The Worlds of “What If …?”
Growing up in the late 1960s, not long after the advent of the nuclear bomb and near the height of the Cold War, my first introduction to science fiction was actually pretty depressing — all the stories seemed to be about nuclear apocalypse and other ways for humanity to destroy itself. It took me a few years to realize that science fiction could also be adventurous, humorous, enlightening … enjoyable in many ways.
I had no idea who or what to read (I was oblivious to the normal gateways: Amazing, Astounding, the Magazine of F&SF, and so many others) but I was a subscriber to the SF Book of the Month Club, which introduced me to a wide variety of stories, nearly all of them good reads. I didn’t order every month’s special offer, but I got a lot of them (including a few I simply forgot to decline in time, but I even held on to most of those, once I’d read them).
… Forty years later, I’ve read a lot of SF stories. Some I’ve forgotten with no regrets, but most keep me coming back for more. With the worlds of Star Traders, I hope to introduce you to some of the best storytellers over the last couple of centuries, all of whom can start with “what if …” and create a fascinating exploration of the possibilities. Please note that this isn’t an endorsement of any particular awards, politics, lifestyles, philosophies or anything other than good stories. And these worlds aren’t all of my most favorite authors — some weren’t available to lend their names and some I simply couldn’t reach — but each one here has entertained me late into the night and can entertain you, as well — check them out!
The worlds are approximately ordered by date of first SF publication, but the earliest authors have been assigned to the core worlds (those numbering 61-65). Laumer, exporting Diplomats, has been appointed the capital world, 66.
I gratefully acknowledge the permissions that I have been given to include the names of my favorite science fiction authors in this game and book. These permissions should not be taken as endorsements of the game.
Portions reprinted by permission of Frederik Pohl’s Gateway, LLC and Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Portions copyright © by Ursula K. Le Guin, reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
The Estate of Philip K. Dick has not granted approval, but has no objection to naming a world after him.
Special thanks to Marie Anello.
Some images from NASA or based on images from NASA. Their inclusion should not be taken as endorsements of the game by NASA.