Man-Kzin Wars

Man-Kzin Wars
Cover of Man-Kzin Wars III.

The Man-Kzin Wars is a series of military science fiction short story collections (and is the name of the first collection), as well as the eponymous conflicts between mankind and the Kzinti that they detail. They are set in Larry Niven's Known Space universe; however, Niven himself has only written a small number of the stories.

All of the cover art for the books in the series is drawn by Stephen Hickman.



The first story set in the Man-Kzin Wars, The Warriors (1966), was one of Niven's earliest published stories and one of the first of what would become his Known Space series. Niven did not consider himself qualified to write war stories; therefore, although a number of his later stories referenced the Man-Kzin Wars, he never actually showed them. However, there was a large fan demand for stories covering the conflict, and a number of his author friends had shown interest in writing tales set in the timeframe. Niven therefore allowed the Man-Kzin Wars to become a shared universe, starting with the 1988 release of The Man-Kzin Wars.

Initially, there were only plans for two volumes. Niven, along with John Hewitt (one of the main writers for the Ringworld RPG) composed a "Bible" for aspiring writers, including several pages of notes composed between the two of them and photocopied pages of the RPG. The Bible included corrections for some of the inconsistencies among Niven's work. Jerry Pournelle and Poul Anderson were among the first authors approached, and both ended up writing stories.[1]

After the release of the second volume, reader demand was enough to allow continuing releases periodically, continuing to the current day. Starting with volume three, Niven himself has composed several additional entries.

The stories

The series offers an intricate and evolving weave of character development that melds these beings into some of the most complex fictional creatures in any literature, period...
- Quantum, on The Man-Kzin Wars

Title Published Collected in Written by
The Warriors 1966 Worlds of If; Tales of Known Space; The Man-Kzin Wars; Three Books of Known Space; The Best of All Possible Wars† Larry Niven
Iron 1988 The Man-Kzin Wars; Inconstant Star Poul Anderson
Cathouse 1988 The Man-Kzin Wars; Cathouse†; The Houses of the Kzinti† Dean Ing
Briar Patch 1989 Man-Kzin Wars II; Cathouse; The Houses of the Kzinti Dean Ing
The Children's Hour 1989 Man-Kzin Wars II; The Children's Hour†; The Houses of the Kzinti Jerry Pournelle & S.M. Stirling
Madness Has Its Place 1990 Man-Kzin Wars III; N-Space; Three Books of Known Space; The Best of All Possible Wars Larry Niven
The Asteroid Queen 1990 Man-Kzin Wars III; The Children's Hour Jerry Pournelle & S.M. Stirling
Inconstant Star 1990 Man-Kzin Wars III; Inconstant Star Poul Anderson
The Survivor 1991 Man-Kzin Wars IV; The Space Opera Renaissance Donald Kingsbury
The Man Who Would Be Kzin 1991 Man-Kzin Wars IV; The Best of All Possible Wars Greg Bear & S.M. Stirling
In The Hall of the Mountain King 1992 Man-Kzin Wars V; The Best of All Possible Wars Jerry Pournelle & S.M. Stirling
Hey Diddle Diddle 1992 Man-Kzin Wars V Thomas T. Thomas
The Heroic Myth of Lieutenant Nora Argamentine 1994 Man-Kzin Wars VI Donald Kingsbury
Trojan Cat 1994 Man-Kzin Wars VI Mark O. Martin & Gregory Benford
The Colonel's Tiger 1995 Man-Kzin Wars VII; Centaurus : the best of Australian science fiction Hal Colebatch
A Darker Geometry 1995 Man-Kzin Wars VII; A Darker Geometry† Mark O. Martin & Gregory Benford
Prisoner of War 1995 Man-Kzin Wars VII Paul Chafe
Choosing Names 1998 Choosing Names: Man-Kzin Wars VIII Larry Niven
Telepath's Dance 1998 Choosing Names: Man-Kzin Wars VIII Hal Colebatch
Galley Slave 1998 Choosing Names: Man-Kzin Wars VIII Jean Lamb
Jotok† 1998 Choosing Names: Man-Kzin Wars VIII Paul Chafe
Slowboat Nightmare 1998 Choosing Names: Man-Kzin Wars VIII Warren W. James
Pele 2002 Man-Kzin Wars IX Poul Anderson
His Sergeant's Honor 2002 Man-Kzin Wars IX Hal Colebatch
Windows of the Soul 2002 Man-Kzin Wars IX Paul Chafe
Fly-by-Night 2002 Man-Kzin Wars IX Larry Niven
One War for Wunderland 2003 Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War Hal Colebatch
The Corporal in the Caves 2003 Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War Hal Colebatch
Music Box 2003 Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War Hal Colebatch
Peter Robinson 2003 Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War Hal Colebatch
Three at Table 2005 Man-Kzin Wars XI Hal Colebatch
Grossgeister Swamp 2005 Man-Kzin Wars XI Hal Colebatch
Catspaws 2005 Man-Kzin Wars XI Hal Colebatch
Teacher's Pet 2005 Man-Kzin Wars XI Matthew Joseph Harrington
War and Peace 2005 Man-Kzin Wars XI Matthew Joseph Harrington
The Hunting Park 2005 Man-Kzin Wars XI Larry Niven
Destiny's Forge 2006 Destiny's Forge† Paul Chafe
Echoes of Distant Guns 2009 Man-Kzin Wars XII Matthew Joseph Harrington
AQUILA ADVENIO 2009 Man-Kzin Wars XII Hal Colebatch & Matthew Joseph Harrington
The Trooper and the Triangle 2009 Man-Kzin Wars XII Hal Colebatch
String 2009 Man-Kzin Wars XII Hal Colebatch & Matthew Joseph Harrington
Peace and Freedom 2009 Man-Kzin Wars XII Matthew Joseph Harrington
Independent 2009 Man-Kzin Wars XII Paul Chafe
. 2012 Man-Kzin Wars XIII Jane Lindskold
. 2012 Man-Kzin Wars XIII Alex Hernandez
. 2012 Man-Kzin Wars XIII Charles E. Gannon
. 2012 Man-Kzin Wars XII Bud Sparhawk

† Additional Notes:

  • "Iron" and "Inconstant Star" were combined as a single collection, Inconstant Star, in 1991.
  • "Cathouse" and "Briar Patch" were combined as a single collection, Cathouse, in 1990.
  • "The Children's Hour" and "The Asteroid Queen" were combined as a single collection, The Children's Hour, in 1991.
  • "A Darker Geometry" was expanded (an extra segment added to the end) and republished as a novel in 1996.
  • "The Warriors," "Madness Has its Place," "The Man Who Would Be Kzin," and "In the Hall of the Mountain King" were collected as The Best of All Possible Wars in 1998.
  • "Cathouse," "Briar Patch," and "The Children's Hour" were collected as The Houses of the Kzinti in 2002.
  • "Jotok" was originally called "The Chosen One."
  • In 2001, Annals of the Man-Kzin-Wars: An Unofficial Companion Guide was released. Written by Alan Michaud, it included illustrations, maps, histories of the Kzinti and humans, character biographies, and story descriptions. It covered the first eight volumes.
  • Destiny's Forge is a single novel.


Title Published ISBN Notes
The Man-Kzin Wars 1988 ISBN 978-0671654115
Man-Kzin Wars II 1989 ISBN 978-0671698331
Man-Kzin Wars III 1990 ISBN 978-0671720087
Man-Kzin Wars IV 1991 ISBN 978-0671720797
Man-Kzin Wars V 1992 ISBN 978-0671721374
Man-Kzin Wars VI 1994 ISBN 978-0671876074
Man-Kzin Wars VII 1995 ISBN 978-0671876708
Man-Kzin Wars VIII: Choosing Names 1998 ISBN 978-0671878887
Man-Kzin Wars IX 2003 ISBN 978-0671318383
Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War 2005 ISBN 978-0743498944
Man-Kzin Wars XI 2007 ISBN 978-1416509066
Man-Kzin Wars XII 2009 ISBN 978-1416591412
Man-Kzin Wars XIII 2012 ISBN 978-1451638165
The Best of All Possible Wars: The Best of the Man-Kzin Wars 1998 ISBN 978-0671878795
Destiny's Forge: A Man-Kzin Wars Novel 2007 ISBN 978-1416555070
The Houses of the Kzinti 2002 ISBN 978-0743435772
A Darker Geometry: A Man-Kzin Novel 1996 ISBN 978-0671877408
Inconstant Star: A Novel of the Man-Kzin Wars 1991 ISBN 978-0671720315
The Children's Hour: A Man-Kzin Novel 1991 ISBN 978-0671720896
Cathouse: A Man-Kzin Novel 1991 ISBN 978-0671698720


Larry Niven has never specifically addressed whether or not these stories are part of the canon of Known Space stories. He has ruled A Darker Geometry as definitely non-canonical,[2] and is incompatible with Juggler of Worlds, which is co-authored by Niven and Edward M. Lerner. Conversely, Niven's story Fly-By-Night refers directly to, and summarizes, the events of Telepath's Dance, so it appears he considers that story canonical. The canonicity of other stories in the series is undetermined.

Many of the stories in the series have added details to Known Space and its history, details which may be incompatible with older stories in the canon (in particular, those written by Niven long before the Man-Kzin Wars series was published). The protagonist in Matthew Joseph Harrington's Teacher's Pet from Man-Kzin Wars XI, who has become a protector after landing on Home while fleeing from Kzinti, deduces several things that (at least at first glance) seem to be at odds with accepted canon - for example, that Puppeteers had been manipulating both humanity and the Kzin far more than anyone had previously thought.

In other cases, stories clearly contradict established canon. For example, various MKW stories state that Kzinti did not establish their own interstellar empire nor invent their own spacefaring technology. Instead, primitive Kzinti warriors were hired as mercenaries by the Jotoki, a species of interstellar traders, who the Kzinti later overthrew and enslaved.

Yet, Niven's "The Soft Weapon" states:

There had been a time, between the discoveries of atomic power and the gravity polarizer, when it seemed the Kzinti species would destroy itself in wars. Now the Kzinti held many worlds, and the danger was past.

However, "Jotok" suggests a possible compromise scenario. In that story, primitive Kzinti clans on the Kzin homeworld are being marginalized by advanced Kzinti who use atomic power and gravity polarizer-driven spacecraft. It is the primitives who are hired by the Jotoki, to use as mercenaries against the more advanced Kzinti.

The Kzinti (who has appeared in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Slaver Weapon", written by Niven) were set to appear in a plot in the fifth season of Star Trek: Enterprise. The episodes were planned out by Manny Coto, Andre Bormanis, Jimmy Diggs, and Neal Hallford, and in preparation, Diggs wrote a "Guide To Using The Kzinti In Star Trek" which was sent to a number of the lead figures of both the Star Trek and the Man-Kzin Wars franchises, including Niven and Jim Baen. According to Diggs, "One of the features I was proudest of was a Star Trek/Man-Kzin Wars Integrated Timeline that seamlessly merged the two universes and answered everyone's most-asked questions. This timeline has Larry Niven's official endorsement." However, Enterprise was canceled after its fourth season, the Kzinti story was never produced, and it is unknown just how the Star Trek and Man-Kzin Wars timelines were integrated.[3]

Recurring characters

  • Chuut-Riit - Leader of the Kzinti conquest forces occupying Wunderland.
  • Dimity Carmody - Interpreter of the alien hyperdrive manual.
  • Nils Rykermann - Biologist on Wunderland, later resistance leader, later Wunderland politician.
  • Rarrgh - Kzin soldier, later protector of Vaemar-Riit, later Senechal of Vaemar-Riit's palace.
  • Leonie Rykermann - Wife of Nils Rykermann.
  • Vaemar-Riit - Son of Chuut-Riit. Leader of the "Wunderkzin".
  • Arthur Guthlac - Originally an Earth museum guard and illegal collector of forbidden militaria, later brigadier on UNSN General Staff.

The Wars


There are a total of four Man-Kzin Wars, as well as major and minor "Kzinti incidents". The First War began circa 2367. By this time, Human space was in the middle of the "Long Peace". ARM, the United Nations security force, has completely suppressed all "dangerous" technologies, histories, mental illnesses, and media, leading to not only an end of war and almost all violent crimes, but a change in society so vast that most people have a difficulty even conceptualizing such things.

The U.N.'s reach is limited to Earth, however. There are a number of other colonies in space, the most important being the Asteroid Belt, Wunderland, We Made It, Jinx, and Plateau.

First Man-Kzin War

The Kzinti, with vast technical superiority (including gravity drives, telepaths, and a large military empire), detected a human colonization ship in deep space, the Angel's Pencil. After the Kzin telepath learned that the humans were unarmed and didn't even understand the concept of weapons, they attempted to kill the human crew in a slow, painful manner using an inductive heating weapon hoping to capture their ship intact for intelligence purposes. However, one of the humans used the ship's powerful drive system (which doubled as interstellar communications laser) as a weapon and destroyed the Kzin ship, beginning the First Man-Kzin War. The crew then warned Earth of the warlike aliens, although the transmissions were initially dismissed as an outbreak of psychosis. Then a similar encounter between another human ship and Kzin vessel led to the destruction of the more primitive human ship. However, one of the human prisoners, with the aid of a rogue telepath, was able to escape to the Angel's Pencil and warn them of the danger from their increasing penetration into Kzinti space.

In the course of the First Man-Kzin War, the Kzinti invaded and occupied the human colony of Wunderland, in the Alpha Centauri system, as a staging point for an attack on Earth. Human ships attempting escape back to Earth were shot down, but a single vessel managed to carry some refugees to the sister colony We Made It. The Kzinti fleet moved on to Earth, but in a replay of first contact, the peaceful humans used communications lasers, fusion drives, and mass drivers to cut the first invasion fleet to ribbons. Over the next several decades, three more fleets were launched against Earth, and all were beaten back. However, after near defeat by the fourth fleet, it was becoming clear to Earth's military leaders that the Kzinti were learning to wage war more effectively than their traditional "scream and leap" tactics, and that the Solar system's defenses would quickly succumb to the Kzinti's superior numbers, firepower, and technology, were it only wielded with a modicum of tactical and strategic sense. In order to delay the next attack, a Terran Bussard ramjet starship was utilized to transport and deploy several relativistic kill vehicles in the Wunderland system. Using iron slugs accelerated to 99% of the speed of light, it devastated a portion of the planet, killing humans and Kzinti alike and delaying the launch of yet another Kzin fleet against Earth. A number of specialists traveled aboard this ship, using Slaver stasis fields for lithobraking, and successfully assassinated the Kzin military leader on Wunderland, Chuut-Riit. Despite this setback for the Kzin cause, preparations for a fifth and decisive assault fleet were nearing completion.

At this point, a passing Outsider ship sold the colony of We Made It the manual for a hyperdrive, a technology unknown to the Kzinti. Dimity Carmody, an escapee from Wunderland and a genius who had toyed with FTL drive concepts since before the occupation, managed to construct a a working prototype drive using the manual. Hyperdrive ships were dispatched to Earth, where the faster-than-light drive was was installed on several ships for a preemptive attack on the Fifth Invasion fleet. The attack hit the Kzin amidst internal struggles following the death of their leader. Due to the huge success, Wunderland was quickly liberated, freeing the fleet to attack other Kzinti worlds. The FTL drive allowed the human fleets to coordinate and concentrate their forces beyond anything the Kzinti could manage, even letting them outrun and jam the news of each successive Kzin defeat. The first indication the Kzinti Patriarchy had that much of the Kzin empire was gone and that a significant percentage of all Kzinti had died was when human warships appeared in the skies above their homeworld.

Meanwhile, however, on Wunderland, now liberated by humans, several surviving Kzin, led by Vaemar-Riit, last surviving kitten of Chuut-Riit, and with the co-operation of Dimity Carmody, Nils Rykermann, Leonie Rykermann and other humans, began to cautiously cooperate with humans and try to learn human ways. Vaemar-Riit even enrolled at a human university and obtaining a reserve officer's commission. These became known as the Wunderkzin, and some later proved to be human allies. This slowly growing Man-Kzin co-operation was bitterly opposed both by many other Kzin and by many revanchist humans on Wunderland, while others among the human and kzin communities on Wunderland sought to manipulate the situation for their own ends. There were also on-going human situations - for example Nils Rykermann, a Wunderland academic, in love with Dimity Carmody, married Leonie Rykermann, one of his students, during the occupation, believing Dimity to be dead. This situation has not been resolved. There was also a somewhat ambiguous growing relationship between Dimity and Vaemar-Riit; the two are depicted together on the cover of Man-Kzin Wars XI.

The war ends in 2433 with the signing of the MacDonald-Rishaii Peace Treaty. The vast majority of the Man-Kzin Wars stories are set around the First War.

"The Peace"

Following the end of hostilities, the Human forces use their hyperdrive ships to initiate a blockade of all Kzinti worlds within range of Human space. The Kzinti of both their homeworld and the prominent colony of W'kkai begin researching hyperdrive technology in an attempt to break the blockade, with the High Admiral of W'kkai also hoping to overthrow the Patriarch. Due to the treachery of Ulf Reichstein Markham, the Kzinti of Kzin gain access to hyperdrive designs and an engineer familiar with them in 2438. During this time, the Kdaptist religion spreads among the Kzinti.

On Wunderland, an attempt is made to form a stable, democratic government. On Earth, although no one seriously believes the Kzin will stay away, the ARM returns to its old habits of trying to eliminate all knowledge and technology of war. We Made It continues to create hyperdrives, as the Human military forces attempt to reverse-engineer Kzinti gravity technology. They also attempt to locate and form an anti-Kzin alliance with the Pierin aliens (although according to the Ringworld RPG, the Pierin may already be enslaved at this point).

A troika of officers - Belter General Lucas Fry, flatlander Major Yankee Clandeboye, and Wunderlander Admiral Blumenhandler - established a semi-covert training center on Barnard's Starbase where unconventional officers devise plans for fighting hyperdrive-equipped Kzinti in the second war, as human tactics in the first were restricted by their own ignorance and by the ARM's structure (besides the liberation of Wunderland, only two other planetary assaults, on Down and Hssin, succeeded). They devise two ways to help prepare the rest of the human military: a war game called Trolls and Bridges, and a book, The Heroic Myth of Lieutenant Nora Argamentine. Written by Clandeboye, they are a fictionalized account of the diary of his cousin, Nora Argamentine, a U.N. officer caught by Kzinti who later rebelled against them before being gradually lobotomized. The book becomes extremely popular and helps raise morale, as well as the belief that the Kzin will attack again.

Second Man-Kzin War

All information on the second war comes from the Ringworld RPG guidebook. It begins in 2449 when the Kzinti launch "diversionary raids" on Sigma Draconis and Barnard's Star (which can probably be retconned to be due to the Barnard's Starbase from The Heroic Myth of Lieutenant Nora Argamentine) and ends in 2475 with the liberation of the Kdatlyno from Kzin rule.

Third Man-Kzin War

The Third War is mentioned in the Ringworld RPG and The Ringworld Engineers. According to the Known Space novel Juggler of Worlds, it started in 2490.

At the end of the war, the Wunderland Treatymaker weapon is used on the Kzinti fortress-world of Warhead, creating a huge, habitable canyon on the otherwise Mars-like world. Warhead is annexed by the humans and renamed Canyon. This war is chronicled in considerable detail in the novel Destiny's Forge.

Fourth Man-Kzin War

The war begins on an unknown date, with Kzinti suicide attacks on Epsilon Eridani. During the war, human adventurers engage in similar suicide attacks on Kzinti harems. The war ends in 2505 with the signing of the Covenants of Shasht, named after a Kzinti world which is annexed by Humans and later re-named Fafnir. The Kzinti are disarmed and restricted to police weapons only. This restriction was still in effect as late as 2657, as specified in The Soft Weapon.


Over the next decades and centuries, some Kzinti dream of another war, and go through great lengths (such as piracy, seeking Slaver stasis boxes, and going to Ringworld) in an attempt to gain enough of an upper hand to begin one. There is at least one "major incident" after the Fourth War, which some humans describe as another "war" (see Flatlander). However, each Man-Kzin War ended with the death of 2/3 of all Kzin currently alive, and the confiscation of two Kzinti worlds; the Kzinti finally faced the fact that another all-out war would be pointless. At the time of Ringworld, Kzinti numbers are still less than an eighth of what they were when they first encountered humans.

In the events of Ringworld, Nessus inadvertently reveals to Wu and Speaker-to-Animals that the Man-Kzin Wars were engineered by the Puppeteers as an alternative to wiping out the Kzin themselves. The Puppeteers viewed the Kzin as too dangerous, and a series of wars in which the most aggressive of their males were killed would help breed reason into them. To that end, the Puppeteers used a starseed lure on Procyon to ensure that the Outsiders would equip mankind with hyperdrives, knowing that it would be the tool that would allow victory for humans.


  1. ^ Scatterbrain, pp. 293-301
  2. ^ As reported by Edward M. Lerner, Niven's co-author on two Known Space novels, archived in this chat
  3. ^ "Cat Fight", Star Trek: Phase II eMagazine, no. 5 (April 2008), pp. 24-25. Link.

External links

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