Introducing is one thing - whether they can show the character has the depth and complexity and interesting-ness of a real person is another. That’s where Tchaikovsky tends to fall down. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an excellent writer overall, who writes very enjoyable novels, which are particularly good at creating engaging scenes emotionally - not necessarily deeply meaningful ones that stay with you, but ones that very much work at the time. I am extremely excited when a new book of his comes out, because it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a good ride with cool ideas and lots of animal people (always animal-people, but like totally different takes on animal people - terrifying genetic hybrid cyborgs, magical shapeshifters, part spirit part human, humans with just some wolf DNA spliced in, jumping spiders modified to feel kinship, and so on) without straying into furry territory (he’s remarkably good at that).
On top of all that, unlike a lot of his kind of pulp-but-visionary SF writers, he doesn’t seem to have any peculiar axes to grind, though maybe he does and they’re just close enough to mine that I don’t see them.
So for me he’s a grade-A writer overall.
But the depth and reality of his characters just aren’t really isn’t there. They extend, consistently, to this point which would work for say, a Hollywood movie which wasn’t a character study, but wouldn’t really work for even, say, a Buffy-style TV show (maybe for one season of it). On the other hand, I do agree that he’s quite good at quickly sketching in a character you can emotionally engage with in a basic way. He’s also really good at knowing when to kill people off or write them out of the story because they’ve gone as far as they’re going to go. He mostly kills his darlings. That is good writing.
I will say I think Children is a better book than Justice, and the sequel to Children is better than the sequel to justice. What you might find more interesting from Leckie, rather than the sequel to Justice is The Raven Tower. I don’t want to give anything away by saying what it’s about, but it’s much, much closer to Tchaikovsky in style.
Becky Chambers is an interesting one. Her character writing is good verging on great, and she’s able to create interesting characters pretty quickly and develop them well, and that worked for Angry Planet, but I felt like the sequel lost its way and got too into world-building and stuff, which she’s much less good at. Though I’ll be honest she falls into the unfortunate category of SF writers who are both bad enough at science, and yet want to bring the science up constantly that I find it very grating. It’s like, if you’re bad at science, you can still write SF, just like, use a lot of hypertech and don’t over-explain things. Yoon Ha Lee shows how you can do this - he’s wrote Ninefox Gambit, which is kind of mind-bending in a good way, and entirely about totally fictional technologies, but is kind of brilliant SF (on a certain level). I have no idea if he knows anything at all about actual science, because he steers clear of it. I which Chambers had done the same.
I guess the short way of putting it is if you explain things less, audiences will make up their own explanations, which will avoid problems.
Personally I’ve been reading a whole lot less since lockdown because 95% of my reading was on the way to or from work, or when trying to get to sleep.
I’m currently reading False Value, which is the latest Rivers of London book, and seems to be one of the best of them so far, and certainly surprisingly hasn’t suffered from “main plot resolved” syndrome, which I really expected it to after the previous book. It is kind of heading into almost Shadowrun territory setting-wise, but I think that was more or less inevitable from what, about book 2 or 3 of the series, and it hasn’t lost the basic charm, and if anything has improved it a bit in some ways, and has drawn together a bunch of stuff from earlier books that I assumed was just, sorta, there. Of course I’m not at the end yet, so it may fall apart, though historically that hasn’t been the pattern with his books. The writer continues to manage to just barely steer clear of “twee” territory, and keep stuff grounded and real and ambiguous enough (morally, conceptually) that it keeps working. At one point he retcons the mind-control a river-goddess exerts on people, but at the same time he keeps it ambiguous enough, and in-character enough that you can wonder how much of that is wishful thinking and so on. Anyway, looking good so far!