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Timeline & Recommended Reading Order

by Geert Cuypers © 2018

An updated version can br found here.


Table of Contents




The 2 great themes in this collection are Space Travel and Forerunners.
A Space Travel collection could include some 65 titles, written over more than 40 years.[1] 
Unfortunately, not all of those can be housed comfortably in the Forerunner Universe.

This Forerunner Universe collection has 57 titles, 49 novels and 8 short stories. The core titles are clearly linked by Forerunners and by the 2 great political powers of that time, Council & Federation. The remainder are mostly Earth's history before and after that period.

The biggest challenge was undoubtedly the so-called “Central Control” series. (Star Guard & -Rangers)
Those 2 novels do not mention Forerunners, but 3 Forerunners books (Android, Brother & Ordeal) do mention “Central Control.” Yet the story and time lines of Star Rangers are imo fundamentally incompatible with the Forerunners Universe.

Inconsistencies between titles with common themes leave us the choice of either 1/. Ignoring them, (Ouch, that hurts) 2/. Explaining them away; (Really, who’d’ve thunk? ) 3/. Creating alternate timelines, (If it belongs somewhere else, what’s it doing here?)  4/. Doing a ‘Fix-up’ (Rewrite Norton? AAAARGH!) or 5/. Excluding it. (Throw it out!)
I've done a little bit of all of the above.[2]

Motivated by ‘The Least Painful’ and ‘For The Greater Good,’ I have excluded the Time Traders (time travel) and Star Ka’at  (young readers) series from the timeline. I pushed Star Rangers into an alternate timeline that diverges from the main storyline shortly after Star Guard. That way, I could keep it in the collection, without needing to explain any inconsistencies. 
For the remaining books, I have written short commentaries between stories to tie them together in a greater context, just like a history student might do while reviewing fragmentary records from a distant past. Most are references from Norton’s books; some of it is conjecture and guesswork.

All books and series in this collection are marked as ‘read together’ or ‘stand-alone read’

  • Some titles are very obviously continuing stories with a common protagonist, or tales more loosely connected by a common location, theme or time period. Such series should imo be read together, for a more enjoyable reading experience.  I made the deliberate choice to keep series together, even when other books fit in between chronologically. 
  • Other titles have such different locations, societies or subjects that they seem like completely unrelated stories. These can very well be read as stand-alone novels. However, reading the books in the order as listed here will place them within the framework of the Forerunner Universe Timeline and may give the reader better understanding of the changing context over the millennia.

Only 3 of the Forerunner books contain number dates[3] that would be useful for a timeline and 2 of those are a mere 26 years apart. Daybreak 22050 A.D. and the Central Control series provide some additional dates. That doesn’t give us much to go by to create a timeline with.[4] The other books have to be placed on the timeline by comparing social and political context. Because that is open to interpretation, I have not tried to pin precise dates on the other books, but have sorted them relative to each other with wide date ranges. I think that is the best anyone can do with the (lack of) provided information.

I have invested many weeks to compile a timeline for this many books. Reading Andre Norton is a great pastime, but it still takes time. Sometimes, just a few words in an off-hand comment can provide important clues. I'm sure I missed some.  If you can assist to refine this timeline, do let me know. Mail g e ert [a. t.] a vema riaso ngs [d. o. t.] org (nospaces) with "Forerunners Timeline' in the subject line if you don't want it to end up in my junk folder. 

Geert Cuypers (SF&F-fan on 


The Timeline: A Quick Overview:

I. 2000- 3000  A.D. - The Great Blow-Up; First Star Flight

·        series: Pax/Astra x2

      • The Stars are Ours
      • Star Born

·        series: Post-nuclear Barbarism x3

      • Daybrek 2250 A.D.
      • No Night without Stars
      • Moon Called

II. 2900-3500 A.D. - Recovery

·       series: Sol system and beyond x4

      • Wizard’s Wolrd
      • Mousetrap
      • All Cats are grey
      • Star Gate

III.  Central Control

·        series: Central Control x2

      • Star Guard
      • Star Rangers

IV.  4100- 8000 A.D.  Federation & Council; Space Patrol & League of Free Traders

·        Early Aftermath x2

      • The Sioux Warrior 
      • Secret of the Lost Race

·        series: First-in Scouts x3

      • The X Factor
      • Voorloper
      • Dread Companion

·        series: Psycho-somethings x7

      • Star Hunter
      • Ice Crown
      • Android at Arms
      • Toys for Tamisan
      • Ship of Mist
      • Get Out of my Dream
      • Nightmare

·        series: Solar Queen x7

      • Sargasso of Space
      • Plague Ship
      • Voodoo Planet
      • Postmarked the Stars
      • Derilict for Trade
      • A Mind for Trade

·        series: Moon Singer x4

      • Moon of Three Rings
      • Exiles of the Stars
      • Flight in Yiktor
      • Dare to Go A-hunting

·        series: Star Stones x2

      • The Zero Stone
      • Uncharted STars

·        series   Forerunners x5

      • Storm over Warlock
      • Ordeal in Otherwhere
      • Forerunner Foray
      • Forerunner
      • Forerunner: The second Venture

·        Also during this era:

      • Brother to Shadows  x1

V. 8000- ? A.D.  Death of an Empire

·        series: The Dying Empire x2

      • Eye of the Monster
      • Dark Piper

·        series The Dipple Books x4

      • Catseye
      • Night of Masks
      • Judgment on Janus
      • Victory on Janus

·        series Beast Master x5

      • The Beast Master
      • Lord of Thunder
      • Beats Master’s Ark
      • Beast Master’s Circus
      • Beast Master’s Quest

VI. After 8070 A.D. - The Post-Human Earth

·        series: Post-human Earth x3

      • London Bridge
      • Iron Cage
      • Breed to Come

Total # of titles:  57

Before this story begins:

Few historic records survived when the the Great Galactic Library was destroyed some 10,000 years ago. During a recent archeology dig on the former Library planet, a deep underground vault was discovered that among other things held a partially viable recording with stories about ancient Terra and the legendary First Galactic Empire. 

It has taken us several decades to translate those stories that we present here for the first time together in a single volume. 

These stories cover brief moments in a period of well over 6,000 years, with great gaps in between. Wherever possible and for added clarity, we have filled in some of those gaps with brief updates on important political or sociological references from these stories, or from other independent sources. 

We hope you will enjoy the result of our efforts. 

I. Ca. 2000- 3000 A.D. -
The Great Blow-Up; First Star Flight

Earth had built 3 space stations. Mercenaries occupied one of them and used its equipment to set off world-wide destruction. Saxon Bort organizes the PAX world dictatorship.

series: PAX/ASTRA

2 books.  Continuing story, definitely read together in this order

1. The Stars are Ours

The Free Scientists build a starship in secret and take off in it just as Pax forces break into their hide-out. They reach Astra.

2. Star Born

The dictatorship of the Company of Pax has fallen, and the story of the Free Men’s starship is found among their records. Many starships are sent and fail to return. RS-10 leaves Earth and is the first (and only) ship to reach Astra. When they see the Others’ evil, they help the Seafolk and Terran colonists to defeat them. Then they begin their return to Terra, but apparently never make it back.

Many starships were sent out, none returned. Earth lost hope of ever reaching the stars.

The political union that had made this effort possible dissolved into nations.
The wars that followed destroyed the remaining urban centers and left few survivors. (1st Atomic Wars)

 Earth fell back into Barbarism, and star flight is forgotten by all but a few.





Ca. AD 2050-3500    (overlapping timelines)
3 books, stand-alone reads; 1 first, 2 and 3 in random order
Common elements:  post-nuclear-apocalypse society, mutant people and animals in symbiotic relation, shamanism and sorcery.

(A revised Sea Siege might fit here)

1. Daybreak 2250AD

aka Star Man’s Son
 Fors and his feline companion journey into the Great Blow-up lands to find the ancient knowledge of the Old Ones that had taken men to the stars.

2. No Night Without Stars

Three centuries after the cataclysm that caused the Dark Time, young Sander searches for the legendary skills of the metalworkers of the Before Time. He encounters Shaman Fanyi, and together they face incredible danger and evil in an ancient stronghold.

3. Moon Called

10 generations after the Before Time ends, Thora the Chosen and Kort the dog save Malkin from certain death and take her back home to the Valley of the Windriders.

II. 2900-3500 A.D. -

series: SOL SYSTEM (and beyond)

3 short stories linked by Mars colonization.   Stand-alone reads, random order

New urban centers arose while many areas remained severely damaged.

Eventually, technology was recovered and Terra colonized its moon, Mars and other planets in Sol system.
Psi-talents appeared after the first atomic wars. Espers were increasingly oppressed.








1. Wizards’ World

Esper Craike was smuggled out of an eastern E-camp and is sent to explore the area that used to be Reno. But he was tricked into revealing himself and tracked by an Esper hound.

2. Mousetrap

 Sam Levatts finds a ‘sand monster’ and goes looking for the Martian race that created it.

3. All Cats Are Gray

Steena & friends board a derelict interplanetary pleasure liner, and kill the invisible alien that had killed the passengers and many would-be salvagers. Steena and Cliff get rich and married.

A reliable stardrive was developed
Colonization expanded beyond Sol system, but those colonies were lost again.

From : (“Sargasso of Space”) and (“Voodoo Planet”)

Some, like the ancestors of the Khatkans, fled the atomic wars or the chaos that came afterward…./… There was a race war. …/…  most of the Africans into one giant concentration camp …/… survivors staged a revolt, captured a ship and took off for the stars. Enough survived to found a colony on Khatka. Technology was forgotten. The highest status belonged to the darkest skin.





4. Star Gate

A lost colony stand-alone read

The Star Lords had come from a dying Earth and settled on Earth-like Gorth where they found a primitive society and helped the inhabitants to rise to civilization. But now the native folk of Gorth have grown resentful and jealous of the Star Lords, who have refused to share their secrets of (apparent) immortality and their powerful weapons-technology which led to the loss of Earth.

Many ships were lost.
Many early colonies did not survive or were lost in later wars.
New or experimental technologies were sometimes abandoned, or were lost together with the colonies and never rediscovered.

III. 3500-4100 A.D. -
Central Control

(A.F. / ASF time reckoning started about this time)

series: Central Control[5]

Ca. 3650 A.D.
From (“Star Guard”)

1000 years after the First Atomic Wars, the 1st Human spaceship ventured into Central Control territory. Earth was adopted as a limited member into the C.C. confederation..
Humans were only allowed to go to space as mercenaries, with aptitude tests determining what jobs they could get. Being who they are, Humans quickly organized covert opposition to Central Control domination.

1. Star Guard

3956 A.D.. The Yorke Horde has been hired as mercenaries to in a war of succession. Kana discovers that Central Control has sent Mech Combatants to get rid of the Horde. Kana escapes and is rescued by the Hidden Prime, a resistance organization which works to get Terrans in the stars.

From: (“Star Guard”)
By this time, 1000+ planets had secret Terran.
Twenty X-Tee worlds were also colonizing in secret. 


From : (“Sargasso of Space”):

“There are Terran colonies over a thousand years old…
…/… in  frozen sleep …/…  four, six, and eight generations in ships …/…

 … earlier variations of the hyper-drive, some of which may have worked….










2. Star Rangers

aka The Last Planet5  –  8054-? A.D. 
Jorcam Dester, the last Control Agent of Deneb, ordered the few available Patrol Ships away, allegedly to locate and re-map forgotten galactic border systems no-one had visited in at least four generations. 

More than 4000 years after ‘Star Guard’, Starfire leaves on her last trip and crashes on Earth where they find only abandoned cities and a few primitive nomadic tribes.

They find the legendary Hall of Leave-Taking where everyone who left Earth received their last instructions before take-off. Because no one ever returned, Earthy was drained of its adventurous people until only ‘unfit’ were left. The surviving humans and X-tees leave to ‘live in the wild’ to’ repopulate’ Earth.’

IV. 4100- 8000 A.D. -
Federation & Council, Space Patrol & League of Free Traders

The duplicity of Central Control towards Humans and the inevitable revelation of Terran resistance to C.C. turned into rampant hostility and civil war. During the 2nd Atomic Wars, entire races were wiped out, planets burned off and suns left dead in desperate attempts to maintain control or win freedom.

Eventually, Central Control fell, and the great civilizations of the Galaxy fell with it.
Many planets lost technology and forgot their previous voyages to the stars.

After Earth separated from Central Control, Earth’s influence was reduced to nearby star systems. Contact with faraway Earth colonies was lost. Many did not survive.
Others would be rediscovered many centuries later. 

C.C. fell apart into smaller confederations. After a period of chaos and warfare, Trade and the Patrol begin to bind the many sectors of the Galaxy together. Council and Federation emerged as the 2 major powers, with Terra at the center of Federation.

The League of Free Traders is founded to protect Free Traders’ interests from the Companies and others. It being “a League of Worlds’ it was a major economic and  political power, but not much of a military one.

series: Early Aftermath

From (“The Sioux Spaceman”)

When Terrans started pushing out into space again, they met up with the Styor. 
The Styor had built their star empire long ago. Now it was beginning to crack a little at the seams. However, they still had galactic armadas able to reduce an enemy planet to a cinder, and they dominated two-thirds of the inhabitable worlds near Terra. So far their might could not be challenged by the League. Thus there was an uneasy truce, the Policy [of neutral coexistence with the Styor] and trade.

1. The Sioux Spaceman


stand-alone read
Kade Whitehawk, a Lakota of the Northwest Terran Confederation, kills a Styor lordling. As punishment, he is re-assigned to Klor where the Styor brutally suppress the native Ikkinni. Kade imports Terran horses and teaches the Ikkinni to ride and use bows in guerrilla warfare against their hated Styor masters. When his operation ends, Kade is informed of ‘the Plan’ for human resistance and told to keep up the good work.

The Styor Empire eventually collapsed and was absorbed by the growing Terran Confederation.

2. Secret of the Lost Race

stand-alone read
The Constellation of the Wolf was an area of the galaxy few spacemen wanted to visit, for its sparse worlds were home only to the outcasts of the civilized worlds. But now it had been learned that one among its runaway refugees was a definite danger to all humanity. The hunt was on for the desperate young man before he could contaminate the universe!


“These aliens …/… were comrades-in-arms and good friends to other races who preceded us into space, those who built the ruins we now find on dead worlds, for we are new to come into an old, old region.”


series: First-in Scouts

Ca. 3500-7500 A.D.


Council, Federation, Patrol and League: all were sending out First-in Scouts to find new worlds fit for human occupation. Their job is lonely, risky, and they don’t always get it right when they declare a planet safe.


1. The X Factor

At this point in Norton’s Council / Confederation universe, the job of First-In Scouts is pretty much a closed occupation.  A misfit son steals a spaceship and travels to the planet Mimir, where he gets mixed up with a Zacathan alien, a guild of criminals, Jacks and Forerunner ruins.


From: (“Voorloper”)
The League’s Chain Worlds grow overcrowded, so the League begins to colonize empty planets again. Helman Voor, a First-In Scout, finds an inhabitable planet.  Since it is his last tour, Survey names the planet “Voor.”


2. Voorloper

Bart s’Lorn, a “Voorloper” (wandering trader), and Illo, a Healer, both survived major attacks of the Shadow Death as children.  When they meet, they end up searching out the cause of the Shadow Death and defeating the Shadows. (Forerunners are frequently mentioned)


3. Dread Companion

2301-2483 AF = 5800-5980 A.D.
First-in Survey Scout Jorth Kosgro discovers the planet Dylan; he wanders into the Folk’s world and is lost.   100 years later, Kilda’s took employment as a teacher and governess to two young children on Dylan. One of her charges has an invisible ‘dread companion’ that leads her charges into an other-dimensional Faerie world. After they arrive back on Dylan after escaping the world of the Folk, Jorth and Kilda leave together in Jorth’s scout ship.


By this time, and this far away, the location of Terra was in dispute.
Forerunners were known..



First-in scouts are also mentioned in the Janus series.

series: PSYCHO-somethings

Ca. 4500-6500 A.D. 
Common theme: PsychoTechs, Psychocrats, Dreamers
3 books, 4 SS,    Stand-alone reads linked by Psycho-somethings, random reading order.


Some time before 4900 A.D.: 
(time line motivation: Psycho-techs are generally still respectable.
That would end after the 1404 ASF Overturn of Psychocrat domination  = 4900 A.D.


1. Star Hunter

Stand-alone read.

Ras Hume  counterfeits a claimant to the Kogan fortune, and conditioned Vye Lansor to be the claimant Rynch Brodie. Vye finds a trap set by Forerunners and saves Hume from it, only to learn that Hume’s scheme had been carried out with Patrol assistance to get evidence on him. 


(“Ice Crown”) Clio and several other planets were settled by the Psychocrats, who liked to use mind-control on entire populations for long-term social experiments.


2. Ice Crown

Offlas Keil and his neice Roane’s seek to unlock the valuable Forerunner power that resides in the famous Ice Crown of the planet Clio, which was settled by Psychocrats.

3. Android at Arms

Ca.  5700-5800 A.D.
Elys of Posidonia, the Demizonda of Islewaith, is duplicated by a Mengian android whose memories date from the day before she sings in the full tide of Qinguam. (mentions Psychocrats)

4-7.  Perilous Dreams: 4 short stories about the ‘Dreamers’ on planet Ty-Kry.
Read  together for context. 1+2 about Tamisan, the other2  separate stories.

4. Toys of Tamisan

5. Ship of Mist

6. Get out of my Dream

7. Nightmare


Yul appears to be a Forerunner city, although it is not specifically named so.
Espers have become common and respected again.
The Corps is a covert crime fighting agency which is not supposed to interfere in local rule, but sometimes does.
Androids are used as bodyguards by most; men by the ‘multi-credit’ rich.



Common theme 4 series + 1 novel: FORERUNNERS / FREE TRADERS

Read each series as a whole, Solar Queen first, the rest in random order.

series: Solar Queen

Ca. 4500-4800 A.D. - 7 books Continuing story, definitely read together in this order


From : (“Sargasso of Space”):
Galactic Trading was well-established and  Trade was becoming a closed clan-based occupation. …/…   “There are Terran colonies over a thousand years old…

Astra was colonized Ca. A.D. 2487 and is mentioned in (“Plague Ship”) which could place the Solar Queen as early as 3500 A.D.. It is more likely that – like Khatka – most of these early colonies originated during or shortly  after the 1st Atomic Wars (Ca. A.D. 2900-3500) Assuming ‘over 100 years’ = 1001-1100. With travel time added, this places Solar Queen Ca. 4700-4800 A.D. = 500-800 ASF.

REMINDERS of nearby events:
* Psychocrats Overturn = 4900 A.D.
* Founding of 1st Galactic Empire = 5000 A.D.



1 Sargasso of Space

This is Norton’s first book that mentions Forerunners.
Dane Thorson is assigned to the “Solar Queen”, a Free Trader ship. The Queen’s crew participates in a Survey auction and buys the right to exploit the planet “Limbo”. Accompanied by a team of archaeologists, they find Forerunner ruins.

2 Plague Ship
3 Voodoo Planet
4 Postmarked the Stars
5 Redline the Stars
6 Derelict for Trade
7 A Mind for Trade


From (“Redline the Stars”)
By now, many human races had been found, descendants from the lost Terran colonies.
Eight nonhuman races were known and three chemically different races including the Rigellians and Salariki. 
None knew anything about the Forerunners, even thoough the Rigellians were known to have had interstellar travel before Terrans.





Ca. 5000. A.D.
(“Star Rangers”[6])
The 1st Galactic Empire is founded as a Galaxy-wide umbrella over all politic factions, a new, more benevolent ‘Central Control’ that manages to keep the peace for nearly 3000 years…




Continuing story of Krip Vorlund, definitely read together in this order

1 Moon of Three Rings

The life of a Free Trader was all Krip Vorlund knew. That life ended at a beast show on Yiktor when Vorlund was strangely attracted to Maelen, the owner of the show animals.

2 Exiles of the Stars

The galactic trade ship Lydis lands in a battle of ancient powers and nameless evil, with a Forerunner treasure at its heart. The crew seems normal, but Krip Vorlund is a man who walks in a body not his own, and his pet hides the mind of Maelen the Moon Singer.

3 Flight in Yiktor

4 Dare to Go A-Hunting

Farree is a hunchback orphan in the slum of a tough, lawless world on the edge of the known galaxy. His only friend? A war-beast rescued from starvation and the fighting pits with whom he has a telepathic connection. Farree discovers his true heritage as one of the ancient Little People, the Faery Folk, of legend—but so far as he knows, he is the only one of his kind to survive. Then Krip Vorlund and Maelen, the Moonsinger, find a clue on a distant world which points to the location of Farree’s birthplace.


Continuing story of  Jern Murdoc, definitely read together in this order

1. The Zero Stone

2. Uncharted Stars

Murdoc Jern’s father  was murdered by outlaw competitors and left behind an odd ring. With his companion Eet, a feline mutant with phenomenal mental powers, he soon discovered that the stone in the ring was actually a Zero Stone—a Forerunner device—and it was the key to powers beyond human imagination. Murdoc and Eet had to solve the secret of the Zero Stone, and very quickly, because very greedy and dangerous people wanted that ring, and wouldn’t hesitate at a second murder to obtain it.



5 books. Books 1-3 are separate stories, loosely connected by the same location. Books  4+5 are a separate continuous story.

Read together in this order for common context.


100+ years before (“Storm Over Warlock”), Terrans first encountered the Throgs, a race of sentients in an intense period of expansion in competition for the same colonization-suitable planets. After efforts at communication failed, the Terrans and Throgs began a war to claim the needed planets.


1. Storm Over Warlock

Throgs attack and wipe out a Survey planet exploration camp.
The survivors and local Wyverns join together to throw the Throgs off Warlock.

2. Ordeal in Otherwhere

A Free Trader ship buys Charis Nordholm and takes her to Warlock, where she is teleported away by the Wyverns and the Free Trader post is destroyed by Company men. When the Jacks arm the male Wyverns to overthrow the females’ rule, Charis finds herself allied with Shann Lantee, Taggi, Togi, and the curl-cat Tsstu to help the females drive off the males and Jacks.


The only war waged in centuries has been against the Throgs.

[The great advances in practical psi between (“Storm & Ordeal”) and (“Forerunner Foray”) are notably, probably made possible by contact with the Wyverns]


3. Forerunner Foray

A generation later
Highly skilled mind reader Ziantha is totally unprepared for her contact with the strange green stone which takes her out-of-body, and into the ancient Forerunner worlds of hidden treasure and wisdom. 


Again considerably later, with a different protagonist

4. Forerunner

5. Forerunner: The Second Venture


On ancient Kuxortal, Simsa grows up among garbage pickers who live upon the ancient Forerunners ruins. But then star ranger Thom leads Simsa on a path to the discovery of her origins. The truth may lie below in the ancient high tech Forerunner ruins where Simsa was first discovered as a infant.
Simsa escapes the criminal guilds of Kuxortal only to find herself held prisoner by starfaring humans intent on discovering the secrets of the Forerunners. With the aid of her pet Zorsal, Simsa escapes and crash lands on another world touched by ancient Forerunner civilization.

Also during this era:

1. Brother to Shadows

stand-alone read
Zurzal finds the plans to Fauklow’s time viewer among captured Jack records.  He builds his own viewer, gets some results, and decides to prove his case by traveling to Lochan, a planet whose past is unknown, and produce results which cannot be falsified. 2 years later: When the force stone of his Lair dies and his Master does too, the Shagga priest of the ex-Lair expels off-worlder Brother Jofre, from the Shadows. Jofre survives and oaths to Histechneer Zurzal, a young Zacathan searching for archaeological treasure to prove the worth of his time viewer.

V. 7900-8100 A.D. - Death of an Empire

3 series

From (“Catseye”)

Ca. 8050 A.D.  -  Ca. 4627 ASF
 The 5-year War of the Two Sectors between the Confederation and the Council had finally ended. Many planets had been burnt off during the Two-Sector Rebellion.

The First Galactic Empire was breaking up.
The Council and the Octed of the Rim were the major powers now.


Series: The dying Empire

2 stand-alone stories, read in random order.

The First Galactic Empire had been able to maintain the peace for almost 3,000 years.

Stellar Patrol had been unchallenged for over 1,000 years, and by now had become under-manned, under-equipped and under-funded. Central control was withdrawing the remaining Patrol ships from areas that it considered indefensible, and thus expendable.

That suited some sector officials with dreams of their own pocket empire just fine.

Life was not so pleasant on the planets that were left undefended,

1. Eye of the Monster

When the Patrol begins to withdraw from Ishkur, Ishkurians slaughter most off-worlders. By luck, Rees survives and rescues a Terran and a Salarika child. Together with a Salarika adult they journey together to a mining camp with heavy defenses; there they signal the few remaining Patrol members and fight off the Ishkurians until a robo flyer arrives to take them off-planet.

Ca. 8050-8070 A.D.
The Confederation, already greatly weakened by the War of The Two Sectors, would splinter further into smaller Confederacies shortly after during the 10-year ‘Four Sectors War’ that followed.

Terra, which started out as the Confederation’s center, became a backwater world, mostly legendary or even completely forgotten in faraway parts of the Galaxy.

2. Dark Piper

The planet Beltane had been unscathed by the all-encompassing Four Sectors War when Vere Collis and his friends, were trapped underground by powerful explosions on the surface while exploring caves. Their leader was killed, but the group wandered for days underground to find a way to the surface. They emerged to find that they were the last human survivors on Beltane. Only strange and deadly mutant creatures now roamed the surface.

Series: The Dipple Books 

4 books, linked by the Dipple refugee camp

1+2: 2 stand-alone reads with common location, random reading order

3+4:  Continuing story of Naill Renfro, definitely read together in this order

1. Catseye

Troy Horan finds a job with an exotic pet store. The Terran animals are psi-gifted. He ends up allying himself with the animals and fleeing with them into Korwar’s wilderness.

2. Night of Masks

Nik Kolherne has a burned face. When the Thieves’ Guild offers him a new face in exchange for his service, he helps the Guild kidnap someone.

3. Judgment on Janus (1963) 7880-8065 A.D.
4. Victory on Janus (1966)

When Naill Renfro (who grew up in Dipple) finds alien artifacts on Janus, he changes into an Iftin warrior. He is hunted as a demon by the colonists, but he escapes into the forest and encounters other new Ift. They learn of the evil of “That Which Abides” and fight it to a standstill. Naill and the other new Ift learn that “That Which Abides” was a malfunctioning computer from an alien colonization ship They disable the computer and free its prisoners.

series Beast Master Ca. 8050 – 8100 A.D.

5 books, read together  in this order

Earth was slagged (again) in the Four Sectors Wars.
Beast Master Hosteen Storm relocates to Arzor




1 The Beast Master
2 Lord of Thunder
3 Beast Master’s Ark
4 Beast Master’s Circus
5 Beast Master’s Quest

VI. After 8070 A.D. - The Post-Human Earth

common themes: dying Earth, evacuation of Terra, sentient animals

Series: Post-Human Earth

Ca. 8070-8100 A.D.
After the pollut-die-off (“London Bridge”) most of the remaining Terrans are evacuated to Elhorn II and other planets. Many of these colonists are extremely set against tech.

Afterward, Terran scientists attempt to use a genetically engineered virus to help animals adapt to the changing conditions. Unfortunately, it affects humans by killing them, sterilizing the survivors, and driving many mad. Simultaneously the animals are made sentient. Insane humans often react by killing their pets and hunting down strays (“Breed To Come”).

1. London Bridge

6 years after the last plague attack:
Stand-alone, read before ‘Breed to Come’.

 The children who survived the plagues work for survival in the ruined cities left behind.

When the Rhyming Man shows up, children begin to disappear. Lew follows the Rhyming and manages to get Outside, where he and the other children begin a new life.

2. Iron Cage

Rutee is kidnapped from Ishtar by aliens She and her son Jony manage to escape onto a strange planet - Earth. They are aided by the People, a tribe of intelligent animals. After Rutee dies, Jony and the twins Maba and Geogee grow up among the people.
Then a human ship arrives seeking Forerunner artifacts.They capture Geogee, Maba, and several of the People. and force them to find ancient artifacts. Jony rescues Maba and the People, destroys the artifacts and the ship, and allows Geogee and the humans to live as best they can. The People work to be ready for the next ship.

3. Breed to Come

On a distant future Earth, humans have polluted the planet and departed, leaving their pets behind to inherit a blasted world.  But from that devastated past, a new breed of intelligence arises: the catlike People.  Now humans return and the People are in no mood to deal once again with the “demons” who abandoned them to fate so long ago.

THE END of Andre Norton’s Future History


APPENDIX A:   Consolidating 3 Time Reckoning Systems

Number Dates

Norton’s Space Age books have very few hard dates in 4 different systems:

A.D.  is used ONLY in Star Guard, Star Rangers and Daybreak

2250 A.D.

2250 A.D.         Daybreak (Starman’s Son 1955)

3956 A.D.         Horde is hired (Star Guard 1953)
                        This is 300+ yrs after 1st contact.

4130 A.D.         Lecture (Star Guard)

8054 A.D.         First Galactic Empire is failing after 3K years (Star Rangers)[7]

                 five years ago—the Two-Sector Rebellion.                          

                 Stellar Patrol has existed unchallenged for 1K yrs.

                  Jorcam Dester sends the last Stellar Patrol away

ASF  is used only in the Janus series. I did not find what it stands for.

4450 ASF Jarvas lands on Janus

4570 ASF Jahuld Urswin lands on Janus

4635 ASF Naill / Ayyar lands on Janus,

A.F.   = galactic reckoning = After Flight; is used in 2 ‘stand-alone’ books

(Android at Arms)
“On what day do you remember being last in your proper place?”

2195 A.F. Elys 

2200 A.F. Yolyos
            2230 A.F. Andas 

2246 A.F. Isiwon

2275 A.F.  power failure releases six android duplicates

(Dread Companion) 
            2301 A.F.  Jorth Kosgro enters Grey World

2405 A.F.  Kilda  Halcrow  born on Haloz

2422 A.F. Kilda enters Grey World

2483 A.F. They return

A.L.   = After Landing = Planetary time reckoning; is used in (Voorloper) 

30 A.L. Lasur makes a sweep for 30 days, Sanzor was doomed.
I did not find information that would allow me to resolve this A.L. reckoning.

How I resolved this problem:

Supposition 1: A.F. =  ca. 2000 A.D. - Astra spaceship  REJECTED
(Terra had forgotten about that ship, and thought C.C. contact was 1st star travel)

A.F. = After Flight (“Dread Companion”)

Supposition 2: First star flight that led to contact with C.C.  
                        è = 0 A.F. =  ca. 3650 A.D. (“Star Guards”)

Supposition 3:  The Two-Sector Rebellion  ca. 8050 A.D. (“Star Rangers”) is the same event as
                         The War of the Two Sectors (Dipple books)

                        Niall leaves Dipple for Janus, arrives 4635 ASF, while still young.
                        è  war ends  ca. 4620 ASF               è 0 ASF =  ca. 3430 A.D.

There are only 220 years difference between those 2 calculations. Considering that: 1/. The ship probably left many years before they met C.C. and Terra could well consider A.F to be the year the ship left, rather than when it met C.C. and 2/. there are millions of star systems all over the galaxy in diverse and competing political systems—and as far as we know no instantaneous star travel and/or communications—those 220 years are close enough for me to assume that AF and ASF are the same, that ASF stands for ‘After Star Flight.’ 

For easier calculations, I’ll split the difference and take 0 A.F. / ASF =  ca. 3500 A.D., except for those dates right around 2-Sector War where I used 3430.

This gives us:

·        (“Daybreak 2250 A.D.”) 

ca. 2250 A.D.

·        (“Star Guards”) 

ca. 3650-4000 A.D.

·        The Foundation of 1st Galactic empire   (“Star Rangers”)

ca. 5000 A.D.

·        (“Android at Arms”)  2275 A.F.

ca. 5775 A.D.

·        (“Dread Companion”)  = 2301-2483 AF

ca. 5800-5980 A.D.

·        (“Star Rangers”) contemporary with the Dipple and Janus

ca. 8050 A.D





This is a good start.

The alternative

If the three timelines are sequential, many works would be placed in a very distant future long after (“Star Rangers”).  That is not consistent with the pervasive political and economic background (Council, federation, Patrol, Free Traders) common so many works in this listing. 


Step 1: Number dates are given in 8 books:

  1. Daybreak 2250 A.D.
  2. Star Guards
  3. Star Rangers
  4. Android at Arms
  5. Dread Companion
  6. Voorloper
  7. Janus x2

Step2:  Forerunners are mentioned in: Dread Companion.  We add: (8+28 = 36)

1.      Solar Queen x7

2.      Forerunners x5

3.      Star Stones x2

4.      Moonsinger x4

5.      Beast Master (?) x5

6.      Ice Crown

7.      X-factor

8.      Dark Piper

9.      Voorloper

10.  Brother to Shadows

Step 3: Council / Confederation / League / Patrol are mentioned in Solar Queen series a.o.  (36+7 = 43)  We add:

  1. Perilous Dreams x4
  2. Eye of the Monster
  3. The Sioux Spaceman
  4. Star Hunter

Step 4: The Great Blow-up, 1st Atomic Wars, space  travel, Astra, Gorth, sentient animals We add:

(43+18 = 61)

  1. Time Traders x7
  2. Star Ka’at x4
  3. Wizard’s Worlds: 3 SS about Mars colonization x3
  4. Pax / Astra x2
  5. No Night without Stars
  6. Moon Called
  7. Star Gate
  8. London Bridge


1. Naming the Collection:

I used FORERUNNER UNIVERSE, because that name has already been used on the Internet by others.
Otherwise it could just as well have been ‘Norton’s Future History’— like the ones by Asimov, Heinlein, Anderson, and others.

2. Series validity:
Well-meaning readers have confused this timeline by inappropriately listing unrelated works in several BAEN anthologies as a linked series:

·        The 2 novels in BAEN’s ‘Star Soldiers’ have been dubbed the ‘Central Control’ series.  
Imo only a valid series, separated from the Forerunner Universe Timeline.  See also other comments below.

·        The 4 novels in BAEN’s ‘The Game of Stars and Comets’ have been dubbed the ‘Council / Confederation’ series. More than half of all titles in this listing fit in that period.
If we use that name, we should also include all those titles. Imo not a valid series.

·        The 2 novels in BAEN’s ‘Gods and Androids’ have been dubbed the ‘Psychocrat’ series. ‘Wraiths of Time’ ( a time-travel story) does not mention Psychocrats. ‘Ice Crown’ which mentions both psychocrats and Forerunners is not included, but listed as stand-alone novel. Imo a valid series, but should include ‘Ice Crown’ instead of ‘Wraiths.’

3. PAX/ASTRA series:  

Arguments FOR inclusion:

·         holocaust events = direct link with (“Daybreak 2250 A.D.”)
·         First star flight is a logical precursor for what follows.
·         Astra & Astran duocorns are mentioned in (“Plague Ship”) a.o.

4. No Night without Stars (1975) and Moon Called (1982)

Arguments AGAINST inclusion:

·         Both mention the ‘Before Times’ instead of the ‘Great Blow-up.’ 
·         People use swords and practice shamanism / sorcery.
·         Norton wrote these 20+  years after  Star Guard(1955)  and Star Born (1953) and it is thus more likely a different setting.

Arguments FOR inclusion: (compare with Daybreak 2250 A.D.)

·         Expansive timelines have been written over much longer periods. (e.g. Anderson, Asimov)
·         Common themes: post-nuclear apocalypse, quests for lost knowledge.
·         The First Atomic Wars occur several centuries after The Great Blow-up. Most likely different areas were affected by each. (Why after all bomb already uninhabitable waste lands?) If small pockets of humanity survived in distant areas, it is likely that they would not be aware of each other until much later and evolve into different cultures.

5. Central Control series, specifically Star Rangers

 Starfire left on her last trip 8050 A.D. and crashed on Earth where they find only abandoned cities and a few primitive nomadic tribes. They find the Hall of Leave-Taking where– according to legend - everyone who left Earth received their last instructions before take-off. Because no one ever returned, Earthy was drained of its adventurous people until only ‘unfit’ were left At the end the remaining humans and X-tees leave to ‘live in the wild’ to’ repopulate’ Earth.

Arguments FOR inclusion

·         This book is difficult to set aside, as it was essential for the time reckoning reconciliation, the very start of this timeline. Change the time frame, and you change everything else as well.
·         Star Guard appears to have been  written as prequel (Central Control)

Arguments AGAINST inclusion:

·        So many unrealistic assumptions[8]
·        The  ‘Empty Earth’ is 100% incompatible with the other stories. 
·        Other than “Central Control’ and ‘Stellar Patrol’ there is no real common ground with any of the other books.       Change those 2 names and the novels aren’t even remotely connected.

6. Three Short Stories From Wizards Worlds SSC

Arguments for inclusion:

·        colonization of our solar system is a logical step before going beyond.
·        Espers become important later in the timeline.

7. Star Gate

Argument AGAINST inclusion:

·         The star gate is not mentioned anywhere else; alternate realities

Argument FOR inclusion:

·         This could fit anywhere on the timeline that a lost colony is possible, i.e. anywhere after Terra started colonizing planets. However, such advanced technology would suggest (but not mandate) rather later than sooner. 
·         The star gate could have been a ‘local’ or experimental discovery that was abandoned as too dangerous or lost forever in the 2nd Atomic Wars after Central Control collapse.
·         Gorth is mentioned in ‘Moon of Three Rings’ a.o., .indicating Norton wanted it connected.

8. ‘Beast Master’ series:

Arguments AGAINST inclusion: The Beast Master series appears in conflict with the Forerunner timeline. 

·         (“The Beast Master”) & (“Lord of Thunder”)
The Confederacy which contains Terra, Sirius, and 18 other solar systems (some Inner Worlds, some worlds like Arzor) is attacked by the small empire of the alien Xiks. The war lasted 10 years. The last desperate thrust of the Xik invaders left Terra, the mother planet of the Confederacy, a deadly blue, radioactive cinder.]
·         The Xiks war and radioactive Earth are not mentioned outside this series.  

Arguments FOR inclusion:
·         Forerunner artifacts are specifically mentioned in “Beast Master’s Ark.’
·         Arzor is mentioned as source of Forerunner artifact several times in other books;
·         Ordeal in Otherwhere mentions “Beast Master combat\sabotage.”
·         The 10-year war with the Xiks is consistent with the 10-year 4-sector war mentioned in Dark Piper.  It is not unlikely that non-human races were involved, and one saw an opportunity too good to ignore when Federation was much weakened by the 2-sector war..
·        The (very small) 20-system confederacy to which Terra belongs is consistent with Earth becoming a 2nd, 3rd-rate planet after the 2- and 4-sector wars.

9. EXCLUSION:  ‘Time Trader’ series
= Cold war era time-travel stories with evil Russia as the enemy.
 A ‘Council’ government is mentioned, the Hawaika colony from “Key Out of Time” is mentioned in “The Zero Stone,” but there are no relevant links with the Forerunner timeline. 

10. EXCLUSION:  Wraiths of Time
has imo no link to Psychocrats or Forerunners.
This is a simple time-travel story that imo does NOT belong in Forerunner Universe timeline.

11. EXCLUSION: Sea Siege
Scientists on a remote island know something has happened on the main-land, but have no idea what. This could possible fit right after the Big Blow-up if it weren't for the references to Hiroshima and to Russia as the Big Evil enemy, which really date this story as cold-war era and makes it incompatible with the other stories.
I'm not a very big fan of fix-up novels, but in this case it can only get better. If an editor could get permission from the Andre Norton estate to change just those 2 points. This story could be very well be rejuvenated as the first in the post-nuclear holocaust series, set only days after the Great Blow-up. 

12. INCLUSION: Secret of the Lost Race
“These aliens …/… were comrades-in-arms and good friends to other races who preceded us into space, those who built the ruins we now find on dead worlds, for we are new to come into an old, old region.”
This certainly suggests Forerunners, but although this novel was written 4 years after “Sargasso” the word is not specifically used. Neither are any of the other buzz-words like Council, Federation, Patrol or The League of Free Traders. However, ‘free traders’ are mentioned and Terrans are addressed as ‘gentlehomo’ which also happens in Dread Companion, Star Hunter, Forerunner & Brother to Shadows.
The lack of any specific time reference makes a precise placement difficult, but the above suggests that this novel belongs soon after Central Control breakup  when the name ‘Forerunners’ was not generally known yet. During the Solar Queen era, there were already 'Forerunners' specialists. 


This timeline is based on several sources, including but not limited to:

1.       Personal reading and research in Andre Norton’s books;

2.       ‘Dipple series listing on, 35 titles in random order;

3.       Andre Norton’s Forerunner universe chronological order by Elise (no ID info available) 28 titles mostly in publication order

4.      Maureen O’Brien’s multiverse timeline n ties many of Norton’s pre-1995 works into a single timeline. This listing is very different, both in content and presentation. I did adopt some comments from those pages, courtesy of the webmaster.


is available upon request. (14pp.)


[1] First: 1953 Star Rangers Last: 1993 Brother to Shadows; or 1997 with co-author A Mind for Trade.

[2] See Appendix B: “Arguments”

[3] In the books I have retained for this collection, Norton provided the grand total of 17 hard-number dates in 8 stories. Only 6 of those can be used for a timeline. The remainder is useful only to provide a time frame within the same story, without reference to outside events that could to elaborate the timeline.

[4] That is probably why I haven’t been able to find one.

[5] Star Guard & Star Rangers could be considered a loosely-connected series separate from the Forerunners Universe. I have included them because Star Guards does fit without any shoehorning, but Star Rangers’ ‘Empty Earth’ is incompatible.  Star Rangers would be an alternate reality that diverged from the Forerunners Timeline shortly after Star Guards. Everything that is mentioned in Star Guards could still have happened in Forerunners Timeline, with the exception of a forgotten Empty Earth.

[6] This event from ‘Star Rangers’ can be adopted in the Forerunner Universe Timeline. This could happen, regardless of whether Earth is populated or empty, and is consistent with lack of widespread wars between Council & Federation. Council & Federation would have had to get along fairly well for several centuries to agree to an authority that stands above them. This also explains the mention of a ‘Central Control’ in 3 of the Forerunner books.

[7] The time comparison of Star Rangers remains valid.
Everything not directly related to the Empty Earth of Star Rangers could still have happened with a populated Earth.

[8]  Unreasonable assumptions in Star Rangers:

1/. Why would they keep sending ships if none ever returned? A whole planet emptied without confirmation that any colony was ever founded??? (No mention of instant communication over interstellar distances)

2/. Colonization #s could not ever be large enough to remove billions (as if the stay-behinds would stop breeding …)

3/. Why would colonization cause the stay-behinds to become primitive jungle dwellers? 

The End



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