[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
Hugo and Nebula Winner

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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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