13. Timeline

This table sets out the major incidents mentioned in the novel. Page numbers are given in parentheses to show where in the text the information originated.

On page 185, Gray tells a 23-year-old Jommy that "nearly fifteen hundred years" have passed since Samuel Lann discovered the first slan mutant in 2071. Since this is an approximate estimate and allows for some flexibility in dating the story, I've arbitrarily chosen 3520 as Jommy's birth year to make the calculation of dates easier.

Please note that due to the chaotic nature of the novel's backstory, and the centuries of lies and propaganda that have themselves become garbled, many of these facts do not create a consistent whole. I have, however, made an effort to make sense of it all. As such, this Timeline is my own interpretation of the information, and should not be taken to be the final word on the matter.

Also, so as not to be diabolically convoluted and incomprehensible, this Timeline is derived solely from the 1968 version of the novel. No attempt is made to account for possible discrepancies in the Timeline as described in the different versions of the novel. Information from previous versions of the novel is only given where it does not contradict the 1968 version, but instead merely provides additional dating information which was not found in the 1968 version.

2000-2250 Over this period of 250 years, random mutations appear in over a billion human children all over the world, a spontaneous burst of blind evolution brought on by the inability of the human mind and body to cope with the terrible pressures of modern civilization. Slans seem to have been the only beneficial mutations to arise. These abnormalities trigger a period of chaos and war that lasts five centuries. (184-185)
c. 2000 According to hearsay, in the distant past the population of China was decimated by several wars. Since these conflicts purportedly were not mutant-related, they may have pre-dated Lann's discovery of the slan mutant. (54-55)
2071 May 31 The first natural slan mutations are born. They are triplets, a boy and two girls (174)
June 1 Samuel Lann begins his study of the triplets (174)
2073 June 7 A journalist falsely reports that the mutant triplets were created by Lann using a "mutation machine" on their mother. This gives rise to the long-lasting legend that slans are artificial beings (174) and that slans increase their numbers both by breeding and by corrupting human infants.
2073-88 Lann raises the slan infants. He does his best to cultivate them into a new race of supermen who will rule the world. (174)
2088 May 31

The triplets' 17th birthday

Shortly thereafter, there is a successful mating between the boy and his sisters

Around this time, Lann begins discovering additional slan mutations, which will give him more breeding stock to work with in future. (174)

2090 August 18 Each girl gives birth to triplets (174-175). Twins and triplets would become common with slan mothers for the first century of their race; afterwards, the average became one child born per pregnancy (185). Also, polygamy was not uncommon among early slans, undoubtedly part of Samuel Lann's breeding program to rapidly boost the slan population (172).

The epidemic of mutations around the world causes mass confusion, mayhem, and chaos (56). Slans are routinely blamed for the continued natural mutations (55).

The 'Stics (Statistics) machines are created by the slans, containing a vast repository of knowledge. These machines are later taken to Mars and used by the tendrilless slans. (173)

The conquest of space (50). The solar system is explored, and various moons and planets are terraformed using asteroids composed of ice and frozen oxygen (footnote, 153). [Said to have taken place "before or during the slan- human war." Since space exploration and terraforming are major efforts, I have placed this period before the war. I have to wonder whether the slans themselves, rather than humanity, were the ones exploring space. This would also explain why stories of these accomplishments are later dismissed as slan propaganda.]

A relatively small group of slans openly take over the world around this time (56). They make Centropolis their capital (5) and build the palace (43).

Shortly thereafter the War of Disaster overthrows the slans. During this time of confusion, many slans were cut off from their fellows and forced to fend for themselves; their descendants included the Cross family. A more organized group of slans lived on in secret.


The Nameless Period (104). For five centuries (185) slans are universally hunted down with a savagery unprecedented in human history.

During this period the calendar is rendered inaccurate by as much as several centuries, and myth and propaganda replace fact. Only the slans retain knowledge of how many years have truly passed (185). Presumably a new dating system came into use during this time to replace BC/AD [this is confirmed many places in Slan Hunter], though some form of the Gregorian calendar remains in use ("April 4th, Earth reckoning," 169).

2200-2400 During this dark age, over a period of 200 years some slans began augmenting themselves to remove their tendrils and make their internal organs more human, in order to avoid detection. Their telepathic ability was rendered dormant, with the tell-tale tendrils being absent. Both the tendrils and telepathy have been "programmed" to eventually resurface in the tendrilless slan population. (186)
c. 2400 Tendrilless slans became dominant around this time, a product of the slans' efforts begun centuries ago to make themselves undetectable among the mainstream human population. For the most part, they choose to live peaceful lives, as though they were ordinary humans. (183)
c. 2500

The true slans begin purposefully antagonizing the tendrilless slans, to make them ruthless to survive the inevitable showdown with humanity. This final conflict will occur around the end of the 36th century when the natural (and inevitable) sterility of ordinary humankind will be blamed on the slans, resulting in a final, tremendous war between the two races (187).

True slans insinuate themselves into the human government to prevent the tendrilless slans from taking over the world ("For hundreds of years," 182)

Some of the secret passages leading into the palace are rigged with thought broadcasters to lead slans safely through them (178, 180). The passage that Jommy uses in Chapter 18 was one of the most ancient and least-used passages (183), and was thick with many years' worth of dust (180).

2500-3100 [It's worth noting that however one interprets the historical information in the novel, one is left over with about 600 years that sit around doing nothing! Even though the new Dark Ages undoubtedly lasted a long time, one can't get around the fact that the timeframe for the back story is somewhat overextended.]
c. 3100 The slan refuge found by Kathleen and Jommy was built around this time (141)
c. 3200 For about 300 years leading up to the story, in their conflict with the true slans the tendrilless were unable to locate a single true slan community. (102)
c. 3430

Durable plastic houses are constructed in the poorer neighborhoods near Capital Avenue in Centropolis (10)

Multiple-pulse jet engines are abandoned by the tendrilless slans as being an obsolete technology (113)

According to popular legend, slans were tolerated in China until they began to turn human Chinese babies into slans (54-5). [This probably means that the natural mutations occurring elsewhere in the world didn't reach great proportions in China until this time and the slans, as usual, were blamed for it.]

c. 3453 The woman later known as Granny was born. [Page 148, which takes place in January 3544, states her age as at least 90.]
c. 3460 Old Man Darrett, a former history professor from whom Jommy learned a great deal, was born around this time (55)
c. 3473-93 Granny's career as a beautiful and famous stage actress. Her wild and careless living lead her to ruin and poverty. (14, 38)
c. 3505 Joanna Hillory is born around this time [Said to be about 15 years older than Jommy on page 172.]
c. 3514 The slan refuge later found by Kathleen and Jommy was raided and abandoned around this time (137).
3518 October 4 Kathleen Layton Gray is born to Kier Gray and an unknown slan woman. Davy Dinsmore is also born around this time (15). Shortly thereafter, Kathleen is brought to the palace and kept there, ostensibly as a study subject under Gray's personal protection (16).
3520 May Jommy Cross is born to Peter and Patricia Cross (67)

Peter Cross is captured and killed by the police (30)

After a brief attempt by Davy to bully her, he and Kathleen become friends (17)

3529 Summer Kathleen decides to block out the thoughts of those around her in the palace. This allows the plot against her life to flourish without her being aware of it (16).
3529 October 20

Story begins. [On page 41, winter is said to be approaching, so the story begins probably in summer or autumn. Dating throughout the book indicates an autumn birthday for Kathleen and an early summer birthday for Jommy. Based on their ages at various places in the book, I've picked October as the most likely starting point for the novel. To make relative dating easier, I've picked October 20.]

Patricia Cross and her son Jommy leave their home in the suburbs and enter Centropolis. That evening, they are ambushed by the secret police. Patricia is killed and Jommy is taken in by Granny.

October 22

In the evening, Kathleen is warned of her upcoming execution scheduled for the next day, her 11th birthday. That night she eludes a man sent to murder her.

An emergency council meeting is called around 2 o'clock in the morning. These events spark a political crisis resulting in the assassination and replacement of Kier Gray's entire cabinet except John Petty.

October 26 Some days later, Jommy awakens from his fever (37)
October 29 Three days after that, Jommy begins shoplifting for Granny. That night he discovers the existence of tendrilless slans, and learns that they dominate Air Central and at ten o'clock every night they secretly launch ships into space. (41-51)
3529-3535 While living with Granny and thieving for their needs, Jommy educates himself as best he can, and spies on the activities of the tendrilless slans. (53-57) Jommy is able to live in relative peace and security during this time (63).
3535 Around this time, humanity begins to experience sterility. This is a natural phenomenon, a part of evolutionary process as the regular human species gradually die off to be replaced by slans, and will be not known by the masses for perhaps a few decades longer. (187) [See 3590]
May 1

At 2 o'clock in the afternoon on his 15th birthday, Jommy sets out to find his father's hidden weapon in the Catacombs beneath Centropolis (57).

Around that time, a slan ship is seen over Centropolis, causing widespread panic and rumors (59-60, 65-6, 73). It drops a message capsule in the palace grounds. A council meeting is held shortly afterwards (74).

Hours later Jommy finds the weapon and around 7:30 pm returns home. Once there, he learns that Granny has betrayed him to the police (66-67). They escape, and reach the roof of the Air Center a few minutes before midnight (90). They make off with a tendrilless slan ship, but are in turn captured by Joanna on board. After a complex series of events they escape, Jommy releases Joanna, keeps the tendrilless ship, and Granny and Jommy separate. (95-114)

Joanna Hillory begins her study of Jommy, and spends the next seven years trying to find him (174).

3536 Granny buys a ranch in a secluded valley, and meets up with Jommy about a year after their encounter with Joanna (122). Jommy perfects his father's secrets, fortifies the ranch, and creates numerous inventions (123).
3538 July - October

Jommy spends several weeks repairing and vastly improving the tendrilless ship he captured three years previously. He then takes it to the Moon as "test drive." He is forced back to Earth by tendrilless slan patrols and space mines (124-5).

Jommy begins using hypnosis to make his neighbors in the valley feel neutral towards slans, and to improve Granny's character (127).

3539 October 16 One week before Kathleen's 21st birthday, it becomes clear that Gray will no longer protect her from John Petty. She escapes from the Palace (130-3).

Early winter. 15 days later, she meets Jommy in the early evening. They explore the slan refuge together and she is killed by Petty around 10 o'clock pm (135-144).

Tendrilless slans begin the hunt for Jommy in earnest. Known individuals matching Jommy's physical description are put under routine observation and submitted to regular examinations, to prevent Jommy from changing his identity (146, 156).

Soon thereafter Jommy embeds harmless commands into the minds of the people inhabiting the valley, allowing them to be used as an "early warning system" of sorts to notify him of unusual activity nearby as well as imminent attacks by the authorities or tendrilless slans (148).

3542 About three and a half years later, the tendrilless slans learn of Jommy's whereabouts. They spend a few months preparing their attack on the ranch (147).
3543 July 1

Jommy has been 23 years old for two months exactly on the day they attack. It has been about four years since the day Kathleen died (147). Granny is approximately 90 years old (148).

The tendrilless slans attack the valley in force. Jommy destroys his inventions to keep them from discovering the secret of controlled atomics, and escapes to Mars in his ship. Granny is left at the ranch, protected from the tendrilless slans interrogation by a hypnotic block (149- 152).

The garbled reports of this attack are enough to heighten security at the Palace (177).

3544 January Jommy spends several months drifting in space near Mars to avoid detection. He then lands on Mars (154).
March Over a period of about a month, Jommy learns all he can from Corliss to enable him to impersonate him successfully (159).
April 4 Jommy tries to infiltrate the tendrilless slan city of Cimmerium as Corliss (169). He is brought in for routine examination by the suspicious authorities. He is able to avoid detection, and with the assistance of Joanna Hillory secures his return to Earth. He is still 23 years old (164) and it has been 7 years since he met Joanna (174).
May Jommy is returned to Earth and infiltrates the palace (176). He meets Gray, learns he is a slan, and meets the resurrected Kathleen (182-190). [The date is given as "May" in the 1940 and 1946 texts of the novel]
June 10 The scheduled date for the tendrilless slans' open military takeover of Earth (169).
c. 3590 Around this time tendrilless slan children will again possess tendrils and the ability to read minds, a trait which had, by design, lain dormant for centuries. Also in the near future, the natural sterility that had begun in humanity around 3530 will escalate, signaling the end of the human race and a second terrible persecution of slans. After the end of this conflict slans will replace homo sapiens, the inferior race having naturally died out. (186-7)