Larry Niven’s Known Space Reading Chronology

KNOWN SPACE

Known Space is the name of Larry Niven’s largest and best-developed “future history” series of science fiction stories. Its most famous entry is Ringworld, one of the very few novels to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

THE SEVEN ERAS OF KNOWN SPACE

Known Space is roughly divided into seven eras:

The near future — “After 1975” to 2040: A handful of stories concern exploration of planets in own solar system, which in the Known Space series is called Sol System.

The early interstellar period — 2099 to 2135: Using slower-than-light starships, Humans have established hard-won colonies around nearby stars, mainly on marginally habitable worlds: Wunderland, Jinx, We Made It, Plateau, and Down. Sol System’s main asteroid belt has been colonized by Belters, and Humans have their first alien encounters. On Earth, population pressure has forced mandatory birth control, strictly regulated by the United Nations (UN) world government. Life-extending organ transplants are supplied by the organ banks, which are mainly supplied by the bodies of executed criminals. The enormous demand for organs has vastly increased use of the death penalty, to include even minor crimes. Gil Hamilton is a member of the ARM, the UN’s elite police force. He investigates various crimes relating to organleggers (black market dealers in organ transplants) and newly discovered, dangerous technologies. Dates range from 2099 to 2135 on our Known Space Timeline.

The intermediate era — 2322 to 2386: The organ bank problem has greatly eased, due to various medical advancements. Several technological improvements, such as advanced psychotropic drug treatments and advanced psychiatric therapy, have created a “Golden Age,” a society almost completely free of violence, in Sol System. Most of these advancements have been facilitated by the hidden influence of an unseen superhuman protector, one who sees a threat far beyond anything Humans can imagine. On Human colony worlds, life is not so ideal — especially on oppressed Plateau. The Golden Age ends when Human Space is invaded by the Kzinti Empire.

The Man-Kzin Wars — 2366 to 2505: The Human colony of Wunderland is overrun by the Kzinti. Sol System desperately fends off repeated invasion by fleets of Kzinti warships from the much larger, militaristic Kzinti Empire. Unexpected salvation finally comes in the form of hyperdrive technology, sold to Humans by the mysterious alien Outsiders. More wars with the Kzinti Empire follow over the space of a century or so, all of which are easily won by Humans. By the end of the Man-Kzin Wars, the Kzinti Empire is a pale shadow of its former self, and several former Kzinti colonies are now part of Human Space. Most of the stories covering this period are from the Man-Kzin Wars series of shared-universe collections, edited by Larry Niven but written by other writers. The beginning of this era overlaps the last decades of the “Intermediate era” summarized above.

The Beowulf Shaeffer era — 2637 to circa 2685: Over a century after the end of the Man-Kzin Wars, it is a pleasant period of easy interstellar tourism, using hyperdrive starships. Each interstellar species in Known Space has its own independent sphere of influence, and interaction is mainly peaceful trade. These species include the technologically advanced Puppeteers, and a former Kzinti slave species, the Kdatlyno. Over half the stories from this era concern interstellar tourist (and accidental adventurer) Beowulf Shaeffer.

The Ringworld era — 2850 to 2899: Human Space has expanded somewhat, establishing new colony worlds. A few technologies are more advanced. There is one fundamental change: The spread of the so-called “Teela Brown gene,” the ultimate in psionic power, which manipulates probability in a manner making its possessor appear incredibly “lucky.” Early in the period it seems little else is different from the previous era. But in later sequels to Ringworld, it seems that the UN central government has become somewhat oppressive, with significant restrictions on personal freedom.

The Thousand Worlds — circa 3105: Known Space has expanded enormously. Protected by the widespread so-called “Teela Brown gene,” Humans have entered an era of ubiquitous peace and prosperity. Such an era may be pleasant to live in, but makes for rather dull stories. Only one such has been published: “Safe at Any Speed.”

Chronological Reading Order – Known Space Saga

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20th CENTURY

Nr 1 – after 1975 “The Coldest Place” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)
Nr 2 – after 1975 “Becalmed in Hell” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)
Nr 3 – 1989 “Wait it Out” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)
Nr 4 – 1996 “Eye of an Octopus” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)

21st CENTURY

Nr 5 – 2042 “How the Heroes Die” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)
Nr 6 – 2099 “The Jigsaw Man” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)

22nd CENTURY

Nr 7 – 2106 World of Ptavvs
Nr 8 – 2112 “At the Bottom of a Hole” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)
Nr 9 – 2113 “Intent to Deceive” (orig. “The Deceivers”) (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)
Nr 10 – 2123 “Death by Ecstasy” (orig. “The Organleggers”) (The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton)
Nr 11 – 2124 – 25 “The Defenseless Dead” (The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton)
Nr 12 – 2125 “Phssthpok” (Protector)
Nr 13 – 2126 “ARM” (The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton)
Nr 14 – 2126 The Patchwork Girl
Nr 15 – 2127 “The Woman in Del Rey Crater” (Flatlander)
Nr 16 – 2135 “Cloak of Anarchy” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)

24th CENTURY

Nr 17 – 2341 Protector, 2nd part, rest of the book
Nr 18 – 2341 A Gift from Earth
Nr 19 – Thousands of years ago: “Jotok” by Paul Chafe (Choosing Names (Man-Kzin Wars VIII))
Nr 20 – 2366 “The Warriors” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)
Nr 21 – 2366 “Telepath’s Dance” by Hal Colebatch (Choosing Names (Man-Kzin Wars VIII))
Nr 22 – 2366 “Echoes of Distant Guns” by Matthew Joseph Harrington (Man-Kzin Wars XII)

2367-2433 First Man-Kzin War – ending with the signing of the MacDonald-Rishaii Peace Treaty

Nr 23 – 2367 “One War for Wunderland” by Hal Colebatch (Man-Kzin Wars X)
Nr 24 – After Angel’s Pencil, “Misunderstanding” by Hal Colebatch and Jessica Q. Fox (Man-Kzin Wars XIII)
Nr 25 – 2373 “The Colonel’s Tiger” by Hal Colebatch (Man-Kzin Wars VII)
Nr 26 – 2375 “Madness Has Its Place” (Man-Kzin Wars III)
Nr 27 – 2382 “The Trooper and the Triangle” (Man-Kzin Wars XII)
Nr 28 – 2384 “Choosing Names” (Choosing Names (Man-Kzin Wars VIII))
Nr 29 – 2391 “The Man Who Would be Kzin” by Greg Bear and S.M. Stirling (Man-Kzin Wars IV)

25th CENTURY

Nr 30 – 2400 (est.) “Two Type of Teeth” by Jane Lindskold (Man-Kzin Wars XIII)
Nr 31 – 2402 “Trojan Cat,” by Gregory Benford and Mark O. Martin (Man-Kzin Wars VI)
Nr 32 – 2404 “A Darker Geometry” by Gregory Benford and Mark O. Martin (Man-Kzin Wars VII)
Nr 33 – 2404 “Galley Slave” by Jean Lamb (Choosing Names (Man-Kzin Wars VIII))
Nr 34 – 2406 “Catspaws” Chapter 1 (Man-Kzin Wars XI)
Nr 35 – 2408 “The Corporal in the Caves” by Hal Colebatch (Man-Kzin Wars X)
Nr 36 – 2410 “Slowboat Nightmare” by Warren W. James (Choosing Names (Man-Kzin Wars VIII))
Nr 37 – 2410 “The Children’s Hour” by Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling (Man-Kzin Wars II)
Nr 38 – 2419 “Windows of the Soul” Paul Chafe (Man-Kzin Wars IX)
Nr 39 – 2367-2419 “Pick of the Litter” by Charles E. Gannon (Man-Kzin Wars XIII)
Nr 40 – 2413-2420 “Tomcat Tactics” by Charles E. Gannon (Man-Kzin Wars XIII)
Nr 41 – 2419 “Deadly Knowledge” by Hal Colebatch (Man-Kzin Wars XIV)
Nr 42 – 2420 “The Asteroid Queen” by Pournelle and Stirling (Man-Kzin Wars III)
Nr 43 – 2420 “His Sergeant’s Honor” Hal Colebatch (Man-Kzin Wars IX)
Nr 44 – 2421 “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Pournelle and Stirling (Man-Kzin Wars V)
Nr 45 – 2425-2428 “Music Box” by Hal Colebatch (Man-Kzin Wars X)
Nr 46 – 2427 “Three at Table” (Man-Kzin Wars XI)
Nr 47 – 2430 “Grossgeister Swamp” (Man-Kzin Wars XI)
Nr 48 – 2433 “Catspaws” Chapter 2-15 (Man-Kzin Wars XI)
Nr 49 – 2391-2435 “The Survivor” by Donald Kingsbury (Man-Kzin Wars IV)
Nr 50 – 2435-2439 “The Heroic Myth of Lt. Nora Argamentine,” by Donald Kingsbury (Man-Kzin Wars VI)
Nr 51 – 2435 (est.) Treasure Planet by Hal Colebatch & Jessica Q Fox
Nr 52 – 2437 “A Man Named Saul” by Hal Colebatch and Jessica Q. Fox (Man-Kzin Wars XIV)
Nr 53 – 2438 (est.) The Marmalade Problem” by Hal Colebatch (Man-Kzin Wars XIV)
Nr 54 – 2440 “Iron” (Man-Kzin Wars I)
Nr 55 – 2440 “Inconstant Star” by Poul Anderson (Man-Kzin Wars III)
Nr 56 – 2445 “Pele” Poul Anderson (Man-Kzin Wars IX)

2449-2475 Second Man-Kzin War

Nr 57 – 2449 Heritage” by Matthew Joseph Harrington (Man-Kzin Wars XIV)

2491-2495 Third Man-Kzin War

Nr 58 – Between the Third and Fourth Wars: “Hey Diddle Diddle” by Thomas T. Thomas (Man-Kzin Wars V)

26th CENTURY

2500-2505 Fourth Man-Kzin War
After 2505 “Bound for the Promised Land” by Alex Hernandez (Man-Kzin Wars XIII)
2514-2590 “Ethics of Madness” (Neutron Star)
2554 “AQUILA ADVENIO” (Man-Kzin Wars XII)
2559 “Cathouse” (Man-Kzin Wars I)
2559 “Briar Patch” [sequel to Cathouse] (Man-Kzin Wars II)
2566 “At the Gates” by Alex Hernandez (Man-Kzin Wars XIII)
2570 “Zeno’s Roulette” by David Bartell (Man-Kzin Wars XIII)
2578 (est.) “Lions On The Beach” by Alex Hernandez (Man-Kzin Wars XIV)
After the Fourth Man-Kzin War
After the Fourth Man-Kzin War “War And Peace” (Man-Kzin Wars XI)

?-2575: Fifth Man-Kzin War

27th CENTURY

2600-2618: Sixth Man-Kzin War

During the Sixth War: “Leftovers” by Matthew Joseph Harrington (Man-Kzin Wars XIV)
After the Sixth War: “Prisoner of War,” by Paul Chafe (Man-Kzin Wars VII)
After the Sixth War: “Destiny’s Forge” by Paul Chafe
After the Sixth War: “Independent” by Paul Chafe (Man-Kzin Wars XII)

2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 1-5
2641 “Neutron Star” (Neutron Star)
2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 6-8
2645 “At the Core” (Neutron Star)
2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 9-10
2644 “A Relic of the Empire” (Neutron Star)
2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 11-12
2645 “Flatlander” (Neutron Star)
2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 13-16
2646 “The Handicapped” (orig. “Handicap”) (Neutron Star)
2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 17-18
2647 “Grendel” (Neutron Star)
2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 19-29

2650-52 Fleet of Worlds – Chapters 1-38
2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 30-34
2651 “The Borderland of Sol” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven) – Already covered in Chapters 30-34 of Juggler of Worlds
2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 35-36

2650-52 Fleet of Worlds – Chapters 39-42
2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 37-50

2654-55 “Procrustes” (Crashlander)
2655 “Ghost” (Crashlander)

2637-57 Juggler of Worlds — Chapters 51-56

2656 “Fly-by-Night” by Paul Chafe (Man-Kzin Wars IX)
2657 “The Soft Weapon” (Neutron Star)

2658-60 Juggler of Worlds – 2nd part from chapter 57 to “Epilogue”
2670 Destroyer of Worlds
2685 “The Color of Sunfire” (Bridging the Galaxies)

28th CENTURY

2780 Betrayer of Worlds

29th CENTURY

2830 “There Is a Tide” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)
2850 Ringworld
2878 The Ringworld Engineers
2882 The Ringworld Throne
2893 Ringworld’s Children
2892 “Peter Robinson” by Hal Colebatch (Man-Kzin Wars X)
2893 Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld
2895 “String” (Man-Kzin Wars XII)
2899 “The Hunting Park” (Man-Kzin Wars XI)

30th CENTURY

2965 “Peace and Freedom” by Matthew Joseph Harrington (Man-Kzin Wars XII)

32nd CENTURY

3105 “Safe at Any Speed” (Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven)

THE DISTANT FUTURE

12263 “Teacher’s Pet” (Man-Kzin Wars XI)
22750 Wavefront of lethal radiation from core explosion reaches Known Space

One thought on “Larry Niven’s Known Space Reading Chronology

  1. GUSTAVO

    Niven was also reported to have said that “Known Space should be seen as a possible future history told by people that may or may not have all their facts right.”

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