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 A Methodology for Constructing a Coherent Timeline for the Robotech
                          Television Series

                            (Revised 7/00)

                           by Peter Walker

           (Point K section revised 9/06 by Chris Meadows)


It has often been said that the haphazardness of the creation of
dialogue of the Robotech TV series makes it impossible to find a self-
consistent timeline by merely using cues from the show itself.  We are
told that only the novels or role-playing game can provide us a good
chronology, or we are offered by fans their own composite timelines.
Unfortunately, each of these sources is prone to the inclusion of a
fair amount of speculation, and often require the selective omission
of essential details from the show to get them to work.

Despite the myth, it is indeed possible to generate a consistent
timeline from the series, and it is rather unique--that is, within an
error measured in months, it is the *only* timeline that can be
generated by the show without excluding non-contradictory details
given in the show.

Here, I have chosen to preserve the show's integrity as a text--that
is, I do not dismiss parts of the show as errors or vestiges because
they do not suit my preconceived notions of what the 'real' plot of
Robotech would or should have been, as others have done.  The
television show is a completed work--this essay attempts to analyze
that work, not suggest which parts of it are right or wrong.  Unless
it contradicts itself, the show is assumed to be canon, regardless of
what unfinished sequels might or might not have done, or whether or
not a particular temporal cue got there by way of Robotech's Japanese
forerunners.  Internal contradictions are a more delicate matter, and
must be dealt with using the weight of evidence from the show.

This timeline analysis has seen many revisions and changes; but always
it has had the appearance that it was approaching a real goal, an
asymptotic trend toward the "true" timeline for Robotech.  As more
data from the show has been brought to bear, some dates have changed,
but never by much--vindication, I think, of the basic paradigm--that
despite its haphazard construction, and sometimes because of it, there
is a great continuity in the Robotech text, and that one need not
rewrite the story with one's own prejudices to have it make sense.

I am indebted to numerous people, both collaborators and critics, for
the research contained in this essay--to Aubry Thonon and Pieter
Thomassen for their constant commentary, to Michael House and Egan
Loo, for their translations of the Macross chronology in _Macross:
Perfect Memory_, to Stan Bundy for his work using seasonal cues in the
footage to date episodes relative to each other, and invaluable
insight into the end date for the Macross era, and to Daniel George,
for his observation of the upper limit to the date of the return of
Mars Division in the opening episode of the New Generation saga.

I will approach each era of the Robotech saga separately, with a list
of the explicit cues relating to the chronology of the universe, as
well as some of the more implicit ones.


I.  Important temporal cues in the Macross Saga:

      Cue                                           Source Episode
  Story begins sometime in 2009.                       "Boobytrap"
  "Blitzkrieg" occurs 2 months after the              "Blitzkrieg"
    episode "Space Fold".
  SDF-1 returns to Earth 12.5 months after the        "Homecoming"
    initial spacefold.  Weather is cold in Alaska
    but not winter in Yokohama.
  Two years between the episodes "Force of Arms"      "Reconstruction Blues"
    and "Reconstruction Blues".  Dana is several
    months old by "Reconstruction Blues".  She's 
    still being taken out for a stroll in a baby 
    carriage, but has a very full head of hair.  
  Rick and Minmei's first date was over four          "Private Time"
    years before the episode "Private Time".
    Kyle claims to have worked "for the last
    four years" to advance Minmei's musical 
    gift in the same episode.
  Saga ends soon after Christmas.                      "Season's Greetings" & 

                                                   "To the Stars"
  Saga may end in 2012, from date on Minmei's         "To the Stars"
    photo album.

A basic timeline is easy to construct from these cues, after one has
sorted out the internal contradictions with regard to the end dates,
as implied in the episodes "Private Time" and "To the Stars".  If one
assumes, as per the date scrawled on the picture book, that the show
ends in 2012, one contradicts the two cues in "Private Time", which
places a greater than four year span from Rick's and Minmei's meeting
until that episode.  Once the end date is set, however, the remaining
spans of time fall almost immediately into place.

Below are three hypothetical timelines.  The last of the three is the
timeline from the official Macross Chronology, printed in _Macross:
Perfect Memory_ and translated by Michael House.  Of the two Robotech
timelines, the first assumes that the cues in "Private Time" are
correct, and the second assumes that the show ends in 2012.  In both
Robotech timelines, the starting month is inspired by the invitation
Rick is seen to possess in the semi-canonical Comico graphic novel.


                     "Private Time"  "To the Stars"        "Macross"
SDF-1 folds               June/July 2009  June/July 2009         Feb 2009
"Blitzkrieg"                   Sept 2009       Sept 2009        <unknown>
SDF-1 returns                  June 2010       June 2010         Nov 2009
SDF-1 sent away from Earth      Aug 2010       July 2010         Dec 2009
Lisa returns to Earth           May 2011        Aug 2010         Jan 2010
Zentraedi truce & Holocaust    June 2011       Sept 2010         Feb 2010
Dana Sterling born             June 2012       June 2011         Mar 2011
"Reconstruction Blues"         Sept 2013       Sept 2012        Sept 2011
"Season's Greetings"         24 Dec 2013     24 Dec 2012      24 Dec 2011
"To the Stars"              Mid Jan 2014     30 Dec 2012     Mid Jan 2012

The timeline labeled "Macross" is the official Macross chronology, and
has problems fitting the American show, so I have included it for
purposes of comparison only.  The first problem is that the time span
between "Boobytrap" and "Homecoming" is only 9 or 10 months, where
Lisa explicitly mentions 12 in her report.  Though an error of only 2
to 3 months, this would contradict the show.  Secondly, the time span
between "Force of Arms" and "Reconstruction Blues" is (in Macross)
approximately 19 months.  This is not a major problem, if the two-year
span referred to by the narrator is approximate, but is clearly
inferior to the two proposed Robotech timelines, where the gaps are
given to be 27 and 24 months respectively.  Finally, the cues from the
episode "Private Time" make the span of the show over four years in
total--the span of Macross is less than three years.

To construct the "Private Time" timeline, I began by examining the
date implied by Rick's and Kyle's statements in episode of that name.
As the show ends shortly after Christmas, the earliest available date
is Dec 2013/Jan 2014; possibly later.  However, as choosing any time
after 2013/2014 would leave a gap of two years or more between
"Homecoming" and "Force of Arms", a span of time not tenable from the
pacing of the episodes.  I preferred Jan 2014 over Dec 2013, to give
some more time between "Season's Greetings" and "To the Stars".  The
other dates I filled in within reason, based upon the stated time gaps
in the show.

As for the accuracy of the cues, I assumed that the gap of twelve
months between the SDF-1's initial space fold to her return is exact
to the month, as Lisa gives that number in an official report to her
superiors.  The cues in "Private Time" are assumed to be approximate
and accurate to six months; Rick's statement of "over four years"
since his first date with Minmei turns out to be four and a half
years, and Kyle's statement that he's worked to advance Minmei's
musical gift for "four years"--a period that is seen to begin when
Kyle moves to the SDF-1 in "Homecoming"--turns out to be three and a
half years.  I assumed that the gap given by the narrator for the time
between "Force of Arms" and "Reconstruction Blues" was approximate:
exactly two years to the month would have left far too long a gap
between "A New Dawn" and "Force of Arms", and relatively little occurs
between these episodes.

My first attempt was the "To the Stars" timeline.  I had missed cues
in "Private Time" altogether, and did not include them in my analysis
until they were graciously pointed out to me by Stan Bundy.  I began
by assuming late 2012 as the ending date of the show (as early 2012
causes severe problems in the cues in "Homecoming" and "Reconstruction
Blues".  I began that attempt by working backwards from Dec 2012,
spacing the episodes in a similar fashion to the original Japanese
Macross chronology, though "To the Stars" is less cramped in the
episodes between "Homecoming" and "Force of Arms" than the Japanese
version is.  The two years mentioned by the narrator was assumed to be
exact.

Which timeline should one prefer, "Private Time" or "To the Stars"?
As the difference hinges upon an internal inconsistency, it is a
judgment call.  After due consideration, I have altered my original
position and have chosen the "Private Time" timeline.  While it does
have the advantage of being less cramped in the period between
"Homecoming" and "Force of Arms" (a criterion Stan Bundy has suggested
is essential to be met), that is not my major concern.  The primary
advantage of "Private Time" versus "To the Stars" is that the former
is supported by two references, and the latter by a single one whose
context (the photo album), it now seems to me, is ambiguous.
Moreover, the reference that supports the "To the Stars" timeline is a
palimpsest of the original Macross chronology, whereas the data from
"Private Time" is unique to the Robotech continuity.  The remainder of
the essay assumes the "Private Time" timeline, or something similar
that gives an ending date of Dec 2013/Jan 2014.


II.  Important temporal cues for the Sentinels:

  Cue:
  The RDF suffered from "ten years of inactivity and over-confidence".
  Rick has had, according to Lisa, "nine years to prepare for this
    mission" to Tirol, and for their wedding.

Both cues point to a departure date for the Pioneer Mission of 2022.
The latter is especially telling, by the choice of mentioning the span
to the year, it can only be approximate to six months.  Furthermore,
Rick only learned about the mission to Tirol the day of the
destruction of the SDF-1 and SDF-2, as seen in "To the Stars".  As
this occurred in Dec 2013 or Jan 2014, the date of the Sentinels video
is fixed between mid 2022 to mid 2023.  This agrees with the date
Macek gives in the semi-canonical _Robotech Art 3_.  Macek gives the
departure of the SDF-3 to be 2022.  My suggestion follows; it is an
intermediate date within the allowable range, but is consistent with
Macek's remarks.

REF departs for Tirol          Dec 2022


III.  Important temporal cues in the Robotech Masters Saga:

  Cue:                                      Source:
 Robotech Masters are forced to finish the    "The Robotech Masters"
    trip to Earth under 'impulse power', 
    beginning 20 light-years away.
 Robotech Masters attack Moon Base Luna       "Dana's Story"
    shortly after the 15th anniversary 
    of the SDF-1's destruction.
 Dana is a teenager when the war begins.       "False Start"
 Carpenter's ship had been his home for       "Outsiders"
    15 years.

We know for certain when Moon Base Luna is attacked.  It is only a few
days more than fifteen years after the destruction of the SDF-1.  At
this point, a single mothership of the Robotech Masters has arrived
behind one of Saturn's moons, and is waiting to observe the humans
some more before they make their move.  Luna sends a distress call,
which is picked up by a flotilla of ships apparently attached to Space
Station Liberty, who then briefly engage the Bioroids, and are
assisted by a battle group which includes Marie Crystal.  The forces
engage in a short fire-fight, and then both sides pull back.

Dana would be approximately sixteen by her graduation date.  While
that is very young, it might be an indication of the desperation of
the Southern Cross to put people in the field, or of Dana's
precociousness, or both.
  
Moon Base Luna                  Jan 2029 
  attacked ("Dana's Story")

"False Start" seems to take place quite some time after "Dana's
Story".  Dante mentions that Luna Base has been attacked by aliens
called "The Robotech Masters", but there is no immediacy in his tone
or in the mood of the other soldiers in the 15th ATAC; indeed, their
alert status was yellow, not red.  It is not only possible, but
likely, that this episode takes place months after "Dana's Story".
Indeed, by "Dana's Story", only one of the Robotech Masters' ships had
arrived in our solar system, and the others, including the Elders'
ship, would have needed additional time to arrive.  In addition, the
Robotech Masters also did not want to make the same mistake the
Zentraedi made, and wanted to learn more about humans before they
risked their civilization's future in battle with them.  Likewise, all
of Earth's extra-terrestrial bases had been neutralized or cut off by
"False Start", and this would have taken some time.  Emerson's aide
seems to know what happened to Luna in some detail ("They bombed our
base and killed our men"--said with an authoritative tone), but there
didn't seem to be any survivors who could report in detail what
happened, as Emerson said it was unknown whether or not the moon base
brought the attack on herself.  In "Volunteers", Liberty is heard
trying to raise Luna Base, and since they weren't cut off from Earth
until "False Start", they would have known about the attack on Luna
Base that occurred in "Dana's Story".  The fact that they tried to
communicate with the base strongly suggests that by the last time they
were able to communicate with Earth or the Moon ("False Start"), they
believed there was someone there to hail.  All this adds up to the
probability that between "Dana's Story" and "False Start", ships were
sent to investigate Luna Base, and there were new personnel stationed
there.  It would also suggest that the attack on the base was a
hit-and-run strike by the Masters (as implied by the narrator), to
test Earth's strength while waiting for the other motherships to
arrive.

2nd Robotech War begins         Apr 2029
  ("False Start")

The remainder of the saga has no direct time cues, and the indirect
ones mostly link one episode to another immediately preceding or
following it.  It has been suggested by Stan Bundy that one may use
the seasons as a clue to the relative dating of the various events.
This is an endeavor more easily described than undertaken.  No weather
consistent with winter is ever seen in this era, and the characters
are never seen to don cold-weather clothing (though Sean is seen
trying to pick up a woman who is window-shopping for a winter coat).
The landscape often alternates radically from extremely barren to very
lush even in the same episode, depending on location--making any
temporal analysis of the barrenness of rocks tenuous.  Weather and
foliage may only, then, rule out certain months--though the lack of
foliage can not do the same.  In this light, the following episodes
show lush and green deciduous foliage, and must occur between spring
and early autumn: "Half Moon", "Star Dust", "Outsiders",
"Triumvirate", and from "Daydreamer" to the end of the series.  The
episode "Final Nightmare" seems most consistent with late summer
(Bowie and Musica spend the night without shelter--while drenched from
the previous night's rainstorm).  The other episodes' dates may be
fixed relative to this.  Here are my suggestions:

"Half Moon"                    July 2029
"Star Dust"              early Sept 2029
"Outsiders"               late Sept 2029
"Triumvirate"                   Mar 2030
"Final Nightmare"               Aug 2030

In addition, another date is referenced in the dialogue of
"Outsiders".  Carpenter's aide says that the ship had been their home
for fifteen years at the occasion of her destruction.  Once one
rejects the bevy of temporal displacements caused by space folding
that McKinney invoked (see below), this places the commissioning of
Carpenter's ship in late 2014, give or take as much as two and a half
years, to allow for possible rounding to the nearest five-year
interval.  This is fully consistent with the fact that the RDF had
possession of the Factory Satellite for over a year by the end of
2014.  It helps things to assume the date is approximate, and to give
the date of Carpenter's ship as later than 2014.  My recommendation is
below:

Carpenter's ship                May 2015
  commissioned

Here, I have completely ignored McKinney's 5 year time-jump idea.  If
I were to include it, then at least five years would have to be added
to all New Generation dates I establish below (and possibly ten!).
However, the commissioning of Carpenter's ship (which, according to
McKinney, suffered the 5-year jump on the return trip as well) would
have to have been in 2004, for the crew, who were unaware of the
time-jumps, to consider the ship their home for fifteen years in their
time-frame.  The time jump is an implausible proposal, considering the
above.  This also does not work with the premise that a returning REF
fleet would have been able to respond to the distress call in
"Volunteers", as it did in "Mind Games"--unless the span between these
episodes is itself five years.  This gap is extremely untenable from
the pacing of the episodes.

Further remarks on the return of Carpenter's ship in "Outsiders", and
the return of the REF task force to assist the Southern Cross in "Mind
Games", are included in an appendix to this essay.

Where does the Robotech Movie, if one chooses to incorporate it, fit
into all of this?  In _Robotech Art 3_, Macek gives the date of the
Robotech Movie as 2027.  As the Robotech Movie portrays events that
contradict the TV show (the downing of a Robotech Master flagship
prior to the episode "False Start", when the first one is really
downed in "Danger Zone"), we may want to take the movie as apocryphal.
This is probably the best solution, considering Macek's disavowal of
the film, and the lapse of Harmony Gold's rights to the Megazone
properties.  However, it is possible to explain the movie as a series
of events that occurred to the first Robotech Master flagship in the
days after "Dana's Story", while the others were on their way.  If
this is the case, it is still difficult to explain what happened to
the downed mothership or why Emerson, whose people had fought a
mothership before, was so ignorant of the Masters or their
capabilities in the early episodes.  It is not possible to make the
movie contiguous with the show, because in the movie the invasion was
a secret; in the show, public announcements about the invasion were
made in the third episode.  Likewise, it is not possible to place the
movie before "Dana's Story", as in "Dana's Story" the first flagship
had only made it so far as the outer planets and was waiting for the
rest of the fleet to arrive, while in the movie, the entire fleet had
already arrived at Earth.  No good solution presents itself, except
perhaps to assume that the movie is either non-canonical, or (like the
Macross Movie) is a fictionalized account of real events within the
Robotech universe itself, a fiction within a fiction, as it were,
where much artistic license was taken.


IV: Important temporal cues in the New Generation saga:

   Cue:                                            Source:
  A returning REF fleet links up with the            "Mind Games"
    Southern Cross in the penultimate battle
    of the Second Robotech War.
  "[REF crew of Horizont] were all born out          "The Invid Invasion"
    in deep space on a Robotech ship".
  Earth is "a planet none of these newest Robotech
    defenders has seen in nearly twenty years"       "The Invid Invasion"
  Lunk made the promise "a year ago" to Nader,       "Paper Hero"
    who died "during the Invid invasion after
    we fought the Robotech Masters".
  Scott was around 12 by the time Wolff had          "Eulogy"
    departed for Earth.  Wolff was sent in
    in the "first wave against the Robotech 
    Masters".
  Carla and Lancer parted "three years ago".          "The Secret Route"

The cues from "The Invid Invasion" would imply that the return of Mars
Division to Earth occurs approximately 20 years (assuming a young
bridge crew of the Horizont), and no more, after the departure of the
last major deployment.  Presumably this would refer to the launch of
the SDF-3.  The dialogue has a tendency to round large numbers of
years to the nearest five, so this would give a date of 17.5 to 20
years from the SDF-3's departure to the return of Mars Division, more
than enough time for the youngest crewmen to have been born on the
mission.  Simply having them born on the Robotech Factory doesn't
help: a factory in Earth orbit hardly counts as 'deep space'.
Neither, as has been suggested, would a colony on another planet in
our solar system.  A colony is not a "Robotech ship", nor would a
soldier who has fought Invid across the Galaxy call Mars or Jupiter
"deep space".  Neither would the SDF-1 apply; while it spent some
years as a "Robotech ship" "out in deep space", anyone born on the
SDF-1 would have spent more than a decade on Earth before the REF
departed - inconsistent with the premise that these younger soldiers
have never seen Earth.  Furthermore, no alternate scenario can satisfy
the sweeping statements--"*all* of us were born out in deep space",
"*none* of [them] has seen [Earth] in nearly twenty years".  The
former remark may refer to the speaker's social circle, and not the
entire REF, unlike the latter remark, made by the narrator, which must
refer to everyone on the mission--and the only way to accommodate all
of them having not seen Earth in nearly twenty years is to recognize
that this refers to the time since the departure date of the REF,
established above as 2022.  Thus, the return of Mars Division can be
firmly placed between 2040 and 2042.

The cue from "Paper Hero" is problematic, as the most naive
interpretation requires that it contradicts all the other cues.  On
the other hand, the cue from "The Secret Route" explicitly requires
that the Invid occupation was well-established at least three years
before that episode, almost certainly more, if Lancer and Carla spent
any appreciable time as refugees.  As the weight of evidence falls on
the side of a later date (from inferences from "The Invid Invasion"
and "Eulogy"), the interpretation of Lunk's comments can not be the
simplest possible one.  Lunk only tells us that Nader died during the
Invid invasion, and that he made his promise to return Nader's book a
year before the episode.  The contradiction with "The Secret Route"
can be removed it is assumed that either the "invasion" was seen as an
ongoing process (as suggested by Rob Morgenstern), or--more
likely--that Lunk's promise to Nader was posthumous.  Lunk might have
avoided going through Nader's effects for some time after Nader's
death, and only found the book and a note with Nader's intention that
the book be returned to his father a year before.  It suffices to
recognize that the "Paper Hero" time cue refers only to the promise,
and does not directly bear upon the actual date of the Invid invasion
of Earth, or the length of the occupation.

From the date of Lancer's and Carla's parting, we can infer that the
Invid were already on Earth as a well-established occupation force
with a network of sympathizers more than three years before the date
of the episode (and, oddly enough, the trains were still running at
that date).  Thus, the Invid would have had to have invaded well
before three years before this episode.  Where was Lancer from remains
an unresolved question, though a prior mission from the REF, or from a
contingent of REF relief troops on the moon remain possibilities.

So when did the Invid invade?  It was at least three years before "The
Secret Route", again, more if Carla and Lancer spent any appreciable
length of time together as refugees and lovers, something implied by
the depth of their bond (and the specifics of their flashback).  Also,
the brief flashback seemed to imply that the Invid were already quite
entrenched on Earth when Lancer's fighter crashed there.  If the REF
mecha seen in the show came from this pre- invasion relief mission,
one would require some time for the dispersal of this mecha and its
adoption in preference to the remaining Southern Cross mecha.

I have assigned Scott an age of 12 at Wolff's departure based on his
appearance and height (relative to the adult males around him) in the
flashback of him viewing the propaganda film of Wolff's departure; a
range from 11 to 13 is likely.  Assuming an age of 22-24 years for
Scott Bernard, the cue from "Eulogy" would imply a span of 10 to 12
years from the departure of Wolff to the departure of Mars Division.
This, I feel, is a reasonable assumption, as Scott had attained the
rank of Lieutenant or Lt. Commander--the show is inconsistent in this
regard, was apparently a squadron commander, and had an air of
maturity and seniority.

The arrival of Wolff's troops is not explicitly dated in the show,
though he is said to have been sent with "the first wave against the
Robotech Masters".  As mentioned above, a fleet of ships is said to
arrive "from hyperspace", responding to the Southern Cross' distress
calls to the REF via Space Station Liberty.  It is very likely that
this is the "first wave" Scott was referring to.  This would put
Wolff's arrival just before the end of the Second Robotech War, around
July 2030 according to my above analysis.  This is consistent with the
inferences from the difference between Scott's age in the New
Generation episodes from his age at Wolff's departure.

Wolff's arrival at Earth:          July 2030
 (in "Mind Games")

This coincides with the remarks about Scott's age in the flashback in
Eulogy and his apparent age in the New Generation episodes--since the
expedition Wolff must be identified with arrivied during the Second
Robotech War, ten to twelve years must have passed to account for
Scott's maturation.

What about Point K?  This is problematic.  There are good reasons to
suspect that the base's destruction was relatively recent, though it's
clear that whoever established it was not part of the main Mars
Division invasion of "The Invid Invasion".  Scott expected them to
have survived from their landfall to his arrival--suggesting that he
hadn't expected them to be there without attrition or resupply for all
that long.

The fact that Scott says it was "set down" by "Admiral Hunter" at a
time when "he wasn't sure who the enemy was exactly, but ever since
they arrived there's been nothing around but the Invid to attack."
This suggests that the base must have been established by a wave that
arrived shortly after the invasion, before the Invid had fully
consolidated their control.

Just what Scott meant by "Admiral Hunter set down" is open to debate.
He could be using it in a general sense to apply to forces acting
under Hunter's orders, or he could very well mean that Admiral Rick
Hunter himself (Scott said "he" so could not be referring to Lisa)
commanded that first expedition back to earth to set up Point K,
returning to Tirol afterward.  The fact that this did not occur in the
novels or comic books does not mean it strictly could not have taken
place in the animated series continuity.

I suggest the following dates.  Note that they are purely speculative,
but they do reflect the complexity of the dialogue and visuals of that
base.  Suggested dates are given below.

Point K established:               2030-2031
Point K destroyed:                 July 2042

What about the specific dates of the various episodes?  Again, taking
up the method initially proposed by Stan Bundy, it is possible to
examine the climate conditions to date the episodes relative to the
seasons and each other.  Scott Bernard lands in South America, and the
first fifteen or so episodes (until "Annie's Wedding") are spent south
of the equator, so the month one assigns to a given season (assuming a
Northern Hemispheric bias) must be shifted by six months.  From "The
Invid Invasion" until "The Genesis Pit" we the characters experiencing
warm weather with lush deciduous foliage.  Since this spans nine
episodes and a lot of travels, it is possible that "The Invid
Invasion" may begin as early as the Southern Hemisphere spring and as
late as the summer--ranging from September to January.  The sheer
number of episodes (comprising a third the New Generation saga)
suggests the earlier date.  By the episode "Enter Marlene", we are
well into autumn, and in "The Secret Route", the desire is expressed
to cross a mountain range before winter "really" arrives.  It would be
necessary, as the characters are still in the Southern Hemisphere, to
date these events to around April or May of the year after Scott
arrives on Earth.  The season of "Sandstorms" is indeterminate, as the
characters are in a desert.

The next three episodes take place at or north of the equator;
beginning with "Annie's Wedding", set right on the equator in the
Amazon.  "Separate Ways" presents a problem.  Scott's perusal of the
map might suggest that the episode takes place in the ruins of Rio or
Buenos Aires, though his route would take the characters back through
the Amazon, which is where they were in the prior episode.  It is not
necessary to assume that Scott meant that the starting point drawn on
the map was their current location, and they could easily be further
along the route he'd drawn already.  Two sites drawn on the map
suggest themselves for the location of the episode: Caracas or
Maraciabo.  If one assumes that Scott continued with the plan he
voiced in "Separate Ways", to reach the northern coast of South
America and then cross the Gulf of Mexico, then "Metamorphosis" would
take place on a Caribbean island, possibly Jamaica or Puerto Rico.
However, Stan Bundy has mentioned problems with this, and has proposed
that between episodes, Scott may have changed his mind about their
route, instead taking them along Central America up to the California
coast.  There is certainly nothing in the show that contradicts this,
and it does indeed resolve several of the questions posed by their
zig-zagging.  It's clearly warm weather on the islands, wherever they
are, and if they've just left the Southern Hemisphere winter behind,
they're now experiencing a Northern Hemisphere summer--July or so of
the year after Scott's arrival.

There is some ambiguity about the next episode; its title, "The
Midnight Sun" suggests extremely high latitudes (inside the Arctic
circle) during summertime.  This is reinforced by Rand's surprise that
a few days before crossing into the mountains, it was still summer.
Nevertheless, the "midnight sun" can not be taken literally, since we
do see nighttime conditions in the episode.  There is the intriguing
possibility that the group used their boats to travel to Anchorage,
where they were attempting to cross the Alaska Range to get into the
interior to scavenge or explore the ruins of Alaska Base.  If the
characters did go this far north, the date is probably August, which
would place "Ghost Town" in Montana or that vicinity in September, and
"Frostbite" in Denver around or soon before the new year.

From "Birthday Blues" to the end of the show, we are in a Northern
Hemisphere spring to summer, it seems.  Rand and Rook express surprise
at all the spring flowers suddenly appearing around Reflex Point in
"Dark Finale", so this would seem to necessarily rule out spring for
this episode, favoring instead summer.  This would place the end of
the show in early summer, a year and a half after Scott's arrival.

Here are my suggestions for several representative episodes, based on
my prior date of 2042 for the arrival of Mars Division:

"The Invid Invasion"               Sept 2042
"The Secret Route"                  May 2043
"Metamorphosis"                    July 2043
"Midnight Sun"                      Aug 2043 
"Frostbite"                         Jan 2044
"Birthday Blues"                    Apr 2044
"Hired Gun"                         May 2044
"Symphony of Light"                July 2044


V: Conclusions:

While there is some play in the dating of the minor events of the
Robotech TV series relative to the major ones, the basic framework is
rather rigidly fixed by the show's references.

The following is a summary of the dates that can be fixed with
certainty; noting that I have chosen "Private Time" over the photo
album.  The timeline mentioned below is reasonably unique; without
arbitrarily throwing out cues, this is the only timeline one can get
for the TV show.

"Boobytrap" to "Space Fold"         2009
"Blitzkrieg"                        2009 (two months after "Space Fold")
"Homecoming"                        2010 (twelve months after "Space Fold")
"Force of Arms"                     2011 (~2 years before "Reconstruction 
                                         Blues")
"Reconstruction Blues"         late 2013
"Season's Greetings"         24 Dec 2013
"To the Stars"              Mid Jan 2014
Carpenter's ship                    2014 to 2016
  commissioned
Sentinels Video                     2022
"Dana's Story"                  Jan 2029
"False Start"                       2029 (some time after "Dana's Story")
"Catastrophe"                             approximately a year and a half
                                          after "False Start"
Invid invade                              more than three years before 
                                          "The Invid Invasion"
"The Invid Invasion"                2040 to 2042, in the Southern Hemisphere's
                                          spring
"Symphony of Light"                 approximately a year and a half after 
                                    "The Invid Invasion"


Appendix: The Pioneer Mission and Cyclones

Given the range of dates allowable for the commissioning of
Carpenter's vessel, the latest the ship could have been launched is
early 2017--still before the departure of the SDF-3.  This would seem
to indicate that more than one ship was attached to the SDF-3, and
left either with her, or approximately at the same time as her.  Also,
when Carpenter's voice is heard on the radio, a Southern Cross soldier
shouts "It's a ship from the Pioneer Mission!", and not "It's the
SDF-3!" If the REF only left with the SDF-3, one would think that the
tech would assume that the SDF-3 would be the ship returning--as it
was the only one those on Earth would know about.  Furthermore, when
Leonard confronts Carpenter, he is shocked and dismayed that Carpenter
was alone.  If the SDF-3 had left alone, wouldn't his default
assumption be for fewer ships, not more?  There are other indications
that the REF did not depart for Tirol with a single ship.  In "Mind
Games", we see a fleet of ships returning from what the narrator calls
"hyperspace" and what Emerson calls their "mission in deep space".
The narrator informs us that the ships were responding to the initial
distress call sent out by Space Station Liberty (cf.  the episode
"Volunteers").  This clearly refers to elements of the REF, especially
coupled with the fact that Earth had been trying to raise the SDF-3
from the beginning of the show, and that Wolff is said in "Eulogy" to
have been sent in with "the first wave against the Robotech Masters".
Though the extent of the fleet returning is uncertain (some dialogue
seems to make it smaller, others larger), one thing is apparent--aside
from the small shuttles, all capital ships seen in the returning fleet
are identical in designs to the Southern Cross vessels then in
service.  This requires that at least the plans for the ships were
taken with the REF, but more likely, the ships themselves were part of
the initial task force.  While it might be objected that the idea was
to deceive the Robotech Masters with the SDF-3, and that the
additional ships would ruin the deception, it is only a problem if one
assumes that the other vessels accompanied the SDF-3 her entire
journey to Tirol, and did not hold back or take some other action.
The simple fact is that the show establishes that these ships did
exist this early.  In addition, the crew and troops carried by the
SDF-3 is far too small to account for the fleet we see in "Symphony of
Light".  Assuming several troop/cargo ships accompanied the SDF-3
might almost seem reasonable, and is consistent with the show.  It
should be added that nowhere in the Robotech footage, or that of the
Sentinels that was completed, do we ever hear it stated that the SDF-3
did leave alone.

Another complication is the service entry date of the Cyclone.  Scott
calls it a "new" emergency vehicle, but this could be his bias as a
pilot.  Certainly we see Nader in a Cyclone at his death--presumably
at the start of the Invid invasion.  Though Rand's Cyclone is
scavenged from a Mars Division ship, where did Rook's come from?  She
had mastered its use by the time Rand had even found his, and thus we
can safely presume that she had possessed it for some time, and
necessarily that this Cyclone had been on Earth prior to the Mars
Division invasion.  Similarly, Lancer wore the Cyclone-compatible
body-armor when he crashed to Earth, as did all the old men on the
Garfish in "Ghost Town", suggesting that their units had standardized
their body armor to the Cyclone by the time they arrived on Earth.
The flashbacks of Wolff's heroics prior to his departure for Earth in
"Eulogy", on the other hand, show him in a different kind of armor,
incompatible with the Cyclone.  Since both the old men and Wolff
arrived at the end of the 2nd Robotech War, it is probable that the
Cyclone was already in service by 2030, though its installation on
Veritech fighters as an emergency vehicle (and the training of their
pilots in its use) was comparatively recent--c. 2040 or so.

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