universe n.

the setting of a work or series of fiction, esp. of imaginative fiction

SF Criticism

  • 1947 D. S. Savage Aldous Huxley & the Dissociation of Personality in B. Rajan Novelist as Thinker 11 page image

    The fictional universe which he creates and populates possesses certain well-defined features which might all be said to be explicable in the light of a fundamental discontinuity.

  • 1952 H. A. Talon Julian Green in Yale French Studies (No. 10) 32

    So that in stressing the invariable elements of this fictional universe, as I must in a short survey, I have the impression of betraying the author somewhat.

  • 1970 P. S. Miller Reference Library in Analog Science Fiction Apr. 162/1 P. Schuyler Miller

    The great ‘Lensman’ series here in Astounding showed us another such universe, one facet at a time. Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ stories…James Schmitz’s of the Hub worlds and A. Bertram Chandler’s of the galactic Rim…Fred Saberhagen’s chronicles of the Berserker machines…we all have our favorites. The greatest in recent years has probably been ‘Cordwainer Smith’s’ wonderful construction, but one of the richest and most vivid is the universe in which Poul Anderson sets many of his stories.

  • 1970 P. S. Miller Reference Library in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact Apr. 162/1 P. Schuyler Miller

    Such stories fall into two main categories, both well represented in science fiction. There is the string-of-beads pattern—more or less independent exploits of the same character in the manner of Tom Swift or Captain Future. We also have the more thoughtfully constructed series in which the storyteller dips into a fully worked-out imaginary universe. My first memories of this kind of science-fictional universe are Edmond Hamilton’s galactic adventure yarns for Weird Tales.

  • 1970 P. S. Miller Reference Library in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact Apr. 170/1 P. Schuyler Miller

    Some day I hope some fan or fan organization—maybe the vigorous Australian Science Fiction Association in Chandler’s home territory—will put together a list of the Rim or ‘Expansion’ stories (since they are not all laid in the Rim Worlds but are all in a consistent future universe—or universes) and try to organize them in some kind of sequence.

  • 1979 R. L. Asprin Making of Thieves’ World in R. L. Asprin & L. Abbey Thieves’ World 297 Robert Asprin bibliography

    As an example, he pointed out that there were countless story potentials in his Dorsai universe, but that he was barely able to find the time to complete the Childe Cycle novels, much less pursue all the spinoffs.

  • 1981 P. Mathews Short Fiction Reviews in Science Fiction Rev. Summer 60/2

    Marvin Kaye’s "A Smell of Sulphur" gives the Wicked Witch of the West a moral choice before the events outlined by Frank Baum proceed on their inevitable way. Kaye has been playing games in well-established universes for some time, and it’s fun.

  • 1992 T. Shippey Oxford Book of Science Fiction Introd. p. xvi

    All authors in the genre realize that science fiction has one particular, unshared problem: the need to set out the ‘rules of the game,’ the precise and novel nature of each story’s individual universe before or as well as getting on with telling the story itself.

  • 1996 B. Stableford Third Generation Genre Science Fiction in Science-Fiction Studies Nov. 329 Brian Stableford

    Books set in that universe are not set-and-location limited in the same way that the TV shows are, nor are they closely bound to specific special-effects technologies—but that does not mean that they enjoy the same narrative freedom as books set in other science-fictional universes.

  • 2000 Ship Who Searched back cover blurb

    Set in the same universe as The Ship Who Sang and PartnerShip, The Ship Who Searched tells the story of a shellperson and her search for the EsKays, a star-faring race whose artifacts are scattered throughout the galaxy, but whose fate is a mystery.

  • 2003 N. Spinrad On Books in Asimov’s Science Fiction Mar. 130/2 Norman Spinrad

    Permanence is another reasonably far future space epic set in quite a different universe than that of Ventus and constructed around an intriguing and, as far as I know, novel astronomical premise.

Research requirements

antedating 1947

Research History
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1992 citation from Tom Shippey's introduction to The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories.
Jeff Prucher submitted a 2002 citation from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Jeff Prucher submitted a 2003 citation from Norman Spinrad in Asimov's.
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1996 cite from Brian Stableford in SF Studies.
Jeff Prucher submitted a 2000 cite from the cover blurb of Anne McCaffery and Mercedes Lackey's "The Ship Who Searched".
Jeff Wolfe submitted a 1986 cite from Robert Lynn Asprin in his (and Lynn Abbey's) 1979 "Thieves' World".
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1981 cite from Patricia Mathews in SF Review.
Ben Zimmer submitted a 1947 cite from D. S. Savage

Fred Galvin submitted a link to this site which suggests that the first appearance of this sense of "universe" may have appeared in the fanzine "Om Markstein Sklom Stu" #6, in the apazine CAPA-alpha #71 (Sept 1970). However, Irene Grumman submitted cites from P. Schuyler Miller in the April 1970 Analog, which antedate it.

Fred Galvin submitted a 1966 cite from Algis Budrys in Galaxy that uses "pocket universe" in this sense. We would still like pre-1970 cites for "universe", from SF sources, however.

Last modified 2021-10-22 19:32:02
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.