Category Archives: Worlds

Star Traders Worlds: Anderson

Category : Star Traders , Worlds



Poul Anderson (1926 – 2001; first SF publication, 1947) is one of those whose work I will grab solely on the basis of the author; I haven’t been disappointed yet. His novels don’t depend on deep philosophical queries (although he includes that from time to time); they are simply great reads. Anderson’s most well-known settings are the Polesotechnic League and the world of Dominic Flandry of Terran Intelligence, but he has created many other worlds. Time travel is key to some of his other most memorable works, including The Dancer from Atlantis and The Corridors of Time.

Anderson, writing with Gordon R. Dickson, created the Hoka, the original teddy-bear aliens. The Hokas and  the Fuzzies of H. Beam Piper (who doesn’t appear here but deserves an honorable mention) are much more interesting than any more recent marketing-driven creations.

Nicholas Van Rijn, star-faring trader extraordinaire. When I first started considering favorite authors who write about trading through space, Anderson’s Van Rijn leaped to the front of the line. Who couldn’t love the protagonist of The Man Who Counts (both by counting money and in importance), a man who epitomizes what Star Traders is all about? And now that I’m researching Anderson’s works to complete this brief bio, I am embarassed to note one other title that I’m gonna have to track down quickly: Trader to the Stars (about Van Rijn, of course), plus Baen’s recent compilation of stories about Van Rijn’s most adventurous employee: David Falkayn: Star Trader.

Solar Spice

Van Rijn’s company is the Solar Spice and Liquors Company, which, like Van Rijn himself, is a throwback to the Dutch merchant adventurers of the age of exploration. Rather than selecting a specific commodity from the wide range of Van Rijn’s stories, Anderson exports solar spice.

Star Traders Worlds: Schmitz

Category : Star Traders , Worlds



James Schmitz (1911 – 1981; first SF publication, 1943) didn’t write as much as some of the authors on this list, and his work isn’t deeply philosophical, but among my favorite authors, he is one of my most favorite. Most of his writing is set in the Hub Universe, and his female protagonists are among the eariest in science fiction to have some role other than “scantily clad damsel in distress.” Telzey Amberdon (xenotelepath extraordinaire) and Trigger Argee (expert sharpshooter) are two of the most admirable female characters in all of science fiction, and the Agent of Vega series takes space opera down a couple of unlikely paths.

But the crown jewel of Schmitz’ work (in my humble opinion) is The Witches of Karres. This isn’t deep, insightful literature, just an absolutely delightful adventure with trader captain Pausert, who is piloting a merchant ship throughout the known galaxy (does that ring any bells?), with the three young witches he involuntarily rescues from servitude. They’ve got something everyone else wants, making Pausert’s ship a prime target for … well, for everyone else.

Sheem Spiders

Pausert has taken on a more important cargo than he realizes, including a Sheem Spider, an animatronic, horse-sized creation that is designed to stalk and assassinate. It is a masterwork of a long-dead species, and one of the primary elements in Witches.

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Star Traders Worlds: Bradbury

Category : Star Traders , Worlds


Ray Bradbury (1920 – 2012; first SF publication, 1938), despite his claim to the contrary, was an amazing author of science fiction. (He held that science fiction should be based on reality, and of his works, only Farenheit 451, depicting a future in which all books are banned, met that criterion. The others, including The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man and Dandelion Wine, were fantasies, because they weren’t possible in the real world.) The Martian Chronicles is definitely out of this world, describing the sporadic colonization of Mars by Humans, and their encounters with the native Martians. The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked and (especially) Dandelion Wine are rooted in Heartland America, which distinguishes Bradbury’s writing from just about every other author on this list.

Fireproof Paper

Fahrenheit 451 is (approximately) the temperature at which paper autoignites, and its protagonist is a “fireman” responsible for burning any book that he finds (and sometimes the entire house around it, as well). He gradually realizes the loss to society and finds a small group of people who are each memorizing a work of literature, for when books will once more be allowed. I suppose you could say they metaphorically mirror the Fireproof Paper that Bradbury exports.

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Star Traders Worlds: Shelley, Verne & Wells

Category : Star Traders , Worlds


Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851; first SF publication, 1818) is the earliest, and perhaps youngest, author in this list. At the time she wrote (in the early 1800s, when she was less than twenty years old) there was no such thing as “science fiction”; her Frankenstein was (and often still is) classified as horror and gothic. However, her story of Dr. Frankenstein’s experimental attempts to create life from non-living matter is definitely also science fiction. Her later books tend toward the historical and romantic, although she does write at least one other SF title, the apocalyptic The Last Man. For me, Shelley tends more to Respect rather than Enjoy. I confess that I find older novels (particularly those prior to 1900) harder to work my way through.

Essence of Life

As Dr. Frankenstein conducts his experiments, he discovers the Essence of Life, which along with a jolt of electricity, brings his Creature to life.


Jules Verne
Jules Verne (1828 – 1905; first SF publication, 1863) wrote many stories, usually attempting scientific education — he wanted to teach science while providing an entertaining read. His guesses and extrapolations based on the knowledge of his day are sometimes wrong, but sometimes breathtakingly accurate.

I believe Verne is the only non-English author on this list. His most well-known stories are part of his “Extraordinary Journeys” series, and include Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon (in which a debate is held on whether to launch the rocket from Texas or — the eventual choice — Florida!), Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

A Nautilus Submarine

As with a few other authors on this list, Verne’s works offer little in the nature of commercial manufacturing. The number of ties I saw him referred to as “farseeing,” I was tempted to simply have the world of Verne export farseeing jewels … however, the Nautilus is the ahead-of-its-time submarine which Captain Nemo pilots in Twenty Thousand Leagues, and the choice for Verne’s export here.


H G Wells
H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells (1866 – 1946; first SF publication, 1894), despite what Warehouse 13 tells us, was a man, about twenty years behind Verne. He wrote lots of stories, including science fiction titles The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds — all written within four years! The War of the Worlds is the Martian invasion story with which Orson Welles terrified the U.S. through a radio dramatization, in 1938. In The World Set Free Wells predicted the devastation of nuclear weapons. He also created the first published rules for miniatures gaming (and arguably for wargaming of any sort) in Floor Games and Little Wars.

Time Machines

In The Time Machine, a gentleman inventor devises an apparatus that will carry its rider forward and backwards in time, and he eventually explores millions of years into the future, witnessing the final destruction of the Earth. A precise description of the machine is never given, although we know it has ivory and nickel bars, and brass rails.