Are the solar systems depicted in Larry Niven's fictional book series about "Known Space" based on observations from Earth? Or, once the story leaves our solar system, does his science fiction lean more towards fiction than it does to science?

2 Answers 2


As can be seen from the Wikipedia article, there is plenty of real stars among the stars mentioned in Known Space. While no doubt some of the further out ones are not real world stars, the closer ones tend to be spot on.

Of course, there are no known planets at any of those stars that I'm aware of, and certainly none matching the descriptions. Known space has been around much longer than our knowledge of any planets.

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    Which is not to say that there is anything about the planets and other habitable structures described that didn't come from the author's imagination. Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 14:54

Most of Larry Nivens' Known Space stories were written before the first discovery of a real extrasolar planet in 1988, so they are truly science fiction.


  • Niven tried to use real cataloged stars, so many of them, especially the closer ones as @Pearsonartphoto says below, are real and relatively correct. The planetary systems for those stars are fiction.
    – SteveED
    Commented May 6, 2012 at 17:38
  • Since Niven wrote his books, we discovered a planetary system around Alpha Centauri - home of Niven's colony Wunderland. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_Centauri#Planets
    – Jim2B
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 6:40
  • Back in the '90s, SGI computers came with a "game" that allowed you to explore the galaxy. If you went to the correct star, you could visit Niven's Ringworld.
    – Jim2B
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 6:43

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