In an afterword to this novel, written a quarter of a century after its publication, and in a yet later afterword for this RosettaBooks edition, Robert Silverberg writes that Stepsons of Terra was his attempt to write a complex, shifting, even dazzling novel in the style of the heavily influential Philip K. Dick. Dick's ingenious plot and use of time paradoxes in his first novel, Solar Lottery (published in l954) had intrigued Silverberg, who was at the time 19 years old. Silverberg decided to attempt an ambitious science fiction novel which would mark him as more than a merely promising and limited new writer. Ewing, an ambassador from the distressed and soon to be invaded colony planet, Corwin, comes to his home planet to seek technological or military assistance...but finds that Earth, having dispersed its explorers and adventurers to the stars, is now a decadent civilization of poets and scholars, incapable of lending Corwin the aid it needs. It is from the scholar Myreck, however, that Ewing obtains the time-travel machine which permits him to use the knowledge of his later self to help an earlier Ewing defend against the aliens, and it is with this device that Ewing is able to confront the invading Klodni and - he hopes - expose their vulnerability in time to save Corwin and the other colonies.