Wikipedia suggests that Larry Niven's Known Space stories start around 2000 CE. I was reminded that, early in World of Ptavvs, the main character is having dinner with a visitor from West Germany (!) and the political situation is mentioned:

"The conversation ranged explosively during dinner. As Larry said later, "It's fun to meet someone who likes to argue about the same things you do." They compared Los Angeles' outward growth to West Berlin's reaching skyscrapers."

Is anyone aware of a moment in the book where the date is specifically mentioned? I'll reread it eventually — I remember it as a great story — but would like to know now!

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    Its not surprising that a character was from West Germany, since the book was written in 1966 in the middle of the cold-war, it was assumed that Germany would remain divided indefinitely even in the 80s. Dec 29, 2023 at 22:41
  • You may find this useful in identifying when various events take place in the Known Space books; larryniven.net/timeline.shtml#AD2106
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2023 at 22:46

1 Answer 1


My copy of the Three Books of Known Space contains a handy timelime states that World of Ptavvs takes place in 2106.


  • World of Ptavvs
  • At the Bottom of a Hole
  • Intent to Deceive
  • The Adults (Protector, 1st half)
  • Death by Ecstasy
  • The Defenseless Dead
  • ARM
  • The Patchwork Girl
  • The Woman in Del Rey Crater
  • Cloak of Anarchy


It's also stated in the book itself.

Kzanol/Greenberg twitched in annoyance at the interruption. That would have marked him for an alien anywhere! In 2106 you learned not to hear extraneous noises before you went insane.

  • Nice. I couldn't so quickly find that date in the book. I did find a passage that talks about 'the interstellar ramscoop robots had been searching out man-habitable systems for nearly a century' which definitely places it at the end of the 21st century at the earliest. Nice answer. Dec 29, 2023 at 22:50
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    Oh, excellent! I recently bought an old pocket knife marked 'Made in West Germany'. I daresay there are already many people who would take that as merely a geographic reference.
    – Barnaby
    Dec 30, 2023 at 0:50

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