reckoning around acceptable losses, wastage. It really hits home just how little value this government places on its people when manual labour is used in place of machinery because it costs less to replace. 

The other major element is the biology of Kiln, the main area of study for the displaced professor. This is fascinating, and something I have never seen before. It unfolds much more slowly throughout the novel, with the basics sketched out in early research but the deeper mystery, that of who built the ancient ruins, only really understood much later. It's a wonderfully bizarre yet utterly believable concept, which makes for pretty perfect sci-fi reading.

These elements are intrinsically linked throughout the story but the novel is at its strongest when the two different elements, the science and the politics, come together in a thrilling, totally absorbing climax. It's action, undershot with philosophy and science and it really is beautifully done.

Alien Clay is a wonderful, fascinating and unique science fiction thriller.


Alien Clay by Adrian Tchaikovsy is out now from Tor Books.

I was given a review copy in return for an honest review and participation in this Black Crow PR blog tour.


Popular Posts