The Unified Republic of Stars is a storyworld in which over three hundred years of history has been pre-defined. Yeah. Three hundred years. It covers the time from before the first ship left for what would become The Republican Star Cluster to the 2338 and actually a little bit beyond. And that’s just the Age of Colonization and the Age of War. There will also be an Age of Betrayal added sometime in the near future.
So… is this constraining on authors and contributors or freeing?
What this predefined history means is that some events, no matter what, are going to happen at certain dates. They will happen and they will turn out as already described in the A Short History of the Unified Republic of Stars and A History of the Age of War history books.
So it all depends, really, on how it’s looked at.
On one side, it can be limited. For instance, someone who wants to tell a story about Stewart Todd “Dutch” Warner dying during the Battle for the Republic is shit out of luck. Dutch doesn’t die then. Lot’s of people do but not him. Dutch dies at home as an old man, holding a picture of his ship in his hands. That could be seen as limiting. However, there are several periods of Dutch’s life that are either undocumented or not dramatized. A story could always be told about his adventures as a smuggler captain or as a 2169. Independence has been declared by the First Independent Congress. Millions on the colonial worlds were actually still born on Earth. What side do they take? Will they stay where they’ve built lives for themselves or will they go back to the human homeworld?
I imagine that this would be as divisive as any civil war, with family loyalties split, perhaps the parents wanting to return but the children wanting to stay. And maybe even siblings might have differing opinions. One might want nothing to do with Earth, having rarely thought of it in the past, while the other is not so ready to cut them self off from the birthplace of humanity.
If a dozen different stories can’t be told about that, then I don’t know what could.
One of the most important rules of storytelling, as repeated almost everywhere, is to make a story personal. They often express this by saying “write what you know.” Of course, no one really wants to hear about the intricacies of keeping, say, fish. What it’s really getting at is that by writing what you know, you’re writing about something personal.
Now, if fish keeping is your thing and but you love sci-fi and want to write a story, it doesn’t have to include fish. Think about what else you know and write about that. Ever had an argument with your brother, sister, mother, or father you didn’t think you’d come back from? Fictionalize that and it’ll grab people.
The purpose of the Unified Republic of Stars storyworld is not to limit the stories being told. Rather it’s to provide a framework and common backstory to any kind of story someone might want to tell in a sci-fi setting. You can go epic, creating a good captain who gets killed in a major battle. In the history of the URS a lot of good people have died. Or you can go small and personal.
The choice is up to you.