SciFiPulse recently had the honour of interviewing Adrian Tchaikovsky. He’s the author of the Shadows of the Apt series as well as the Children of Time books. Additionally, Adrian has won the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke award as well as the 2017 British Fantasy Award for “The Tiger and The Wolf”. In this interview Adrian talks about his novel Firewalkers as well as LARPing and advice for sci-fi giants such as Star Wars and Doctor Who.
SFP: Do you consider yourself a feminist writer?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: Yes. Women are entitled to equal rights, choices and opportunities, and where society works to disadvantage them, whether directly or indirectly, that needs to be highlighted and addressed.
SFP: What was your reasoning behind the equality between science and magic in the Shadows of the Apt series?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: the magic/science dichotomy is an old fantasy trope, to be honest. I certainly didn’t invent it. Sometimes the magic is evil, in traditional fantasy, and sometimes the technology is evil, but it’s usually tied up with the main thrust of the book’s plot. What I tried to do differently in SotA was to divorce that split from the actual struggle the series was about – so it’s a key piece of the world’s history and it is behind a great many elements and backstories, but at the same time there are magical and technological characters on both sides of the war with the Empire, heroes and villains in both camps.
SFP: Do you think that RPGs and LARPing provide spec fic authors with an extra dimension to their work?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: Absolutely. As a regular gamesmaster, building a world for an RPG gives you very thorough understanding of it, of a necessity, because you never know where your players are going to wander off to next. Similarly, playing a succession of different characters is good practice for getting behind multiple points of view when writing.
SFP: Please can you tell us a bit about your book Firewalkers? What is its central idea?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: It’s set in a new future where the equator of the world is simultaneously uninhabitable and essential because the richest people are abandoning the Earth for life in space, and if you want easy access to orbit via a space elevator you need to build on the equator. The main characters are from the poor township at the elevator’s base, kids who get sent out into the killing desert to fix the solar panels so that, basically, the rich emigres can have air conditioning while they wait for their berth on the spaceships. Firewalkers is a novel about disastrous climate change, brutal inequality and human nature. Like a lot of SF, it’s more about today than tomorrow.
SFP: Is your novel Children of Time going to be made into a film? Please can you tell us about that?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: This kind of comes and goes. The rights have been optioned in the past, and there are generally discussions going on, to the extent that there’s not much I’m really free to say.
SFP: Without being controversial do you think that writers need a university education to be successful?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: Not in the slightest. I think being well informed and widely read is very useful indeed but there are many ways of getting there, especially with the resources of the internet. The most beneficial thing I brought out of university was the breathing room it gave me to finish growing up, develop emotionally and shake off some of the worst of the mental walls I’d thrown up in childhood. Most of my own actual learning, that I’ve used in my books, wasn’t anything I was taught in university.
SFP: What can mainstream sci-fi such as Star Wars, Doctor Who and Star Trek learn from 21st century spec fic?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: That can cover a lot of ground. I think all the franchises you mention have developed a great deal, or at least gone back and forth over some useful ground, in their more recent incarnations, and they’re all properties that have changed a great deal over the decades they’ve been around. I think that the key to all sorts of SF is in pushing forwards and not getting mired in nostalgia. It’s always disappointing when a series of films or episodes that looked as though it was going somewhere new slides back into just treading the same old circles.
SFP: And finally, do you have any upcoming projects that SciFiPulse readers should look out for?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: My soonest release is a novella, Belt and Bracers, as part of the collection Tales of Catt and Fisher, which contains four stories following those characters from the After the War series (introduced in my Redemption’s Blade). I have quite a lot coming up in 2021. In January there are sequels to both Dogs of War (Bear Head) and The Expert System’s Brother (The Expert System’s Champion). Around March we should see my time travel novella (and black comedy!) One Day All This Will Be Yours, which is about possibly the worst ever time traveller in SF. Finally, somewhere between May and July we’ll see the first book of my upcoming space opera series, which will be called Shards of Earth. Beyond that, I have a few other novellas in the pipeline, and I’m currently working on what should be the third book in the Children of… series.
SciFiPulse would like to extend our warmest regards and best wishes to Adrian Tchaikovsky for so graciously taking the time to answer our questions.
Adrian’s website is Shadows of the Apt
His Twitter is: @aptshadow