The “Answer” to Traveller’s Literary Inspirations
June 17, 2016
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I’ve known about Traveller’s literary antecedents ever since reading Michael Andre-Driussi’s excellent article from The Internet Review of Science Fiction, but I was still pleasantly surprised the other day after stumbling across the “Heroes and Villains” section of Traveller’s classic Citizens of the Imperium supplement again. This concise list turns out to contain yet another example of what PC Bushi lovingly refers to as unholy nerd texts.
And as far as the great sff generation gap goes, this one was a killer. I did have a copy of 1,001 Characters back when I was in high school– you were supposed to be able to recognize these iconic characters in the back just from their Traveller stats. I couldn’t identify any of them!
I’d always considered myself to be kind of a science fiction buff, so it kind of aggravated me. Still, it didn’t really register as being significant of anything at the time. Just like people thinking that Gary Gygax was weird for making lawful fighting-men a thing, so too did I just assume that there must have been something wrong with Traveller’s designers. (No Paul Atreides? No Hari Seldon? No Johnny Rico? No H.A.L.? Arrrrrrgh! Y’all be crazy!)
Looking at the books down in “the previous answers” section below, it’s pretty clear that the guys at GDW had a conception of “classic science fiction” that ranged far beyond most peoples’ notions of “the big three”. These book lists would have been put together at about the same time as AD&D’s Appendix N were drawn up– and the fan culture they represented would end up lapsing into obscurity right along with D&D’s literary antecedents….
Looking at it now, though, I gotta say… ranking John Carter as basically the #1 science fiction hero of all time was rather apropos for the granddaddy of all space rpgs. This is a good set of books.