Shards of Earth (2021) – Adrian Tchaikovsky

Before I could dig into Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky, available now through Orbit Books, I had to familiarize myself with the characters of the universe he created by reading the first volume, Shards of Earth, also available from Orbit Books.

Within pages of Tchaikovsky’s book, I was wrapped up in the imagination and sweep of the story. Marrying some serious science fiction with action beats, Shards of Earth completely captivated me, and is one of those novels that spring to life in your mind’s eye. I didn’t even realize I was reading the words anymore, it just played out in my mind.

In the far future humanity has reached out to the stars, spreading across the galaxy and encountering other species, but shortly after this venture begins, a giant moon-sized ship arrives in Earth orbit and reworks it, destroying it.

Christened the Architect because of the design of the destruction, the alien entity unites humanity and their alien brethren. With the creation of a fighting legion of warrior women, and Intermediaries that can navigate unspace, allowing for instantaneous travel as well as confrontations with the Architect, the unification is short-lived as the Architects vanish.

Humanity falls back to its petty squabbling, scheming, and betrayals. The Partheni women are seen as a threat to the Nativist human interests, and everyone wants to get their hands on the last remaining Ints as they make intergalactic travel so much easier.

Solace is a Partheni, Idris is an Int, both are survivors of the first war with the Architects, and now they hear rumblings that they may be back. Can humanity reunite? Can we meet a common foe or will we tear ourselves apart over petty issues?

With alien cultists who are seeking new converts, with the promise of protection from the Architects, and gangsters and trouble aplenty, Solace, Idris, and the crew of the Vulture God find themselves on a race across the galaxy pursued by countless foes, immeasurable threats, and the menace of extinction hanging over the universe.

A brilliantly fast-paced tale filled with action beats, humor, and fascinating characters Tchaikovsky’s novel is compulsive reading. The characters are well-realized the horrors of unspace hinted at, the terror of the Architects all to believably created, and politics and schemes aplenty.

Tchaikovsky populates the Vulture God with a variety of characters, all from different walks of life, and all relatable. This is a hard-working contract crew who do what they do to get by, and now they’ve found themselves in the fight for their lives.

It’s amazing, when I was young I stuck to a very shallow pool of science fiction, I liked my Star Trek and my Arthur C. Clarke, I didn’t dabble any deeper. Novels like this make me wonder what I was missing. Tchaikovsky’s novel is brilliant.

Check out Shards of Earth from Orbit Books! Stellar Sci-Fi!

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