Talk:Known Space

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I've added in a table with all of the short stories and novels of Known Space from 1964 to 1975. It's at the bottom right now, but optimally it would be above the spoiler line. Given the sheer number of stories in the series, it may be prudent to break this list off to a separate page. (I looked for one, I hope there isn't already a book list elsewhere.) The list also need finished, but I don't have a ready and complete source for the remainder yet. Jrp 00:20, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)

That's brilliant; I'm looking forward to the next tranche. Would it be feasible to also annotate the stories with a book in which they might be found? (For example Death by Ecstasy IIRC appears in The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton; I have no idea where else it might crop up.) This would help those wishing to read the stories without access to back catalogues of doubtless wonderful but hard-to-acquire magazines (and also those of us too poor!) --Phil | Talk 08:03, Jun 30, 2004 (UTC)
Yeah... I can do that. But there is some overlap and I don't necessarily know the most recent collection that a story appeared in. I'll add in what I have and I hope it can be edited with more recent data by someone who owns the collections that I'm not aware of. Jrp 11:48, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)
An up to date, complete list of KS stories, along with the Niven collections they can be found in, can be found at my Incompleat Known Space Concordance bibliography <> Feel free to copy anything you want from that bibliography.--Lensman003 (talk) 17:34, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
    • there IS a list of stories in chrono. order, but it's not complete. I have it at the start of "Three Books of Known Space" which includes World of Ptavvs, A Gift From Earth and Tales of KS. It runs from 1975-3100, and is updated up to stories as of 1995 or so.
Hmm, some of the stories are not, strictly speaking, in the Known Space universe. To quote the notes from Convergent: "Bordered in Black does not belong in the Known Space universe...When I wrote bordered in black, Known Space had not taken form." Larry then mentions some ideas from BiB were used later, like the Blind Spot. Same for "One Face" and some others.
But, I've noticed at least 5 stories (Bordered in Black is one of them) where Larry mentions the "now discredited" theory ("fact" in the stories) that an earth sized planet needs a big moon to not have a super thick Venus-like atmosphere. In BiB this results in a small planet having an earthlike atmopshere but heavy clouds. In "There is a Tide" this results in Louis predicting the moon existance. In Protector this describes what planets are food planets. In one (forgot the title) a time traveler accidentally destroys Earth's moon and the Earth ends up like Venus. This seems to indicate a consistancy making "Bordered in Black" quite a strong cantidate for being a Known Space story if not actual Known Space canon, since KS changes as technology changes (Mercury's dark side is not "The Coldest Place", as it is not tidally locked). Should alternate futures discredit a universe? Overcee (from BiB) does reach a typical food-planet, using typical hyperdrive (but long prior to any slowboat colonization of extrasolar planets), and Niven does say in KS stories that humans could have built a hyperdrive if they'd bothered to experiment outside our local gravity well. Perhaps a subsivision of the list into "Canon" and "Mythos", the latter being older stories that are less acurrate and primitive, as well as not fitting in the timeline. 10:10, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The reason "Bordered in Black" isn't a Known Space story is because Niven clearly says it's not. No other "evidence" should be required.
It's quite normal for an author to use similar ideas in different stories which are not necessarily set in the same universe. That's not an indication they should be part of the same series-- it's just an indication they have the same author. --Lensman003 (talk) 18:38, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Now wait just one minute, Niven has also said, in yet another collection (forget which one) that Known Space has taken on a life of its own. Just because Niven once said "XYZ" is not in the series doesn't mean that he doesnt change his mind (OFTEN) and tweak things (OFTEN). just how many times does the Teela Brown story need to be revisited? It changes in each RW novel. If you take any one thing that Larry has said and treat it as gospel, then he himself is his own greatest heretic.

Going on the logic that it's all just fictional stories anyway, allow some flexibility, and dont argue every little thing. Most of the MKW series contradicts Known Space, and everyone just rolls with it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:05, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Hal Colebatch[edit]

While I'd have guessed it was a unique name, should I assume the Hal Colebatch who was an Australian politician who died in 1953 is not the same Hal Colebatch who was publishing science fiction in the 1990's? And if so, we should disambiguate the names. MK2 06:47, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The link should point to Hal Colebatch jr, most likely (The politician was his father). Or possibly Hal Gibson Pateshall Colebatch, or Hal G. P. Colebatch (like is used to distinguish George Bush from W). I'll try it with Hal Gibson Pateshall Colebatch, if anyone knows what he uses officially (other than Hal Colebatch) go ahead and change it.

"Final" story draft[edit]

Does anyone know the title of the draft final Known Space story in which someone goes to rendezvous with the Lazy Eight to retrieve Greenberg, who reveals that the Kzinti are in fact descended from the Tnuctipun? If so, can they stick the name in the article at the end where I mentioned it? PhilHibbs | talk

Got it, it's "Down in flames". PhilHibbs | talk
I added a link to it on the main page. It is available to view in html on his officially "unofficial" webpage Clicky Clicky.
Niven states just before writing the main story "...remember, it's all a hoax". This implies that Kzin aren't tnuctip; then again, it's where his line of though is going, and presumably his image of the two, being the source material, sees the two as linked. Is this regression, decadence? See my earlier comment, section below... hmm. Firien

"... and what happened to the Tnuctipun."[edit]

Does anyone have a link to these debates? I had thought, from World of Ptavvs, that the tnuctipun had turned on their slavers, and until a second ago had thought they had died with them, though on second thought the attack was supposed to be fast enough to be decisive.

The Tnuctipun *did* die out at the end of the Tnuctipun-Slaver War. The idea for "Down in Flames" was to completely trash the entire Known Space series. It's doubtful that Niven ever had any real intention of writing the story, and at any rate, he has stipulated Ringworld makes many of the assumptions of DiF obsolete. Bottom line-- DiF is just an outline for a "what if" story-- not a story Niven actually wrote. Or, if you prefer: DiF is an elaborate joke, having no bearing on the canon (fictional reality) of Known Space.--Lensman003 10:32, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

I'd be interested in the various POVs on what may have happened to them (the mention of evolving into Kzin notwithstanding; some of the tnuctip technology just seems too advanced to justify being kzin, for example the morphing multitool; I don't see how a highly technological (and so presumably logical) civilisation would revert to hand-to-hand fighting, and not have the tech to defeat humans in multiple successive wars. Presumably the bandersnatch would know... Firien

Bandersnatch link[edit]

The bandersnatch link under Races points to the Lewis Carroll description. While this is probably where the name came from, it really should not point directly to that, since the other races point to their own descriptions. Just a thought. PerlKnitter 16:18, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

"They Who Pass?"[edit]

"They Who Pass, entities from an other-dimensional universe who view the universe through cosmic strings but are unable to enter; non-canon."

If it's non-canon, what's it doing here? Is this something from the Man-Kzin Wars that several stories mention? Is it just something someone wrote fan fiction about and put here?

I'm pulling it, but I thought I'd put it up here in case it is something that's got a real connection to the universe through the Man-Kzin Wars stuff, which I mostly have not read. Zabieru 09:56, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

"They Who Pass" are from a story in the Man-Kzin Wars books, though they only appear in one story of one book, I think either VI or VII. To me, they seem hightly reminiscient of the Outsiders, and I think that's who the author was trying to make them out to be. Personally, if they are supposed to be something other than Outsiders, I say they still aren't canon, as they appear in only one story and nowhere else. Leave 'em out. Phædrus 19:10, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
They Who Pass appear only in the novel-length version of A Darker Geometry, by Greg Benford and Mark O. Martin, where they are described as the creators of the Outsiders (and, indirectly, of the Ringworld as well). The short story version in Man-Kzin Wars VII doesn't mention them- they appear only in the novel, and Niven has never confirmed them as Canon to my knowledge.

Noclevername 01:41, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Outsiders = indirect creators of the Ringworld ??
Care to explain that, as it's explained in [at least] one of the books that the Pak created the Ringworld. (talk) 15:18, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Niven has ruled "A Darker Geometry" is non-canonical, per Edward M. Lerner, Niven's co-author on "Fleet of Worlds". Lerner's comments (as "EML") can be seen archived here.--Lensman003 (talk) 17:34, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

ARM / Birth control and technology laws[edit]

I'm not at all happy about the description of the ARM as policing population control by hunting "women who refuse birth control". In at least one point in the canon Louis Wu remarks (to Teela?) about both men and women getting their birth control shots deactivated, and the point re-surfaces in later Ringworld novels too. Obviously there's an evidential issue there for the ARM as much as there always has been about paternity ("being a mother is a matter of fact, but being a father has always been a statement of opinion"). At other points in the Canon ("Long ARM"?), the jaundiced description of an impending mother-hunt suggests that the coppers (I mean ARM) would like to catch the errant sperm donors too.

They're called "Mother hunts" because men can't get pregnant. Political Correctness has no influence over how biology works. The ARMs' desire to avoid mother hunts has everything to do with not liking the idea of executing a woman just for wanting a baby, and nothing to do with wanting to give fathers "equal time". The purpose of Earth's Fertility Laws are to ensure Zero Population Growth, not to punish desperate mothers. It's a proven historical fact that killing off potential fathers has little effect on the number of pregnancies in a culture (look it up if you don't believe me). Killing off illegal fathers would have little effect on the number of illegal pregnancies. --Lensman003 (talk) 18:38, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Larry's humanism seems to have got caught up in late-60s social expectations, and it's getting a bit tangled now. I never did understand the economics of Known Space anyway. A Karley 14:22, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

The description of Earth was out-dated. By the time of Louis Wu, the organ-banks and the draconian legal system that made all crimes capital crimes had been discarded. This came about as a direct result of the human-turned-protector Jack Brennan manipulating human society in such as way as to promote alternative medical practices in order to extend life (including the development of boosterspice and making cloned organs cheaper), as well as the development of the science of psychistry itself. Appropriate changes have thus been made. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 12:49, 21 March 2007 (UTC).
You slightly overstated the case. Organ banks are still being used for capital punishment in the Beowulf Shaeffer era, altho apparently only for especially heinous crimes. In "Flatlander", Bey says "Using the fusion drive in Earth's atmosphere would have gotten us into the organ banks, in pieces." (Neutron Star p. 144) --Lensman003 (talk) 18:38, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Why not use Niven's own term from the ARM stories, "mother hunts"? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Bizzybody (talkcontribs) 06:49, 2 May 2007 (UTC).

Minor Changes[edit]

I was a huge fan of Niven for all the years of my youth (70s-80s). I've been making some minor changes to this article for some time now. For example, I'm trying to make the tenses consistent. Any feedback is appreciated. Markm62 07:57, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Thank you! On Wikipedia, "grammar police" are a blessing! --Lensman003 (talk) 18:38, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Planet pages[edit]

Shouldn't at least some of these planets get their own pages? And I think ARM certainly should. Kuralyov 05:46, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

So [Be bold] and {fixit}. Abb3w 05:00, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Fleet of Worlds[edit]

The upcoming novel Fleet of Worlds is in the Niven table. However, it's not yet out yet, and is set to be co-authored with Edward M. Lerner. Should such works have a separate table? And, should such a table be commented out until the first such fully coauthored Known Space story appear? Inquiring minds want a beer.... Abb3w 05:00, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

  • I say it's fine the way it is. Kuralyov 03:53, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Gravity control[edit]

In the only Man-Kzin Wars story written by Niven, "The Warriors", the 'Angel's Pencil' disables the first sublight Kzinti warship encountered by humans. From that ship, humans supposedly learn about gravity control and in a surprisingly short time make extensive use of it.

What's never been addressed in any Known Space story is that humans already had a working example of a gravity control device! Pshtth-pok the Pak Protector dropped his on Mars long before (in the timeline, not in the order of Niven's writing) the events in "The Warriors". The ARM would definately have recovered, studied it and suppressed the knowledge of the technology.

This is briefly addressed in the "Interlude" section of Protector. Phssthpok's ship was left on Mars, with the gravity polarizer still turned on-- they were afraid to turn it off-- and a base was built around it to study it in situ. As specified later in that section of the book: "The gravity polarizer seemed beyond human understanding." According to a much more recent story, "Madness Has Its Place", humans in Sol System first developed a working gravity generator after the Angel's Pencil beamed pictures and analysis of the Kzinti warship destroyed in "The Warriors". At least that's the official story. Nasty suspicious fans (like me) may suspect the ARM allowed experiments on Phssthpok's ship to continue until a prototype gravity generator was developed, then shut down the research. That would explain why humans were able to develop a prototype so quickly from (apparently) nothing more than photos and measurements.--Lensman003 10:56, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

"The Warriors" should be included in the Man-Kzin Wars table since it is in the first book of the series. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Bizzybody (talkcontribs) 07:01, 2 May 2007 (UTC).

Concerning the Pak "gravity polarizer", the Protector story has Truesdale and his Goldskin girl Alice easily finding the reports of the ARM's attempts to understand the Pak polarizer. The ARM hadn't had any significant success (which may be an ARM lie!), so it would seem that they eventually gave up until the Kzinti made it an important question again. IF the ARM did solve the problem, they presumably kept it controlled because a consequence of the technology becoming widespread would have been worse than myriads of Belters chasing around the Solar System propelled by modified fusion bombs. Hmmm, that must have been bad. A Karley 10:51, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Fate of the Ringworld Paks[edit]

The following sentence:

"Ringworld...was built by the Pak, who later abandoned it."

isn't the final solution from the stories, although Niven makes a mystery of their absence through several books. It was revealed in RINGWORLD THRONE that after the first generation, a Protector dictator monopolized the "tree-of-life" supply so that no rival Protectors would arise to challenge him. Subsequent dictators used the same strategy. The fact that the Ringworld seems abandonned during the plot of the books is because it has been "ruled" for centuries by an incompetent Protector.

This is an overstatement. Niven very deliberately leaves just what killed off most of the protectors on the Ringworld an open question. We know that the Repair Center under the Map of Mars had its own tree-of-life (TOL) garden, and that TOL (necessary for protectors to survive) had died off elsewhere on the Ringworld. Altho, oddly, according to Ringworld's Children, Proserpina's TOL garden survived, altho it did not have the TOL virus which triggers the change from breeder to protector.
Also, the protectors died off about half a million years ago, and Bram (the "incompetent" protector ruling the Ringworld) only came to power about 1200 A.D. See my "Timeline for the Ringworld" <>
Proserpina relates a tale of the Pak expedition which built the Ringworld. But this is related as a story told by the character, not as fact, so readers are free to believe or disbelieve it. However, it matches the backstory of who built the Ringworld which Niven has been telling privately for quite a number of years. And no, unfortunately I can't document that, it's something read long ago in a post to the LarryNiven-l discussion list. But Niven does make it clear that his intention was that the Pak built the Ringworld; this is stated in "Afterthoughts" in Tales of Known Space.--Lensman003 (talk) 22:05, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Concerning the "gravity control" comment -- Niven HAD addressed it. In the trasititional chapter of PROTECTOR he says the scientists have been unable to reverse-engineer the abandoned Pod for two centuries, because the paranoid PAK had deliberately made it difficult for outsiders to figure out how to operate it. A later generation might have managed it, but the capture of the Kzinti device made it unnecessary. CharlesTheBold 13:19, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Planets listings[edit]

I came up with these details of a couple of KS planets from Protector :

(The characteristics of Home are detailed in Protector(novel) as "Epsilon Indi 2 (2nd of 5 planets in the system including + 200 randomly distributed and charted asteroids ; gravity 1.08 ; diameter 8,800 miles 14,000km ; rotation 23h10m ; year 181 days ; atmosphere 23% Oxygen, 76% Nitrogen and 1% non-toxic trace gases; sea level pressure 11psi ; 1 moon, diameter 1200 miles, gravity 0.2 surface composition roughly lunar ; discovery reported 2094 via ram-robot exploration probe ; settlement 2189 by a combination of slow boats and ram robots" ; Home's system has a gas giant "Godzilla", as Ep.Indi.5, apparently very pretty ; )

(Wunderland : Gravity 61% of Earth ; colonized are 3million sq.mi ; largest town Munchen ; dense and thoroughly-exploited asteroid belt, the "Serpent Swarm" (also from Protector ) A Karley 04:04, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

On merging Singleship (Niven)[edit]

The above article is very short, and may be AfD'd in the near future if left by it self. I propose it be merged into this article? SGGH speak! 19:26, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Meh. Nothing in that article that couldn't be explained in a four word parenthetical comment after the word singleship appears in another article, and it's not like anyone is going to be searching for "singleship" except by following a link where the word appears in another article if they don't understand it. But if you really want to save it, I think it would make more sense to merge it with the belter article than here. 11:52, 4 December 2007 (UTC) (Why am I signing a comment when I'm not logged in?)


The section on this species claimed that the Tnuctipun-Slaver War ended with the death of every creature in the galaxy "with a notochord". Actually in Known Space it's the ramscoop field that kills anything with a notochord. Various stories have claimed the war ended with the death of all life in the galaxy, or every *intelligent* being. That's quite a difference! Actually the claim all life was ended must be an overstatement; the food yeast on various planets which later developed into various Known Space species clearly didn't die out.--Lensman003 (talk) 17:34, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Well, it's a kind of of shorthand. If you want to get real picky, bandersnatchi survived. If you rule out immunity, then there were beings in stasis who survived as well. "With a notochord" means "with a backbone and intelligence but without immunity or stasis protection" IMHO, and it comes from the author's words IIRC. --Kjoonlee 21:38, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
It was a good edit from an accuracy perspective, and it's way better stylistically too. One quick question: should Suicide Night be in the Thrint blurb instead of the Tnuctipun section? Wellspring (talk) 03:38, 2 April 2008 (UTC)


Kalaong, why did you delete reference to martial arts? Also, what you added, while plausible, amounts to OR. Can you source it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kjaer (talkcontribs) 18:44, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Source what Tmclelland (talk) 06:02, 3 March 2014 (UTC)


Re: the "citation needed," it's mentioned near the very end of "Grendel" that, "Someone had even advised Lloobee on color." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:33, 28 January 2009 (UTC)


FYI. Ikip (talk) 23:26, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

birth lottery[edit]

i always thought one of niven's best ideas was the puppeteer breeding program - a license to reproduce on earth, a rare and valuable thing, could be obtained by winning a global lottery; the puppeteers thought this involved luck, and they bred lottery winners in hopes of producing a lucky person. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:50, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

"Down in Flames"[edit]

In his "Future Histories" article, published in Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America, Vol. 14 #3, Fall 1979, Niven wrote:

I still get letters asking me when I'm going to write "Down in Flames," the novel that proves that everything we know about known space is an elaborate hoax. It was an elaborate joke! Ask Norman Spinrad, for Ghu's Sake. He started it.

Hopefully this makes it clear that "Down in Flames" should not be considered canonical, and hopefully we can drive a stake thru the heart of the notion that the Tnuctipun are really Kzinti. According to "The Soft Weapon", the Tnuctipun were small compact bipeds with two opposable thumbs on each hand. Clearly the Kzinti don't fit this description.

I've edited the paragraph on "Down in Flames" in the "Playground" section to better reflect the fact that the article is not canonical.--Lensman003 (talk) 22:57, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Gw'oth are not Jotoki[edit]

Though they share a superficially pentaradial body plan, they are not a related species ( —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:12, 27 October 2010 (UTC)


The Nonesuch are mentioned in the species section, but it is also noted that they are from Convergent Series. They do not appear in any of the Known Space stories that I am aware of (and I am the author of the Encyclopedia of Known Space) - seems like it would be appropriate to delete them from the list. Doconeill (talk) 02:50, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

Info updates due to Fleet series[edit]

It appears that the bulk of this article hasn't been updated in many years. Specifically, significant bits of info in this article are modified or obsoleted by material in the Fleet of Worlds series (and probably the last couple of Ringworld books), which seems much more relevant and important than info from (the joke) Down in Flames or the arguably non-canonical Man-Kzin War stories (definitely non-canonical in at least one case). I don't yet feel comfortable enough to make significant changes here (in part because some of the changes would be major spoilers for those later works), but if no one else steps in I eventually will, unless someone points out why such changes shouldn't be made. (talk) 18:17, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

Merger in from article "Jinx (Known Space)"[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
To merge Jinx (Known Space) into Known Space, editing to ensure balance in the target. Klbrain (talk) 22:25, 6 May 2016 (UTC)

It was proposed in February 2012. that the article at Jinx (Known Space) be merged into this article. The Jinx (Known Space) article appears to have no independent notability. Its notability has been questioned since February 2012 and its relevance to the encyclopedia project as a whole has been question since April 2008 as being just an in-universe acticle without explanation of non-fictional perspective. The article focuses entirely on its fictional relevance, as opposed to its place in the real world. The article lacks the importance (and hence notability) that would be conveyed by reliable independent sources. See What Wikipedia is not. Wikipedia guidelines favor such a merger. In the merge the text would need to be made appropriately concise in order not to over-balance this article.  --Bejnar (talk) 18:41, 24 August 2015 (UTC)

Agree with Merge for the reasons listed above. Klbrain (talk) 22:25, 6 May 2016 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Known Space/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

*The article as I've seen it, is beyond start class, and fairly well organized, as someone very familiar with that shared universe and owner of most all Niven's works.
  • I'd suggest the importance is at least mid level.
  • Rate upgraded to B, as frankly, as these things go considering its breadth and subject matter, tis above average for our series articles.
        // FrankB 17:41, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Last edited at 00:00, 30 June 2010 (UTC). Substituted at 21:20, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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