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Sawyer's Universe Not!
by Robert J. Sawyer
Copyright © 1991 and 1994 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved.
I've sold eight science-fiction novels to date. One of the
questions I get asked most frequently is whether I'm going to tie
them all together into a single universe, the way
Isaac Asimov or
Robert A. Heinlein did.
Frankly, I have no interest in doing that. Indeed, I'm always
surprised that any SF writer would want to do it. One of the
great joys of writing SF is the building of new worlds and new
histories. Limiting one's entire life's work to a single world
seems a terrible constraint.
Besides, the way I deal with the extinction of the dinosaurs in
End of an Era (Ace, November 1994)
completely contradicts what
I wrote in Fossil Hunter
(Ace, May 1993), so I'd never be able
to reconcile those two books as part of a coherent history.
Now, yes, the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago but
that's the whole point. Creating a coherent single universe in
SF means a lot more than just making a couple of centuries of
space exploration consistent across a series of books. In SF,
you get to play with fundamental questions about the very nature
of the universe.
End of an Era supports the
strong anthropic principle of
theoretical physics that is, that our universe required the
existence of life (so as to provide knowledgeable observers,
thereby collapsing wavefronts into concrete reality).
Fossil Hunter argues
exactly the opposite, that life is a fluke. I'm
not an advocate for either view; I see merit in both. But I have
no desire to limit myself to only one of the playgrounds physics
provides . . .
Linked stories are another matter. Larry Niven's "Known Space"
stories were indeed more enjoyable because they formed a coherent
history. Part of the joy of reading his collection Neutron
Star was ferreting out all the implicit background that linked
the stories. And surely Ringworld is a more satisfying read
after having read Niven's related short fiction rather than
before. On the other hand, when was the last time Niven wrote
something new? He freely admits that he's painted himself into a
corner with his "Known Space" unvierse . . .
I plan someday to return to the universe of
Golden Fleece and
to the separate universe of the Quintaglios. But to limit all my
fiction to only one universe would be just that: limiting.
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