Adrian Tchaikovsky has delivered an excellent sci-fi adventure inspired by the uplift paradigm made famous by David Brin. Rather than dump you in a universe of numerous uplift species, Tchaikovsky delves into the nuts and bolts involved when a species is speedily guided to intelligence.
I was impressed by the storyline and world-building which shifted between an ark of human refugees and a world which is quickly evolving a super-spider race. In the ark humans are desperately seeking a new world to populate have long destroyed their home world, Earth. Meanwhile the nuance of varied technology and perspective demonstrated by a very alien intelligence mesmerized.
In this day and age where our species is quickly degrading the planet we share with other amazing organisms, this book runs home the dangerous single-mindedness of humanity, pursuing its desires without a balanced look at long term global stability.
My only disappointment in the novel was a missed opportunity to highlight the full spectrum of sentience. Tchaikovsky makes the frequent mistake of equating sentient consciousness (the ability to suffer, feel pleasure, have emotion, be self-aware et al) with sapience, the ability to communicate abstractly at or in the neighborhood of human-level intelligence. I think his novel would have been all the richer if it touched more deeply on the nuances of non-sapient creatures.
Oh well, I guess I'll have to write that novel.