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Pournelle's Future History: Reading Order

This page is especially directed at people who haven't yet read Pournelle's books. While the Timeline describes the events that happen in the stories and their exact timing, this page simply tells you what order the stories should be read in!

Jerry Pournelle's Future History series is divided into three collections:

Each of these collections can be read independently of the others.

But within each collection, it's best to read the stories in chronological order.

The situation with the Haven ("War World") stories is truly bizarre. There are now nine volumes of Haven stories. The order is very intricate. Some stories are relatively independent – but other stories are closely related to each other. For instance, if you want to read the saga of Galen Diettinger, the last of the great Sauron commanders, you must begin with the first story in "War World Volume II". Next, you should read a story which appears in the middle of "War World Volume I". Then you move on to a story in Volume IV... and then back to Volume II... and finally you should read the the first story in Volume III, in which Diettinger finally comes to terms with exactly what he will have to do for his people to survive.

And there is no hint of this craziness anywhere in the War World books! That is one reason I felt it was necessary to create this site, because otherwise this series is almost unreadable.

On this page, I have listed the order of the stories in each of the three collections:

Jerry Pournelle is the author of many of these stories. The later Falkenberg stories are by Pournelle and S.M. Stirling. Mote and Hand are by Pournelle and Larry Niven – and are usually filed under "N", not "P", in bookstores! The War World stories are by a variety of authors, with Pournelle as overseer – these are filed under "P" in bookstores, unless you're lucky enough to live in a city with a dedicated science fiction bookstore, in which case they may be under "Anthologies" or "Shared Universes". To determine the author of a specific story, see the complete Bibliography.

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The CoDominium Stories

These are the stories of the CoDominium, the mega-state formed by the American-Soviet alliance which dominates Earth during the twenty-first century.

The chronological order of these books:

If you don't want to skip around quite this much, you can save Go Tell The Spartans and Prince of Sparta for the end, and finish the other stories first.

If you aren't all that concerned with chronology, these stories can be read in any order. My only strong suggestion is that you should read Go Tell The Spartans before reading Prince of Sparta.

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The War World Stories

As I mentioned above, the tales in the War World books are in a complicated order, and none of the books give any clues about how these stories are connected together.

The nine books, and the abbreviations I've used for them, are:

When stories overlap, I have put them in the best reading order rather than try to intertwine them. However, there are a few times that there was no way to avoid breaking a story up into pieces due to other intervening stories. See the Timeline for full details of the dates of each story.

This entire list is chronological, but I have broken it down into separate "sagas" to give it more structure. If you read all the stories in order you will end up with the best and broadest sense of Haven's history. But if you'd rather jump into some other point, it is best to at least keep each of these "sagas" intact!

Nearly every story comes with a "prologue", but many of these are not connected with the story itself. In some cases, I recommend reading the "story and prologue"; in other cases the prologues are listed separately. When just the name of the story is given, that means the story without the prologue.

The Founding of Haven – 1990's to 2040's

WWCD 1-6, reprinted in WWD 13-16:     The Lost and the Founder.

WWI 1-8, expanded in WWD 17-27:     Discovery.

WWCD 7-48, expanded in WWD 28-63:     The Garden Spot.

WWCD 49-109, reprinted in WWD 64-114:     In Concert, prologue and story.

WWD 115-124:     The Shimmer Stone Scam.

WWTO 11-14:     26th CoDominum Line Regiment.

WWD 125-163:     Nothing In Common.

WWD 164-180:     Hell's-a-Comin'.

WWD 181-225:     Counterpoint.

WWD 226-228:     Astronomy Lesson.

WWD 229-262:     On Jordan's Stormy Banks.

WWCD 110-182, reprinted in WWD 263-325:     Janesfort War, prologue and story.

WWTO 15-89:     To Win the Peace.

WWD 347-369:     Steppe Stone.

WWD 326-346:     Last Chance.

WWD 370-383 only:     part of Down the Rabid Hole.

WWTO 90-115:     The Raid on Purity.

WWTO 116-128:     Marching on Poland.

WWTO 129-210:     Enough Rope.

WWTO 211-266:     More Precious Than Rubies.

WWI 9-12:     Haven.

The Later CoDominium Era – 2070's to 2102

WWCD 183-226, reprinted in WWTO 267-308:     The Coming of the Dinneh, prologue and story.

WWTO 309-314:     Business As Usual.

WWTO 315-326:     Pound-Foolish.

WWI 13-15:     Dream Valley prologue.

WWCD 227-298, reprinted in WWTO 327-393:     Politics of Melos, prologue and story.

WWTO 394-425 only:     part of Atalanta.

WWCD 299-332:     Hang Together, prologue and story.

WWCD 333-366:     Sons of Hawaii, prologue and story.

WWI 16-41:     Dream Valley.

WWI 42-53:     The Toymaker and the General, prologue and story.

WWCD 367-392:     Fire and Ice, prologue and story.

WWCD 393-396:     Farewell to Haven.

WWTO 426-431 only:     part of Atalanta.

The First Empire of Man – 2250 to 2603

WWI 278:     Tribute Maidens prologue.

WWII 291-292:     The Field of Double Sowing prologue.

WWII 166-167:     Brenda prologue.

The Secession Wars – 2603 to 2640

WWI 227-236:     Necessity prologue.


WWI 55-105:     The Deserter.

WWI 106-143:     Rate of Exchange, prologue and story.

WWII 2-83:     The Face of the Enemy.   (Same as THE BATTLE OF SAURON, Chapters 1-9.)

THE BATTLE OF SAURON, Chapters 10-31.

WWII 221-223 only:     part of the Some Things Survive prologue.

WWI 144:     The Coming of the Eye prologue.

Invasion – 2640's

WWI 145-151, 154-156 only:     part of The Coming of the Eye.   (Expanded as THE BATTLE OF SAURON, pp. 292-309, 317-9.)

WWIV 1-13:     Introduction.

WWI 157-159, and then 151-154, 156-157, 159-180:     part of The Coming of the Eye.   (Expanded as THE BATTLE OF SAURON, pp. 322-323, and then 310-7, 320-2, 323-333, 341-50, 356-7, 360-68, and then 334-40, 350-5, 357-60.)

WWIV 17-45:     The Railroad.

WWI 180-213:     part of The Coming of the Eye.   (Expanded as THE BATTLE OF SAURON, pp. 369-440.)

WWIV 125-162:     The Boatswain, prologue and story.

WWIV 47-124:     A Better Kind of War, prologue and story.

WWII 84-139:     Death's Head Patrol, prologue and story.

WWI 214-226:     The Great Beer Shortage, prologue and story.

WWIV 15:     The Railroad prologue.

WWII 140-165:     Strong Blood, prologue and story.

WWI 237-277:     Necessity.

WWIV 163-213:     The Gift of the Magi, prologue and story.

WWIII 11-79:     The Gates of Paradise.

The Fall of the First Empire – 2650's to 2670's

WWII 168-219:     Brenda.

WWII 220-260:     Some Things Survive, prologue and story.

WWI 361-362:     Discovery.
    [Note: The dating on this story is questionable; see Haven Ambiguities for details.]

The Second Generation – 2660's to 2708

WWIV 215-256:     A Little Beastliness, prologue and story.

WWIV 257-282:     Those Who Lose, prologue and story.

WWD 384-387 only:     part of Down the Rabid Hole.

WWIV 283-333:     Kings Who Die, prologue and story.

WWII 262-274:     No Such Thing as a Non-Lethal Weapon, prologue and story.

WWII 261, WWIII 167:     quotes from Lady Althene.

WWII 275, 349-350:     quotes from Breedmaster Caius.

WWIII 174, 205-206:     quotes from Ruth bat Boaz.

WWII 276-290:     Loved Not I Honor More.

WWIII 82-115:     Maitreya and the Cyborg.

Return to Barbarism – 2740's to 2910's

WWIII 117-132:     Building a Pillar.

WWI 280-309:     Tribute Maidens.

WWIII 133-166:     Aegir's Children, prologue and story.

The Tragic Cycle – 2920 to 2993

WWIII 268-269:     Shame and Honor prologue.

WWIII 1, 8, 81, 116:     quotes from "A Student's Book".

WWIII 168-173:     Ceremonies at the Last Bar in the Village.

BLOOD FEUDS, Chapters 1-5.
    [This is a merging of "The Field of Double Sowing" and "Far Above Rubies" from WWII.]

WWII 399-403:     Tayok's Base.

WWIII 2-7:     War World Economics.

BLOOD FEUDS, Chapter 6.
    [This includes a revised version of "Juchi the Accursed" from WWIII.]

BLOOD FEUDS, Chapters 7-11.
    [This includes a greatly expanded version of "Seven Against Nûrnen" from WWIII.]

BLOOD FEUDS, Chapters 12-23.

BLOOD VENGEANCE (entire novel).

WWIII 270-356:     Shame and Honor.

Epilogue – 3040

WWI 312-360:     A Lion to the Sea, prologue and story.

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The Second Empire Stories

These stories are set during the Second Empire of Man, in the thirty-first century.

The earliest-written book in this collection is a stand-alone novel:

The first two-thirds of this book was originally published as A Spaceship for the King. That version is hard to find, which is fine by me – the current version of King David's Spaceship has one of the best endings of any book ever!

King David's Spaceship actually takes place at the exact same time as The Mote in God's Eye. But it occurs in a very distant part of the Empire, and the two stories don't affect each other at all, except for some very minor comments in each story. It can be read before or after the other stories of this collection.

The other stories are all connected, and deal with the Empire's first contact with aliens. In chronological order, these stories are:

The two introductory stories, "Motelight" and "Reflex", are optional. (Remember, the authors cut them out of the book!) And they may be hard to find.

The Mote in God's Eye is a truly great book, and is highly recommended – with or without these two stories.

The Gripping Hand is the sequel to Mote. It should certainly not be read first, since that would give away much of the Mote story. Some folks were disappointed with The Gripping Hand. My view is that it's a good book, but since Mote is one of the greatest science fiction books ever written and quite an intricate story, following it with a sequel was a very difficult task. If you have a dislike for sequels in general, consider this book optional. If you are interested in Pournelle's Future History as a whole, this is a must-read!

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Jerry Pournelle's Future History . . . . . Reading Order
Updated 16 May 2012 by Larry King

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