Science Fiction Timeline Site
Jerry Pournelle's Future History
Timeline • Star - Map • Reading Order • Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and High Justice • Ambiguities and Difficulties • Bibliography • Links
The bane of any fictional historian is inconsistency. Since Jerry Pournelle's Future History now fills fourteen books (plus a few extra stories here and there), it's not surprising that some contradictions have crept in.
Some apparent "inconsistencies" aren't really errors in the texts. For example, the major action of The Mote in God's Eye takes place 27 to 28 years before the major action of The Gripping Hand. The characters in Hand, however, usually refer to the events of Mote as having happened "twenty five years ago", "thirty years ago", or "a quarter of a century ago". Only rarely do they say "twenty-eight years ago". But this is not an inconsistency this is the way real people speak!
We are used to some numbers (e.g., multiples of ten) being used as "approximations" in many contexts. Thus, when a character in 2094 says something happened "seventeen years ago", it is reasonable to presume it happened in 2077, with an error of at most a year. If a character is "thirty-two years old" in 2094, then they were born in 2061 or 2062. But if an event happened "sixty years ago" or a character "looks sixty years old", then I take this to be a rounded figure and the date in question will be written as "c. 2034", or just "In the 2030's".
I also have to take into account who is speaking. At one point in King David's Spaceship, Malcolm Dougal refers to the Emperor as "Lysander" (KDS 161). We know that earlier in the book Leonidas IX was emperor (KDS 82), and we know from Mote that Leonidas IX was ruler both before and after Dougal's comment. Does this mean that a usurper held the Spartan throne for a few months? Surely not. Dougal simply misspoke: he knows little of the Empire, and probably can't keep all of its Leonidases and Lysanders straight. Such errors are noted in either the Timeline or on this page.
However, some mistakes must be attributed to the authors. The Santiago Civil War occurred in the nation of Santiago, on the planet Thurstone. This is clearly stated in the story of Peter Owensford's involvement in the civil war (PM 134, 143) and elsewhere (GTS 59, 174, 201, 299). Yet Santiago is occasionally referred to as a planet, even in contexts which aren't explainable as an individual's poor memory (the Crofton's excerpt on GTS 56, for example, which refers to Santiago and Thurstone as distinct planets).
What follows is an overview of the errors and ambiguities in Pournelle's Future History stories. In each section, I indicate what choices I made on the Timeline, and what alternate interpretations might be possible.
Page numbers are from the most common paperback versions; see the Bibliography for other editions.
Passage of time in The Mote in God's Eye
How long did the human expedition stay in the Mote system?
In conclusion, it seems that the total stay in the Mote system is between 10 and 10.5 months, probably closer to 10.5.
However, when each event in the Mote system is examined, the total duration does not seem to total anything near this long. The Mediators are met within 6 days of arriving in the system (183). The ferrets are released soon after this, and the crew is invited to Mote prime around seven weeks later (209, 211-2, 233). The trip to Mote Prime itself can't take more than three to five weeks even at 0.87 gravities; indeed it is probably less, since the return trip is two and half weeks. This would make it around three to four months from the time the Mote system is entered until the humans enter the Castle.
It seems that the first group of humans in the Castle (including Jackson and Weiss) spent only six days on the planet (282, also 279). The second group (without Jackson and Weiss) returned to the planet after the Kaffee Klatsch, but this was only one day before the coffeepot was discovered, so they would have spent only one day on the planet before being recalled (285, 289-290). From this point to the evacuation to Lenin was a matter of hours. And then this was immediately followed by the aforementioned two-and-a-half weeks to the departure point.
Total: something between three and five months.
The best solution is to stretch out either the time spent meeting with the Mediators in the cutter, or the time spent on Mote Prime itself, or both. Purists may prefer that all the stretching be done in space, since the intervals mentioned there are more vague. However, I like the idea of stretching the time spent on the planet as well; the text has the first trip as six days, and the second trip as just one day (or even just one night). This is hardly enough time for Sally to have gone on enough digging expeditions that she feels comfortable generalizing about Motie ruins (279).
To avoid making a hard decision on this matter, I have written the timeline of this book in four-month intervals (early 3017, mid-3017, late 3017, etc.)
By contrast, it is easy to establish that The Mote in God's Eye and King David's Spaceship take place simultaneously. Imperial traders have been on Prince Samual's World for less than a year before Spaceship begins (KDS 25). By chapter 10 of Mote, Samualite teak and grua have reached the Trans-Coalsack Sector. Meanwhile, the news of the battle-fleet assembled in chapter 55 of Mote reaches Prince Samual's World by chapter 25 of Spaceship. Since both information and physical objects would take at least two months to travel this distance, this establishes a fixed relation between the chronologies of the two books, as shown in the Timeline.
King Peter and The Gripping Hand
In The Gripping Hand, it is stated that Jock and Charlie were both Mediators for King Peter, and that Ivan was a Keeper associated with King Peter. (See especially Hand pp. 228, 256-57.)
But this is not the case. Jock was sister to the Fyunch(click)s of the MacArthur officers and passengers. Her master was the same as theirs. Charlie, on the other hand, served King Peter, who was in a power struggle with Jock's master: King Peter wanted to tell the humans the full truth about Moties, but an alliance of masters (including the master of the humans' Fyunch(click)s) disagreed, and prevailed. This power struggle turned into open war over the fate of the midshipmen. (See Mote 340-41, 350, 367.) Ivan himself was a Keeper not loyal to either of these sides. Even after the three ambassadors were in human space, they maintained distinct loyalties: Charlie wanted to disclose the truth about Moties, and was vetoed by the others (Mote 472, 515, 517, 540.)
The references to King Peter in Hand are not important to the story. Nonetheless, this seems an odd oversight, as it the rivalry between King Peter and the master of the humans' Fyunch(clicks) was the basis for the saga of the midshipmen.
Jackson's Expedition to New Utah in The Gripping Hand and Outies
Lawrence Jackson, who had been a mere Able Spacer during his visit to Mote Prime, arrived in the Maxroy's Purchase system in 3030, quickly became a local hero, and was appointed governor of the planet.
According to Outies, in 3035 Jackson led an expedition to the planet New Utah for the ostensible purpose of offering them membership in the Second Empire of Man, which they supposedly refused. Although Jackson lied about many details of the negotiations, the basic facts of the trip must have been common knowledge among those involved in Empire politics. This can be seen from two facts. First, oficial outreach to newly contacted planets was one of the most important aspects of Second Empire foreign policy (as is clear from King David's Spaceship and many other sources), so those on Empire business in a sector should not be unaware that a nearby planet was considered an "Outie" world. Second, after the expedition, Jackson appointed a commission that filed an official report on the trip (Outies 23, 27-29). Moreover, Horace Bury had an additional source of information: Asach Quinn, a member of the expedition, had supplied Bury with a secret report of these events (Outies 24-27).
Therefore, when Horace Bury and Kevin Renner had dinner with Lawrence Jackson on Maxroy's Purchase in 3046, they should have known of Jackson's expedition to New Utah, and he should have known that they knew of it.
But this does not fit with the description of the dinner in The Gripping Hand. When New Utah is mentioned, Jackson claims to know about it only because he has "read the old records" (Hand 20), and asserts the last expedition to that world took place "a few years before I got here" (Hand 21). Moreover, Bury and Renner are totally unaware of who Lawrence Jackson is: not until midway through the dinner does Renner figure out that Governor Jackson is the same Able Spacer Jackson who visited the Mote (Hand 22). Nor is it possible to suppose that Renner and Bury actually know about Jackson's history and are merely playing dumb, for when Bury hears that Jackson once visited Mote Prime, his blood pressure and vitals spike, a reaction that he is "hoping nobody would notice" (Hand 22).
Since the Jackson expedition is a key part of the Outies backstory, it seems best to accept that it happened as described in that novel, and declare a few bits of the dinner conversation in The Gripping Hand to be non-canonical.
In both The Mercenary and Falkenberg's Legion, Colonel Falkenberg's campaign on Hadley his first public action as a mercenary is stated as taking place in April 2087. (FL 244, 274 = Prince 210, 235.)
In chapter 12 of Prince of Sparta the current date is given as April 2096. (PS 274 = Prince 1068.) Since the internal chronology of Prince of Mercenaries / Go Tell the Spartans / Prince of Sparta is well-established, we can count backward and see that this puts Falkenberg and Lysander's actions on Tanith in Prince of Mercenaries in April and May of 2094.
If both of these dates are correct, then when Prince of Mercenaries begins, Falkenberg has been a mercenary for seven years.
Yet during Prince of Mercenaries, it is made clear in several ways that Falkenberg's previous mercenary career had been much longer than seven years, suggesting that one of these dates must be wrong.
Specific evidence that this interval is more than seven years:
There is, however, considerable ambiguity here. When Falkenberg is on Tanith, Lermontov and Grant are "ten years older" than during the election (FL 338), which is a gap mid-way between our seven years and Owensford's twelve years. Another oddity is that Senator Bronson's speech quoted on page 126 of Prince of Sparta is said to have been in May 2094, which contradicts the date of the Spartan Senate's decree (17 April 2096, per PS 274), because all of Prince of Sparta takes place in a single Spartan Spring and Summer, and the Spartan year is 19 Earth months. But this would make the gap in question five years, which is even worse! (This last may be a remnant of an earlier dating system which was later discarded; in The Mercenary the date of Bannister and Falkenberg's meeting on Tanith is given as 2093, but this date was removed when the book was reprinted as Falkenberg's Legion. Note also that Barton and Owensford's graduation dates in "His Truth Goes Marching On" were deliberately changed when that story was reprinted in Prince of Mercenaries. The original graduation dates would have put the Santiago Civil War in the late 2090's, which is impossible. However, it seems that the revision was incomplete; the history of Santiago given on PM 143-4 is now one generation too long.)
So we must look into either pushing the Tanith, Sparta, and New Washington campaigns later than the stated dates in the mid-2090's, or pulling the Hadley campaign and Lipscomb's election earlier than 2086-7.
I have decided to place the Hadley campaign in April 2081 (not April 2087), placing the election in November 2080. All dates affected by this choice have been marked with an asterisk. Anyone who disagrees with this choice may add six years to all dates so marked.
I have also left the date of the Spartan council meeting as April 2096, as stated; this puts Bronson's speech in early 2096. All dates between 2091 and 2096 (except War World events) are affected by this, and those who disagree may make them all 21 or 22 months earlier. (This makes it impossible for Slater to be in his fifties, and shortens the 12-year gap as well.)
Update: The WWFR timeline and text confirms these conclusions: In 2080, Falkenberg was cashiered and Lipscomb was re-elected. In 2082, Lipscomb died and Vice-President John Holt succeeded him.
The new material in The Prince led to a revision of the dates related to "He Fell Into a Dark Hole". These two pieces are connected via Sergei Lermontov's career record:
Previously, the date when the Lermontov/Grant/Blaine conspiracy began was unknown, except that Caldwell Whitlock joined it in 2075/6 (PS 73). Since "He Fell Into a Dark Hole" takes place after the conspiracy began, but before Lermontov's 2079 promotion, I had placed it around the year 2078. But the information in The Prince shows that this was earlier, since it's only five years after Lermontov becomes Vice-Admiral.
The dates here are tricky, because if "Hole" is too early, then Lermontov's promotion to Captain ends up prior to his appearance as a Commander.
Unfortunately, the date of the Arrarat campaign is also connected to contradictory facts. According to FL 44 (Prince 44), Falkenberg is "maybe" twenty-six at this time; he was born in 2043, so this suggests a date of 2069 or 2070. According to FL 44 (Prince 44), Hal Slater has just turned twenty-one; in September 2095 Lysander believes that Slater is "over fifty" (PS 18 = Prince 878), which would put Slater's twenty-first birthday no later than September 2066. According to FL 28, 126 (Prince 30, 110), Kathryn Malcolm was sixteen in 2064 and is "about nineteen" during the Arrarat campaign, suggesting a date around 2067. However, the claim that Slater is "in his fifties" and the estimate of Kathryn Malcolm's age are in the minds of other characters, who are estimating. So none of these dates are guaranteed.
By taking a later date in this range for the Arrarat campaign (2069), and allowing the "fifteen years ago" to actually be thirteen years (presumably rounded off to the nearest five), all the contradictions vanish. Lermontov is a Commander during the New Shanghai incident (thus 2062/63, dated 2063 in WWFR timeline), promoted to Captain later in 2063, promoted to Rear Admiral no later than 2069, promoted to Junior Vice-Admiral in 2071, promoted to Vice-Admiral Commanding in 2074, and finally becomes Grand Admiral of the Fleet in 2079.
The Prince also reveals that the conspiracy began earlier than we originally knew, since Lermontov tells Falkenberg about it in 2071. Of course, the "scale" of this conspiracy may have grown gradually there is no reason to presume that Lermontov's explanation to Falkenberg in 2071 was as extensive as his explanation to Whitlock in 2075/6.
Update: The timelines in War World: Jihad, War World: The Patriotic Wars, and War World: Falkenberg's Regiment agree with the 2069 date for the Arrarat campaign.
How and When Did the CoDominium End?
The timeline at the beginning of The Mote in God's Eye (published 1974) stated that the CoDominium ended in the year 2103, when the "Great Patriotic Wars" devastated the Earth. After this event, the CD Fleet left the Solar system. These facts -- including the date 2103 -- were repeated in many subsequent books.
Two decades later, Prince of Sparta was published. According to that novel, the Grand Senate (the governing body of the CoDominium) was dissolved in March 2096. But once his opponents left the Senate chamber, Grand Senator Adrian Bronson and his allies proceeded as if they still had a quorum; this "Rump Senate" ordered the arrest of Admiral Lermontov and an attack on the battalion of Falkenberg's Legion stationed on Sparta. The attack in Sparta occurred in May 2096, causing the CD space navy to divide into hostile factions -- some loyal to Bronson, some swearing allegiance to King Lysander of Sparta, and others undecided or hedging their bets.
What transpired between 2096 and 2103? For another two decades, no stories offered answers to this question, but some facts could be inferred from clues in existing stories. Lermontov was probably dead, and on Earth his remaining allies (such as Martin Grant) had lost power, but outside of the Solar system his followers had several power bases: Sparta (ruled by Lysander and his co-monarch David), New Washington (controlled by Glenda Ruth Horton and John Christian Falkenberg), and several naval vessels (including John Grant Jr.'s Intrepid). On Earth, Bronson's faction was in control, but if they planned to hold onto power they would need a more effective mechanism than the "Rump" Senate. Some extra-solar colonies had already declared independence. Others were still officially under the control of the CoDominium, but as long as the Fleet was divided against itself, this control could hardly be maintained.
The story "Farewell to Haven" seems to offer another clue. This story, dated 2102, depicts the CD Marines still keeping order on distant planets and implies that the Senate still exists (WWCD 394). However, as noted below (When Did the CoDominium Abandon Haven?), "Farewell to Haven" actually occurs in 2095 (or is non-canonical), so it doesn't reveal anything about post-2096 history.
Recently, War World: The Patriotic Wars was published. Despite its title, only the final story -- "The Sylph in the Tinderbox" -- describes the Great Patriotic Wars which ended the CoDominium. "Tinderbox", set in 2103, narrates how nationalism reaches toxic levels all over Earth, until finally the Reformed USSR declares that the CoDominium will be dissoved one week hence. Before the week is over, a "full-scale nuclear exchange" breaks out between the USA and the Reformed USSR, annihilating Washington, Moscow, and countless other cities. The extra-solar colonies are finally free of the CoDominium.
At first glance, "The Sylph in the Tinderbox" seems hard to square with the earlier stories. At the end of Prince of Sparta, the 2096 dissolution of the Fleet seemed irrevocable, yet in "Tinderbox" the CoDominium still has a "stranglehold" on extra-solar colonies in 2103 (WWPW 391). The greatest differences between "Tinderbox" and the earlier stories are found in their depiction of the Senate:
It is possible that these are continuity errors made by the authors. In that case, "The Sylph in the Tinderbox" probably should be declared non-canonical, as removing the American/NeoSoviet/Sauron political maneuvering from this story would eviscerate its entire plot.
But another explanation is possible: "Tinderbox" is fully canonical, and the CoDominium Senate of 2103 is a new institution that replaced the Grand Senate.
Once this solution is proposed, the outline of what must have happened between 2096 and 2103 becomes clear. In March 2096, Grand Senator Adrian Bronson knows that his "Rump" Senate is not a long-term solution. He does not want to call for new Grand Senate elections, for that might allow his opponents to return to power. Instead, he proposes a radical change to the constitution of the CoDominium: replacing the Grand Senate (which represents only the USA and USSR) with a more inclusive body that represents all Earth countries, and even off-world colonies. This proposal is greeted with joy by the nations and planets that have chafed under the American-Soviet yoke for the last century. Unwilling to suppress this resurgence of nationalism by military means, the American and Soviet leaders acquiesce to this proposal. And the Grand Senate seen in earlier stories is thus replaced by the CoDominium Senate described in "Tinderbox".
It is equally possible that Bronson's coup was short-lived, and by the end of 2096 he was under arrest or dead, and the change from the Grand Senate to the CoDominium Senate was then carried out by others. "Tinderbox" does not mention Bronson or any other characters familiar from earlier stories (Lermontov, Blaine, Townsend, Nguyen, Falkenberg), except for one reference to the now-deceased John Grant, Sr. Yet it seems very plausible that Bronson could be the mastermind of this constitutional revision. He had recently given a speech on the floor of the Grand Senate "apologizing" to the non-American-or-Soviet nations for "the CoDominium's excesses" (PS 126 = P 957) He had privately told his allies that he hoped to replace the CoDominium with a different regime (WWPW 376, although the name "Sol Dominium" he proposed there was apparently abandoned). His opponents believed he had a master plan to create a new political order (PS 71 [P 917]: "with himself as emperor", although on PS 22 [P 880] Slater hedges this by adding "unless he's feeling old and useless and has nothing left but his hatreds").
When did this change occur? If Bronson was its architect, then it seems likely that he proposed these changes soon after his March 2096 coup. If he was not involved, it could have happened later. "Tinderbox", set in 2103, states that Sauron has been represented in the CoDominium Senate "for years" (WWPW 391-392), which suggests a date much closer to 2096 than to 2103.
But what of the divisions within the Fleet? At the end of Prince of Sparta, Whitlock and Slater expect that around one-third of the CD Navy will remain loyal to Bronson's faction, one-third will join the Spartan alliance, and one-third will hedge their bets until they can predict which is the winning side. Throughout the novel, Lysander has often wished Sparta had its own spacefleet so that it could defend itself against Earth's aggression; now that he has a fleet, he will doubtless use it to defend Sparta and its allies, not to forcibly expand Sparta's territory. Meanwhile, there are several colonies that have been indendent for decades and have their own small spacefleets (Danube, Xanadu, Friedland, Dayan, Meiji, and Frystaat). Facing this threat and the defection of a portion of its own spacefleet in 2096, how will Earth react? Most likely they will retreat from colonies they can no longer defend, take steps to assure that the ships loyal to them are commanded by reliable officiers, and then use their reduced fleet to retrench and defend their core territory. Distant colonies like Haven have already been abandoned; this will continue. Colonies close to Earth (such as Sauron) will still fear the might of the CD, and deportions of restless populations to nearby colonies will continue. This is completely consistent with what is depicted in "Tinderbox" (WWPW 391-392, 425).
These conclusions are not explicitly stated in any of the Future History tales. But if "The Sylph in the Tinderbox" is accepted as canon, they seem to be the simplest way to harmonize it with the earlier stories.
If this analysis is correct, then Tanith is in a tough spot! Governor Carleton Blaine was a loyal member of the Lermontov group, and was named by Lermontov as one of his heirs. Yet the Tanith system is only a single Alderson jump from Earth. Once the CD on Earth purges the Navy and Marines of officers suspected of pro-Spartan sympathies, Blaine should expect a visit.
Fortunately, it seems likely that Blaine (or at least his family) will survive, for the Blaines who rule on Crucis in the 31st century are probably his decendants. Interestingly, the name Townsend is also a mark of nobility in the Second Empire; if this family is descended from Vice-Adm. Townsend (Bronson's grandson), this might indicate that Townsend eventually switches his allegiance to Sparta. The Mote timeline indicates that in 2110, the former CD Fleet will swear loyalty to Sparta and St. Ekaterina: but what happens between 2103 and 2110 is less clear.
When Did the CoDominium Abandon Haven?
During the second half of the twenty-first century, Haven was under the direct rule of the CoDominium, and the 77th CD Marine Regiment was stationed there. The date this began is disputed, and the succession of rulers is unclear, but the greatest difficulty lies in determining when the CD government and the Marines left Haven.
When did CoDominium rule begin on Haven?
The earliest texts state that the CD government and the 77th CD Marine Regiment arrived in 2048 (WWI timeline and WWI 11). Another alleged arrival date, 2040, appears in only one passage (WWI[2nd] 208) and can be dismissed since it contradicts the entire timeline of the Great Exodus. The date of 2058 is attested in later texts (WWTO 133, 207; WWJ, WWPW timelines [entry for 2066]), and as many later stories depend on the date 2058, that seems the best choice.
What were the names of Haven's rulers? The following names are found in the stories:
Is there any difference between a "Governor" and a "Consul General"? No individual War World story mentions both titles being used at the same time. Moreover, in "The Consultant", one character states, "Haven is such a backwater that the CoDo Governor doubles as their Consul-General" (WWJ 97). So it appears that these are two different titles for what is essentially one job. Additional evidence for this theory is found in the fact that Thomas Erhenfeld Bronson was initially appointed as "interim colonial governor" until a consul-general could be sent (WWTO 207), as the title of "interim X" suggests he is doing the job of X. Moreover, although all the sources attest that the first Bronson was ultimately promoted to consul-general, he is called "the late Governor" after his death (WWJ 27). Subsequently, "Governor" DeSilva is seen as the successor to "Consul General" Bronson (WWJ 231; WWFR 112). All of these facts suggest that the two titles are basically equivalent. On the other hand, unless Arthur G. Waltham served two discontinuous terms, his tenure as Governor overlapped with Edgar Blaire's tenure as Consul-General.
Around the end of the century, the 77th CD Marine Regiment was withdrawn from Haven. Although the dates are somewhat inconsistent, all the stories agree that this happened around the same time that the CD government was abolished. Indeed, this is clearly logical: a government with no Marines would be immediately overthrown by brigands, while Marines without a government would have no civilian oversight -- this is why the government and the garrison arrived together in 2058. So whichever dates are chosen, the departure of the 77th must be around the same time as the departure of the CD government, which leaves us with one question:
Exactly when did the CD government and the Marines depart Haven?
An early story puts this in the year 2102:
Several sources, including many of the recently published ones, point to 2096:
Other dates in the 2090s are attested as well:
And for completeness, the following should be mentioned:
Overall, the date of 2096 is best attested, and appears in several recent stories. More importantly, no year after 2096 is possible. According to Prince of Sparta, the Grand Senate was dissolved in March 2096, at which time Adrian Bronson and his faction convened as a "Rump Senate" and ordered the arrest of Admiral Lermontov. (The year 2096 for this event is stated in "Behind Closed Doors" as well.) Given that the CD military had been slowly withdrawing from Haven for several years at this point, it's almost inconceivable that the post-2096 CoDominium, still reeling from the defection of a significant portion of its spacefleet, would waste resources trying to control a distant and nearly worthless world such as Haven.
However, one more difficulty needs to be wrestled with. According to chapter 16 of Prince of Sparta, the 77th Marine Regiment arrives on Sparta in May 2096. This is difficult to square with the Haven stories, due to the following apparent discrepancies:
How can these discrepancies be resolved?
One possibility is that the regiment that arrives on Sparta is unrelated to the one that left Haven, and the authors accidentally numbered them both "77th". However, this solution seems a bit drastic.
If we accept that the 77th CD Marine Regiment stationed on Haven for four decades is the same regiment that arrived on Sparta in 2096, then there are various ways the data can be tweaked to harmonize all these accounts. The 77th left Haven intending to go to Earth, but partway through the journey someone in its command structure received a message from Senator Bronson and agreed to do his dirty work at Sparta. Since Sparta lies along the most common route from Haven to Earth, this does not require a detour.
The travel times are more difficult to deal with. "Behind Closed Doors" has the First Battalion leave Haven sometime in 2096, and the Second leave three months later; "Midwatch" puts the final departure date on 23 March. Assuming that the Second leaves on 23 March, that puts the departure of the First three months earlier. We could say that the First Battalion left at the very beginning of January, which is close to three months before 23 March, and just barely enough time for the fastest military ships to reach Sparta in May. However, a long trip at maximum speed is a rare occurrence in the military, and Ciotti's officers would have asked him the reason. So it seems better to push the departure of the First Battalion back to the very end of 2095, allowing them enough time to reach Sparta at a faster-than-usual but not emergency-rush speed.
Note that we must therefore disregard the statement that "the full regiment" was involved in Prince of Sparta, since the Second certainly cannot arrive by May 2096. Moreover, as we are assuming that Ciotti's forces are travelling much faster than usual to reach Sparta quickly, it seems absurd that they would then stop and wait three months for the Second Battalion to catch up to them. So the forces that arrive in Prince of Sparta must be only the First Battalion.
The change in commanders seems strange, but can be explained in a variety of ways. A coup is unlikely, because in Prince of Sparta, Ciotti's officers are torn between their long tradition of loyalty to him and their feeling that his mission is evil -- and this would make no sense if Ciotti had recently seized control of the 77th in a coup. However, while "Behind Closed Doors" states the name of the commander of the Second Battalion (Dempsey) and the commander of the entire 77th (Kane), it never states the name of the commander of the First Battalion. We may, then, suppose that Marco Ciotti has long been the commander of the First Battalion. When the First left Haven, General Kane and Colonel Ciotti were with it, but at some point Kane left on some other errand, or was sidelined due to non-suspicious causes, leaving Ciotti in command.
This solution contains a lot of speculation, but it preserves almost all of the claims made in the texts.
Regardless of how these details are resolved, the vast majority of the evidence points to the CD government and Marines leaving Haven in 2095 or 2096.
In that case, what can we make of the story "Farewell to Haven"? As mentioned above, this story is dated 2102. Arthur John George Waltham, "the last Consul-General of Haven" (WWCD 393), is departing permanently, and the Marines have already departed. Waltham has been on Haven continuously for at least ten years (WWCD 394). Moreover, he believes that the Grand Senate still exists in the Solar System (WWCD 394), so either it still exists, or its fall is so recent that news of this event has not yet reached Haven.
Given the strong evidence listed above that the CD and the Marines left Haven in 2096, and the dissolution of the Grand Senate in March 2096 according to Prince of Sparta, there is no way to take this story at face value. We also have to deal with the existence of Arthur G. Waltham, the former Governor of Haven who left the planet in 2095 to return to Earth (see above).
What changes could be made to render "Farewell to Haven" consistent with the rest of the canon?
I personally think that option 3B is the most elegant solution. But there is no way to know for sure.
War World Inconsistencies
Length of Haven's Year
In the first War World book, there is a detailed analysis of Haven's rotation and its revolution around its primary, Cat's Eye. This is on WWI 279, and perhaps as a result of this, the story authors were almost always consistent in describing the length of Haven's 260-hour "cycle", which was the length of three Haven rotations or two revolutions around its primary.
However, the length of Haven's year or more precisely, Cat's Eye's year, i.e. the time it takes Haven and Cat's Eye to orbit Byer's Star is not stated in this chart, and, sadly, the authors do not seem to have reach a common agreement on this point.
The most common year used is between 7.5 and 8 Earth-years (usually referred to as "Terran years" or "T-years"). This can be found in two stories by Harry Turtledove (WWI 291, 294; WWII 301, 341): "one Cat's-Eye year is almost 8 T-years", "2 Cat's-Eye years are 15 T-years", "slightly over four Cat's-Eye years are about 31 T-years". From these we could estimate Haven's year as pretty close to 7.7 T-years. John Dalmas refers to Haven's "years-long winter" (WWIV 25), which seems consistent with this.
But in one Steve Stirling story, we are told that one Haven year is exactly 1.63 T-years, and this is repeated three times (WWIV 308, 314, 323). This idea of a much shorter year appears in other places. Don Hawthorne says "Sergei's mare was due to foal in the Spring" (WWIV 81). The Dinneh leader in John Dalmas' "Coming of the Dinneh" lived for 34 years on Earth and then lived through 14 Haven winters (WWCD 204, 226); in Stirling years this makes him 57, but by Turtledove years he would be 142, an unlikely age even on Earth in that era, but unthinkable on on Haven. And the hero of G. C. Edmondson's "Strong Blood" is age 10, and after 5/4 of a Haven year (from one Winter to the Spring after the next Winter) is age 12, and it's clear he is still a young boy. Alan Brown's "The Boatswain" also has short years (in fact, his may be too short even for the 1.63 T-year figure).
Blood Feuds was written by four authors, including both Turtledove and Stirling, and it uses the longer years. Two of these (WWBF 29, 99) are holdovers from the Turtledove story in WWII, but some of the new material also uses long years: WWBF 13, 281 put the Haven year as "almost 8 T-years", and WWBF 19, 162 are consistent with this, though not so precise. At one point in a Susan Shwartz story a "Cat's Eye year" is changed to a "T-year" (compare WWII 377 with WWBF 53), although at another point a young child is said to be "over 2 Haven years old" (WWBF 89). Also, on WWBF 197, "five and a half Haven years" is equal to "thirty-five T-years", which may be a math error (this would make a Haven year about 6.4 T-years instead of 7.7).
The issue of seasons is also tricky. WWBF 174, 475 says that the 7.7-T-year year contains a 3-year Winter and a 1.4-year Summer (Haven is a cold planet, and these are really just convenient definitions). The shorter year naturally has shorter seasons. But what causes the seasons? In the north or the south of our planet, there is one winter per year. But at the equator the seasons repeat twice; the sun is overhead in September and March, and at the coldest angle in June and December and the Shangri-La Valley is at the equator of Haven! I'm not sure if all the authors dealt with this (it may be suggested by John F. Carr on WWI 132). At one point Don Hawthorne states that the valley gets its weather from air travelling through the northern passes (WWIII 63-64); this might justify the equatorial valley having seasons which match the north, or even lag behind the north by a certain amount (an idea suggested by summer lingering in the valley after it is already Fall or Winter in the north in WWIV 81-2 and WWII 103). On the other hand, John Dalmas says that Cat's Eye has a very eccentric orbit and Haven's winter is due to the orbit, not to the axial tilt (WWIII 87-88); this of course would make seasons in the north, south, and equator all match. But there's no way to pretend all these are consistent when the Sauron invasion comes, what season is it in Novy Finlandia (in the south-east of the continent)? It's winter according to Don Hawthorne (WWI 179-180) but summer in a John Dalmas story (WWIV 41). (For some balance, let me point out that the multiple stories of the invasion are extremly consistent and integrated; I'm just being picky and finding some small errors!)
On one hand, the authors seem inconsistent in their usage of years and seasons. On the other hand, in any given story the author is consistent in his/her usage. On the gripping hand, nearly all key time intervals in a story are given in T-years. So if the story says that so-and-so happened "two Haven years, or 15 T-years, ago" I will date it as 15 T-years before the story it would be absurd to take the two Haven years and convert it into T-years using another author's conversion.
However, this does mean that the stories, read as a whole, give an inconsistent view of Haven's seasons. When the caravan and Aisha reach the Pale it is early Summer. She lives domestically in the Pale for a while, rallies the Seven, gets pregnant, fights a war, has her baby and finally Winter is beginning. This takes 20 months of story-time, which fits the 1.4-year summer of the long years and raising an army on the steppes in winter would have been next to impossible. On the other hand, after the Invasion each winter saw a famine and a migration, and these seem to be "short" year winters. But if you read the stories without keeping track of the seasons, you'll never notice any problem.......
Kennicott Metals and Dover Minerals
During Falkenberg's campaign on Arrarat in the 2060's, Kennicott Metals is a rival to Senator Bronson's company, Dover Minerals (FL 196). But in the 2070's, Kennicott Metals is referred to as a Bronson company (WWCD 112, 294). Was this a continuity error on the part of the War World authors, or does it indicate that Bronson bought out Kennicott Metals?
Update: This question has been resolved. The two stories that had referred to Kennicott as a Bronson company have both been reprinted ("Janesfort War" in War World: Discovery, and "Politics of Melos" in War World: Takeover). The reprinted versions changes the text in question, making it clear that Bronson's family own Kennicott Metals, while the DeSilva family owns Dover Minerals. This is also clearly stated throughout War World: Jihad.
The Random Jump
The Empire was completely victorious at the Battle of Sauron. Sauron's fleets were destroyed and the planet was laid waste. Only one ship, the Fomoria, managed to escape the carnage. Under an acceleration of 11 g, it managed to reach an Alderson point in the Sauron system and then engaged in a "random jump".
This "random jump" is mentioned on WWI 144, WWII 223, and in the WWIII timeline. The suggestion is that the Empire couldn't follow the Fomoria because they didn't know its destination.
However, this is not consistent with the way Alderson Jumps work in Pournelle's books. Each Alderson tramline connects exactly two points, each in the vicinity of a star. (The exceptional case of a deep gravity well that isn't a nexus of strong nuclear forces is dealt with in "He Fell Into A Black Hole".) Sauron's star might be surrounded by several Alderson points, but each point can only lead to one other star. No randomness is possible if you see what point a ship went into, you know where it's going to come out.
Subsequently, two different "fixes" were presented:
First solution: In The Battle of Sauron (1st ed.) pp. 284-85, the random jump is explained as a sequence of jumps through several systems, controlled by the computer making random choices. This probably is the best explanation that could be offered. It still doesn't make complete sense, since it still doesn't take into account the fact that one must travel for a while (sometimes even for weeks) to get from one jump point to another inside a system, but it's a good way to account for the previous contradiction.
Second solution: In The Battle of Sauron (second edition) prologue and chapters 31:ii-33, and also War World: The Lidless Eye chapter 7, it is explained that the Fomoria began a randomly-chosen jump sequence as described previously, and successfully jumped from the Sauron system to the Wayforth Station system. The computers randomly chose the next jump to be for the Comstock System. But just as the ship was about to jump, the star Betelgeuse went supernova, and although this was hundreds of light-years distant, the strong nuclear forces change the Alderson geometry and Fomoria ended up in the Haven system instead of the normal terminus of that tramline.
Blood Feuds / Blood Vengeance Ambiguities
The first half of the novel Blood Feuds is a revision of the stories "Far Above Rubies", "The Field of Double Sowing", "Juchi the Accursed", and "Seven Against Nûrnen". The rest of this novel and its sequel Blood Vengeance are new material.
The internal dating of the first five chapters of Blood Feuds ("Far Above Rubies" plus "The Field of Double Sowing") is clear; there is never more than half a year's ambiguity. Similarly, the dating from chapter 6 of Blood Feuds to the end of Blood Vengeance is well-established. The difficult questions are: how much time passed between chapters 5 and 6, and what absolute dates can be determined about these stories?
Juchi is born at the beginning of chapter 1. At the end of chapter 5 he is "about 31 years old" (WWBF 99), and it has been 15 years since Dagor was killed, which occurred when Juchi was 15 (WWBF 29, 98). Thus when Juchi is exiled, Juchi (and Chaya) are 30 or 31 years old, and Aisha is twelve (WWBF 83, 98).
How long did Juchi's exile last?
I have selected 51 as Juchi's age when he dies; this puts the exile between 20 and 21 years in duration. The first five references cluster around that amount. The final two references make the exile longer, but they also put Aisha in her mid-forties during the vast majority of the story, and this seems hard to envision.
What about absolute dating? From the very first page of Blood Feuds, we are told that it has been "300 years" since the Saurons came to Haven (i.e., the end of 2640). This is repeated a dozen times throughout the book, nearly to the end (WWBF 491), even though 53 years have passed during the novel. Once this "300" becomes "over 300" (p. 124). Then at the beginning of Blood Vengeance (which starts immediately after the first novel) this jumps to "350 years", and remains that for all of Blood Vengeance. (The second novel only lasts for five months.) Two variations appear: WWBV 112 makes this "over 350", and WWBV 214 says it is "300 years since Diettinger died" (which was probably in the late 2670's).
Obviously these intervals are all approximate. But as the authors upped the "300" figure to "350" at the beginning of the second novel, it seems reasonable that they had noticed the problem of the "300" persisting all the way to the end of the first book. (Since the gap between the beginnings of the books is 53 years, the "300" and "350" figures could be fairly accurate if we assume the "300" was meant to refer to the beginning of the story.)
I have chosen 2940 300 years after the Sauron invasion as the beginning of the first book. That puts Juchi's exile in 2970/71, his death in late 2991, the end of Blood Feuds and the beginning of Blood Vengeance in mid-2993, and the end of the second book in late 2993. If we take WWBV 112's "over 350 years" as literal, the books cannot end before 2990 in any event, and there seems little reason to push them much later than this either.
The first five chapters of Blood Feuds, and all dates calculated from these events, are marked with one asterisk (*). Dates from the remainder of these two novels and all dates calculated from them are marked with two asterisks (**). This allows the reader to alter one or both of these blocks if my logic doesn't suit you.....
The Aydin War and "Tayok's Base"
"Tayok's Base" takes place some time after Juchi was exiled, as Angband Base has been deserted by his clan and fallen into disrepair. The Aydin War takes place very shortly after "Tayok's Base"; this war is referred to several times during the later parts of the novels. But exactly when the war occurred seems unclear.
Shulamit bat Miriam fan Gimbutas is seventeen years old at the end of Blood Feuds; this is stated at several points (WWBF 347, 525; WWBV 12). Her father, Yohann bar Rimza fan Gimbutas, died in the Aydin War (WWBF 328). WWBF 531 says that Shulamit was eight when he died. After his death, Shulamit's mother married Shmuel fan Gimbutas, who became the father of Erika bat Miriam. However, Erika is only two or three years younger than her (WWBF 328), and this would naturally imply that Shulamit's father must have died when she was a baby.
Shulamit reappears in "Shame and Honor" (see below!), which states that Shulamit is 21 and the Aydin War took place "20 years ago" (WWIII 318, 321, 344). On the other hand, this story suggests that her father did not die in the Aydin War, but in a different Sauron raid!
It's unclear what is correct. Assuming that Shulamit's father did die in the Aydin War, and that Shulamit was one or two years old at the time, I have tentatively placed the war in 2976** or 2977**.
"Shame and Honor"
The story "Shame and Honor" is the last of the tales of the haBandari and the inhabitants of the Pale in the 30th Century on Haven. In particular, it involves Karl bar Yigal fan Reenan, and Shulamit and Erika bat Miriam fan Gimbutas, who were introduced in "Seven Against Nûrnen"; it follows that story in War World Volume III, which was published in 1991.
After the publication of WWIII, authors S.M. Stirling, Susan Shwartz, Harry Turtledove, and Judith Tarr wrote the War World novels Blood Feuds and Blood Vengeance, which incorporated most of these stories. However, they did not incorporate "Shame and Honor", and many of the details of that story are incompatible with the new parts of the two novels.
Shulamit is seventeen at the end of Blood Feuds (WWBF 525), which means she is seventeen or eighteen at the end of Blood Vengeance. In "Shame and Honor" she is twenty-one (WWIII 344), and thus this story takes place three or four years after the novels. (This is 2996** or 2997** in my dating system; see notes above.)
But there are some problems with putting this story after the two novels:
It is worth considering if this story could take place before the great war. But that's even less possible. When we first meet Karl, Erika, and Shulamit in the novels, they are children who have never seen battle. In "Shame and Honor" they are all adults; two of them are married and all of them are quite experienced.
Perhaps one might question whether Karl, Shulamit, and Erika are the same people in this story. After all, Shulamit's clan is spelled "Gumbutas" instead of "Gimbutas" here. But it's clearly the same character; the story of her father's death and her vow at her Bat Mitzvah are identical, as are her relationships with Karl bar Yigal (her ex-lover) and Erika (her half-sister, though incorrectly stated not to be Ivrit on WWIII 287).
Finally, Karl and Shulamit telling a non-Bandari about the secret Xanadu Road doesn't fit in any timeline. Before the war, this was a complete secret, and certainly no strangers could have passed along that road. After the war, the secret had been revealed to everyone.
There are three possible resolutions:
I should stress that these errors are probably not accidental. Concepts such as the Xanadu Road, first mentioned in this story, were later used in a new way by the authors when they wrote the novel, and they were doubtless aware that "Shame and Honor" had become invalid by their rewrites.
For completeness, I have put the story in the timeline after the novels. However, I personally would rather declare this story non-canon, simply because I found the resolution of the Shulamit/Karl romance rather dismaying......
Roland Denzel points out that in Blood Vengeance, a leader in the Seven's army mentions a legend about the rescue and return of Borta to the Mongol leader. This gives strong evidence that the authors intended for "Shame and Honor" to take place before the end of Blood Vengeance.
"A Lion to the Sea"
This is the last story set on Haven. Indeed, "Haven's Hell" and "A Lion to the Sea" are the only stories set on Haven after the tragic cycle which ends with Blood Vengeance and "Shame and Honor".
According to the WWI 312, "A Lion to the Sea" is set a full four hundred years after the Sauron invasion around 3040.
As with "Shame and Honor", this seems a bit odd. The Saurons in the story do not seem like the Sharku-revived Saurons which we might expect. (See WWI 344, for instance.) Of course, it is possible that Sharku failed. But it might make more sense to put this story in the 2990's and assume that word of Sharku's reforms had not yet reached the Saurons in the western part of the continent.
This story can't be set earlier than the war of the Seven, since at various points during that war Dinneh warriors "from Tierra del Muerte" are mentioned. (See WWBF 492, 516; also WWIII 273. The correct spelling is Tierra del Muerto, by the way, which is indeed how it appears in John Dalmas' story. Tierra del Muerto is "Land of the Dead One", Tierra de la Muerte is "Land of Death", but "del muerte" is incorrect in any event. Of course if we were using Spanish consistently, "Dinneh" would be "Diné".)
Regardless of how this issue is resolved, WWBF 161's reference to "Dinneh-trapped pelts from the Western Ocean" is impossible. The Dinneh had never seen the ocean before "A Lion to the Sea" (WWI 314), but after that story they would have remained out of contact with the continent-dwellers.
Roland Denzel points out that "A Lion to the Sea" was published before many of these other stories (see Bibliography), and that therefore it isn't surprising that it doesn't mesh well with the rest of the timeline.
I have left "A Lion to the Sea" at its stated date of 3040. It is very tempting to move it to the mid-2990's, for the reasons given above. But on general principles I don't want to alter any dates given in the text except when they are clearly impossible due to continuity errors.
Jerry Pournelle's Future History . . . . . Ambiguities, Difficulties, and Contradictions
Updated 29 January 2019 by Larry King
Back to the Future History Page
Home to the Science Fiction Timeline Site
Send email to Larry King