Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven

Short story collection by Larry Niven from 1975 and reissued 1985, containing:

  • The Jigsaw Man, 1967: Chilling implications of human organ transplant technology. The story was first published in Harlan Ellison’s anthology Dangerous Visions, and is included in Niven’s collections All the Myriad Ways, Tales of Known Space and Three Books of Known Space
  • The Warriors, 1966: Man’s first encounter with aliens of Kzinti species. Kzinti’s have vastly superior technology, but heroic men beat them in the little war in deep space! Originally published in Worlds of If. Later republished in the collections The Shape of Space (1969), Tales of Known Space (1975), The Man-Kzin Wars, Three Books of Known Space and The Best of All Possible Wars.
  • How the Heroes Die, 1966: Only one of the two men can live. First appearance in Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1966. Republished in the collections The Shape of Space (1969, collection), Inconstant Moon (1973, coll), Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (1975, collection), Three Books of Known Space (1996, coll)
  • Intent to Deceive, 1968: A software bug creates major chaos at a fully automated restaurant. First published in Galaxy Magazine, April 1968. Republished in the collections Tales of Known Space and Three Books of Known Space.
  • Becalmed in Hell, 1965: An accident on Venus. First appearance in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1965. Republished  in several collections: All the Myriad Ways (1969, coll), Inconstant Moon (1973, coll), Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (1975, coll), Playgrounds of the Mind (1991, coll), Three Books of Known Space (1996, coll)
  • At the Bottom of a Hole, 1966: Human explorers to Mars are killed by the natives. Short story first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1966. Republished in several collections: The Shape of Space (1969, collection), Inconstant Moon (1973, coll), Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (1975, collection), Three Books of Known Space (1996, coll)
  • Wait it Out, 1968: An accident on Pluto puts a man in natural semi-stasis, awaiting & hoping eventual rescue. First published in1968. Published in the collections All the Myriad Ways (1971), Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (1975), Playgrounds of the Mind (1990) and Three Books of Known Space (1996)
  • Eye of an Octopus, 1966: Humans dig up a Martian’s grave. First published in Galaxy, February 1966.
  • The Coldest Place, 1964: Hunt for alien creatures on “the dark side of” Mercury. First published in Worlds of If, December 1964. Republished in the collections Tales of Known Space (1975) and Three Books of Known Space (1996).
  • Safe at Any Speed, 1967: A man is eaten by a huge bird along with his air car, & survives! On an new colony world. First published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 1967. Later published in collections The Shape of Space (1969), Tales of Known Space (1975) and Three Books of Known Space (1996).
  • There Is a Tide, 1968: An alien cons a human on an extra-Sol world, & regrets it because of an unexpected development. First printed in Galaxy, June 1968. The reprinted in the collections A Hole in Space 1974, Tales of Known Space 1975 and Three Books of Known Space 1996.
  • Cloak of Anarchy, 1972: An experiment in an anarchy-based society where there is no government. First published in Analog, March 1972. Reprinted in the collections Tales of Known Space and N-Space.
  • The Borderland of Sol, 1975: Space pirates are robbing commercial traffic on busy interstellar routes with a new weapon. The story was originally published in Analog, January 1975, and reprinted in the collections Tales of Known Space, reissued 1985, Playgrounds of the Mind (1991), and Crashlander (1994).

All of the short stories take place in the Known Space Universe.

Links: Variety SFThe Incompleat Known Space Concordance,

Intent to Deceive

Intent to Deceive aka The Deceivers is a short story by Larry Niven, first published in Galaxy Magazine, April 1968. Republished in the collections Tales of Known Space and Three Books of Known Space.

Lucas Garner reminisces about an incident at an automated restaurant that malfunctioned, with disastrous consequences for anyone who tried to escape through the robotic kitchen…

Links: Variety SF,

Eye of an Octopus

Short story by Larry Niven, first published in Galaxy, February 1966. Three early human explorers on Mars. Henry Bedrosian and Christopher Luden go down to the surface, Abe Cooper remain in orbit. They find a buried martian and dig him up. In series with How the Heroes Die and At the Bottom of a Hole.

Links: Variety SF,

The Coldest Place

Short story that first appeared in Worlds of If, December 1964. Republished in the collections Tales of Known Space (1975) and Three Books of Known Space (1996).

Larry’ Nivens first-ever published story. On the dark side of a non-rotating Mercury, explorers Eric and Howie collect unexpected samples of life. This story was rendered obsolete before it was even published due to advanced probes of the planet. Larry Niven wrote a sequel, “Becalmed in Hell” with the same two characters. Technical aspects of the story are dated.

Links: Variety SF,

Cloak of Anarchy

Short story first published in Analog, March 1972. Reprinted in the collections Tales of Known Space and N-Space.

Humans have a chaotic nature. In the same breath they demand the security and peace of law enforcement and demand freedom from control and prying eyes. The leaders of the future democracies have solved this by creating what are called Free Parks: places where anything and everything is allowed — except violence against one’s fellow human. Enforcing this edict are flying machines called copseyes. At the first sign of violence, the copseye stuns and paralyses both parties, and each participant wakes up far away from the site of violence under the watchful gaze of a copseye.

There are those that believe even the copseyes are too restrictive however, and one man’s plan to drop all of them from the sky at once gives those with this belief the power to test it. But the anarchists ideas are not well thought out, and the result is not what anyone expects…

Links: Larry Niven.net (full story), Variety SF,

The Borderland of Sol

The Borderland of Sol is an English language science fiction novelette written in 1975 by Larry Niven. It is the fifth in the Known Space series of stories about crashlander Beowulf Shaeffer.

The story was originally published in Analog, January 1975, and printed in the collection Tales of Known Space, reissued 1985 , and reprinted in Crashlander (1994).

It includes some solid science as well as ‘space opera’. It is one of the earliest works of fiction to feature a black hole.

Segments of the novel Fleet of Worlds serve as a prequel to the story.

A rash of spaceship disappearances around Earth results in a dearth of available transit, stranding Beowulf “Bey” Shaeffer on Jinx away from his love, Sharrol Janss. While visiting the Institute of Knowledge he runs into his old friend Carlos Wu. Carlos is the father of Janss’ two children, a fact that he found so embarrassing that he decided to leave Earth rather than face Bey upon his expected return. But Bey proves perfectly happy to hear about the children, as his albinism denies him a license to have children of his own, and he and Sharrol had agreed that Carlos should act as a surrogate.

Reconciled, Carlos mentions that he has been contacted by Sigmund Ausfaller of the Bureau of Alien Affairs, who has offered him a ride to Earth. Bey has had several run-ins with Ausfaller in the past; Ausfaller aims to protect human-alien relations in any way he can, and at one point he planted a bomb on Bey’s alien-provided General Products’ #2 hull to prevent him from stealing it and potentially causing a sticky diplomatic incident. Worried about what might happen to Carlos at Ausfaller’s hands, he decides to accompany him on his next meeting…

The story is retold, from the point of view of Sigmund Ausfaller, in Juggler of Worlds.

Beowulf Shaeffer stories

Neutron Star, the first story in the Beowulf Shaeffer series. Published in the collection Neutron Star.
At the Core, the second story in the series. Published in Neutron Star.
Flatlander, the third story in the series. Published in Neutron Star.
Grendel, the fourth story in the series. Published in Neutron Star.
Borderland of Sol, fifth story about Beowulf Shaeffer. Republished in Crashlander.
Procrustes, the sixth story in the series. Published in Crashlander.
Ghost, the framing story in the collection Crashlander.
Fly-By-Night, the seventh story in the series, written after Crashlander.

More: Wikipedia,

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