Still lacking theoretical definitions, expanded universes are an artistic phenomenon often seen in science fiction literature as well as innarratives in other media. This text proposes a mechanism to explain how these universes come into being. For this, we analyze a series of cases such as Robert A. Heinlen’s Future History, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle, George R. R. Martin’s Thousand Worlds, Joanna Russ’ Whileaway, and transmedia examples such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Borrowing from Tamar Yacobi’s concept of mechanisms of integration –ways in which the reader makes sense of inconsistencies or oddities in a narrative –we argue that the explanation that two or more independent stories are set in a common universe is a hypothesis generated by the reader to integrate coincidences between these stories.

from: Gomes, A.M., & Indrusiak, E.B. (2021). Expanded Universes in Science Fiction: A Matter of Integration. Revista Memorare.

Link: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Expanded-Universes-in-Science-Fiction%3A-A-Matter-of-Gomes-Indrusiak/ef221cced41453180e888b3c2901d51f1f4aab6f?p2df

Note: This article is indexed because it treats a related concept to short story cycles. And because your webmaster is also an avid science fiction reader. 🙂