and Recommended Reading Order

for Andre Norton’s


by Geert Cuypers © 2018
Last updated on January 15, 2019

Recreated on this website in case this link ever fails.
Reformatted and edited for this site by Jay Watts ~ Jan. 2019

Contents of pt.1
Recommended Reading Order
Story Review

Documentation and argumentation available in the following sections:

Appendex A ~ pt.2

Time references and conflict warnings.
Footnotes used to compile the timeline.

Appendex B ~ pt.3

Creating the timeline.
The difficult road to ordering a chaotic Universe.

Appendex C ~ pt.4

Why did I include / exclude stories?

Appendex D ~ pt.5

Word Searches, Quotes, etc.
Leftovers from the word-searches I used to figure out what & where books belong in this collection.
The essential references from these searches have been moved to the previous pages by cutting & pasting.
These are the 'leftovers' and the remaining references in this page are redundant.
I included this page for completeness, and as an optional reference FYI.

* * * * * * *

Source Credits and Acknowledgements:

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

  • About 1 year of dedicated reading and research in Andre Norton’s books;
  • My thanks and appreciation to Jay Watts, webmaster of andre-norton-books.com for maintaining this website for all these years. Jay Watts has access to most of Andre Norton's estate documents and confirmed that the author did not leave any notes relating to a timeline of the Forerunners Universe.
  • Maureen O’Brien’s 'Multi-verse' timeline ties many of Norton’s pre-1995 works into a single timeline. This listing is very different in purpose, content and presentation. I did adopt the ("story title") notation and some relevant quotes from those pages — courtesy of webmaster Jay Watts, — as no current contact information for Maureen O'Brien is available.

* * * * * * *

Request for Assistance:

Reading Andre Norton is a good pastime but it still takes time; even more so when trying to find specific information. Sometimes, just a few words in an off-hand comment can provide important clues. I'm sure I missed some.

If you can assist with refining this timeline, please do let me know. Mail geert @ avemariasongs . org [no spaces] with “Forerunners Universe” in the subject line if you don't want it to end up in my junk folder.

Geert Cuypers
SF&F-fan on isfdb.org

 Appendix A: Footnotes, ~ Time references and Conflict Warnings

The Stars Are Ours!
Exact dating is not possible. The Great Blow-up ca. 2020 is derived from quote from 2250 A.D. :"...For more than two hundred years—ever since the black days of chaos following the Great Blow-up..."
The space ship leaves ca. 10 years later.
Transit time: “At least three hundred years—maybe more." = Astra colony founded ca. 2350 A.D. or later.

Sea Siege
This is a post-WWII story with Russia as the big bad wolf. A revision to remove Cold War era references could make this a story of the first days immediately after the Big Blow-up or start of the Atomic Wars.

Daybreak 2250 A.D.
He knew that [the wall] had stood so for perhaps three hundred years.

No Night Without Stars
Rememberers had counted some three hundred years from the end of one world and the beginning of this one.

Secret of the Lost Race
From: ("The Secret of the Lost Race")
The Galactic Council was solidly behind this emigration policy which worked two ways. First it got rid of the drifters and those outside the law on the civilized worlds, and second, it helped to open new planets. Thus both problems were settled to the satisfaction of all but the victims, who had no political power anyway.

Galactic Council???

Conflict with ("Star Guard"): Colonies were secret. The C.C. Council was very much opposed to Human colonization.
If this is a Terran Confederation Council AFTER separation from C.C. = more than 300 years ASF.
This 'Galactic Council' is not a conflict if it refers to a Council of the Terran Confederation.

From: ("The Secret of the Lost Race")
“Terrans had been exploring the galaxy now for little less than three centuries."
= massive program of forced cold-sleep migration; ca. 4000 A.D. shortly after C.C. break-up.

“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 is an early reference to Forerunners, before that name became generally known. This story also shows that Terrans weren't always peaceful towards alien races.

From (“Catseye”) Chapter 1  
The War of the Two Sectors  .../... a fringe of frontier worlds had passed into the grasp of one or the other of the major powers—the Confederation or the Council. As a result, the citizens of several small nations suddenly found themselves homeless.  .../...  At the outbreak of the war ten years earlier, there had been forced evacuations from such frontier worlds .../... In this fashion, the Dipple had been set up on Korwar, far back from the fighting line.
Also from (“Catseye”) Chapter 5
Terra was the center of the Confederation—or had been before the war. But she had not come out well at the end of that conflict; too many of her allies had gone down to defeat. From the dominant voice she had sunk to a second-rate, even third-rate, power at the conference tables. The Council and the Octed of the Rim maneuvered for first power, while the old Confederation had fractured into at least three collections of smaller rulerships.

These 2 references contradict each other as to the political power of the Confederation, unless the situation changed very quickly in the 5 years after the war.

The Zero Stone
A. early history story ca. 4000-4300 A.D.

From The Zero Stone:
#1. "I have seen several such [captain's rings], centuries old, which must have been worn by the first space venturers."   
#2. "From their beginnings as men who were willing to take risks outside the regular lines, which were the monopolies of the big combines, the Free Traders, loners and explorers by temperament, had become, through several centuries of space travel, more and more a race apart. .../... They had space-hung ports now, asteroids they had converted, on which they established quasi family life."
Time references #1+2 place this story ca. 300-500 ASF = 4000-4300 A.D.; only few centuries into the human space- faring era.

B. BEFORE Moonsinger cycle.

#3. A face hung over me ...  furred, with pricked, tasseled ears, green-gold eyes. It opened a black-lipped mouth and I looked into a wedge-shaped space set with fangs, and a curling, rough-surfaced tongue.  
#4. The Zacathans, I believe, have archaeological records of at least three star empires, or alliances, all vanished before  they pioneered space.
Time reference #3 places this as an early story, when cats were still common on free trader ships. By the time of ("Moonsinger"), cats were almost extinct.
("Exiles to the Stars") reports that Zacathans have identified at least 10 different races of Forerunners instead of the 3 mentioned here, confirming that this story happens (considerably?) earlier than the Moonsinger stories.

“Thax Thorman had trading rights on Rohan back in 3949.  .../...
Nowadays, since the Free Men have had their ownconfederation, combines can’t pull such tricks. "
This suggest that the League of Free Traders was founded sometime about 4000 A.D.

C. BUT AFTER the 1st Warlock story.
"...the strange Wyverns, ..."
Forerunner Foray: ...The Forerunner City-planet was discovered 2 years ago These references places these 2 stories AFTER ("Storm over Warlock') and only 2 years prior to ("Forerunner Foray")

“In the name of the Council, the Four Confederacies, the Twelve Systems, the Inner and Outer Planets,”
This suggests a divided political system with many opposing factions; 4 confederacies instead of 3 smaller rulerships mentioned in Catseye. I find it very confusing.

Uncharted Stars

From Uncharted Stars:
“You have certainly heard of the Caverns of Arzor and of that Sargasso planet of Limbo where a device intended for war and left running continued to pull ships to crash on its surface for thousands of years."

The Limbo reference places this story AFTER the Solar Queen stories.
Solar Queen mentions Terran colonies over 1000 years old, which is impossible if ("The Star Stone") is only a few centuries into the Terran Spage Age.

The Caverns of Arzor reference seems to place this story also later than the Beast Master.
That would mean that Terra was already burnt off during the War of Two Sectors = timeline conflict.
Possible alternative explanation:
The sealed caverns of Arzor were known (or at least strongly suspected) to be Forerunner sites, long before Hosteen Storm discovered the Gardens of Arzor.

Shann Lantee stories
Time references From: Ordeal in Otherwhere:
...the medical knowledge her species had been able to amass during centuries of space travel, experimentation, and information acquired across the galaxy...
This places the story fairly early.
Of course, sooner or later, Central Control would investigate. But not for months was any government ship scheduled to set down on Demeter.
b... but well after ("Star Guard"). This suggests that Demeter is in Council territory.
"...a world named Warlock. Heard of it?” Charis shook her head. There were too many worlds; one could never keep up with their listing.
...“Are you a Beast Master?” she asked. “No, Survey doesn’t use animals that way—as fighters or sabotage teams. ...
This last reference links the Warlock books tot the ("Beast Master") cycle.

Forerunner Foray

... some of the galactic elite who made Korwar their playground had good reason to fear sudden death ...
... Korwar was both a playground and a crossroads for this part of the galaxy ...
... they crossed the edge of the Dipple, .../... Almost her full lifetime the Dipple had been there, a blot that Korwar, and this part of the galaxy, tried to forget but could not destroy.
Ziantha was a human of Terran—or past-Terran—descent. But from what race or planet she had come in that dim beginning, when the inhabitants of dozens of worlds (the noncombatants, that is) had been driven by war to land in the “temporary” camp of the Dipple, she could not tell.
These references to Korwar and Dipple place Forerunner Foray contemporary with the other Dipple books, a decade or so after the War of Two Sectors = ca. 8060 AD.
Two years ago there had come the discovery of a world which was a single huge city, the apex of one of the civilizations of star-traveling races.  .../...  A ring with a strange and deadly gem stone had been the key to the city-world. The story of that quest had been told and retold on tri-dee casts a thousand times.
This clearly refers to the unnamed Forerunner city-planet from Uncharted stars. While such discovery would be widespread news, a timeframe of 2 years to retell the story 'a thousand times' on tri-dee casts seems somewhat unrealistic.  
... My name is Ris Lantee, and I am Wyvern trained  .../...   But I was born on [Warlock, the Wyvern] world; my parents are mind-linked liaison officers ...
This places Forerunner Foray some 25-50 years after Ordeal in Otherwhere.

The Sioux Spaceman
From (“The Sioux Spaceman”)
When Terrans started pushing out into space [away from Central Control], 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.
... the atomic wars had ended one civilization and allowed the return of his own race from backwaters of desert and mountain land...

Editor's Comment:
The Predomincance of Amerindians after the atomic wars is also reflected in the person of Holsteen Storm in  Beast Master.

 Brother to Shadows

“There was a discovery made and ill-used on a world named Korwar. ...."
This refers to the disastrous ending of the Fauklow expedition on Korwar, as mentioned in ("Catseye")
One of my colleagues was able to find an entire planet city, stretching completely round the world which supported it, of a highly technical civilization.
This refers to the unnamed Forerunner city-planet from Uncharted Stars, which means this takes place (shortly?) after Forerunner Foray.      

Ch.18: “In the name of the Council, the Four Confederacies, the Twelve Systems, the Inner and Outer Planets,” he recited formally, as he must have done many times before, it came so easily to him, “this agreement shall hold by planet law and star law.”
This elaborate formula suggests that political power is divided, consistent with a break-up of the unified empire of Confederation.

"... to venture into the unknown in one of these [space ships]—But men had been doing it now for hundreds of seasons."
This is another time reference that places the Warlock.Korwar books in early in Terran space history.

What does not make sense in this story:
Why would the scholarly Zacathan insist on going to an remote and hostile world to test his viewer, when there are so many easily accessible Forerunner sites available?

Star Gate

Gorth is also mentioned in ("Moon of Three Rings")


  • This must have been one of the early Terran colonies, before the prohibition of colonization of planets with sentient life.
  • While this is a satisfying Spage Age adventure, the usual F-U background elements are not found in this story.
  • Alternate worlds do appear in some F-U stories, but those are accessed through Esper power and/or Forerunner devices, not by a 'mechanical' device like the star gate. (Point for discussion?)

Iron Cage
A thousand years later and half the galaxy away...
The story allegedly takes place 1000 years after what appears to be a contemporary scene.

Dark Piper

Beltane had been in existence about a century at the outbreak of the Four Sectors War. That war lasted ten planet years.
...There were ships now without home ports, their native worlds burned-out cinders or radioactive to the point that life could not exist on their deadly surfaces.
...a certain number of such animals had even gone to war, in “beast teams,” aligned with human controllers.
This story is clearly linked to the ('Beast Master") cycle, where Terra was burned off at the end of a 10-year war. This is the only story that mentions the Four Sector War.
It is unclear when (compared to the War of Two Sectors) it took place. However, the common theme of a dying empire is very clear.

Dread Companion

One of the very few number dates: 2301-2483 AF = ca. 5800-6000 A.D. ???
Forerunners were known.

#1. There had been the sudden attack of an alien task force aimed at outer ring worlds. That had been defeated in a battle near the Nebula, but it was only the beginning. The destroyed force was but a scouting arm for a vast armada. Raids and more attacks followed. When the strangers were finally beaten, this whole section of the galaxy, once civilized, had been left in a state of chaos in which the strong lived and the weak were swiftly gone. There was no communication left between separate solar systems, even between worlds.
#2. ... where Terra lies is in dispute.

#1. This war reference is not mentioned anywhere else, and the destruction of an entire sector is inconsistent with the supposed 3000-year Pax Galactica.
#2. If we ignore the dates from this book, we could fit this in with the 10-year wars mentioned in ("Dark Piper") and ("Beast Master"), but at that time and in that sector, the location of Terra wouldn't be in dispute yet.

If Andre Norton had made this a small in-system war instead of something sector-wide, this would not have been a problem at all. Localized conflicts and pirate raids would happen even in a period of galactic peace.

The Solar Queen cycle
'Firm' date Ca. 4700-5000 A.D.
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…"

The Astra colony ship left Terra ca. 2030, with transit time of "at least three hundred years" Although there were at least 2 earlier 'galactic expeditions,' Astra is the earliest successful and surviving colony mentioned e.g. in (“Plague Ship”) which could place the Solar Queen as early as ca. 3500 A.D. It is more likely that most of the early colonies originated during or shortly  after the 1st Atomic Wars (Ca. A.D. 2900-3500)
Assuming that ‘over 1000 years’ = 1050-1300 years and with a few centuries added for cold-sleep travel time, this places Solar Queen Ca. 4700-5000 A.D.

REMINDERS of nearby event:
* Founding of 1st Galactic Empire = 5000 A.D. ("Star Rangers")

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 though the Rigellians were known to have had interstellar travel before Terrans.

Zacathans were known since the very fist contact with Central Control. They are scholars who are very interested in Forerunners.

Series: Moonsinger cycle
Relative date Ca. 6000-6500 A.D.

From ("Moon of Three Rings")
Long ago all ships carried felines for the protection of the cargo, since they hunted to rout out any pests stowing away. For centuries they were inseparable crew members. But their numbers grew less and less; they did not have as large or as many litters any more. We had forgotten where that animal had originated, so fresh stock could not be obtained to renew the breed. There were still a few at headquarters, highly prized, protected, tended, in hope that the breed might be reinstated.

“What is treasure, Krip Vorlund? On Zacon it is knowledge, for the Zacathans look upon learning as their treasure..../... On Sargol it is a small green herb, once common on forgotten Terra..."

From ("Exiles of the Stars")
#1. " How many years has this system been settled? If they were of the first wave, perhaps a thousand years, a little less  .../... Terra took to space a thousand years ago  .../...    
#2. "Limbo—that had been the startling discovery of a Free Trader in the earlier days."

These time references are somewhat contradictory:
1. The less-than-1000-year reference in #1suggests this story happens shortly before to contemporary with Sargasso of the Sea (Solar Queen cycle) which states "There are Terran colonies over a thousand years old... "
2. However, #2 places it later than the Limbo discoveries, and 3 (in the earlier days) makes that considerably later.
#3 "...nowadays even Terra is half legend..."
This comment is very similar to the one in ("Dread Companion") "...where Terra lies is in dispute... " which is one of the very few stories that Norton gave firm dates for: 2300-2500 A.F.

WARNING: ("Zero Stone") before ("Exiles")
#4 ...the Forerunners were not a single civilization, either—even a single species. Ask the Zacathans—they can count you off evidence of perhaps ten which have been tentatively identified, plus fragments of other, earlier ones which have not! The universe is a graveyard of vanished races, some of whom rose to heights we cannot assess today.

In ("The Zero Stone") the Zacathans only know of 3 races of Forerunners, which would place that story earlier than this one.

We are late comers into space, even though we have been for centuries now star voyagers.
= This time reference places this story at least 1 century after The Secret of the Lost Race = 4100 A.D. or later. Impossible to date more precisely that that.

The isolation (lack of off-world Trade or Patrol traffic) does not mean this is an abandoned planet. This would be normal for a newly-settled agrarian planet that is not near a main Trade route.

Star Hunter
Some time before 4900 A.D.:
(time line motivation: Although the conditioning as described is highly illegal, psycho-techs are generally still respectable. That would end after the 1404 ASF Overturn of Psychocrat domination  = 4900 A.D.

The X Factor

This story mentions the same on-planet marriage customs for Survey scouts as Dread Companion
=> possibly the approximate same time period.

Forerunner Simsa cycle

These stories are usually listed together with the 3 Warlock / Lantee stories. Despite the similarity of the titles, the Simsa stories have no connection to Forerunner Foray in the Warlock Magic / Lantee cycle. There are no time references in these 2 stories to link them to the Warlock stories.

These 2 stories are listed as a separate series because they are a continuing story, even though they would be a good fit in the 'Forerunner Planets' series. Simsa visits Forerunner cities on 2 different planets in these stories.

Ice Crown

From: (“Ice Crown”)
Clio had been settled two, maybe three hundred years ago when the Psychocrats dominated the Confederation, before the Overturn of 1404.
This time reference dates the story as ca. 1550-1600 A.F. = ca. 5050-5100 A.D.

Toys of Tamisan / Ship of Mist
The Dreamers of Ty-Kry are able to visit alternate worlds, linking this story to ("Android at Arms") and ("Star Gate")

Get Out of My Dream

"Yul had been in ruins when the first of her own species had come to Benold’s world a thousand planet years ago."

If this Benold’s world is one of the early colonies, this time reference could place these stories as early as 4700 A.D., concurrent with the ("Solar Queen") cycle. If it is a colony of a colony, anywhere after 5000 A.D.
Yul appears to be a Forerunner city, although it is not specifically named so.


".../... any planet where the Council had an Embassy."

This places Ty-Kry in the C.C. Council / Federation era = Forerunners Universe.

Star Rangers

EVENT: ca. 5000. A.D.  
The Galactic Empire has managed to keep the peace for nearly 3000 years… (“Star Rangers”)

1. This is the ONLY reference to this Galactic Empire. No details as to reach of influence or relation to Council / Confederation.
Other stories (e.g. Dread Companion) do mention wars.
2. 3000 years would not be enough to restore a world that was burned off to a radioactive cinder ("Beast Master'). Let's just assume it wasn't really THAT bad...

There are a lot of inconsistencies with the later F-U stories.
See Arguments page for details.

London Bridge / Breed to Come

These are not Forerunner stories, but the sentient animals are consistent with some F-U stories, even though their origin is different, more by accident than by the intentional up-lifiting described in ("Storm over Warlock") and ("Dark Piper").
The name of the planet is not specified. We could assume that Terra's destruction in ("Beast Master") wasn't that bad after all + a distant enough future, or that it is not Earth but one of the colony planets, London could be the name of a city on a colony planet...

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 Recreated on this website in case this link ever fails.
Reformatted and edited for this site by Jay Watts ~ Jan. 2019


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