The Ringworld

Note: The main purpose of this Chronology is to put the Known Space stories into an internally consistent order, although a few other events of major importance have been included. For a more complete listing of events, see I. Marc Carlson's Chronology. Be warned we disagree on many of the dates.

     c. = circa, an approximate date
     ? = An unconfirmed date; one not related to any mention in a story, such as a date from the Timeline in Tales of Known Space, or the Ringworld Role-Playing Game.

c.1.5 billion
years ago
Thrintun ("Slavers") rule the galaxy, until the Tnuctipun revolt. The
war ends with the death of nearly all sentient life in the galaxy. [notes]
c.2.5 million
years ago
Pak expedition lands on Earth, establishing hominids and primates there. [notes]
more than
934,000 B.C.
Ringworld construction reportedly begun by Pak protectors. [notes]
33,000 B.C. Pssthpok departs Pak homeworld for Earth. [notes]
32,800 B.C. First emigration wave of Pak protectors departs for Earth,
followed 300 years later by second wave. [notes]
c.6,400 B.C. A supernova chain reaction in the galactic Core finishes exploding. [notes]
1733 Superconductor plague spreads on Ringworld. [notes]
after 1975 "The Coldest Place" [notes]
after 1975 "Becalmed in Hell" [notes]
1989 "Wait it Out" [notes]
1996? "Eye of an Octopus" [notes]
c.2006 Settlement of the Belt begins [notes]
2040? "How the Heroes Die" [notes]
2071 Construction of Confinement Asteroid completed. [notes]
2091 Wunderland colony established. [notes]
2097 Bandersnatchi discovered on Jinx. [notes]
2099? "The Jigsaw Man" [notes]
c.2102 Plateau colony established. [notes]
2106 World of Ptavvs [notes]
2112 "At the Bottom of a Hole" [notes]
2113 "Intent to Deceive" (orig. "The Deceivers") [notes]
2123 "Death by Ecstasy" (orig. "The Organleggers") [notes]
2124-25 "The Defenseless Dead" [notes]
2125 Protector--1st half (orig. "The Adults") [notes]
2126 "ARM" [notes]
2126 The Patchwork Girl [notes]
2127 "The Woman in Del Rey Crater" [notes]
2135? "Cloak of Anarchy" [notes]
2189 Home colony established. [notes]
2326-71 "The Ethics of Madness"--1st part. First "safe" ramscoop ship built 2326. [notes]
2341 Protector--2nd half [notes]
c.2342 A Gift from Earth [notes]
c.2361 Protector--epilogue. Home colony fails. [notes]
c.2366 "The Warriors" [notes]
c.2366 "Telepath's Dance" by Hal Colebatch [notes]
2367 Beginning of the First Man-Kzin War. Kzinti conquer and occupy Wunderland. [notes]
2375-83 "Madness Has Its Place" [notes]
2383 "Choosing Names"-- First Kzinti invasion of Solar System. [notes]
c.2383-90 "The Ethics of Madness"--2nd part [notes]
c.2407 Outsiders sell hyperdrive technology to We Made It.
First hyperdrive ship reaches Sol system two years later. [notes]
2410-20? First Man-Kzin War ended by Human hyperdrive armadas. [notes]
2505 Fourth (last) Man-Kzin War ends. [notes]
2642 "Neutron Star" [notes]
2645 "A Relic of the Empire" [notes]
2646 "At the Core" [notes]
2646 "Flatlander" [notes]
c.2647 "The Handicapped" (orig. "Handicap") [notes]
2648 "Grendel" [notes]
2650 "The Borderland of Sol" [notes]
2655-56 "Procrustes" [notes]
2658 "Ghost" [notes]
2658 "Fly-By-Night" [notes]
2658 "The Soft Weapon" [notes]
c.2686 "The Color of Sunfire" [notes]
2830 "There Is a Tide" [notes]
2850-51 Ringworld [notes]
2878-81 The Ringworld Engineers [notes]
2882-93 The Ringworld Throne [notes]
2893 Ringworld's Children [notes]
2899 "The Hunting Park" [notes]
c.3101 "Safe at Any Speed" [notes]
c.22,500 Wavefront of lethal radiation from Core explosion reaches Known Space. [notes]

Dating Notes

c.1.5 billion years ago: Thrintun ("Slavers") rule the galaxy -- Information specified in both "The Soft Weapon" (Neutron Star, pp. 82-3) and "The Handicapped" (Neutron Star, p. 122). 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).

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).

more than 934,000 B.C.: Ringworld construction reportedly begun by Pak protectors -- If the tale of the Ringworld protector Prosperina 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. Prosperina 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.

33,000 B.C.: Pssthpok departs Pak homeworld for Earth -- Date specified on Truesdale's timeline (Protector, p. 189).

32,800 B.C.: First emigration wave of Pak protectors departs for Earth -- Truesdale's timeline specifies the dates of departure for the first and second waves of Pak protectors traveling towards Earth (Protector, p. 189). Brennan-monster says "Something's happened to the galactic core. It's the only thing that could bring this many ships this far." He speculates "the galactic core could be exploding in a rash of supernovae" (p. 159). The date for the exodus is much too far in the past to have been caused by the same Core explosion discovered in "At the Core" (see note immediately below), so perhaps the Core explodes periodically.

c.6,400 B.C.: A supernova chain reaction in the Core finishes exploding -- In "At the Core" Beowulf Shaeffer states " finished exploding some nine thousand years ago" (Neutron Star p. 68). The date of "At the Core" is 2646, giving a date of (~9000 - 2646 =) ~6354 B.C.

1733: Superconductor plague spreads 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 below for Ringworld Engineers) would put the date between (2873 - 1140 =) 1733 and (2875 - 1140 =) 1735. Fortunately, more precise dating info was later provided:

(b) Date specified on the timeline at the beginning of The Ringworld Throne (p. 3).

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 in Tales of Known Space specifies "Becalmed in Hell" is the sequel to "The Coldest Place" (p. 6).

1989: "Wait it Out" -- " 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.

c.2006: Settlement of the Belt begins -- "A century ago, when the Belt was first being settled... (World of Ptavvs p. 69). Therefore, a century before 2106.

2040?: "How the Heroes Die" -- Date specified on the Timeline in Tales of Known Space.

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 discover 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.

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.

c.2102: Plateau colony established -- (a) It seems best to disregard statements in A Gift from Earth such as "Mount Lookitthat was settled, more than three hundred years ago" (p. 7), because of that story's dating problems (see notes for Gift, below). However, even though we disregard the date 2410 (which Gift indicates for itself), we note 300 years before 2410 would be 2110, which does support the following:

(b) The Ringworld Roleplaying Game-- Explorer Book says Tau Ceti I was discovered by a ramrobot in 2061, the signal took 11.8 to reach Earth, and 29 years after launch the colony slowboat Planck arrived (p. 41). Therefore the date is (2061 + 12 + 29 =) 2102, or possibly a few years later if they had to wait until the ship was built.

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" -- 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. 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 2123. However, this isn't the only story in which Garner's age doesn't quite match a date given, and must be disregarded. (His age as indicated in World of Ptavvs, p. 45, would make his birth year 1937 or 1938).

(b) Truesdale's timeline includes "2125 A.D.: Pssthpok arrives Sol. Brennan turns protector" (Protector, p 190).

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," so the year must be 2126. We suggest the actual date for the beginning of "ARM" was June 4, 2126; and the actual date on the fast-running watch was January 17, 2127. Keeping in mind the story is told in first person by Gil, it may be that in remembering the date on the watch was off by a year, Gil's memory of what year it was became confused.

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.

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.

2189: Home colony established -- "Settled 2189, by a combination of slowboats and ramrobots" (Protector, p. 183).

2326-71: "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.

(a) No other story in the Known Space series has presented as many difficulties with dating and continuity as this one. Although a number of dates are specified in the story, ranging from "October, A.D. 2514" to "120,000 Approx.," the Timeline in Tales of Known Space specifies "Dates as given in The Ethics of Madness must be regarded as erroneous."

(b) The Timeline itself gives a date of 2425 for "Ethics," but this must also be disregarded. According to the interstitial notes in Tales of Known Space, "The Kzinti had discovered and conquered Wunderland and were on their way to Earth... Sol held off the Kzinti by virtue of two accidents: the timely development of manned Bussard ramjets ('The Ethics of Madness')..." (p. 153).

(c) "Canon for the Man-Kzin Wars" specifically states, in the bibliography section: "'The Ethics of Madness' takes place before the First War with Men" (Scatterbrain, p. 295), referring to the First Man-Kzin War. This is a much more recent publication than the Timeline in Tales of Known Space, and thus must supersede the date given there.

(d) In "The Warriors", a manned Bussard ramscoop colony ship, the Angel's Pencil, was launched circa 2355 (see note for "The Warriors," below). In the section of "Ethics" where Hooker inspects the Loefflers' ship just before they leave Earth for Plateau, it is stated "Skyhook was now designing a bigger ramship, big enough to carry a thousand colonists in stasis. But the four-man Skyhook exploring model was the only ramship now flying." (Neutron Star p. 182). Therefore, that section of "Ethics" must occur before 2355.

(e) "Ethics" specifies "On Plateau a small ruling class had held the power of life and death over its citizens... Now there were no organ banks on Plateau and no capital punishment" (Neutron Star, pp. 192-3). A Gift from Earth, which we date 2342, details the revolution on Plateau, and makes it clear the organ banks would have to continue for a time following that revolution, as the new alloplasty technology could only replace some organs, not all. To fully develop the new technology and subsequently abolish the death penalty, some time had to pass. Furthermore, when Douglas Hooker took off from Earth, he knew "Plateau was the only world of Man that did not impose the death penalty" (Neutron Star p. 194). "Ethics" specifies Plateau is 11.9 light years from Earth, so news via laser from Plateau would take nearly 12 years to reach Earth. Therefore the death penalty was abolished at least 12 years prior to Hooker's takeoff.

(f) The revolution on Plateau is mentioned in "Ethics" only as a past event, never as news. It therefore seems most likely that the revolution occurred at least 12 years prior to the first mention of Plateau in "Ethics." That was when Douglas Hooker was trying to argue Greg Loeffler out of emigrating to Plateau. It seems unlikely the Loefflers would decide to emigrate to Plateau before news of the revolution there arrived. This puts the date of the Loeffler's emigration at no earlier than 2354, and since that same section of the story mentions designing the first "safe" ramscoop colony vessel, it can happen no later than 2355, when the Angel's Pencil was launched. Since the news of revolution on Plateau cannot have reached Earth very long before the Loefflers decided to emigrate, it seems most reasonable to assume that news is what actually inspired them to move there. Assigning a date of 2354 to their emigration puts it, conveniently, exactly 200 years before that given in "Ethics." We have therefore chosen to date all events in "Ethics" exactly 200 years earlier than the dates given in the story.

(g) "Madness Has Its Place" (MHIP) states "It hasn't been that long since a guy like me let his 'doc run out of beta-dammasomething. An indicator light ran out and he didn't notice. He tried to kill his business partner by bombing his partner's house, and got some family members instead" (Man-Kzin Wars III, p. 24). This appears to refer to some events in "Ethics." However, those events took place on Plateau, and the statement "It hasn't been that long" isn't compatible with news from Plateau taking nearly 12 years to reach Sol system, the setting of MHIP. Also, it would be more correct to state Hooker "torched" Loeffler's house rather than "bombed" it. So it seems questionable this actually refers to the same events. More importantly, this would mean A Gift from Earth would have to occur a minimum of 44 years before 2375, the date of MHIP. This would put Gift in 2331 or earlier. However, the "Interlude" section of Protector, dated 2340, states "Society become repressive on Plateau," but does not mention any revolution (Protector, p. 104). Therefore Gift must occur after 2340.

(h) Ye Editor is not happy with ignoring the reference from MHIP in dating this story. However, "Ethics" must be shoehorned into the Chronology somewhere, and we have placed it where it seems least disruptive to the Chronology as a whole.

(j) The timeline below is our suggestion for how the events of "The Ethics of Madness" and A Gift from Earth should be integrated with events from other stories. Some dates are given in a year/month format; for example "2314/10" means October, 2314. Events marked with an asterisk (*) were not specified in either story, but were inferred from other events in those stories. (Events from other stories are noted in parentheses.)

2314/10 Douglas Hooker is diagnosed as a potential paranoid at age 18. ["Ethics"]
2324 Moscow Motors builds the first "safe" ramscoop field generator (perhaps subtly aided by Brennan-monster). ["Ethics"]
2325.4 The elder Matthew Keller jumps off the edge of Plateau to his death. [Gift]
2326/06 Skyhook Enterprises builds the first manned ramscoop starship. ["Ethics"]
2341 (Brennan-monster leaves Sol system.) [Protector-- 2nd half]
2342 Revolution on Plateau [Gift]
2354 (News of revolution on Plateau reaches Earth, perhaps inspiring the Loefflers to emigrate.)
2354/09 Greg and Joanna Loeffler leave Earth for Plateau. Skyhook Enterprises is designing the first "safe" ramscoop colony ship. ["Ethics"]
2355 (Angel's Pencil, a "safe" ramscoop colony ship, is launched.) ["The Warriors"]
c.2356 *Plateau abolishes the death penalty. ["Ethics"]
c.2366 (Angel's Pencil makes first contact with Kzinti.) ["The Warriors"]
2367.3 *The Loefflers arrive at Plateau. ["Ethics"]
c.2368 *News of Plateau abolishing the death penalty reaches Earth. ["Ethics"]
2370/12 Hooker's desk doc malfunctions. ["Ethics"]
2371/02 Hooker goes insane, steals a ramscoop ship, leaves Earth for Plateau. ["Ethics"]
2375 (Message from Angel's Pencil, warning of Kzinti attack, reaches Earth. The news is suppressed.) ["Madness Has Its Place"]
2377/05  *Ex-UN official Loughery leaves Earth for Plateau in a colonist ramscoop ship. ["Ethics"]
2383 (First Kzinti invasion of Sol system) ["Choosing Names"]
2383.8 Hooker arrives at Plateau and torches Loeffler's house, killing Loeffler's family. ["Ethics"]
2383-5 Hooker undergoes nearly two years of psychotherapy on Plateau. ["Ethics"]
2385.6 Hooker and Loeffler independently leave Plateau in ramscoop ships. ["Ethics"]
2390.0 Loughery arrives at Plateau. ["Ethics"]
2395 (News of Kzinti attack on Sol system reaches Plateau.)
c.2409 (First hyperdrive ship reaches Earth, making ramscoop starships obsolete.)

2341: Protector--2nd half -- Truesdale's timeline specifies "2341, October: Discovery of Pak Fleet" (Protector, p. 190).

c.2342: A Gift from Earth -- (a) The date 2397 is given for the elder Matt Keller's death (A Gift from Earth, p. 191), when the younger Matt Keller was 8 (p. 10). The younger Matt is 21 at the time of the events (p. 40). This indicates a date of (2397 - 8 + 21 =) 2410. However, as will be demonstrated, this date must be disregarded.

(b) The Timeline in Tales of Known Space also specifies the date 2410 for this story. Nonetheless, that date still must be disregarded.

(c) Gift takes place before the invention of the "safe" ramscoop, and furthermore must occur before most of the events in "Ethics of Madness" (see note below), as that story specifies "On Plateau a small ruling class had held the power of life and death over its citizens... Now there were no organ banks on Plateau and no capital punishment" (Neutron Star, pp. 192-3). It's made clear in Gift that even after the revolution, the organ banks would have to continue for a time, as the new alloplasty technology could only replace some organs, not all. To fully develop the new technology and subsequently abolish the death penalty, some time had to pass.

(d) The "Interlude" section of Protector, dated 2340, states "Society become repressive on Plateau," but does not mention any revolution (Protector, p. 104). Therefore Gift must occur after 2340.

(e) It is impossible to fully reconcile the events of "The Ethics of Madness" with the overall timeline of this Chronology (see notes for "Ethics," above.) The closest fit we can make is with Gift occurring as early as possible. Therefore we have dated it as soon as seems reasonable, the year following Protector-- 2nd half, which is set in 2341.

(f) "Canon for the Man-Kzin Wars" states, in the bibliography section: "A Gift from Earth... By the end of the novel, kzinti may well be entering Sol system" (Scatterbrain, p. 295). While this seems to support backdating Gift to well before the time specified on the Timeline in Tales of Known Space, we are unable to see how the story could occur after most events in "The Ethics of Madness" (see note above). In the very same section it is noted "'The Ethics of Madness' takes place before the first War with Men" (meaning the First Man-Kzin War).

(g) To see how our revised dates for this story fit in with other events of the same period, see the partial timeline above, at the end of the notes for "The Ethics of Madness"-- 1st part.

c.2361: Protector--epilogue -- The date of Truesdale's arrival at Home colony, and the subsequent failure of the colony, is somewhat conjectural. The ramscoop ship carrying Brennan-monster and Truesdale traveled from a point outside the Solar System 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 (Protector, p. 190) 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. 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.

c.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.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 chronicles by Larry Niven, a historical rather than fictional chronicle.

2367: Beginning of the First Man-Kzin War -- "The Kzinti... launched a surprise attack in 2367 AD upon the virtually-defenseless Alpha Centauri system, easily subjugating Wunderland" (Ringworld Role-Playing Game--Explorer Book, p.29). The sequence of events is supported by the interstitial notes in Tales of Known Space: "The Kzinti had discovered and conquered Wunderland and were on their way to Earth" (p. 153). However no date is indicated there.

2375-83: "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 least eight years.

2383: "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 at least eight years after 2375; see note immediately above.

2383-90: "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. See notes above, under "1st part".

c.2407: Outsiders sell hyperdrive technology to We Made It -- According to the interstitial notes in Tales of Known Space "The Outsiders... sold the secret of the faster-than-light drive to... We Made It. Two years later, a ship powered by the Outsider hyperdrive arrived in Sol System. The crew had not known of the war" (p. 153). Although the tail end of A Gift from Earth describes Outsiders moving toward We Made It with the intention to sell this technology, it specifies they were in "No hurry" to get there. Thus there is no canonical indication when this occurred. Other than non-canonical Man-Kzin War stories, the only date clue is that given in the Ringworld Role-Playing Game for the appearance of hyperdrive armadas which drove the Kzinti out of Human Space (see note immediately below). If that information is accepted, the date has to be prior to 2410. If we assume the combined efforts of We Made It and the Solar System were able to field an "armada" only a year after a ship from We Made It brought the technology to Sol, then the date of the Outsiders' sale would be three years prior to 2410. Of course this date is an approximation; it may have taken more than a year to field an "armada" against the Kzinti.

2410-20?: First Man-Kzin War ended by Human hyperdrive armadas -- The Ringworld Role-Playing Game--Explorer Book specifies "The hyperdrive armadas of 2410-2420 finally drove the Kzinti invaders from Human Space" (p. 30).

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 Sasht 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).

2642: "Neutron Star" -- Unfortunately there is no actual date specified in any Beowulf Shaeffer era story-- any story set in the 2600s-- which can be used to determine a date for any story. The dating of this entire era of stories is indicated by Chiron's statement in Ringworld regarding the elapsed time since the start of the Puppeteer migration (see notes for "At the Core," below), plus the dating of Louis Wu's birth as described in "The Borderland of Sol" (see notes below for that story).

(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 the dates calculated from "At the Core" and "The Borderland of Sol." 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 is dated 2646, and eight years before "The Borderland of Sol," dated 2650. See notes for those stories, below, for details.

2645: "A Relic of the Empire" -- (a) "The Color of Sunfire," which is a sequel to this story, makes it clear "Relic" occurs not long before the Puppeteer migration begins, which places it not long 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 2645 or 2646.

(b) The Timeline in Tales of Known Space lists this story between "Neutron Star" and "At the Core," confirming the placement of this story.

2646: "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, placing the start of the Puppeteer migration in 2646, and that migration does begin in this story. Aside from the perhaps shaky assumption that the Louis Wu of "There Is a Tide" and Ringworld is the same as Carlos Wu's son Louis (see notes for "The Borderland of Sol," below), this is the only information indicating dates for all the Beowulf Shaeffer era stories.

(b) Four years after "Neutron Star." A puppeteer speaking to Beowulf Shaeffer (Bey) says "You have spent more than four million stars in the past four years" (Neutron Star, p. 52). This clearly refers to the money Bey received from the puppeteers at the end of "Neutron Star." The story spans approximately three months.

2646: "Flatlander" -- 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.

c.2647: "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 the two stories.

2648: "Grendel" -- 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).

2650: "The Borderland of Sol" -- It is a 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, so basing all the Beowulf Shaeffer era stories on this one datum might be questionable. Fortunately there is stronger evidence in Ringworld supporting this date, as indicated below.

(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.

(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 the story most probably occurs in the year 2650.

(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 2646, this places "Borderland" in 2650, confirming the date indicated by Louis' birth.

(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."

2655-56: "Procrustes" -- "Tanya was five and Louis was four" (Crashlander, p. 218). Louis was born just before the beginning of "The Borderland of Sol," so that places the beginning of this story between four and five years later. 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 could have been longer.

(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 the end of "Procrustes." If "Ghost" is dated correctly (see note immediately below), then the beginning of "Procrustes" was probably nearer to five years than four after "The Borderland of Sol."

2658: "Ghost" -- Twelve years after the end of "At the Core." 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).

2658: "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.

2658: "The Soft Weapon" -- Twelve years after "At the Core": "The puppeteers had apparently left the galaxy en masse some twelve years earlier" (Neutron Star, p. 76). This story might occur before or after "Ghost" or "Fly-By-Night," which are dated the same year. The story has been listed after the others simply to avoid breaking up the sequence of Beowulf Shaeffer stories.

c.2686: "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 20 and 21 years later; 2850 or 2851.

(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. Then 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.3101: "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.

c.22,500: 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. Assuming Known Space expands somewhat in the meantime, and rounding the number off a bit, c.22,500 seems a reasonable estimate.

Editor's Notes

My primary purpose in constructing this Chronology was to put the canonical stories of Known Space into a self-consistent order. By "canonical" I mean those with Larry Niven as author or co-author. I've also included a limited number of other dates of historic importance.

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 2650. 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). Of course, 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've taken a limited amount of information from Chaosium's Ringworld Role-Playing 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 can only echo that sentiment and gratitude.

A Hero-sized round of thanks also to Dave Lambert, who provided some much-needed information and many valuable suggestions.

--David "Lensman" Sooby, October 2006