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Traveller, and the universe it inspired, came from many sources. This is a list of books, authors, movies, and other media that inspired Traveller and the Third Imperium.

Primary Inspiration Sources[edit]

Agent of the Imperium is written by the author of Traveller, Marc Miller. The rest of these entries served as the primary influence on the original Traveller authors. Many of these works are deservedly called Science Fiction Classics.


Marc Miller

This book is not just a good read, but also a primary source in learning a bit about the Imperium.

Poul Anderson
Isaac Asimov
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Joe Haldeman
Robert Heinlein
Frank Herbert
Keith Laumer
  • Bolos series
  • Retief series
    • Retief: Envoy to New Worlds;
    • Retief: Galactic Diplomat;
    • Retief's War;
    • Retief and the Warlords;
    • Retief: ambassador to space;
    • Retief: seven incidents of the Corps diplomatique terrestrienne;
    • Retief of the CDT;
    • Retief's Ransom;
    • Retief: Emissary to the Stars;
    • Retief at Large;
    • Retief Unbound;
    • Retief: Diplomat at Arms;
    • Retief to the Rescue;
    • Retief: The Return of Retief;
    • Retief in the Ruins;
    • Retief and the Pangalactic Pageant of Pulchritude;
    • Reward for Retief;
    • Retief and the Rascals
Andre Norton
Alexei Panshin
H. Beam Piper
E.E. "Doc" Smith
E. C. Tubb
  • Dumarest of Terra series - A 33 book collection of pure pulp
    • 1: The Winds of Gath ISBN 978-0441893027;
    • 2: Derai;
    • 3: Toyman;
    • 4: Kalin;
    • 5: The Jester at Scar ISBN 978-0441385362;
    • 6: Lallia ISBN 978-0441710836;
    • 7: Technos ;
    • 8: Veruchia ISBN 978-0441861811;
    • 9: Mayenne ISBN 978-0879970543;
    • 10: Jondelle;
    • 11: Zenya ISBN 978-0879971267;
    • 12: Eloise ISBN 978-0879971625;
    • 13: Eye of the Zodiac ISBN 978-0879971946;
    • 14: Jack of Swords ISBN 978-0879972394;
    • 15: Spectrum of a Forgotten Sun ISBN 978-0879972653;
    • 16: Haven of Darkness;
    • 17: Prison of Night ISBN 978-0879973469;
    • 18: Incident on Ath ISBN 978-0879973896;
    • 19: The Quillian Sector;
    • 20: Web of Sand ISBN 978-0879974794;
    • 21: Iduna's Universe;
    • 22: The Terra Data ISBN 978-0879975333;
    • 23: World of Promise 978-0879975791;
    • 24: Nectar of Heaven ISBN 978-0879976132;
    • 25: The Terridae;
    • 26: The Coming Event ;
    • 27: Earth is Heaven ISBN 978-0879977863;
    • 28: Melome ISBN 978-0879978310;
    • 29: Angado ISBN 978-0879979089;
    • 30: Symbol of Terra ISBN 978-0879979553;
    • 31: The Temple of Truth ISBN 978-0886770594;
    • 32: The Return ISBN 978-0936071831;
    • 33: Child of Earth ISBN 978-1607255765
Jack Vance
Jules Verne
H. G. Wells

Non-Sci-Fi Books[edit]

C.S. Forrester
  • Hornblower series
    • (The Happy Return, A Ship of the Line, Flying Colours, The Commodore, Lord Hornblower, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Lieutenant Hornblower, Hornblower, and the Atropos, Hornblower in the West Indies, Hornblower and the Hotspur, Hornblower and the Crisis)
Edward Gibbon
Herman Melville
Patrick O'Brian
  • Aubrey/Maturin series
    • (Master and Commander, Post Captain, H. M. S. Surprise, The Mauritius Command, Desolation Island, Fortune of War, The Surgeon's Mate, The Ionian Mission, Treason's Harbour, The Far Side of the World, The Reverse of the Medal, The Letter of Marque, The Thirteen Gun Salute, The Nutmeg of Consolation, The Truelove, The Wine-Dark Sea, The Commodore, The Yellow Admiral, The Hundred Days, Blue at the Mizzen)


2001: A Space Odyssey
The Andromeda Strain
The Forbidden Planet
Flash Gordon - 1936 Movie
Star Wars: A New Hope - The Original Star Wars movie came out in May 1977, and Traveller arrived in July 1977.
Silent Running


Flash Gordon

Secondary Inspiration Sources[edit]

These are other items recommended by the Traveller community. While some were not around when Traveller was originally written, they reflect the themes and ideas of both Traveller and the Third Imperium.


Ian M. Banks
  • Culture series (Consider Phlebas ISBN 0-333-44138-9; The Player of Games ISBN 0-333-47110-5; Use of Weapons ISBN 0-356-19160-5; Excession ISBN 1-85723-394-8; Inversions ISBN 1-85723-763-3; Look to Windward ISBN 1-85723-981-4; Matter ISBN 978-1-841-494173), Against A Dark Background ISBN 1-85723-179-1)
Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Miles Vorkosigan saga (Cordelia's Honor; Young Miles; Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem; Miles Errant; Miles, Mutants and Microbes; Miles in Love; Vorkosigan's Game, Komarr, A Civil Campaign)
C. J. Cherryh
  • Company Wars trilogy (Downbelow Station ISBN 8-470-02376-4; Heavy Time ISBN 0-446-67653-5; Hellburner ISBN 0-446-67653-5)
  • Era of Rapprochement series (Serpent's Reach ISBN 0-88677-088-2; Merchanter's Luck ISBN 0-88677-139-0; Forty Thousand in Gehenna ISBN 0-932096-26-3; Cyteen ISBN 0-446-51428-4; Rimrunners ISBN 0-446-51514-0; Tripoint ISBN 0-446-51780-1; Finity's End ISBN 0-446-52072-1)
James S. A. Corey
  • The Expanse series (Leviathan Wakes ISBN 978-0-316-12908-4; Caliban's War ISBN 978-1-841-49990-1; Abaddon's Gate ISBN 978-0-316-12907-7; Cibola Burn ISBN 978-0-316-21762-0; Nemesis Games ISBN 978-0-316-21758-3; Babylon's Ashes ISBN 978-0-356-50426-1)
  • Also a Television series: The Expanse
Becky Chambers
  • Wayfarers series (The Long Way to a Small, Angry PlanetISBN 978-0062444134, A Closed and Common Orbit ISBN 978-0062569400, Record of a Spaceborn Few ISBN 978-0062699220)
Gordon Dickson
  • Childe Cycle series (Dorsai!; Necromancer; Soldier, Ask Not; Tactics of Mistake; The Final Encyclopedia; The Chantry Guild)
David Drake
  • Hammer's Slammer's series (Hammer's Slammers; At Any Price; Counting the Cost; Rolling Hot; The Warrior; The Sharp End ; Paying the Piper);
  • Republic of Cinnabar Navy series (With the Lightnings, Lt. Leary Commanding, The Far Side of the Stars, The Way to Glory, Some Golden Harbor)
Joe Clifford Faust
  • Angel's Luck trilogy (Desperate Measures ISBN 0345350200; Precious Cargo ISBN 978-0345360885; The Essence of Evil ISBN 0-345-36089-3)
Peter Grant
Harry Harrison
Walter H. Hunt
  • Dark Wing series
    • The Dark Wing
    • The Dark Path
    • The Dark Ascent
    • The Dark Crusade
Jonathan Moeller
The Silent Order series (9 books)
Andrew Moriarty
Richard Morgan
  • Takeshi Kovacs series (Altered Carbon ISBN 0-575-07390-X; Broken Angels ISBN 0-575-07550-3; Woken Furies ISBN 0-575-07325-X)
Larry Niven
  • Tales of Known Space (World of Ptavvs, A Gift from Earth, Neutron Star, Protector The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton, The Patchwork Girl, Crashlander: The Collected Tales of Beowulf Shaeffer)
  • Ringworld (Ringworld, The Ringworld Engineers, The Ringworld Throne, Ringworld's Children)
  • Man-Kzin Wars anthologies
  • The Draco Tavern
Steve Perry
The Matador series (9 books)
Jerry Pournelle
  • Motie Series (A Spaceship for the King, A Mote in God's Eye, King David's Spaceship, The Gripping Hand)
  • Falkenberg series (Prince of Mercenaries, Falkenberg's Legion, Go Tell the Spartans, Prince of Sparta)
  • Janissaries series (Janissaries, Janissaries: Clan and Crown, Janissaries III: Storms of Victory)
Mike Watson

David Weber
  • Honor Harrington series (On Basilisk Station ISBN 0-671-57793-X; The Honor of the Queen ISBN 0-671-57864-2; The Short Victorious War ISBN 0-671-87596-5 Field of Dishonor ISBN 0-671-57820-0; Flag in Exile ISBN 0-671-31980-9; Honor Among Enemies ISBN 0-671-87723-2; In Enemy Hands ISBN 0-671-57770-0; Echoes of Honor ISBN 0-671-57833-2; Ashes of Victory ISBN 0-671-57854-5; War of Honor ISBN 0-7434-3545-1; At All Costs ISBN 1-4165-0911-9)
Walter Jon Williams
  • Dread Empire's fall series (The Praxis ISBN 0-7434-2897-8; The Sundering ISBN 0-7434-2898-6; The Conventions of War ISBN 0-7432-5677-8)
Scott Westerfeld
  • Risen Empire series
    • The Risen Empire
    • The Killing of Worlds


Space Sweepers
Starship Troopers
Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Babylon 5
Battlestar Galactica Original series
Battlestar Galactica Updated series
Blake's 7
Earth 2
Lost in Space - The original TV series
Space: 1999
Space: Above and Beyond
Star Trek - The Original Series
The Expanse - see also James S. A. Corey in Books

Tertiary Inspiration Sources[edit]

These are books and other media which are not as closely tied to the Original Traveller Universe as the primary sources, but were certainly sources of cross-fertilization, and are frequently mentioned as sources of inspiration. Some of these are implicitly (or explicitly) inspired by Traveller.


Greg Bear
  • Blood Music
Gregory Benford
  • Galactic Center Saga (In the Ocean of Night, Across the Sea of Suns, Great Sky River, Tides of Light, Furious Gulf, Sailing Bright Eternity, A Hunger for the Infinite)
David Brin
  • Uplift series (Sundiver, Startide Rising, The Uplift War, Brightness Reef, Infinity's Shore, Heaven's Reach)
A. Bertram Chandler
  • The John Grimes series
Arthur C. Clarke
  • Imperial Earth, Rendezvous with Rama, Songs of a Distant Earth
Brian Daley
  • Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds, Jinx on a Terran Inheritance, Fall of the White Ship Avatar
Joe Clifford Faust
  • The Essence of Evil, Precious Cargo, Desperate Measures
Robert Frezza
  • McLendon's Syndrome
Dave Grossman
  • The Two-Space War, The Guns of Two-Space
Peter F. Hamilton
  • Greg Mandel sequence,
  • Night's Dawn Trilogy,
  • Commonwealth series (Pandora's Star (2004), Judas Unchained (2005), Misspent Youth (2002), The Dreaming Void (2008), The Temporal Void (2009), The Evolutionary Void (2010))
Chris Hechtl
  • Wandering Engineer Series (New Dawn, Fool's Gold, Destinys Choice, Ghost Station, Plague Planet)
Aldous Huxley
  • Brave New World
Jeffery Kooistra
  • Dykstra's War
Gregory P. Lee
  • The Laughing Lip Series (All Shall Go to Wrack, Demand the Debt That's Owing, Long-Remembering Harpers)
Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Dispossessed, Rocannon’s World, The Word for World is Forest, Left Hand of Darkness
Nathan Lowell
  • Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series (Quarter share, Half share, Full share, Double share, Captain share, Owners share)
George R. R. Martin (Tuf Voyaging, Dying of the Light)
Jack McDevitt
  • Alex Benedict stories (A Talent for War, Polaris, Seeker)
Jamie McFarlane
Privateer Tales Series ( 17 books, )
Jack McKinney
Robotech Series (21 books)
Julian May
  • Galactic Milieu Series (Surveillance, Metaconcert, Jack the Bodiless, Diamond Mask, Magnificat),
  • The Rampart Worlds trilogy (Perseus Spur, Orion Arm, Sagittarius Whorl: An Adventure of the Rampart Worlds)
Steve Miller and Sharon Lee
  • Liaden universe
Elizabeth Moon
  • Vatta's War series
John Ringo
  • Legacy of the Aldenata (Posleen) series
Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Red Mars, Blue Mars, Green Mars
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Retrieval Artist series (The Disappeared, Extremes, Consequences, Buried Deep, Paloma, The Recovery Man, Duplicate Effort, The Possession of Paavo Deshin (short novel), Anniversary Day, Blowback)
John Scalzi
  • Old Man's War
Charles Sheffield
  • The McAndrew Chronicles
Michael Stackpole
Warrior Trilogy (Warrior: En Garde, Warrior: Riposte Warrior: Coupé) - Battletech
Joan D. Vinge
  • The Snow Queen, World's End, Summer Queen
Vernor Vinge
  • A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness In The Sky, Marooned in Realtime
Walter Jon Williams
  • The Crown Jewels, House of Shards, Rock of Ages

Non-Sci-Fi Books[edit]

Niccolo Machiavelli
  • The Prince
General Bernard Trainor

The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama ISBN 9780307388940

Sci-fi RPG Sources[edit]

2300 AD RPG by GDW
Alternity: Star*Drive RPG
Blue Planet RPG
Fading Suns RPG
GURPS by Steve Jackson Games: GURPS Space, Ultra-Tech, etc.
Ringworld RPG by Chaosium
Serenity RPG by Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd.
Shadowrun RPG by FASA
Space Opera RPG by FGU
SpaceMaster RPG by ICE
Star Frontiers RPG by TSR
Star Hero RPG by Hero Games
Star Wars RPG by West End Games
Stargate SG1 RPG
Transhuman Space RPG by SJG
Universe: The Role-Playing Game of the Future RPG by Simulation Publications, Inc. (SPI)

Video Games[edit]

X-com 1 & 2
Starflight 1 & 2
Rebelstar (forerunner to X-Com)
EVE Online
Elite (the original, or Oolite for a modern update)
Mass Effect (you can read the Traveller DNA in its information Codex)
Privateer 2


The 6th day
Apollo 13
Apollo 18
Appleseed Saga: Ex Machina (anime)
Battle Beyond the Stars
Black Hole (Disney does science)
Blade Runner
Dark Star
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Enemy Mine
Event Horizon
The Fifth Element
Galaxy Quest
Ghost in the Shell
Guardians of the Galaxy
Ice Pirates
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Independence Day
The Last Starfighter
Judge Dredd
Jupiter Ascending
Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World
Mutiny on the Bounty
Riddick Films: Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick
The Right Stuff
Saturn 3
Space Cowboys
Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone
Space Truckers
Three Kings
Titan A.E

Television Series[edit]

Blake's 7
Banner of the Stars (Anime)
Buck Rogers in the 25th century
Connections, Connections 2, and Connections 3 by James Burke - Not SF but good for how Technology evolves
Cowboy Bebop (Anime)
Crest of the Stars (Anime)
Dark Matter
Earth 2
Farscape And Farscape: The Peacekeeper wars
Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy (radio show and TV)
Planetes (hyper real near-Earth space anime)
Lost In Space (New Series)
Red Dwarf
Robotech (Anime)
Space: Above and Beyond
Stargate SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis
Star Trek - The Next Generation
Star Trek - Deep Space Nine
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Animated)
Star Wars Rebels (Animated)
Tytania (Anime, subtitled only)
UFO (best TV theme music EVER)


Traveller came out of a core group of university students in Illinois in the USA on Terra. The core group of original creators and fans were nearly all big science fiction readers, fans, enthusiasts, and wargamers. They went on to found GDW, the company that published the core game and launched the Traveller RPG. The company went through its share of drama, eventually closing doors after the market was unkind to it. However, it created an entire genre of sci-fi, cemented the sci-fi RPG as a gaming standard, and created or inspired numerous gaming greats: board game designers, fiction writers, and many other purveyors of imagination who are still loved by the greater geek community. This article attempts to collect some of the many different inspirations that helped to inspire those purveyors of imagination who continue to inspire all of us.[1]

Meta-history & Background[edit]

Etymology: The word Traveler and its British English orthographic variation Traveller refer to individuals who travel. In practice, this refers to tourists, nomads, gypsies, exiled or expatriate peoples, and the like. In the Traveller RPG universe, it refers to sophonts who travel the stars, a special group of beings with an adventurous spirit. They are imagined to possess the Traveller Gene.[2]

In the beginning, there was only some very basic background material as to the Traveller universe. It appeared that like most other RPG games of the time that individual game masters would develop their own universe to adventure in. It was originally intended to be a flexible, multi-purpose, general ruleset. As more adventures and supplements were developed the rich character of the standard Traveller universe began to evolve.[3]

  • Most of the Classic Traveller books are available in compendium volumes from - Marc Miller's Far Future company, who is the current copyright and trademark holder of all forms of the Traveller game.


This list of sources was used by the Traveller Wiki Editorial Team and individual contributors to compose this article. Copyrighted material is used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author. The page history lists all of the contributions.
  1. An unpublished factoid written by Maksim-Smelchak
  2. An unpublished factoid written by Maksim-Smelchak
  3. An unpublished factoid written by Maksim-Smelchak