It’s safe to say that without Star Wars and Star Trek, I might have never become a science fiction fan. When I was a kid, it was those movies and television shows that first interested me in the genre. And when I tested the waters of science fiction reading, some of the first books I bought with my own money were Star Trek and Star Wars novels. In a sense, these properties and their tie-in novels acted as a kind of gateway drug to the wider genre of science fiction for me. Since reading those first books, I have expanded my tastes and interests, but my fondness for the Trek-type of narrative has remained, and so to me, the idea of doing an anthology that builds on those same tropes and traditions held great appeal. That, more than anything, is the reason this book exists.
But of course it is not just Star Trek and Star Wars that explore the vastness of interstellar, galaxy-spanning societies—of governments, not of countries, but of worlds, or entire groups of worlds. SF literature has a great many examples of it as well. There are classics like Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish cycle, and Frank Herbert’s Dune series; in fact, the tradition in print SF goes back long before Star Trek and Star Wars, all the way back to the days of the pulps, when writers like E. E. “Doc” Smith was writing his Lensman novels.
These classic federations have revealed and shaped much of American life. But with this anthology, we look to see what comes next. What will the interstellar federations of the future look like now that our society accepts (for the most part) racial and gender equality? President Barack Obama himself was a Trek fan as a child. Now, he is the first African-American president, something that even optimists like Gene Roddenberry might have had a hard time imagining. There will always be federations on the horizon, in our future, describing who we wish we were, or might become.
Over the decades, writers have continued to develop new and exciting takes on this theme—indeed, contemporary writers like Alastair Reynolds and Lois McMaster Bujold have crafted some of the finest examples of interstellar science fiction of all time, work that will likely be considered classic in the future. Writers like them, and the others in this book, are keeping the tradition alive, building on what the generations before have laid out, innovating to keep the sub-genre fresh and vital.
In the pages that follow, you will find a mix of all-new, original fiction, alongside selected reprints from authors whose work exemplifies what interstellar science fiction is capable of.
–John Joseph Adams
Many thanks to the following:
Sean Wallace and Stephen Segal, my commanding officers at
Starfleet Command Prime Books, for assigning me to this mission and laying out the course for me. Also, to Dainis Bisenicks, for making a few course corrections along the way.
Gordon Van Gelder, the Yoda to my Luke Skywalker. Wise he is, in the ways of editing.
Agent Jenny Rappaport, my Ackbar, who shouts “It’s a trap!” when appropriate.
Jordan Hamessley, the Ender Wiggin to my Mazer Rackham, who reviews my battle plans and points out my mistakes. She will destroy us all someday if we’re not careful.
Haris Durani and Rebecca McNulty, my young padawans. The Force is strong in these two.
My Parental Unit, for the dream, and helping me realize it.
The NYC Rebel Alliance—consisting of Christopher M. Cevasco (C-3P0), Douglas E. Cohen (R2-D2), David Barr Kirtley (Chewbacca), Andrea Kail (Leia), and Rob Bland (Han Solo), among others (i.e., the NYCGP Rebel Reserves).
The Quorum, who I turned to when I needed sage advice or assistance: Ellen Datlow, Mike Resnick, Jonathan Strahan, Vaughne Lee Hansen, Ross Lockhart, Kathleen Bellamy, Ty Franck, Steven Silver, and to anyone else I’ve neglected to think of.
And last but not least: the writers who either wrote original stories for this book, or otherwise allowed me to include their stories. For you lot, there’s no comparison.
–John Joseph Adams