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Welcome to Liaden Universe® Constellation: Volume 3!

We’d like to talk a little about how we got to this book, the book you have in your hands right now, and about grand plans.

When we started writing in the Liaden Universe® thirty years ago we had a plan. It was a plan for seven novels, to be written in a large and fast-paced space opera universe full of action, adventure, romance and fun, with several groups of people as the focus. Even as we started we knew that there were some complex stories to tell in this universe, because universes, families, and clans have history, and history is full of secrets, mistakes, alliances, plans, and necessity.

As we’ve described elsewhere, our original grand plan was sketched out over a single night, and when we were done, we knew many of the high points of the story, and quite a few of the central characters. The first few Liaden books attracted an avid readership—and over time portions of that readership coalesced into a community with outposts in the physical world of SF clubs and conventions clubs while an overlapping electronic community formed as the modem-based BBS society gave way to the internet. With so much support we—that is Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the authors of the Liaden Universe®—were, eventually, able to continue with our grand plan, and in fact we were encouraged to go beyond it, and write not seven novels, but, well, more than seven.

But wait! You may have noticed that the book you’re reading right now is—not a novel. In fact, it is so much not a novel that it labels itself the third Liaden Universe® Constellation, the third collection of short stories, novellas, and novelettes set within the universe.

Truth told, when we started with our grand plan we hadn’t thought about all the ramifications attending our style of world-building and character development. Since we’re working with an expanding universe, and not a linear series, that means the novels were not necessarily written in order, which means that the characters were also not written precisely in order. It also means that the characters often go where we don’t expect them to go; and that their pasts and futures are not clean slates, but experiences that make them who they are.

The result of grand plans, and novel-packaging, and characters going off on their own is that we found—and we still constantly find—that we have ideas, incidents, and events that don’t fit easily into the flow of a novel or a novel-arc. On top of that, we discovered as we talked with readers and fans that some characters fascinated folks more than others—and some fascinated us more than others. The Liaden Universe® had become not only our place, but an interactive place, with highly interested observers.

But see, we never planned for short stories, in our original grand plan.

“Whatever happened to the taxi-driver?” was a question that haunted us across several years and indeed, into a second story arc. When we answered it, it helped develop a novel in a different arc, and created another story as well. Young Jethri, given a short story, grew into a novel, and then another, with more short-pieces flowing off of his story line and necessities.

Grand plans change.

The stories you’ll read here are all set in the Liaden Universe®. They occur unserially—in different times, in different story arcs, to characters in the main line of the novels, and not. All of these stories take place inside the Liaden Universe®, and all illuminate some aspect of it that we needed to explore or an aspect that readers asked about and which was simultaneously attractive to us.

Despite the fact that we’ve far surpassed those original planned-for seven novels, the Liaden grand plan continues. We’re currently under contract with Baen to write six more novels in the Liaden Universe® . . . and, as time permits, or the fascination strikes, we’ll write more short stories.

We guess this means that someday, there will be a Liaden Universe® Constellation: Volume 4!

Thanks for reading, enjoying, and sharing!

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Waterville, Maine

June 2014

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