This is a concordance, or encyclopedia, of the "Known Space" fictional universe created by Larry Niven. The Concordance is primarily
intended for readers who have read at least a few Known Space stories; readers who either want to learn more, or who want to check
If you are a newcomer to Known Space and want to know what to read, see the "What to Read First"
Science fiction author Larry Nivenís first story, "The Coldest Place", was published in 1964. He was one of the very few "hard science
fiction" authors to begin publishing in that decade, and the only one to become famous. By the early 1970s he had established himself
as one of the genreís leading authors, and is still writing today. He has written or co-authored more than 55 books and hundreds of
short stories. Along the way he has won five Hugos, science fictionís most prestigious literary award, as well as a Nebula and others.
For more information, see this biography.
Known Space is the name of Larry Nivenís largest and best-developed "future history" series of science fiction stories. Its most
famous entry is Ringworld, one of the very few novels to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards. The most recent additions
to the series are the novels Fleet of Worlds (2007), Juggler of Worlds (2008), Destroyer of Worlds
(2009), and Betrayer of Worlds, all co-authored by Edward M. Lerner.
Known Space started in 1964 with several unconnected stories; the first was "The Coldest Place". They were joined into a single
universe in 1966 when "A Relic of the Empire" joined the background of the Beowulf Shaeffer stories ("Neutron Star", "At the Core")
to the background of the chronologically earlier World of Ptavvs.
Known Space is roughly divided into seven periods:
The near future — A handful of stories concern exploration of planets in own solar system, which in the
Known Space series is called Sol System. Dates range from "after 1975" to 2040 on our
Known Space Timeline.
The early interstellar period — Using slower-than-light starships, Humans have established hard-won colonies
around nearby stars, mainly on marginally habitable worlds: Wunderland,
Jinx, We Made It,
Plateau, and Down. Sol Systemís main asteroid belt has been
colonized by Belters, and Humans have their first alien encounters. On Earth, population
pressure has forced mandatory birth control, strictly regulated by the United Nations (UN) world
government. Life-extending organ transplants are provided by the organ banks, primarily
supplied by the bodies of executed criminals. The enormous demand for organs has vastly increased use of the death penalty, to
include even minor crimes. Gil Hamilton is a member of the ARM, the UNís elite police force. He
investigates various crimes relating to organleggers (black market dealers in organ transplants) and newly discovered,
dangerous technologies. Dates range from 2099 to 2135 on our Known Space Timeline.
The intermediate era — The organ bank problem has greatly eased, due to various medical advancements. Several
technological improvements, such as advanced psychotropic drug treatments and psychistry
therapy, have created a "Golden Age", a society almost completely free of violence, in Sol
System. Most of these advancements have been facilitated by the hidden influence of an unseen superhuman
protector, one who sees a threat far beyond anything Humans can imagine. On Human
colony worlds, life is not so ideal— especially on oppressed Plateau. The Golden Age
ends when Human Space is invaded by the Kzinti Empire. Dates range from 2322 to 2386 on
our Known Space Timeline.
The Man-Kzin Wars — The Human colony of Wunderland is overrun by the
Kzinti. Sol System desperately fends off repeated invasion by fleets of Kzinti warships from
the much larger, militaristic Kzinti Empire. Unexpected salvation finally comes in the form of
hyperdrive technology, sold to Humans by the mysterious alien
Outsiders. More wars with the Kzinti Empire follow over the space of a century or so,
all of which are easily won by Humans. By the end of the Man-Kzin Wars, the Kzinti
Empire is a pale shadow of its former self, and several former Kzinti colonies are now part of Human Space. Most of the stories
covering this period are from the Man-Kzin Wars series of shared-universe collections, edited by Larry Niven but written
by other writers. This Concordance covers only those stories by Larry Niven*, not including most stories in the shared-universe
collections. The dates range from 2366 to 2505, overlapping the last decades of the "Intermediate era" summarized above.
*Weíve made an exception for "Telepathís Dance" by Hal Colebatch. Larry Nivenís story "Fly-By-Night" summarizes the events of that
story, so it appears Niven has included it in the canon.
The Beowulf Shaeffer era — Over a century after the end of the Man-Kzin Wars, it is a pleasant period of easy
interstellar tourism, using hyperdrive starships. Each interstellar species in Known Space has its own independent sphere of
influence, and interaction is mainly peaceful trade. These species include the technologically advanced
Puppeteers, and a former Kzinti slave species, the
Kdatlyno. Over half the stories from this era concern interstellar tourist (and accidental
adventurer) Beowulf Shaeffer. Dates range from 2637 to circa 2685 on our
Known Space Timeline.
The Ringworld era — Human Space has expanded somewhat, establishing new colony worlds. A few technologies
are more advanced. There is one fundamental change: The spread of the (probably mis-named) "Teela Brown gene", the ultimate in
psionic power, which manipulates probability in a manner making its possessor appear incredibly "lucky". Early in the period
it seems little else is different from the previous era. But in later sequels to Ringworld, it seems that the UN central
government has become somewhat oppressive, with significant restrictions on personal freedom. Dates range from 2850 to 2899 on our
Known Space Timeline.
The Thousand Worlds — Human Space has spread to an enormous number of worlds. Protected by the widespread
so-called "Teela Brown gene", Humans have entered an era of ubiquitous peace and prosperity. Such an era may be pleasant to live in,
but makes for rather dull stories. Only one such has been published: "Safe at Any Speed", dated circa 3105 on our
Known Space Timeline.
This website is primarily aimed at those who have already read some Known Space stories, and either want to refresh their memories
or look up obscure references. For new readers or those who have read some but not all the Canon, we have tried to give plot-spoiler
alerts wherever possible, in this format: [Spoiler alert: "At the Core"] This indicates you should read
no further in that particular Concordance entry until youíve read "At the Core".
However, we may have overlooked some plot spoilers. So, for those new to Known Space: Proceed at your own risk!
Names are given as usual in alphabetical listings, with last name first, first name last. Thus the entry for
Beowulf Shaeffer is under <Shaeffer, Beowulf>. Names which donít follow the usual Human naming convention are given just
as they are found in the canon; Chuft-Captain is filed under "ch".
A, An, & The: When an entry or title begins with "A", "An", or "The", that article it is simply
ignored. Thus youíll find the entry <Outsiders> followed by <The Palace> followed by <Papandreou, Jason>.
Spaces and Punctuation: A space is treated as a
letter preceding "a". Thus the entry <Outsider ship #14> precedes <Outsiders>. Other punctuation is ignored for purposes of alphabetization.
Abbreviations are filed as they are pronounced. Thus <Mt. Lookitthat> is filed
as <Mount Lookitthat>. Contrariwise, <MP>, although it stands for "Military Police", is pronounced "em pea", and
therefore is filed where the letters indicate, after <Moscow>.
We prefer the British punctuation style over the American. Itís more consistent. Thus, when we place periods and commas
after quotation marks, "like this", it isnít an error— itís a style choice. All punctuation marks, including
commas and periods, are placed after quote marks unless the punctuation mark is part of the quote, "like this!"
Letís say, for example, you come across the Concordance note reading <"the mass sensor is a psionic device; it must be watched
by a mind, not another machine" ("The Borderland of Sol", Tales of Known Space p. 166)>. Now, letís say you want to
look this up for yourself. (If youíre sure the heat death of the universe will occur before youíd ever possibly want to do such
a thing, you can stop reading this sub-section right now.)
However, letís say you donít have a copy of Tales of Known Space. But you do own a copy of the Crashlander
collection, which also contains "The Borderland of Sol". So, if you want to find the reference, use the
Tables of Contents section of the Bibliography page, which contains the tables
of contents for all Niven books containing Known Space stories.
We see in Tales of Known Space that "Borderland" starts on page 153. So the reference in question is 13 pages after the
beginning of the story. In Crashlander the story starts on page 160, so we would estimate the reference would be on page
173. In fact, the quote is found on page 172. But you can see by this method we came within one page of the actual page number.
In some cases it may also be necessary to consider the ending page numbers of the story, and figure the ratio between the two. This
is left as an exercise for the reader... but probably only the very determined reader.
The Concordance is a work in progress. If youíre looking for a Concordance entry you donít find, itís probably because I havenít gotten around to indexing that story yet.
Larry Niven has often invited his readers to "play" in his "playground", and thatís my goal here. Taking a page from the fan group known as the Baker
Street Irregulars, and their treatment of the Sherlock Holmes stories as historical events, part of my "play" is the conceit that the Known
Space stories are not fiction, but rather accounts of historical events taking place in an alternate universe. And it indeed
is an alternate universe, unless I somehow missed some several news stories of manned landings on Mercury, Venus and even
Pluto prior to 1990.
So, as far as possible, the main concordance entries are written as though they are English translations of a publication by the
Jinx Institute of Knowledge, their Cyclopaedia and Gazeteer of Known Space, 3105 edition. Therefore, mentions of such
problems and concerns such as continuity conflicts and errors in science or fact, have been kept "offstage", so to speak, by
consigning them to separate Canonical Notes entries. Just be aware that in those Canonical Notes youíll be looking backstage in
our play, and itís rather hard to maintain the illusion when youíre looking at the unpainted back side of the scenery.
For dedicated fans such as myself, part of using the Known Space "playground equipment" is trying to come up with "solutions"
to resolve continuity problems and errors of science/fact which have crept into the series. In this, our goal should always be
to write with the assumption the canonical accounts of Known Space are historical documents, and if we discover an apparent
conflict or mistake, it is our duty to create a "fan theory" suggesting a solution.
In this Concordance, we term such a fan theory a fanfix. We prefer that term to the rude and derisive term "fanwank".
Such a fanfix properly should involve only adding circumstances and events not mentioned in the account in question, or
reinterpreting events, and should never actually contradict any part of the canon. In our opinion, to do so is an
admission of failure. If we were only clever enough, we could find a way to resolve what merely appears to be a continuity
conflict or factual/scientific error. At the very least, any contradiction of canon by a fanfix should be kept to the absolute
minimum possible. As Sherlock Holmes put it in "A Scandal in Bohemia": "It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data.
Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." In fact, a fanfix has value only to
the extent that it does not contradict canon.
This Concordance is a project Iíve wanted to undertake for decades. In fact, my first plan was to use index cards for the
entries, as did Ron Ellik and Bill Evans when composing The Universes of E.E. Smith. The fact Iíve been thinking about
this project since before the personal computer became commonplace is an indication of how long this project has been in the
making... or how greatly I excel at procrastinating. Or both.
In any event, if you find this website either useful or enjoyable, then Iíve accomplished my goal.