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


1. Naming the Collection:

I used FORERUNNERS UNIVERSE because Forerunners are the most prominent common theme in the collection. Even though it is a bit harder to pronounce, I used the plural form Forerunners because Andre Norton made it quite clear that it should be so:
From Voorloper:   There were many [races of] Forerunners, yes, and at different times, on different worlds, or in different sectors.
From Exiles of the Stars:  ...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.

2. Series Validity:

One of the problems I faced was that some books that don't belong together were listed together, and others books that do weren't. And because the Forerunners Universe is not acknowledged as a collection, the 'stand-alone' stories are listed as unrelated.
Well-meaning readers have confused the issue with their interpretation that the stories published together in some BAEN anthologies would automatically be a linked series.
It ain't necessarily so!

  • The 4 novels in BAEN’s ‘The Game of Stars and Comets’ have been dubbed the ‘Council / Confederation’ series. These 4 do indeed belong in the F-U, but since all 44 core-titles in this collection fit that period this is (imo) not a valid series.
  • The 2 novels in BAEN’s ‘Gods and Androids’ have been dubbed the ‘Psychocrat’ series.
  • Wraiths of Time’ is an (alternate reality) Egyptian time-travel story. It does not mention Psychocrats, or any of the other recurrent F-U themes. It does (imo) not belong in the Forerunners Universe.
  • Ice Crown’ which mentions both psychocrats and Forerunners is not included, but listed as stand-alone novel.
  • The Mengians in ("Android at Arms") are the heirs of the psychocrats and continued their mind control experiments.
  • (imo) not a valid series.
  • I have combined these 2 titles with the ("Perilous Dreams") SSC into a 'Criminal Minds' series.

In addition to above, I have created several new series to bring the remaining 'stand-alone' stories together in groups with a common theme: Criminal Minds, Forerunner Planets a.o.

3. Story Arguments:

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.

No Night Without Stars (1975) and Moon Called (1982)

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.
Consistent story line: 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.

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), more likely a different setting.

Star Guard (1955) and Star Rangers (1953)
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, Earth 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:
Star Rangers was Norton's first (somewhat immature) Space Age novel.
Nevertheless, many of the F-U themes are predicted or included.
The timeline is consistent with other references.

Arguments AGAINST inclusion: inconsistencies
So many unrealistic assumptions in Star Rangers.
Specifically the ‘Empty Earth’ is incompatible with the other stories.
From: "Secret of the Lost Race"
“Terrans had been exploring the galaxy now for little less than three centuries."

According to the Star Guard-derived timeline, this reference would place this book at about 3950 A.D. near the very end of  Star Guards. However, in this story human colonization is ongoing and wide-spread; forced migration by cold-sleep is clearly a massive undertaking that is nowhere as 'stealthy' as Star Guard suggests was the norm up to that time.  
From: "Star Guard"
But in the past hundred years one troop transport in every twenty which lifted from this planet was no troop transport at all, but a pioneer carrier. Men and women selected for certain qualities of mind and body—survivor types—went out in deep sleep to settle on planets our mercenaries had explored.
In Secret of a Lost Race (same time frame) colonization is very overt, and for a very large part by forced cold-sleep migration, by shanghaiing people as a way to get rid of drug-addicts and criminals.

Unreasonable assumptions in Star Rangers:[3]
(It was her first space novel, she did get better!)

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 numbers could never be large enough to remove billions and empty a world, as if the stay-behinds would suddenly stop breeding …
3/. Why would colonization cause the stay-behinds to become primitive jungle dwellers?
4/ Only one spaceport to empty an entire planet?

3 Short Stories From Wizards Worlds SSC
Arguments FOR inclusion:
Consistent story line: colonization of our own solar system is a logical step before going beyond.
Espers become important later in the timeline.

Star Gate
Argument FOR inclusion:
A lost / abandoned colony is possible anywhere after Terra started colonizing planets.
The advanced star gate technology would suggest (but not mandate) rather later than sooner.
The star gate could have been a Forerunner or experimental discovery that was abandoned as too dangerous or lost forever in any of the many wars.
Gorth is mentioned as a known planet in ‘Moon of Three Rings’ a.o., indicating Norton wanted it connected.
Argument AGAINST inclusion:
The star gate is not mentioned anywhere else; alternate realities
Not one of the common F-U themes is included in this story.

‘Beast Master’ series:
Arguments FOR inclusion:
Forerunner artifacts are specifically mentioned in “Beast Master’s Ark’.
The Gardens of Arzor are mentioned in several 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. Perhaps the Xiks saw an opportunity too good to ignore when the Federation was weakened by the 2-sector war. Or it could also be another war shortly thereafter.
The (very small) 20-system confederacy to which Terra belongs is consistent with Earth becoming a 3rd-rate planet after the 2- and 4-sector wars.
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 a radioactive Earth are not mentioned outside this series.  

Time Trader’ + 'Crosstime' series
Time Trader = Cold war era time-travel stories with evil Russia as the enemy.

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.

INCLUSION of Sea Siege with reservations:
Scientists on a remote island know something has happened on the main-land, but have no idea what.
This could very well fit right after the Big Blow-up if it weren't for the references to Hiroshima and to Russia as the Big Evil enemy. These 2 references really date this story as cold-war era and make it incompatible with the Pax/Astra stories.

I'm not a very big fan of fix-up novels, but this Cold War aspect of this novel really pulls it down. Removing that could (imo) only make the story better. If an editor could get permission from the Andre Norton estate to change just those 2 (minor) points, this story could very well be rejuvenated as the first in the post-nuclear holocaust series, set only days after 'the Great Blow-up'.

Secret of the Lost Race
“ Terrans had been exploring the galaxy now for little less than three centuries."
The time reference places this ca. 3900 A.D.,  somewhat earlier than The Sioux Spaceman.
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.  .../... “What’s this Cullan got to do with it?” .../... “At present he’s a member of the Supreme Council, and he’s anti-company, doesn’t believe in the monopolies on frontier planets.  .../... But the man who had spoken wore no weapons, his official cloak, thrown back over one shoulder, had the star within star of the Council...
This is inconsistent with Star Guard.
It is not explained what this Galactic or Supreme Council is, nor where it is located.

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 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.

Short Stories
I did not verify all of Norton's short stories, for the simple reason that I don't have them all.  
If you feel another short story should be included, let me know.

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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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