Adrian Tchaikovsky Sells Epic Space Opera Trilogy

Adrian Tchaikovsky, who earned the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award for his novel Children of Time and the 2019 British Science Fiction Association Award for its sequel Children of Ruin, has sold a new epic science fiction trilogy, The Final Architecture, to Pan McMillan and Orbit Books, according to The Bookseller.

This isn’t Tchaikovsky’s first foray into the distant future. Children of Time imagined a future in which humanity spread into the galaxy, and worked to terraform a planet, only to accidentally uplift some spiders. The spiders create a complicated and advanced civilization, and provide an unwelcome surprise to a generation ship that arrives from Earth. Its sequel, Children of Ruin, is set on another planet that contains alien life, and which also follows the clash between humanity and the planet’s long-dormant inhabitants. (With uplifted squids!)

But this new trilogy won’t be connected to those novels. “The big difference is that I’m shooting for space opera,” he informed me, “whereas Children of Time / Ruin was always intended as more of a hard SF, in that the science, even the giant spiders, was curtailed by what we currently think to be possible and how we think the universe works.”

This trilogy will shift away from hard SF and venture more into space opera territory. “The Final Architecture is a setting with multiple space-faring alien races in which FTL travel between star systems is a commonplace event, which makes a huge difference to the societies and resources of the characters involved.”

The first installment of the trilogy, Shards of Earth is set in the distant future in the aftermath of a massive war. Tchaikovsky explains that humanity “was involved in a war for its very survival against vast entities intent on reworking entire planets, starting with Earth. The war ended when contact was finally made with these creatures, the Architects. After having the very existence of humans brought to their notice, the creatures simply went away. Humanity has spent the intervening years pulling itself together, whilst simultaneously falling apart in other ways.”

Now, those mysterious architects are back, and a salvager named Idris discovered something strange in the depths of space that might hold a clue as to the Architect’s motives. As he and his crew sets off to track it down, they’re hunted by various factions that also want to get their hands on the artifact, and will go to any length to do so.

Tchaikovsky describes the trilogy as “a big story — whole planets and civilizations are at stake,” but it’s told through the eyes of Idris and his crew. “It’s also a story about trauma and stress. The whole scattered human race is suffering a kind of cultural PTSD for the loss of Earth.”

The project is the latest on Tchaikovsky’s plate. Earlier this year, he signed a deal with Solaris for a trio of new novellas — and in addition to a couple of novellas from Tor.com Publishing, his next novel, The Doors of Eden, is due out in the US in September. Last month, his book Cage of Souls was named a finalist for the 2020 BSFA awards.

Orbit Books says that the first installment will hit stores in Spring 2021.

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