Terran Trade Authority

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The Terran Trade Authority is a science-fiction setting originally presented in a collection of four large illustrated science fiction books published between 1978 and 1980. This series was written by Stewart Cowley.

The books formed a connected space-opera milieu, describing the future history of mankind's expansion into the galaxy, presented in the guise of official handbooks by the trade organization from which the setting takes its name. However, the books sometimes contained contradictory information (e.g., the nature of early FTL technology).

Compared to other science fiction settings, the TTA setting appears optimistic about man's place in the universe, though elements of violence and authoritarianism do appear in the books. It features a strong undercurrent of wonder and adventure, due in part to the inclusion of various mysterious alien relics and incidents that are left unexplained by the author.

A revised series of books were planned by Morrigan Press, but only one, 'Spacecraft 2100 To 2200 AD', appeared.

Premise of the setting[edit]

According to the series original timeline, humans - aka 'Terrans' - became starfarers in the early 21st century, with the development of the DeVass Warp Generator. This is described as a spacefold-style faster-than-light drive, which brought space at the origin and destination into proximity, allowing a vessel at the former to transfer to the latter without crossing the intervening distance.

The future history states that after remote exploration of nearby star systems, contact was established with the inhabitants of the Alpha Centauri star system (the 'Alphans'), with whom Terrans quickly became friends and allies. The second alien encounter at Proxima Centauri (with the 'Proximans' - long antagonistic towards the Alphans) resulted in the two-decade long 'Proximan War.' This war drove the development of space technology, resulting in many of the starship designs that inhabit the TTA universe and facilitating its further colonization.

Classic Series[edit]

The original four books are:

  • Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD (by Stewart Cowley, 1978) (UK ISBN 060038439X and US ISBN 0890092117 Editions) [SC1]
  • Great Space Battles (by Stewart Cowley and Charles Herridge, 1979) (UK ISBN 0600383687/US ISBN 0890092605) [GSB]
  • SpaceWreck: Ghost Ships and Derelicts of Space (by Stewart Cowley, 1979) (UK ISBN 0600329909/US ISBN 0896730220) [SW]
  • Starliners: Commercial Travel in 2200 AD (by Stewart Cowley, 1980) (UK ISBN 0600353575/US ISBN 0896730700) [SL]

In addition, the books Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD and Great Space Battles were collected together and published as Spacebase 2000 (1984, UK ISBN 0600385469/US ISBN 0312749406). All the books are currently out of print, but can often be found through auction sites or used booksellers.

Large color illustrations cover at least half the pages in each book. Most of these illustrations are reprints from book covers, which explains why they sometimes do not exactly fit with each other.

All the illustrations were made by now-famous science fiction painters such as Jim Burns, Alan Daniels, Peter Elson, Fred Gambino, Colin Hay, Robin Hiddon, Bob Layzell, Angus McKie, Chris Moore, Tony Roberts, and Trevor Webb.

Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD[edit]

This book covers the events immediately prior to and after the Proximan War Era and descriptions are presented in that context. The book is presented in the same manner as an aircraft recognition guide, made up entirely of spacecraft descriptions which relate their role and performance in the war if applicable, and occasionally their history afterwards. (Some of the ships in the book are nonmilitary in nature.) There is also a section on unknown aliens.

Great Space Battles[edit]

This book is divided in two parts:

  • The Laguna War: A novelette about an interstellar war between Earth and Laguna (Beta Hydri) in 2219.
  • A set of very short stories mostly about exploration of dangerous planets and minor battles.

Unlike Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD, the book contains stories instead of individual spaceship descriptions. This causes some problems as many illustrations were not always coherent within a single story.

SpaceWreck: Ghost Ships and Derelicts of Space[edit]

As was the case in the second part of Great Space Battles, the book is a collection of many unrelated very short stories about dangerous planets and space disasters. Since the stories are short, they usually have only one illustration, which avoids the problem of coherence between illustrations.

Starliners: Commercial Travel in 2200 AD[edit]

This fourth book is a return to the principle of the first book i.e. an illustrated list of spaceship descriptions instead of a collection of stories. However, being set in a time of peace, it speaks only of commercial companies offering flights to exotic planets.

Revised Series[edit]

In late 2005, the rights to release updated versions of the books were erroneously licensed from Hamlyn, the original publisher, to Morrigan Press. Morrigan, a publisher of roleplaying games, was intending to update the series as well as release a game in the setting. Unfortunately, just before the first book was to come out, Morrigan was informed by Cowley that the rights had reverted to him around 1990, thus rendering the Hamlyn license null and void. However, Cowley was supportive of their efforts to produce a new version, and a new agreement was negotiated.

The licensing agreement included the right to update and reprint the text and diagrams of the original books as well as to reproduce the designs of the original art, but the rights to the paintings themselves were not available. The revised series therefore featured work by new artists, both in reproducing the classic art and in doing original pieces, using a mixture of computer graphics and more traditional media.

The revised series was divided into two distinct product lines: art books in the vein of the classic series, and the roleplaying game and its supplements. In some cases (e.g., Local Space vs. the RPG), the lines contain similar material, written for different audiences. In other cases, the art books and the RPG line complement one another (e.g., Spacecraft and the RPG, while containing some reprinted material, emphasize different aspects of the setting).

The original series was set in the near-future (the timeline started approximately nine years after the first book's publication date). By the time the modern series was being planned, the real world was well into the eponymous time period of the first book. Therefore, Morrigan decided to shift the timeline of the setting one hundred years into the future (thus changing the title for the reprint of Spacecraft).

Reviews of the new series have been lukewarm (an average of two out of five star rating on Amazon.com), as some have felt that the artwork has been hastily built in 3D, and with a lack of attention to detail - including many obvious text errors. Also, the text has been heavily revised with respect to the history section in order to replace the outdated history of the original. Additionally, the revised history now makes explicit references to the current political climate and developments as such 9-11, the war on terror, and disillusionment with U.S. foreign policy. This is in sharp contrast to the original, which chose to steer clear of any real-life issues.[1]

The art books included:

  • Spacecraft 2100 to 2200 AD (by K. Scott Agnew, Jeff Lilly & Stewart Cowley) (July–August 2006) (Book info ISBN 097801510X) [SC2]
  • Local Space: A Guide to the TTA Universe (November 2006) (Book info ISBN 097801510X)
  • Capital Ships of the TTA (Planned - March 2007)
  • Aliens of the TTA (Planned - 2007?)

And for the roleplaying series:

  • The Terran Trade Authority Roleplaying Game (by K. Scott Agnew & Jeff Lilly, with foreword by Stewart Cowley) (October 2006) (Book info ISBN 0978015118)
  • Alpha Centauri (Planned - February 2007)
  • Proxima Centauri (Planned - 2007)

In 2008 a new licensing deal was reached with Battlefield Press (another publisher of roleplaying games) to do a new Terran Trade Authority RPG. The new RPG was to have been funded through Kickstarter but failed to gain the required $6,000 sought.[2] It was to have had two flavors, an independent system for those who wished a stand alone game, and a version for Savage Worlds for the modern gamer:

  • The Terran Trade Authority Campaign Setting (by Jonathan M. Thompson & Jeff Lilly, with foreword by Stewart Cowley) (Planned 2016)

Galactic Encounters[edit]

This series of six books was written by Stewart Cowley under the pseudonym "Steven Caldwell", for Intercontinental Book Productions (republished by Crescent Books in the US).

The Galactic Encounters series was set in roughly the same universe as the official TTA books (as demonstrated by many common visual elements and names), and was created partly using art rejected for inclusion in the official TTA books. As such, they are characterized as being of lower quality. They are considered non-canonical by fans of the original series, as well as Morrigan Press.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Amazon
  2. ^ Kick, traq. "Terran Trade Authority: The Proxima War (Savage Worlds)". Retrieved 6 May 2016.