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Category: Known Space
  1. What is the history of the Known Space site?
  2. Who currently manages Known Space and how can I contact them?
  3. How do I find out when Known Space is updated?
  4. What is "Known Space"?
  5. What are the assumptions behind Known Space?
  6. What non-human species populate Known Space?
  7. What about humans in Known Space?
  8. What is the order of publication of Known Space novels and short stories?
  9. What is the best order to read the Known Space novels and short stories in?
  10. What are Plateau Eyes?
  11. Why is Louis Wu afraid of cheese at the beginning of Ringworld engineers?
  12. If we accidentally installed a stepping disc upside down, would it serially teleport itself to the center of the planet? Could you use a stepping disc with a handle on the "downward" side as a "portable hole" to reach into locked rooms?
  13. Is there a story called Slowboat Cargo that was serialized in a magazine? Is it in Known Space, and is it available in another format?
  14. What is unique about the hill of the starship? Why was Teela aboard? What was the tasp, and why was it dangerous? What two functions did the shadow squares serve? What was the Cziltang Brone? and Kzinti? What was Fist-of-God and why was it important? Who was Prill? What was her full name? Give a physical explanation of how people live on the inner surface of the ringworld without falling into the star. Thank you.



  1. What is the history of the Known Space site?
    Known Space was created in 1995 by Duncan Galloway, who produced all the original site code.

    Duncan managed the site successfully for three years, clocking up an impressive hit count and having the Known Space site featured in Infinity Magazine. By 1998, Duncan, on a personal note was now finding less and less time to devote to maintaining the site due to studying for his Doctorate in Astronomy at University.

    Duncan then offered stewardship of the site to Nesssus, already the creator of the Pierson's Puppeteers' Home Page, co-manager of the Kzin Home Page as well as other science fiction pages, jumped at the chance to manage such a presdigious website. Knowing that her work commitments and management of her other webpages would interfere in the maintenance of the site, Nesssus invited Joel Nap, who she currently co managed the Kzin Home Page with, and a fellow countryman of Duncan's Edwin A Scribner to co web-manage the pages.

    Known Space then moved from its comfortable home on Ozemail to Xoom where it was housed for several years until Xoom were bought out by NBCI.com. Proceeding this buyout the site experienced numerous outtages where the server was either not working at all, or had gone down to 2400 baud rate modem speed.

    So, Known Space screamed and lept and found its new home here on BTinternet. Ted (Edwin) Scribner put a mirror of the site on his own pages at http://members.optushome.com.au/nivenl/knownspace.html in case server problems interfered with the site again in the future.

    Shortly after the Xoom-BT move, we also lost Joel's input who with a new baby in his home, together with a demanding job, felt that he couldn't offer any real input into the site.

    In February 2001, BTinternet in all their wisdome decided to pull the plug on the webspace allowance for Annual Payment customers, reducing it from a virtually unlimited 2 gigabytes down to a measley 10 megabyes. The site was over 10 mb in size when Nesssus inherited it from Duncan Galloway and had grown considerably over the intermediate years. Pleas, offers of money, a 2 Gig Petition (thanks to everyone who signed it btw)and campaigns to purchase additional webspace from BT fell on deaf ears - so the site was forced to move again!

    As of May 5 2001, Known Space now happily resides in its own domain, www.larryniven.org and hopefully it should not have to move again.

    As of the middle of June 2001, only 3 months after their original decision to cut the space, and to add a little bit of salt to the wound, BT finally relented in the face of severe customer criticism and OFTEL intervention and begrudgingly raised the webspace entitlement back up - to a level of 50mb, which would have been more than ample in February, but by which time we'd already left. What a lovely example of planning that turned out to be by BT! NOT! :-) :-) On the positive side, BT's crap service finally forced the site to get its own domain, something it should have done years ago, so thank you BT.

    At around the time of the site move Carol Phillips, joined the site in an official capacity as a Co-manager. Carol, a life-long Niven fan had been a major supporter of the site for years and has always been the source of a wealth of Niven information. It was Carol, for example, who enabled us to know the full extent of Larry's injury, and his slow recovery from it.

    Category: Known Space
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  2. Who currently manages Known Space and how can I contact them?

    Known Space is managed by three people:

    For more information about us can be found on our page: Who Are the Known Space Co-Managers?

    Category: Known Space
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  3. How do I find out when Known Space is updated?
    You can join our Known Space Update Mailing List by using the link on the Main Page
    Category: Known Space
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  4. What is "Known Space"?
    Known Space is a future history of stories by the science fiction author, Larry Niven. The stories are set in a a 50-Light year radius of space centered on Earth, which is called "Known Space".
    Category: Known Space
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  5. What are the assumptions behind Known Space?
    Several technological assumptions guide the stories of Known Space. Hyperdrive is available in the later stories, as are transfer booths (they look like phone booths, but instead of making a call you dial in a location and teleport) and sonic stun weapons. The human worlds in Known Space don't like weapons, so they keep only what they need for law and order, and for protection for occasional attacks by aliens. Lift Belts help you get around, Autodocs keep you alive and sane (based on the assumption that chemicals can control brain activity), and boosterspice keeps you young.

    The Core of the Milky Way is exploding in Known Space. In 20,000 years the galaxy will be awash with radiation. This knowledge has influenced the behavior of many races and individuals in Known Space, sometimes in subtle ways.

    1.5 billion years ago, a race called the Thrints ruled the galaxy through telepathic Power. They were also known as Slavers. A slave race, the Tnuctipun, were allowed certain freedoms because of their skill with biogenetic engineering. They used that freedom and that skill to wage war against their oppressors. When the war was over, no creature with a notochord survived. Plants from that era can still be found throughout the galaxy, and explorers sometimes come across Stasis Boxes, Thrint vaults containing artifacts from the war. Opening a Slaver Stasis Box is usually more trouble that it's worth.

    Several of the races in Known Space have compatible DNA - they can eat one another, as demonstrated in more than one bloody war between races. In theory, this is possible because the yeast left behind on many Slaver colony worlds developed and evolved into life as we know it.

    Speaking of ancestors, humanity is descended from a race from the core of the galaxy called the Pak. The Pak have three stages of life: infant, breeder, and protector. Infant is just that; breeder is what we know as "homo habilis." Protector is the next stage of life, attained with the help of a virus called "tree-of-life." A colony of Pak landed on Earth millions of years ago, but tree-of-life failed to grow properly and the Protectors died out, leaving Homo Habilis to develop into Homo Sapiens. The Pak still exist in other parts of the galaxy. They are very warlike, with each protector striving to protect its bloodline above all others.

    Known Space is exciting. Hyperdrive permits the discovery of new stars, planets, and races. Niven strives to keep his science "hard," relying on the laws of physics rather than some sort of cheap sci-fi doubletalk. Within those limits he's managed to build a fun little universe.

    Category: Known Space
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  6. What non-human species populate Known Space?
    Kzinti - Tall, cat-like, and violent. Kzinti are covered with orange fur, and have naked, ratlike tails and folding "chinese-parosol" ears. Their Empire, headed by the Patriarch, is larger than mankind's, but after several wars the balance of power has shifted in favor of humanity. Kzinti tend to attack before they're ready, and six wars against humanity have killed off the most aggressive and left the race as a whole slightly more docile and easy to deal with. Female kzinti are nonsentient, having been bred that way centuries ago. When a kzin bares his teeth it's a sign of aggression.

    Pierson's Puppeteers - The first puppeteer was encountered by a spacer named Pierson, who described it to his companions as "a three-legged minotaur with no head and two Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent puppets for arms," or something like that. These unlikely beings are an old race, noted mainly for their business acumen and their inborn cowardace. The Puppeteer company General Products produces a line of invulnerable starship hulls, and this and other tchnological wonders have allowed the Puppeteers to gain major footholds in the economies of all the important races in Known Space.

    When they heard of the Core Explosion, the puppeteers packed up their planet and moved it. The puppeteer migration is a rosette of five planets orbiting one another, powered by waste heat and lit with artificial suns. Where they are heading remains a mystery, although some people have guessed the truth.

    Grogs -A sessile species on the former Kzinti-ruled planet known as Down, Grogs are furry cones that would be almost cute except for the theory that they are descended from Thrints. Grogs claim to have never heard of Thrints, and the theory is more or less impossible to test.

    Since Grogs don't move, they use rudimentary telepathy to guide food into their mouths. The extent of their telepathy can't accurately be tested, because no one trusts the results. But they act as herders for the settlers on Down and have managed to attain standng in Known Space by disassociating themselves from Slavers as much as possible.

    Bandersnatch - Giant slug-like beasts the size of blue whales. Found on Jinx and scattered other planets on the edges of Known Space, the Bandersnatch are in fact sentient. They were built by the Tnuctipun as a food animal for the Thrints, but since Bandersnatch are immune to the Power, they made perfect spies. They survived the war that killed the Trints and all the other races at the time, and lived on in solitude until humans and other races populated the galaxy again. Nowadays they trade with other species by granting hunting rights.

    Martians (extinct) - The mysterious martian culture under the dusty surface of Mars has never been fully explored. A primitive culture, they used spears to slash the life-support bubbles of the few human expeditions to the red planet. They have a very exotic chemistry - they explode on contact with oxygen. They were wiped out when a water-ice asteroid impacted on the surface of Mars.

    Thrints,Tnuctupin - 1.5 billion years ago, a race called the Thrints ruled the galaxy through telepathic Power. They were also known as Slavers. The Thrint were rather stupid, and they were very dependant on their slaves. One slave race, the Tnuctipun, were allowed certain freedoms because of their skill with biogenetic engineering, engineering, and in fact because they were technical geniuses. They used that freedom and their skills to wage war against their oppressors. When the war was over, no creature with a notochord survived. The Grogs are thought to be descendants of the Thrints.

    Jotoki - These are a Kzinti slave species, rarely encountered by humans. They are symbiotes, joining together into units of five to form a sentient being. Rumor has it the Jotoki had their own space empire before they masde contact with the Kzin, who were still using swords and crossbows at the time. They hired the Kzin as mercenaries, only to find themselves enslaved by their much more savage employees. (This is Man-Kzin Wars info.)

    Pak - The Pak have three stages of life: infant, breeder, and protector. Infant is just that; breeder is what we know as "homo habilis." Protector is the next stage of life, attained with the help of a virus called "tree-of-life." A colony of Pak landed on Earth millions of years ago, but tree-of-life failed to grow properly and the Protectors died out, leaving Homo Habilis to develop into Homo Sapiens. The Pak still exist in other parts of the galaxy. They are very warlike, with each protector striving to protect its bloodline above all others.

    Outsiders - Evolved in the cold of space, Outsiders are dealers in infomation. In theory (info from A Darker Geometry)they are the creations of other-dimensional beings, but there is no way to verify this. Their technology is very advanced, and from time to time they sell it to other races.

    Outsiders follow Star Seeds, which are giant seed pods that migrate from the core of the galaxy and back. No one knows why they do this, but it is known that the Puppeteers used a device called a Star Seed Lure to send the Outsiders through human space in time to sell us the secret of hyperspace before we lost our first war with the kzinti.

    Kdatlyno - Looking like demons from a children's book, the leathery-skinned Kdatlyno were a kznti slave species before they were freed in the Man-Kzin Wars. A proud race, they create art and other artifacts for sale in Known Space.

    Kdatlyno have no eyes; they see by a form of radar. Kdatlyno "touch-sculpting" is a unique art form.

    Trinoc - This three-eyed race from beyond Known Space has a culture based on gambling. This explains how they can be so paranoid and yet still have the courage to explore the galaxy -- the odds seem to support exploration.

    Dolphins - Earth's cetaceans were declared sentient about the time of the early days of colonization. They are great companions and terrible tricksters, and are employed as sea-farmers on any human world that has a liveable ocean.

    Category: Known Space
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  7. What about humans in Known Space?
    Humans are scattered throughout Known Space, living on planets or in asteroid belts or spending their time flying between stars.

    Earth - People from earth are sometimes known as Flatlanders and are considered vain and arrogant by the rest of the galaxy, having grown up in the lap of luxury. Earth's 18 Billion people devote a lot of their time to goofing off, it seems Earth is Ruled by the U.N. and its Almagated Regional Police, or the ARM. The ARM are technology police, making sure no new weapons are built and deployed. They also controled the illegal practice of organlegging until prosthetic technoogy outpaced transplant technology.

    Notable Flatlanders: Gregory "Elephant" Pelton, Lucas Garner, Gil "The Arm" Hamilton, Carlos Wu

    The Moon - A seperate entity but ruled along with Earth by the UN, the moon has several major cities and customs of its own.

    Sol Belt (Asteroid Belt) - When the miners in the Asteroid Belt completed work on Confinement Asteroid, the first large bubble-world, they declared independence from Earth and the U.N. Several years of tension followed, but eventually an era of trade and prosperity set in, not threatened until the arrival of the Kzinti.

    Notable Belters: Jack Brennan

    Down - A former Kzin world until given to humans in reparation. Home of Grogs. In orbit around Down's sun is a remote-control ship that will fire into the sun and cause a destructive flare if it ever becomes known that the Grogs pose a threat.

    Mars - No humans live on Mars anymore. The Martians killed the first explorers, and even though the Martians are extinct no one goes to Mars because it contains nothing of value that can't be more easily obtained elsewhere in the solar system.

    Jinx (Sirius) - Jinx is an oblong moon, pulled out of its round shape by its proximity to Primary, a gas gaint orbiting the star Sirius. The equatorial region is shrouded in high-pressure gas, and no one goes there except to hunt Bandersnatch. The Ends stick out of the atmosphere entirely, providing great industrial centers and spaceports. Between the ends and the center are two bands of habitable living space. Jinx has more mass than Earth. Over the years, the people of Jinx have evolved into a squat, stocky race, as wide as they are tall, and very strong compared to humans. Jinxians are horrible punsters.

    Notable Jinxians: Dr. Julian Forward

    Wunderland (Alpha Centauri) - The closest colony to Earth, Wunderland is a fairly Earth-like world. The "19 Families" who landed with the first colony ship declared themselves an aristocracy, and vesitges of their attitude can be seen today in the unique assymetric beard worn by many of Wunderland's upper class. A strong germanic tradition pervades the society; the capitol city is called Munchen.

    Wunderland suffered for many years under Kzin occupation during the First Man-Kzin War. In the years to follow, Wunderland has produced some impressive technology, including amazing kitchen computers for use on starships, and the Wunderland Treatymaker, one of the few weapons that can actually cow Kzinti into surrender (or so they claim). The Serpent Swarm is Alpha Centauri's asteroid belt. It is not actually a full belt but a semicircle, hence the name. The capital asteroid, Tiamat, houses a large postwar Kzinti population. Oh, and some Wunderlanders have highly moveable ears.

    Notable Wunderlanders: Richard Schultz-Mann

    We Made It (Procyon) - The first colony ship to Procyon, the "Ion Maiden," crash-landed. The city that grew up around the wreck was called "Crashlanding City" amd the planet was dubbed "We Made It" by its citizens, known from then on as Crashlanders. Procyon's axis points along the plane of the ecliptic, and for half of the year the planet is whipped by ferocious winds. The citizend live underground, and about 40 percent of them are albinos. But the planet's small mass has allowed them to grow up tall.

    Notable Crashlanders: Beowulf Shaeffer

    Plateau- This venus-like world would be uninhabitable but for Mt. Lookatthat, which rises out of the soupy misty atmosphere into a temperate layer, and has a livable surface area about the size of California. Citizens of Plateau are sometimes called Mountaineers. The Crew of the first colony ship to Plateau, the Planck, declared themselves the ruling class upon landing and forced a social order upon the Colonists. When the Arthur C. Clarke landed a few years later, its passengers were forced to adhere to the same code. The Planck, the Clarke, and the Hospital became the center of the Crew high society; colonists were easy to control because they relied upn Crew for medical care and transplants. The arrival of cheap medical technology from Earth sparked a revolution that ended with the desruction of the Planck and the end of the social stratification.

    Noted Mountaineers: Matthew Keller

    Home (Epsilon Eridani) - This Earth-like colony "failed" and was quarantined when Jack Brennan seeded the atmosphere with his variant of Tree-Of-Life in order to raise an army of protectors. By the time of Beowulf Shaeffer it has apparently been re-settled.

    Canyon - This low-pressure world was a former Kzin holding until it was hit with the "Wunderland Treatymaker," basically two modified Slaver disintegrators run in parallel 20 miles apart, which dug a huge furrow in the planet's surface. The atmosphere in the manmade canyon is breathable, and there is a sea at the bottom. People live in abodes set into the walls of the canyon.

    Gummidgy - This jungle world is popular with hunters. The sessile "Gummidgy Orchid-Thing" is a carnivorous beast that hangs on tree branches awaiting prey. They are popular decorations of the wealthy.

    FafnirThis former Kzin holding is mostly ocean. The one continent is called Shast.

    Margrave- Margrave is only in the first stages of colonization. "Rocs" are enormous birds native to Margrave.

    Silvereyes - No information known.

    Category: Known Space
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  8. What is the order of publication of Known Space novels and short stories?
    The Known Space Bibliography is as follows:

    The Coldest Place (short story) 1964 The World of Ptavvs (short story) 1965 Becalmed in Hell (short story) 1965 The Warriors (short story) 1966 Eye of an Octopus (short story) 1966 The World of Ptavvs (novel) 1966 How the Heros Die (short story) 1966 Neutron Star (short story) 1966 At the Core (short story) 1966 At the Bottom of a Hole (short story) 1966 A Relic of the Empire (short story) 1966 The Soft Weapon (short story) 1967 Flatlander (short story) 1967 The Ethics of Madness (short story) 1967 Safe at Any Speed (short story) 1967 The Adults (part of the Novel "Protector" - short story) 1967 The Jigsaw Man (short story) 1967 The Handicapped (short story) 1967 Slowboat Cargo (part of the Novel "A Gift from Earth" - short story) 1968 The Deceivers (also known as "Intent to Deceive" - short story) 1968 Neutron Star (collection) 1968 Grendel (short story) 1968 There is a Tide (short story) 1968 Wait it Out (short story) 1968 A Gift From Earth (Novel) 1968 The Organleggers (also known as "Death by Ecstasy" - short story) 1968 The Shape of Space (collection) 1969 Down in Flames (story idea - unpublished) 1968 Ringworld (Novel) 1970 Cloak of Anarchy (short story) 1972 Protector (Novel) 1973 Inconstant Moon (collection) 1973 The Defenceless Dead (short story) 1973 The Hole Man (short story) 1974 Borderland of Sol (short story) 1975 Tales of Known Space (collection) 1975 Timeline For Known Space (short story) 1975 ARM (short story) 1976 The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton (collection) 1976 Ringworld Engineers (Novel) 1980 The Patchwork Girl (Novel) 1980 Ghost aka Procrustes (short story) 1993 The Ringworld Throne (Novel) 1996 Fly By Night (short story) 2000 Forthcoming: Ringworld's Children

    Category: Known Space
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  9. What is the best order to read the Known Space novels and short stories in?
    There are currently 34 short stories and novels by Larry Niven set in the future history of "Known Space".

    It would be practically impossible to read all stories in chronological order (a chronological guide is available: http://www.chronology.org/niven/"), as many short story collections are now out of print.

    As a first step toward understanding Known Space, I would recommend the collection "Three Books of Known Space" which contains not only all the short stories from Tales of Known Space (now out of print) but also has the short novels World of Ptavvs and A Gift From Earth thrown in free too.

    After this I would suggest the Flatlander collection published by Del Rey in 1995 (not to be confused by the short story Flatlander which shares the same name) which contains all the organlegging detective stories featuring the Gil The Arm Hamilton character.

    Then the novel "Protector" probably wouldn't go amis as this would give you an understanding of the Pak.

    Following Protector I would suggest the "Crashlander" collection which contains all the former Neutron Star stories and serves as a fine introduction to the Ringworld stories which I would leave until last.

    The Ringworld tales are the last stories to be written chronologically speaking (apart from the short story "Safe at Any Speed" which is in Three Books of Known Space anyway).

    If you still have any stamina left after that try searching out used bookstores or online auction sites for older short story collections to find any stories that you still may not have read.

    Category: Known Space
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  10. What are Plateau Eyes?
    "Plateau Eyes" is a trance-like state induced by staring over the edge and 40 miles down into the seething mists of the thick atmosphere of the planet Plateau, from the only area of habitable land, a tableland, known as "Mount Lookatthat".
    Category: Known Space
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  11. Why is Louis Wu afraid of cheese at the beginning of Ringworld engineers?

    "...the things he loved best were just the things he had given up. he used a bed instead of sleeping plates, he avoided cheese as if it were spoiled milk"
    From Ringworld Engineers
    Louis wasn't afraid of cheese, he was just avoiding cheese, so he would appear to be a native Canyoner.

    Answer by: Sean Sullivan and Neil Prichard
    Category: Known Space
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  12. If we accidentally installed a stepping disc upside down, would it serially teleport itself to the center of the planet? Could you use a stepping disc with a handle on the "downward" side as a "portable hole" to reach into locked rooms?

    If you installed a stepping disk upside down, it would transport more and more dirt away and dig a hole, however, since it goes to a receiver, once one load of dirt was transported, it would probably stop until the transported dirt was removed.

    You couldn't reach into a locked room, but it could dig through a wall or ceiling as in the previous part of the question... a disintegrator would probably be faster as the receiver would have to be emptied.

    Answer by: Sean Sullivan
    Category: Known Space
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  13. Is there a story called Slowboat Cargo that was serialized in a magazine? Is it in Known Space, and is it available in another format?
    "Slowboat Cargo", opus 24, was serialize in Worlds of If Magazine in February, March and April 1968. It is in Known Space and is the original publication of __A_Gift_from_Earth_
    Category: Known Space
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  14. What is unique about the hill of the starship? Why was Teela aboard? What was the tasp, and why was it dangerous? What two functions did the shadow squares serve? What was the Cziltang Brone? and Kzinti? What was Fist-of-God and why was it important? Who was Prill? What was her full name? Give a physical explanation of how people live on the inner surface of the ringworld without falling into the star. Thank you.

    The fee for doing your homework for you is one million stars. Please pay in advance at the General Products office on Jinx.

    Answer Provided By: David Sooby
    Category: Known Space
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