Forty Exotic Worlds is a collection of brief descriptions of fictional extrasolar planets with exotic human societies on them, orbiting real stars within about 175 light-years of Earth. It was written for use in science fiction roleplaying games, with the aim that each entry should be short enough for players to read in a few minutes without unduly delaying an RPG session, and just detailed enough to let a confident player role-play a character who has looked the world up in an encyclopaedia or a tourist guide. A GM who uses one of these worlds as a setting for an adventure, or a character-player who uses one as a homeworld for their PC, will find these descriptions skeletal and will have to extrapolate flesh over the bones.
This book was written and is presented as a part of the background material for a particular SF RPG setting: Flat Black . Flat Black has a very particular history, set of institutions, and interstellar situation, but that is all described in a separate book: the Players’ Introduction to Flat Black . There is little in these descriptions that is characteristic of that setting except for a paragraph on the Imperial presence on planet at the end of each one. Therefore Forty Exotic Worlds might provide an efficient source of worlds to use in other interstellar SF settings. The worlds can be moved to other stars or even other universes — but are not suitable for every setting.
Amongst the diversity of science fiction, Flat Black and Forty Exotic Worlds were particularly designed for planetary adventure, the sub-genre in which more-or-less cosmopolitan protagonists engage in adventure on unfamiliar worlds, where they confront exotic cultures and social situations. They were not meant for, and may be unsuitable for, hard-SF stories about scientific ideas, rigorous speculations about technology or society, the high stakes and grand scope of space opera, or heroes who can overwhelm social difficulties using psychic powers or handwavium technology. Most definitely, this material makes no attempt either to project a plausible future or to present a utopia.