Adrian Tchaikovsky On His Three New Novellas From Solaris

Solaris Books has announced that it has acquired three new novellas from Children of Time and Spiderlight author Adrian Tchaikovsky. The first, titled One Day All This Will Be Yours, arrives in a limited-edition hardcover in March 2021, with the others to follow in 2022 and 2023.

We spoke with Tchaikovsky about what to expect coming up.

Andrew Liptak: You’ve written three novellas for Solaris before: Ironclads, Walking to Aldebaran, and Firewalkers (coming in May 2020). What do you think the appeal is for shorter books like these? 

Adrian Tchaikovsky: I find that the length of a novella (30-40,000 words) is an absolutely perfect length for fully exploring a single concept, meaning it’s absolutely perfect for a science-fiction story, where that’s often your focus. You still have room to stretch, introduce characters, have a plot with enough twists and turns, but overall the form lets you remain focused and economical.

Also, when writing a novel I tend to get bogged down in the middle, and a novella, for me, doesn’t have one, it has the brisk start that goes straight to the race for the end, so that suits my writing process perfectly.

AL: You’ve got three new books coming up in the same vein: What did you learn from writing and selling those first three that have informed these next ones?

AT: Well, so at the end of these three, we’ll have a set of six novellas with Rebellion, loosely sorted into two sets. One—Ironclads, Firewalkers, and a future project I’m very loosely titling “Amongst the Ogres” (very much subject to change) are future dystopias, stories about power imbalance and the brutality of the haves riding it rough over the have-nots.

The other three, Walking to Aldebaran, One Day All This Will Be Yours and a third that’s currently under the theoretical title “The Dream Gulag” are about people ending up in terrible places not good for your mental healththe Frog God artifact in Walking, and the end of time in One Day.

AL: You mentioned that the first novella, One Day All This Will Be Yours, is a time travel-gone-wrong tale. What can we expect from that?

AT: One Day is… a very irreverent take on time travel. It is me at my most flippant, and it basically runs at all the usual time travel paradoxes in the same general way a bowling ball does at the pins, and leaves very little of them standing. It turns the grandfather paradox inside out.

It takes on Bradbury’s famous A Sound of Thunder (where the protagonist steps on a butterfly in the past and changes his own timeline) and does terrible things to it. It is the user manual for time travellers with absolutely no qualms about what they change or how bad things end up, because things have already gone as badly as they possibly can.

AL: What can you tell us about the next two books? 

AT: Both still in the planning stage. Among the Ogres is going to take matters considerably further into the future than Ironclads or Firewalkers, to take a look at the aftermath of an attempt to “manage” the human crisis of overpopulation and shortness of resources.

The Dream Gulag (if I can get away with a title that’s basically just a mashup of two far superior titles!) will be (an oddity for me) a historical piece about a Russian intellectual around 1904 being sent into exile, and Weird Stuff Happens (And most of all the title will have to change because the actual term ‘gulag’ wasn’t coined for another 25 years after when I want to set the story).

AL: You’ve certainly been prolific in recent years: What else do you have coming up on your plate?

AT: This year I’m looking at Doors of Eden from Pan Macmillan, a big parallel timelines (but not time travel!) novel, along with Firewalkers from Rebellion as the third in this set of six.

Also on the horizon are a couple of novellas from Tor.com: a standalone, Elder Race, and a sequel to my The Expert System’s Brother, The Expert System’s Champion, but both looking at post-colonial life on exoplanets, and the accommodations that people might have to make, in order to survive on another world.

There’s also a sequel to Dogs of War, the title of which has been a bit in flux but looks likely to be Bear Head.

Keeping myself busy, basically.

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