Alastair Reynolds has been praised for his epic space operas
A former astronomer from south Wales has signed one of the biggest-ever science fiction book deals.
Alastair Reynolds, author of Revelation Space and Century Rain, will get £1m from Gollancz for his next 10 novels.
Reynolds, from Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, began writing short stories at college and then at the European Space Agency in Holland.
"It's fantastic news," he said. "As a writer you don't generally get that kind of security over 10 years."
"You're always looking to the end of the next contract and wondering where you're going to go from that," he added.
"You're busy trying to finish a book and at the same time worrying about the rest of your career.
"So having that kind of blanket in place for ten years is really fantastic - it means I can just concentrate on the writing and not worry about the financial side of things."
Reynolds found fame when his debut novel Revelation Space was published in 2000, when he was still working as an astrophysicist at the ESA's Research and Technology Centre in Leiden.
Following the book's critical and commercial success, Reynolds has since published 12 novels and short story collections with Gollancz, as well as dozens of short stories and novellas in small press collections and genre magazines around the world.
Reynolds' background in physics and astronomy has been hailed by critics as bringing a real authenticity to his epic space operas, and has won him fans from across the world's scientific community - including staff at NASA, where he is said to be a firm favourite.
The debut novel Revelation Space launched Reynolds' career as a writer
His fans include bestselling authors such as Bernard Cornwell, who said: "Alastair Reynolds is an astrophysicist, so he knows his stuff, but what really distinguishes him is a galaxy-sized imagination allied to a real story-telling ability."
Reynolds left the European Space Agency in 2004 to write full time, and moved back to his native Wales, now living in the Cynon Valley.
Jo Fletcher, his editor at Gollancz, said: "He's that rarest of science fiction authors: one who can match a rigorous science background with intense characterisation and rip-roaring plots."
Reynolds' next novel - Terminal World - is a part-steampunk, part-Western planetary romance in the far future to be published in October 2009.
The first fruits of the new ten-book deal will be published in October 2010
He admits it's a challenge but is confident he'll come up with the goods with some ideas already in place.
"There's already a trilogy that's been at the back of my mind so that's already three books ticked off, and then you think I quite fancy doing a sequel to that one and maybe a sequel to that one, and then maybe a few independent books," he said.
"Before you know it you've come up with ideas for seven or eight novels.
"Whether I actually write those seven or eight novels is a thing for the future. But I can sit down now and say here's a road map of where I could be in ten years time so it's not too daunting."