This is Free Trader Beowulf: A System History of Traveller is now out. It’s available from Mongoose Publishing as a PDF and as a preorder for the hardcover, which is currently scheduled for September.

The book is 296 pages long (112,000 words) and details the entire history of Traveller, from Marc Miller’s first experiences with wargaming in 1962 to the current editions of the game out from Mongoose and Far Future in 2024. 14 chapters cover all the major publishers of Traveller, all the game systems, all the major licensees, the fandom, and even the “Long Night” where there was no core publisher. GDW, DGP, FASA, HIWG, Imperium, Avenger, Comstar, QuikLink, Steve Jackson, Mongoose, and lots more: it’s all here. A series of boxes detailing the state of the industry over the decades and listing many unpublished books complements the core narrative. Maps showing the continuing & evolving state of Traveller adventures close out the volume.

This book was researched and authored between January 2022 and September 2023. The research is entirely fresh. I took a back-to-basics approach, going back to all of my periodicals, all of the interviews, and all of the sourcebooks and adventures themselves. Every references is also meticulously listed, chapter by chapter. There are hundreds of them. With almost two years of work, I was able to dive much deeper than I did for my original Designers & Dragons histories, including working through hundreds of magazines and fanzines. My series of Traveller magazine indexes, which currently covers the Traveller content of almost 300 magazines was created to support this project. The end result is something like 5x-6x as much material on Traveller as appeared in the whole four-book series of Designers & Dragons. I personally think This is Free Trader Beowulf is my best history book to date for any number of reasons, including the fact that I’m an long-time fan of Traveller.

The folks at Mongoose have been working on This is Free Trader Beowulf since I sent it over to them last Fall and have been great about letting me check edits and continuously go over the layouts. They were super patient, and I think we’ve produced a superior product. I’m especially grateful to Matthew Sprange who came to me with the project in the first place and to Sandrine Thirache who produced the gorgeous, full-color graphic design and did some amazing art direction.

That art direction includes 14 splash pages that head off the 14 chapters. For each one, Sandrine picked a classic cover appropriate for the era and asked Quentin Soubrouillard to produce a new piece referencing the original. They offer different viewpoints on those classic pieces of art, perhaps separated spatially, perhaps chronologically. I’m going to be looking at all 14 over the next 28 weeks or so and comparing them to the originals. I also plan to write up a full product history for each classic book or game that Sandrine choose, to highlight its importance to the game.

Of course you can see that art immediately (and the history of course!) if you pick up This is Free Trader Beowulf as a PDF and/or order the upcoming volume.

This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone… Mayday, Mayday… we are under attack… main drive is gone… turret number one not responding. Mayday… losing cabin pressure fast… calling anyone… please help… This is Free Trader Beowulf… Mayday…

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