Known Space Timeline
IN THIS SECTION:
A description of these eras can be found in "A Brief Overview of Known Space".
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Two timelines for events on the Ringworld can be found on the Continuity & Chronology page of the "Articles" section of this site.
For a more complete listing of events in the Known Space series, see Jon Aaron's "Known Space Timeline". Be warned we disagree on a few of the dates.
For a timeline of the non-canonical Man-Kzin War stories (not indexed in this Concordance), see Russell Martin's Chronological Listing.
Spoiler alert: Major plot points are revealed for certain stories below.
Read at your own risk!
Inside a stasis field, a billion years can pass in an instant
Detail of Sea Statue and dolphins, by Rick Sternbach copyright © 1975 by Del Rey Books
REMARKS - The Distant Past
Timeline - 20th CENTURY
REMARKS - The 20th Century
Timeline - 21st CENTURY
REMARKS - The 21st Century
Timeline - 22nd CENTURY
REMARKS - The 22nd Century
Timeline - 24th CENTURY
REMARKS - The 24th Century
Timeline - 25th and 26th CENTURY
REMARKS - The 25th and 26th Century
Timeline - 27th CENTURY
REMARKS - The 27th Century
REMARKS - The 28th Century
Timeline - 29th CENTURY
REMARKS - The 29th Century
Timeline - 32nd CENTURY
REMARKS - The 32nd Century
Timeline - The DISTANT FUTURE
Notes for Stories
after 1975: "The Coldest Place" — Date not specified, but the Timeline in Tales of Known Space starts with the year 1975 (the year that book was published). This story appears to be set later than that, but because of the order listed on the Timeline must be before 1989, the date of "Wait it Out". This story is listed first on the Timeline.
after 1975: "Becalmed in Hell" — As above, for "The Coldest Place", except this story is listed second on the Timeline. Nothing in the story specifies it's set after the earlier story, but an interstital note (Tales of Known Space p. 6) specifies "Becalmed in Hell" is the sequel to "The Coldest Place".
1989: "Wait it Out" — "...in 1979, ten years ago" (Tales of Known Space, p. 22).
1996?: "Eye of an Octopus" — (a) "At the Bottom of a Hole" says "Somewhere on Mars there are wells. The first expedition found one in the 1990s. A mummified something was nearby" (Tales of Known Space, p. 87). This clearly refers to the events in "Eye of an Octopus". Thus the date could be anywhere between 1990 - 1999.
(b) "A string of ill-fated attempts to colonize Mars began in 1996" (Ringworld Role-Playing Game— Explorer Book, p. 27). It seems clear that the later "How the Heroes die" describes the first real attempt to colonize Mars, so the date 1996 may refer to this first exploratory mission.
2042: "How the Heroes Die" — (a) Date appears to be specified as 2040 on the Timeline in Tales of Known Space.
(b) "There must have been dozens of slits in the dome material. Nick found twelve dried bodies within. Martians had murdered the base personnel over a century ago" (Protector p. 76). It seems fairly clear the base described here is the one from "How the Heroes Die". "Over a century ago" would indicate a date prior to 2025. However, Truesdale, who wrote the account of Protector, seems to be careless with his dates (see note for 2125, below). We have therefore disregarded this rather vague dating indicator in favor of:
(c) "At the Bottom of a Hole", set in 2112, states "The airmaker is in a great cube of black metal, blackened by seventy years of Martian atmosphere" (Tales of Known Space p. 87). The 70 year period refers to the time since the end of "How the Heroes Die", when Martians slashed the outpost's bubble, exposing everything inside to the Martian atmosphere. Thus the date is (2112 - 70 =) 2042. [Thanks to Spike MacPhee for spotting this. —ed.]
2099?: "The Jigsaw Man" — Date specified on the Timeline in Tales of Known Space. The story mentions "records of his [prior] arrest in 2082" (Tales of Known Space, p. 79), which places the story after that date.
2106: World of Ptavvs — (a) "In 2106 you learned not to hear extraneous noises..." (World of Ptavvs, p. 53).
(b) "Mankind's first meeting with extraterrestrial intelligence came in 2106— although Kzanol..." (Tales of Known Space, p. 82).
2112: "At the Bottom of a Hole" — Dates are specified between "April 20, 2112" (Tales of Known Space, p. 84) and "April 30, 2112" (p. 96).
2113: "Intent to Deceive" — Lucas Garner is 174 (Tales of Known Space, p. 102), and was born in 1939. His year of birth is specified in Protector (p. 91), and also in a footnote for the Timeline in Tales of Known Space.
2123: "Death by Ecstasy" — The date "November 2, 2123" is specified (Flatlander, p. 1).
2124 - 25: "The Defenseless Dead" — (a) The date "February 3, 2125" is specified (Flatlander, p. 109). There is an earlier prologue where Gil visits the organ banks, after which he says "...eleven months later" (p. 75), so the opening of the story must occur during the previous year.
(b) There are other indications in the story that 2125 is the correct year for the bulk of the story. For example, it is specified Leviticus Hale was put into the freezer banks in 1991 (Flatlander, p. 89), and that he's been there for 134 years (Flatlander, p. 72); 1991 + 134 = 2125.
(c) This story is somewhat episodic, and (aside from the opening) the first impression is it may span several months. However, all references to previous events place all parts of the story two years after "Death by Ecstasy", so we suggest the story (other than the opening) spans only several weeks or a very few months.
2125: Protector— 1st half — (a) Lucas Garner "...was approaching... his one hundred and eighty-fifth birthday." (Protector, p. 43) He was born in 1939, as later specified (p. 91), and also as stated in a footnote for the Timeline in Tales of Known Space. This would seem to place the story in (1939 + 185 =) 2124, or perhaps 2123.
(b) "Eleven years ago a Belt miner named Müller [...] was murdered by martians" (Protector p. 58). But Müller's own account is clearly dated 2112, which would place the first half of Protector in 2123.
(c) Truesdale's own timeline includes "2125 A.D.: Pssthpok arrives Sol. Brennan turns protector" (Protector, p 190). Note the postscript of Protector makes it clear the account was written by Truesdale, and therefore it should be considered a first-person account (altho it is written in the style of a third-person narrative). Therefore, since Truesdale's own timeline cannot be reconciled with other dating information, especiallly the date of Müller's account, it appears Truesdale was careless with his dates. Therefore we have disregarded the earlier dating information, on the assumption that Truesdale would at least take care to put the correct year on his own timeline.
2126: "ARM" — (a) Although the date is specified as "June 4, 2124" (Flatlander, p. 140) this must be disregarded.
(b) Gil says "I'm one of those people who blocked the second corpsicle law" (Flatlander, p. 155), clearly referring to events in "The Defenseless Dead", so "ARM" must occur after that date. Furthermore, Gil says it had been two years after he first met Detective-Inspector Julio Ordaz (Flatlander, p. 127), which happened at the beginning of "Death by Ecstasy" in November 2123 (Flatlander, p. 2).
(c) Definitively, Gil states "...and the Anubis case early last year. When we realized what the man had done, Bera was close to killing him on the spot" (Flatlander, p. 136). This refers to Bera's actions at the end of "The Defenseless Dead", in 2125. The date of that story is solidly established, with numerous references in the story to various dates and events. Thus, we must consider the date given in "ARM" erroneous. Since the Anubis case ended the previous year, "ARM" must occur in 2126.
(d) Dates in the following "Gil the ARM" story, The Patchwork Girl, begin with April 2126 (Flatlander, p. 273). Clearly that story takes place after "ARM", so the date cannot be as late as June, 2126. "ARM" must occur between January and March, 2126.
(e) Taffy Grimes, Gil's live-in girlfriend in "The Defenseless Dead", is mentioned nowhere in this story. In The Patchwork Girl, Gil says he had suffered "two and a half months of separation" from Taffy immediately prior to that story, following her emigration to Luna to practice medicine there (Flatlander pp. 199-200). While Taffy's absence from this story isn't conclusive evidence that "ARM" occurred during this period of separation, it is certainly possible this story occured during that time.
(f) Why would Gil give a false date for the "ARM" case? It has been noted repeatedly on I. Marc Carlson's timeline that various dates Gil gives for personal data, such as his birth date, vary from story to story. It is perhaps understandable that an active ARM agent would obscure certain personal information, giving misleading dates to make it harder for criminals seeking revenge to track him down. Furthermore, this particular case involved some famous and influential people, including Raymond Sinclair. Therefore, it is not surprising that in telling this story, certain details may have been, as the saying goes, "changed to protect the innocent".
2126: The Patchwork Girl — "One hundred fifty-seven years after the first landing on the Earth's moon" (Flatlander, p 194). Thus the year is (1969 + 157 =) 2126. April 12 is specified as the date of one event in the story (Flatlander, p. 273).
2127: "The Woman in Del Rey Crater" — "...November 2125. Two years ago" (Flatlander, p. 346).
2135?: "Cloak of Anarchy" — Date specified on the Timeline in Tales of Known Space.
2322 - 67: "The Ethics of Madness"— 1st part — The years listed cover roughly the first half of the story, from the development of the "safe" ramscoop up to Douglas Hooker's takeoff from Earth. No other story in the Known Space series has presented as many difficulties with dating and continuity as this one. For details, and a partial timeline showing how events from this story fit with events from other stories, see "Dating Notes for 'The Ethics of Madness' and A Gift from Earth".
2341: A Gift from Earth — The difficulty of fitting this story into the Timeline has been second only to "The Ethics of Madness". For details, and a partial timeline showing how events from this story fit with events from other stories, see "Dating Notes for 'The Ethics of Madness' and A Gift from Earth".
2341: Protector— 2nd half — Truesdale's timeline specifies "2341, October: Discovery of Pak Fleet" (Protector, p. 190).
c. 2361: Protector— epilogue — (a) The date of Truesdale's arrival at Home colony, and the subsequent failure of the colony, is somewhat conjectural. According to Truesdale's timeline (Protector p. 190), the Flying Dutchman, a ramscoop ship carrying Brennan-monster and Truesdale, left Kobold in 2341, spent about eight months traveling (mostly coasting) towards Wunderland, then detected the main Pak fleet and changed course to Home colony, a distance of 11.8 lightyears (Ringworld Roleplaying Game— Explorer Book, p. 30). But if the "right angle turn" at Pssthpok's star meant they traveled the two shorter legs of an isosceles right-angle triangle, then the distance traveled was about 1.41 times as far, or 16.6 light years. Truesdale's timeline gives the ship's-time date of the right-angle turn at the approximate midpoint of the journey, so an isosceles right-angle triangle would seem to be approximately correct for their course. At maximum speed the ramscoop ships could travel close to lightspeed, as demonstrated by the fact that when traveling to the Solar System, Pssthpok "spent most of twelve hundred years... it would have been thirty times that but for relativistic effects" (p. 4). However, the ships spent considerable time accelerating up to speed and decelerating; they spent six months decelerating before rounding Pssthpok's Star (Protector, pp. 192-3), and presumably the same time accelerating afterward; and there was some battle maneuvering before reaching Pssthpok's Star. All this would have lengthened the journey. If the journey took eight years subjective time, as projected by Truesdale in his timeline, then the time dilation shortened the subjective time by about 50% or a bit more, which— if the trip were all made at a constant velocity— means the speed would have been about 0.87 - 0.9 lightspeed, yielding a trip of about 18.4 - 19 years, plus the eight months they spent coasting in the Flying Dutchman (according to Truesdale's timeline), for a total of about 20 years; 2341 + 20 = 2361. Of course this at best an educated guess, and ignores the different rates of time dilation for different speeds; thus the actual trip time might have been a few years less or several years more.
(b) Regarding the journey of Brennan-Monster and Truesdale, in a later era Sigmund Ausfaller speculated "They'd get to Home in the 2350s" (Destroyer of Worlds p. 286). However, Sigmund did not know about the various battle maneuvers against the Pak scouts, including the right-angle turn near Pssthpok's Star, which extended the travel time.
2366: "The Warriors" — (a) The date 2360 is specified on the Timeline in Tales of Known Space.
(b) "Madness Has Its Place," dated 2375, states "The Angel's Pencil had departed twenty years ago" (Man-Kzin Wars III, p. 6). "The Warriors" specifies Angel's Pencil was "Eleven years beyond Pluto" (Tales of Known Space, p. 145). This gives a year of (2375 - 20 + 11 =) 2366. It's possible "twenty years" is an inexact number; thus 2366 must be regarded as an approximation. ("Eleven years" must be normal time, not time-dilated ship's time. The Ship traveled at 80% lightspeed; at that speed, time aboard ship would pass at only 60% of normal time. The journey to We Made It was only 11.3 light years, so by ship's time they would have arrived in about seven years.)
(c) "The first known Kzinti encounter was in... 2366..." (Destroyer of Worlds ch. 51, p. 283)
2366: "Telepath's Dance" by Hal Colebatch — No dates are given, but it is a sequel to "The Warriors" and takes place immediately afterwards. The later publication "Fly-By-Night" refers directly to events in this story, so (unlike most stories in the Man-Kzin Wars series) we regard "Telepath's Dance" as semi-canonical, and like the canonical accounts (those by Larry Niven), a historical rather than fictional story.
2375 - c. '84: "Madness Has Its Place" — "...a Thursday evening in 2375" (Man-Kzin Wars III, p. 5). Later it's stated "Time brought me to Mercury, and the lasers, eight years ago" (p. 29). Thus the story spans at the very least eight years, and considering the time which apparently passed in the story, nine years seems likely.
2379 - 86: "The Ethics of Madness"— 2nd part — This time period covers the second part of the story, from Douglas Hooker's arrival at Plateau and his murder of Loeffler's family, to the last part of the story set on Plateau. It does not include the relativistically time-dilated final section. For details, and a partial timeline showing how events from this story fit with events from other stories, see "Dating Notes for 'The Ethics of Madness' and A Gift from Earth".
c. 2384: "Choosing Names" — "We were in the forefront... when Gutfoot's Horde plunged into Sol System" (Man-Kzin Wars VIII, p. 4). This apparently describes the first Kzinti attack on Sol system, which according to "Madness Has Its Place" is dated circa nine years after 2375; see note above.
2637-57: Juggler of Worlds&mdash 1st part — Dates specified in chapter headings, from 2637 (hardcover p. 11) to 2657 (p. 261). This first, larger section of the book is a "secret history" of the Beowulf Shaeffer era of Known Space, recounting the events of various stories with new revelations added.
2641: "Neutron Star" — (a) The reference in "Neutron Star" to "the new 2603 Sinclair intrasystem yacht", suggesting the date is 2603, must be disregarded. That cannot be reconciled with the date specified on the Timeline in Tales of Known Space, nor with any other date relating to the Beowulf Shaeffer era stories. Instead, the number 2603 must be regarded as a model number.
(b) The Timeline in Tales of Known Space specifies the date as 2640. However, looking at the other columns (one for each century) on the Timeline, it appears the first date in most columns are given in round numbers (multiples of 10). So perhaps the date 2640 is intended as an approximation and not a specific year.
(c) "Neutron Star" occurs four years before "At the Core", which has a date specified as 2645. For details, see notes below for that story.
(d) Date specified as 2641 at the beginning of the "A Mission of Gravity" section of Juggler of Worlds (hardcover p. 27), which recounts the events of "Neutron Star".
2644: "A Relic of the Empire" — (a) "The Color of Sunfire", which is a sequel to this story, makes it clear "Relic" occurs shortly before the Puppeteer migration begins, which places it shortly before "At the Core". In "Sunfire", Schultz-Mann says "I was a week toward Silvereyes before I turned back", so he must have spent at least several weeks traveling. "Captain Kidd" claimed to have found the Puppeteer home system "a year ago" (Neutron Star, p. 35), and claims to have returned there and traveled back to Human Space since, so presumably it does not take many months of travel to reach the Puppeteer homeworld from Human Space. Thus, it appears "Relic" occurs less than a year before "At the Core", making the date 2644 or 2645.
(b) The Timeline in Tales of Known Space lists this story between "Neutron Star" and "At the Core", confirming the placement of this story.
2645: "At the Core" — (a) In Ringworld the Puppeteer Chiron says "By now you know that we have been moving North along the galactic axis for the past two hundred and four of your Earth years" (p. 77). The beginning of Ringworld occurs in 2850. This information would place the start of the Puppeteer migration in 2646, and that migration does begin in this story. However, this must be disregarded in favor of:
(b) The date for the discovery of the core explosion is specified as 2645 on the timeline in Fleet of Worlds (p. 7). The story spans approximately three months.
(c) The beginning of the Puppeteer migration is described in the "Into Thin Space" section of Juggler of Worlds; the date 2645 is specified at the beginning of that section (hardcover p. 49).
2645: "Flatlander" — (a) No date given, but not long after "At the Core": "Nine days ago I'd been on Jinx. I'd been rich. And I'd been depressed... I missed the puppeteers and hated knowing I was responsible for their going... And I always wanted to see Earth" (Neutron Star, p. 131-2). Bey did not leave Jinx immediately after returning from the Core, because he published the story of his journey and "Ghost" specifies he spent "a few weeks" on Jinx working with his ghost writer on that (Crashlander, p. 5 and p. 54). However, it is reasonable to assume he left within several weeks of his return. Including Bey's trip from Jinx to Earth, the story spans approximately three and a half months. A three month trip in Pelton's ship, the Slower than Infinity, is specified in Juggler of Worlds (hardcover p. 87).
(b) Dates for events near the beginning and end of this story are specified as 2645 in the "Most Unusual" section of Juggler of Worlds (hardcover p. 73). Specific events mentioned include the Slower than Infinity leaving Earth and later appearing at Jinx.
c. 2646: "The Handicapped" — (a) A drink "Blue Fire 2728" is mentioned (Neutron Star, p. 211). That number could be a vintage year, but this must be disregarded.
(b) The story must predate "Grendel" as Grogs are being transported on a passenger starship in that story: "Then there were two sessile grogs in [room] 22, and a flock of jumpin' jeepers in 24..." (Neutron Star, p. 239). The Timeline in Tales of Known Space places this story between "Flatlander" and "Grendel," so we presume the date is between those two stories.
2647: "Grendel" — (a) Six years after "Neutron Star": "Six years earlier I'd tried to steal a full-sized spacecraft, fitted more or less for war, from a group of Pierson's Puppeteers" (Neutron Star, p. 263).
(b) "The last Sigmund had heard, Shaefeer was sightseeing on Gummidgy, in the CY Aquarii system" (Juggler of Worlds ch. 19, hardcover p. 104). This reference is in the "Eye of the Storm" section of the book, dated 2648 (p. 99), so "Grendel" must occur earlier.
2650 - 52: Fleet of Worlds — Dates are specified in the book's timeline, p. 7. Note this timeline also specifies the date for the discovery of the core explosion, and therefore the date of "At the Core", from whence the dates for most of the Beowulf Shaeffer era stories (everything in the 2600s) are derived.
2651: "The Borderland of Sol" — Date specified as 2651 at the beginning of the "Besieged" section of Juggler of Worlds (hardcover p. 141), which recounts the events of "The Borderland of Sol". If that information was not available, we would have to rely on the perhaps shaky assumption that "Louis", the son of Carlos Wu and Sharrol Janss, is one and the same as the Louis Wu of "There Is a Tide" and Ringworld. If we were to follow that assumption:
(a) Louis' first appearance was in "There Is a Tide". That story states "In the year 2830 one Louis Gridley Wu..." and "Louis Wu was one hundred and eighty years old" (Tales of Known Space, p. 201). Therefore Louis was born in 2650, or possibly 2649.
(b) In "Borderland", Carlos Wu says "I...left Earth a couple of weeks after Louis was born" (Tales of Known Space, p. 156). Beowulf (Bey) notes "But he'd left just before I was supposed to get home" (p. 156), within the time frame of the "Three months on Jinx, marooned" (p. 154) noted at the beginning of the story. In other words, Louis was born less than three months before the start of this story. Therefore, if this is the same Louis Wu, then this suggests the story occurs in 2650, or possibly 2649.
(c) In "Borderland", Sigmund Ausfaller says "Bowulf Shaeffer! ...How good to see you again! I believe it has been eight years or thereabouts" (Tales of Known Space, p. 158). This apparently refers to their prior meeting in "Neutron Star". Later in the same story, Bey confirms the elapsed time, stating "Helping Sigmund Ausfaller had been the farthest thing from my thoughts for these past eight years..." (p. 161). Since "Neutron Star" occurs four years before "At the Core" (see note "b" under "At the Core", above), which is dated 2645, this would place "Borderland" in 2649. However, this must be disregarded for the date specified above.
(d) The idea that Carlos Wu's' son Louis is the same Louis Wu from "There Is a Tide" and Ringworld has been questioned, because Louis knew nothing of the Long Shot and its original pilot (Ringworld, pp. 50-1). It is hard to reconcile this with Bey, the Long Shot's first pilot, being Louis' stepfather from infancy. However, in the later "Procrustes", Bey is forced to leave the four-year-old Louis with Carlos after he and Sharrol flee from Earth. If Louis never saw Bey again, this would provide a reasonable answer to the objection. Andy Love, a member of the LarryNiven-L Internet list, states "Marcus Irby wrote to Niven asking if that was his intention and Niven replied in the affirmative. So my understanding is that the Louis Wu who went to [Ringworld] is the Louis Wu who is Sharrol's son."
2654 - 55: "Procrustes" — (a) "Tanya was five and Louis was four" (Crashlander, p. 218). Louis was born just before the beginning of "The Borderland of Sol", so that seems to place the beginning of this story between four and five years later. However, this must be disregarded.
(b) In "Ghost", Bey states he and Sharrol had "lived beneath Fafnir's world-spanning ocean for a year and a half" (Crashlander, p. 2) since emigrating from Earth. However, this must also be disregarded in favor of:
(c) The "Betrayed" section of Juggler of Worlds, dated 2654-2655 (hardcover p. 203), specifies that Beowulf Shaeffer, Carlos Wu, Sharrol Janssen, and Fiona "Feather" Filip were all living in Carlos' estate, two years after "'fifty-two" (ch. 45, p. 212). This clearly refers to events at the beginning of "Procrustes". It is not clear how much time passed during "Procrustes". "Nearly five months" passed between Bey being put into the autodoc and his return to civilization (Crashlander, p. 250), and perhaps some several months also passed between the beginning of the story and when Sharrol left Earth. We suggest about a year passed during the story, although it might have been longer.
2655: "Ghost" — (a) Bey states Ander Smittarasheed "was seeing me for the first time in twelve years" (Crashlander, pp. 4-5). Their previous meeting was after the end of "At the Core", when they worked on the travelogue detailing Bey's trip to the Core: "And there you were in Sirius Mater, all ready to write my story for me... The big question was, How do I tell the human race about the Core explosion?" (Crashlander, p. 54). This would set the story in 2657. However, this must be disregarded in favor of:
(b) The latter part of the "Betrayed" section of Juggler of Worlds, dated 2654-2655 (hardcover p. 203), recounts the events of "Ghost", ending with the murder committed by Ander Smittarasheed.
2656: "Fly-By-Night" — No date given, but shortly after "Ghost". At the end of that story, Beowulf Shaeffer (Bey) is being frozen, and Sharrol and Jenna (Sharrol and Bey's child) have already been frozen, for passage to Home colony. "Fly-By-Night" takes place on the voyage to Home.
2657: "The Soft Weapon" — (a) Twelve years after "At the Core": "The puppeteers had apparently left the galaxy en masse some twelve years earlier" (Neutron Star, p. 76).
(b) The latter part of "The Outsiders" section of Juggler of Worlds, dated 2656-2657 (hardcover p. 231), recounts the events of "The Soft Weapon", ending at the end of this story's events.
(c) Various readers have noted that Anne-Marie, referring to the setting of this story, a small icy world in the Beta Lyrae system, says "I dub thee Cue Ball" (Neutron Star p. 79). But in the story "Flatlander", Beowulf Shaeffer says Beta Lyrae I has already been named "Cue Ball" (Neutron Star p. 161). Such readers suggest this indicates "The Soft Weapon" occurs before "Flatlander". Our opinion on this point is given in this Editorial Note: "Cue Ball: Continuity".
2658-60: Juggler of Worlds— 2nd part — Dates specified in chapter headings, from 2658 (hardcover p. 261) to 2660 (p. 345).This second, smaller part of the book is a sequel to Fleet of Worlds.
2670-2: Destroyer of Worlds — (a) "By Sigmund's best approximation, the present Earth date was 2675" (Destroyer of Worlds p. 148). However:
(b) Private correspondance with Jon Aaron informed us that Edward M. Lerner, co-author of Destroyer of Worlds, stated that when Sigmund thinks it's 2675, the actual date is 2670. (Thank you again, Jon!) We queried Lerner directly regarding this point, and he replied "Yes, I'll confirm it..."
(c) The length of the story (not including the prologue set thousands of years earlier) is more than two years; it includes multiple journeys back and forth from New Terra or the Gw'oth homeworld to the invading Pak fleet, which is about "a quarter of a year" travel time to New Terra (Destroyer of Worlds p. 343), and slghtly farther to the Gw'oth world (p. 356).
c. 2685: "The Color of Sunfire" — About 40 years after "At the Core". The Puppeteer migration is said to have started "about forty years ago" (Bridging the Galaxies, p. 76).
2830: "There Is a Tide" — The date 2830 is specified (Tales of Known Space, p. 201).
2850 - 51: Ringworld — (a) At the beginning of the story, Louis Wu is celebrating his 200th birthday (Ringworld, p. 2). In "There Is a Tide," dated 2830, "Louis Wu was one hundred and eighty years old" (Tales of Known Space, p. 201). Therefore the beginning of Ringworld is between 19 and 20 years later; 2849 or 2850. The latter fits better because:
(b) The timeline at the beginning of The Ringworld Throne (p. 3) specifies a date of 2851 for an event later in the story: "First contact: Lying Bastard impacts Ringworld". After the landing, the story is variously said to span two or three months (Ringworld, pp. 334 and 341-2).
2878 - 81: The Ringworld Engineers — (a) The statement "Louis Wu had not seen a Pierson's puppeteer in twenty-two years" (Ringworld Engineers, p. 11) may or may not indicate 22 years has passed since Ringworld, as Louis may have encountered a Puppeteer years after returning to Known Space. After the story began, Louis "and Chmeee must have spent two years in stasis, while the puppeteer flew Needle" to Ringworld (p. 30). After arriving, it is said "Teela and Seeker... could not have gone far in twenty-three years" (p. 75), referring to the length of time since Louis saw Teela. This seems more definitive, and is supported by Teela's statement "we came here twenty-three years ago" (p. 307). The first Ringworld expedition landed on the Ringworld in 2851 (see note above). These various statements would indicate a date between (2851 + 23 =) 2874 and (2851 + 22 + 2 =) 2875. But all this must be disregarded in favor of:
(b) The timeline at the beginning of The Ringworld Throne (p. 3) specifies dates of 2878 for "Hot Needle of Inquiry leaves Canyon" and 2880 for "Hot Needle of Inquiry reaches Ringworld" and 2881 for "Ringworld stability restored".
2882 - 93: The Ringworld Throne — Dates are specified, ranging from 2882 (p. 3) to 2893 (p. 344).
2893: Ringworld's Children — The date 2893 is specified (p. 25).
2899: "The Hunting Park" — Dates are specified, ranging from "October 20, 2899" (Man-Kzin Wars XI, p. 355) to "November 12, 2899" (p. 369).
c. 3105: "Safe at Any Speed" — "Your car is perfectly safe, provided it was built later than 3100 A.D." (Tales of Known Space, p. 220). Clearly the date of the story must be later than 3100, but the exact date is uncertain.
Notes for Events
c. 1.5 billion years ago: Tnuctipun-Slaver War — The Slaver Empire flourished 1.5 billion years ago, as specified in various places, including "The Soft Weapon" (Neutron Star, pp. 82-3), and "There Is a Tide" (Tales of Known Space p. 205). After much study of Slaver artifacts over centuries, presumably this is a more accurate dating than the estimate by Greenberg/Kzanol of "A billion years wouldn't be long enough. Two might do it" (World of Ptavvs, p. 44). "There had come a day, a billion and a half years ago, when the Slavers found that most of the tnuctip gifts were traps. The rebellion had been a long time building, and the Slavers had underestimated their slaves. To win that war they had been forced to use a weapon which exterminated not only the tnuctipun, but every other sentient species then in the galaxy. Then, without slaves, the Slavers too had died" ("The Handicapped", Neutron Star, p. 222).
c. 2.5 million years ago: Pak expedition lands on Earth, establishing hominids and primates there — "There was an expedition that landed on Earth some two and a half million years ago" (Protector, p. 83). Brennan-monster speculates "The radiation caused mutations resulting in everything from lemurs to apes and chimpanzees to ancient and modern man" (p. 85).
c. 1 million B.C.: Ringworld construction reportedly begun by Pak protectors — If the tale of the Ringworld protector Proserpina is to be believed, an expedition started from the Pak homeworld (near the galactic Core) "Something more than four million falans ago", ferrying a generation ship of breeders. Originally headed to Earth, they discovered "at the end of three hundred and fifty thousand falans of travel" that all the protectors there had died, so they kept moving. "We found worlds we might take, but our ambition was greater than that..." So they eventually found a sun with a single super-massive Jovian world, using that planet for material to construct Ringworld, and using much of its hydrogen "for fusion motors to spin up the ring" (Ringworld's Children, pp. 197-200). One falan = 75 30-hour days, so 1 falan = 0.2566735 years. Proserpina therefore claims the expedition left over ~1,026,694 years before she related her tale, and arrived at the Ringworld sun more than ~89,836 years later. The date of Ringworld's Children is 2893, so Ringworld construction reportedly began more than (1,026,694 - 89,836 - 2893 =) ~933,965 B.C.
c. 800,000 B.C.: Construction of Ringworld foundation reportedly completed — This date is rather conjectural, based on Prosperpina's statements that most Ringworld protectors disappeared "Something more than a million falans after creation" and "Species differentiation has been extreme in the past two million falans" (both quotes from Ringworld's Children p. 203). Presuming that "after creation" meant after the end of building the Ringworld foundation, then this suggests Ringworld construction finished about three million falans (770,020.5 years) before 2893, or very approximately, around 767,128 B.C.
c. 500,000 B.C.: Puppeteers move their homeworld (Hearth) away from its sun to relieve overheating — Nessus, the Puppeteer, reported "Half a million years ago we were half a trillion in human numbering... Half a trillion civilized beings produce a good deal of heat as a byproduct of their civilization. ...our civilization was dying in its own waste heat... We had no choice but to move our world outward from its primary" (Ringworld ch. 5, pp. 67, 70)
33,000 B.C.: Pssthpok departs Pak homeworld for Earth — Date specified on Truesdale's timeline (Protector, p. 189).
32,800 B.C.: First fleet of "Librarian" Pak protectors departs for Earth, followed 300 years later by second fleet — Truesdale's timeline specifies the dates of departure for the first and second fleets of Pak protectors traveling towards Earth (Protector, p. 189). Brennan-monster speculated "the galactic core could be exploding in a rash of supernovae" (p. 159), causing an exodus. However, in Destroyer of Worlds we learn that the actual exodus from Pakhome happened centuries later. Instead, these two fleets were built and crewed by the Librarian protectors who built Phssthpok's ship, and later decided to follow as a backup to his mission.
c. 32,200 B.C.: Exodus from Pakhome; protectors incl. Thssthfok flee a relatively minor Core explosion predating the major explosion — The chaotic exodus from Pakhome following detection of a Core supernovae explosion is described in the "Prologue" of Destroyer of Worlds. But the date is somewhat conjectural. It must be later than 32,500 B.C., when the second "Librarian" fleet left Pakhome (see note immedately above). "A few hundred years before Thssthfok's time, a bit of insanity birthed in the Library had plunged all of Pakhome into war. Librarians... launched a great war" (Destroyer of Worlds p. 114). But this is not of much help, as according to Truesdale's timeline (Protector p. 189), the second fleet of ("Librarian") ships left Pakhome 500 years after Phssthpok, over 500 years after the start of the Librarians' War. However, what this does suggest is that the second "Librarian" fleet left Pakhome before Thssthfok's time; before he was born. About 103 years before the later exodus, Thssthfok considered the existance of his children's "children's children's children, and their children besides" (Destroyer of Worlds p. 19). So at that point, there had been five generations since Thssthfok's birth. An average primitive hunter-gatherer Human generation is about 27 years. We presume the Pak generations were somewhat shorter, since they had a smaller brain size and presumably matured faster, but since chimpanzees have a generation length closer to Human than to other apes, we estimate a Pak generation is somewhere around 20-25 years. So this suggests Thssthfok was only about 100-125 years old at that time. But a Pak becomes a protector at 34-35 Pak years (the conversion rate between Pak years and Earth years is unknown, and therefore is being ignored here), and Thssthfok wouldn't have been taken on such a voyage before becoming a protector. So after a voyage of 103 years, Thssthfok had to be at least 137 years old, and realistically at least a few years older to have attained sufficient mastery of climatology to have been selected for the voyage. The exodus from Pakhome happened about 103 years after that, so if all these assumptions are correct, then the date of the Pak exodus must be more than 234 years after 32,500 B.C. Approximately three centuries after that date yeilds a date of c. 32,200 B.C.
Note the Core explosion the Pak were fleeing was not the enormous explosion later seen by Beowulf Shaeffer, as described in "At the Core" (see note immediately below). According to Bey, the Core is about five or six thousand lightyears across ("At the Core", Neutron Star p. 63). As described to Thssthfok, the Core was exploding at only about 10% lightspeed. Contrariwise, the explosion Bey observed clearly was spreading at nearly lightspeed, as he could plainly see while approaching the Core at the very rapid speed of Quantum II hyperdrive. Bey first saw the Core explosion at an estimated distance of 10,400 lightyears from the center (ibid), so even if we presume that explosion started on the back edge, as far away from Bey as possible, it could not have started much earlier than an estimated 13,400 years before his observation in 2645. Since Pakhome is near the Core, and since the Pak exodus was tens of thousands of years earlier, then obviously the Core explosion which sent them fleeing started tens of thousands of years earlier. If that earlier explosion was spreading at only 10% lightspeed, then it would not have appeared very intense at any appreciable distance, so it's not surprising that Bey did not observe it; nor would such a slowly spreading explosion have put out radiation of sufficient intensity to sterilize worlds about 30,000 lightyears away, in Known Space.
c. 7,000 B.C.: A supernova chain reaction in the Core finishes exploding — In "At the Core" Beowulf Shaeffer states "...it finished exploding some nine thousand years ago" (Neutron Star p. 68). The date of "At the Core" is 2645, giving a date of (2645 - 9000 =) ~6355 B.C. Yet in 2850, Louis Wu said "The chain reaction must have ended ten thousand years ago" (Ringworld ch. 3, p. 39). He also referred to a mathematical analysis, so presumably that later estimate was more reliable. This would give a date of (2850 - 10,000 =) ~7150 B.C. Since this appears to be a ballpark figure, it seems appropriate to round it off to circa 7,000 B.C.
1733: Superconductor plague causes "fall of cities" on Ringworld — (a) Hindmost said Puppeteers spread the superconductor plague on Ringworld "Eleven hundred and forty years ago by Earth time" (Ringworld Engineers, p. 161). The slightly contradictory dating information given in that story (see notes above for Ringworld Engineers) would put the date at either (2874 - 1140 =) 1734 or (2875 - 1140 =) 1735. However, this must be disregarded in favor of:
(b) Date specified on the timeline at the beginning of The Ringworld Throne (p. 3).
1993: First of the organ bank laws passed — "In 1993 Vermont passed the first of the organ bank laws" ("The Jigsaw Man", Tales of Known Space p. 74)
c. 2006: Colonization of the Belt begins — "A century ago, when the Belt was first being settled... (World of Ptavvs p. 69). Therefore, a century before 2106.
2071: Construction of Confinement Asteroid completed — "The project took a quarter of a century to complete. Thirty-five years ago Confinement freed the Belt of its most important tie to Earth" (World of Ptavvs, p. 70). Therefore, 35 years before 2106.
2091?: Wunderland colony established — Date specified in the Ringworld Role-Playing Game— Explorer Book (p. 44).
2097: Bandersnatchi discovered on Jinx — The report from Jinx detailing the discovery of Frumious Bandersnatch was received on Earth in 2106 (World of Ptavvs, p. 51). Jinx is 8.7 light years from Earth (Ringworld Roleplaying Game— Explorer Book, p. 30). Therefore the message took about nine years to reach Earth, so discovery of the Bandersnatchi occurred about nine years before 2106.
2189: Home colony established — "Settled 2189, by a combination of slowboats and ramrobots" (Protector, p. 183).
2367: First Man-Kzin War begins. Kzinti conquer and occupy Wunderland — "The Kzinti... launched a surprise attack in 2367 AD upon the virtually-defenseless Alpha Centauri system, easily subjugating Wunderland" (Ringworld Roleplaying Game— Explorer Book, p.29). The sequence of events is supported by interstitial notes (Tales of Known Space p. 153): "The Kzinti had discovered and conquered Wunderland and were on their way to Earth." However no date is indicated there.
2409: Outsiders sell hyperdrive technology to We Made It. First hyperdrive ship reaches Sol System two years later — (a) "The Outsiders came upon humans... In... 2409. Near the colony We Made It" (Destroyer of Worlds ch. 51, p. 285).
(b) "The Outsiders... sold the secret of the faster-than-light drive to the human colony on We Made It. Two years later, a ship powered by the Outsider hyperdrive arrived in Sol system" (Interstitial note, Tales of Known Space p. 153).
2420: First Man-Kzin War ended by Human hyperdrive armadas — The Ringworld Roleplaying Game— Explorer Book specifies "The hyperdrive armadas of 2410 - 2420 finally drove the Kzinti invaders from Human Space" (p. 30). The date 2410 must be disregarded, because the first hyperdrive ship did not reach Sol system until 2411 (as noted in (a) and (b), above), and the crew was unaware of the war. However, the end date does not contradict any canonical account.
2490: Third Man-Kzin War begins — Date specified in Juggler of Worlds (p. 4).
2500: First Puppeteer contact with Human Space — (a) "A hundred human-standard years earlier, a mere fifty human-standard years after Citizens had made themselves known to wild humans..." (Fleet of Worlds p. 91). That section of Fleet of Worlds is dated 2650, therefore the date of first contact between Puppeteers ("Citizens") and Humans was 150 years earlier; 2650 - 150 = 2500.
(b) "The same year his parents disappeared , the Puppeteers appeared from beyond the rim of Human Space" (Juggler of Worlds p. 15).
2505: Fourth (last) Man-Kzin War ends — "Fly-By-Night" specifies "...twenty-five-oh-five... At the end of the fourth Man-Kzin War... The Covenants of Shasht were negotiated then" (Man-Kzin Wars IX, pp. 308-9). Ringworld states "Six times over several centuries, you [Kzinti] attacked the worlds of men. Six times you were defeated..." (p. 19). This seems to indicate six wars rather than four. However, the more recent "Canon for the Man-Kzin Wars" clarifies this: Niven states "There were major 'incidents' as well as the four wars... 'Six times over several centuries, the kzinti attacked the worlds of men...' I've forgotten where the quote comes from, but at least two 'incidents' must have been major ones" (Scatterbrain, p. 293).
c. 22,750: Radiation from Core explosion reaches Known Space — "At the Core" states "In twenty thousand years a flood of radiation will wash over this region of space... The Core explosion will make this galaxy uninhabitable to any known form of life" (Neutron Star, p. 71). 20,000 years later would be (~20,000 + 2646 =) ~22,646. However, Ringworld states "...the wave front from the combined explosion will reach here in about twenty thousand years" (ch. 3, p. 40). 20,000 years later would be (~20,000 + 2850 =) ~22,850. Averaging the two figures together yields a date of ~22,748.
My primary purpose in constructing this Timeline was to put the canon of Known Space chronicles (stories) into a self-consistent order. I've also included a limited number of other dates of historic importance, and with the permission of Spike MacPhee & Jerry Boyajian, I've added some of their notes from the original "Timeline for Known Space" published in Tales of Known Space.
In choosing between conflicting information in establishing the order and dating of stories, my first priority has been the events described within the stories. Those must supercede anything else. For example, "ARM" specifies a date of 2124, yet it describes events at the end of the previous Gil the ARM story, "The Defenseless Dead", as happening "early last year." The end of the earlier story is set in 2125, so clearly one date or the other must be judged incorrect.
My second priority has been dates specified within the stories themselves. I found this resulted in a more consistent timeline than, for example, relying on the ages of characters specified in stories. The year of birth of Lucas Launcelot Garner and Gil Hamilton appear to vary from story to story, so relying on their ages when other information is available would create contradictions which I've avoided.
It seems best to disregard most statements in various stories that a century or more has passed since a specified event or period. These are often incompatible with the overall timeline, such as in "The Borderland of Sol" where Beowulf Shaeffer states "The Siberia meteorite must have been weird enough, to have been remembered for nine hundred years" (Tales of Known Space, p. 181). This refers to the 1908 Tunguska event. The passage of nine centuries would date "Borderland" at around 2808, whereas other indications put it at 2651. Likewise, in "The Warriors" (which we date circa 2366), Sue Bhang says "The last murder occurred... a hundred and sixty years ago" (Tales of Known Space, p. 142). It is difficult or impossible to reconcile that with earlier events, most notably ARM lieutenant Robinson openly suspecting Roy Truesdale of murder in 2341, only 25 years earlier (Protector, pp. 115-6). At least some of this confusion over dating can be blamed on the propaganda and even brainwashing by Sol system authorities and "psychists" (psychotherapists using advanced "psychist" treatments). In their effort to stamp out violence during Sol system's "Golden Age", they have convinced the general populace that the last war and the last murder occurred much longer ago than they actually did. (See Hal Colbatch's "Telepath's Dance" for more on this subject.) In other cases, one might suggest (with tongue firmly in cheek) that in the future, people's knowledge of history, or elementary math, has become rather vague...
I have taken a limited amount of information from Chaosium's Larry Niven's Ringworld— The Authorized Roleplaying Game, hereafter referred to as the Ringworld Roleplaying Game. Niven himself says in the "Canon for the Man-Kzin Wars", regarding the background material given to potential "shared world" Man-Kzin War authors, that "Most of the material was written by John Hewitt, from my books and from extensive conversations at conventions... Believe the dates in the notes if they conflict with dates given in the Niven stories... Hewitt and I half-busted our minds reconciling inconsistencies" (Scatterbrain, p. 293). John Hewitt wrote the background material on Known Space for this game. However, I've used game information conservatively, and only to pin down the dates of events referred to in canonical stories where no other dating information was available. For example, I wish I could use the dates Hewitt specifies for the Second, Third and Fourth Man-Kzin Wars, but the date specified for the end of the Fourth War in the relatively recent, canonical "Fly-By-Night" (Man-Kzin Wars IX, 2003) makes Hewitt's dates for the third and fourth wars impossible, and his date for the second rather questionable.
No treatise on Known Space chronology would be complete without mentioning the "Timeline for Known Space by Larry Niven", which appeared at the front of Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (pp. viii-ix). This was originally published in 1975. Of course it is now out of date, and in three cases I've found it appropriate to move a story to a different position than the "Timeline" specifies. Nonetheless, this forms the foundation upon which any chronology of Known Space must be built. In a number of cases, the only clue to a date or chronological order for stories comes from the "Timeline". In the "Introduction" to Tales of Known Space, Niven says "Thanks are due to... Spike MacPhee and Jerry Boyajian for their assistance with the timeline. They... saved me a lot of research." I echo that sentiment and gratitude.
Spike contacted me a few months ago about this timeline. I took that opportunity to get permission from him and his co-author, Jerry Boyajian, to use some of their notes from the original "Timeline for Known Space". So thanks again, Spike and Jerry!
A Hero-sized round of thanks also to Dave Lambert, who provided some much-needed information and many valuable suggestions.
—"Lensman", June 2008