Introduction: What is Known Space?

"Known Space" is the fictional setting of more than 30 stories, 7 novels, and 5 collaborative novels by science fiction author Larry Niven. Niven's first story set in Known Space was published in 1964, and the term "Known Space" was first used in the story "At the Core" (1966). Since 1988, Known Space has also been a shared universe in the Man-Kzin Wars anthology series, to which 20 authors have contributed over 50 stories.  

Specifically, Known Space is described as a bubble, eventually extending about 80 light-years in diameter, which contains the Earth, the portion of the galaxy colonized by humans, and various alien civilizations with whom humans have had contact (also, some stories involve exploratory missions as far as 200 light years from Earth towards galactic north, and 30,000 light-years to the galactic core). The fictional history of Known Space begins nearly 2 billion years in the past, and includes over 1,100 years of "future history", ranging from the last decades of the 20th century to at least 3101 AD.

The two best-known features of the Known Space universe are the Kzinti, aggressive felinoid aliens who first appeared in Niven's story "The Warriors" (1966), and the Ringworld, a megastructure encircling a star, which first appeared in Niven's Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel Ringworld (1970). 

For a complete list of Known Space stories by date of publication, see Sources 

About This Timeline

This timeline is ideally designed as a reference for persons who have already read the stories, as it assumes a basic familiarity with Known Space (its notable locations, alien species, and technologies) and contains numerous plot spoilers. 

It is currently the only Known Space timeline available online, which is both up to date, and includes information from "canon" as well as non-canon sources, with the latter distinguished by green, blue, or red text (see the Color Code, at the beginning of the Timeline).

I am defining canon sources as all Known Space stories and nonfiction writings by Niven himself.  One possible exception is "The Color of Sunfire", a Niven story written in the 1960s, but not published until 1993, containing a description of the Puppeteer homeworld in flight, which is inconsistent with information introduced in Ringworld (1970).  Additionally, there are two early Niven stories, "Bordered in Black" and "One Face", which feature some names and concepts later used in Known Space stories, but are not considered to be part of the Known Space universe. 

Hal Colebatch's story "Telepath's Dance" is considered semi-canonical, as the events which formed its plot were later mentioned in Niven's story "Fly-By-Night".   

The Ringworld Role Playing Game is also considered semi-canonical, given that in "Canon for the Man-Kzin Wars" (Scatterbrain), Niven used information from the game as part of the "bible" for writers of Man-Kzin War stories, and stated that he had been extensively consulted during the game's development. Hence, for this timeline the presumption is that information in the game is accurate, except where contradicted by canon material.

Everything in the Man-Kzin Wars series is non-canonical, except for the following stories: "The Warriors", "Madness Has Its Place", "Choosing Names", "Telepath's Dance", "Fly-By-Night", and "The Hunting Park".  However, information in Man-Kzin Wars stories may become canonical, even if the stories themselves do not: For example, although the Jotok were first mentioned in Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling's "The Asteroid Queen", and first described in Donald Kingsbury's "The Survivor", a Jotok was featured in "Fly-by-Night".

Wherever canon sources have provided contradictory information, for this timeline I have generally given preference to that which is more recent, unless the earlier information was stated in omniscient narrator voice, and the more recent was not. 

Other Known Space Resources

Those with an interest in Known Space may also wish to visit Lensman's Incompleat Known Space Concordance, or the official Niven site  Lensman's timeline was of great assistance to my own effort, as was Marc Carlson's Known Space Timeline. Note that there is not always agreement between those timelines and this one regarding particular dates 

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