In a collection of stories with multiple worlds, how do you cue your readers as to what world your story takes place?

Let's say I have a collection of short stories, there are 1,000 science fiction short stories, and 400 different worlds. How do you tell your readers in which world your story takes place? Do you tell it at the beginning of the story, in what format? How should the text that cues your readers be formatted? Could you provide some real-life examples or show us how to word or format it by a fictional example?

I thought of:


<story begins>
  • A relevant example is Star Trek. There are two primary timelines (the so-called "Prime" and "Kelvin" timelines). It is possible to travel between them but the storylines are intended to be mostly independent. There is also a "Mirror" universe that contains another set of the same characters who have different details and live in a universe with slightly different details. Sep 11, 2022 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


Are all the worlds exactly equal? Do they have the same skies, the same suns, the same moons?

If the answer is yes, you need to do some literal worldbuilding. Make your worlds different. Give each of them a particular distinctive trait. You might be in for a treat with 400 worlds, but, hey, I admire your tenacity if you are going to tackle such grandiose projects.

Start all the stories with the ambiance, describe the sky, if it can be seen.

Let's say that World 1 is a earth-like world, with a faint yellow sun and one gray mooon.

World 2 has a binary sun, one dim red, the other bright as ours. It has three moons.

World 3 is exactly like world 2 but isntead of moons it has planetary rings.

World 4 is in a trinary system, with two suns in the middle and a third faint star orbiting around where Pluto is.

World 5 is a mini-neptune where land is as scarce as honest politicians here on Earth.

World 6 has an irradiated surface, people live underground. No sky, just stalactites.

In World 7, there are no princesses. They all went to live in another castle.

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