xkcd Time Wiki

There are many observations in the comic which inform the viewer about the setting in both place and time in which the story takes place. While there are many attempts to interpret those observations to support various theories on the location/time of the comic, this article attempts merely to group in one place the raw observations and clues themselves, regardless of how many people may interpret them.

Geographical, geological, and hydrological[]

The shape of Cuegan's journey has been roughly and approximately laid out in Edfel's map.

Notable features include:

  • A sea which is rising rapidly, for apparently unknown reasons- suggestions have included a greater than usual influx of water from nearby rivers (by Cueball), an unusual and large tide (largely discredited), or flood of some other kind (similar to the ancient flooding of the Mediterranean basin).
  • A river flowing from a mountain or mountain range, which has cut a steep valley into the mountain at that end, and forms a delta as it flows into the sea
  • A large waterfall

Although the altitude Cuegan have climbed to upon the mountain does not appear to be that high, they have commented that the temperature is cooler and the air noticeably thinner, to the point of causing fatigue, which would only occur on the contemporary Earth, for a regular person, at an estimated altitude of roughly 8000-9000ft (2400-2700m). On the other hand, it has been suggested that by the time they reached the towers, they may have been able to travel 30-110 miles (50-180km- dependent on estimates of walking speed), which would make the altitude reasonable if the slope were shallow (like a shield volcano).

It has also been suggested that:

  • The climate appears to be close to semi-arid.
  • The geological makeup of the mountainous areas may be basalt or sandstone, and a lack of scree in the area suggests a lack of precipitation or temperatures below freezing.


There have been general suggestions of an African biome.

Animals sighted so far:

  • Humans
  • Bird 1 (seabird?)
  • Possible mole?
  • Snake (brown, shiny, blotchy, horned- possibly Calabar Python)
  • Insects (at least one probably a butterfly, others possibly bees, flies)
  • Squirrel
  • Bird 2 (songbird?)
  • Hedgehog?
  • Bird 3 (hawk?)
  • Large feline (leopard?)
  • Bird 4 (nighthawk?)
  • Rabbit/hare



The current conclusions of from studying the movement of the constellations, the sun, Venus and Jupiter, are:

  • That the date is 10th of April, 13291 (and at the very least is thousands of years into the future); the season is spring.
  • That the location is somewhere between 39-40°N and between 37-158°W (ie, a thin strip across what is currently North America). However, the longitude could be off by a large margin due to the unpredictable effect of leap seconds over such a period of time, and so their placement in North America cannot be certain.


There appear to be multiple groups of humans with which Cuegan are familiar.

  • Their own group (Unglish): Although we haven't specifically seen or heard of other members of Cuegan's group, they reference "us", a group with not many people by the shore at that time of year (spring), except a few kids (possibly indicating that LaPetite is from this group as well). They appear to speak English, but, like in many stories, this could be being translated for our benefit, and their language is thus also referred to as Unglish.
    • Cuegan appear to have little prior knowledge of the world, and instead learn by observation; it is unknown if this is reflective of their culture.
    • They are apparently aware of cities and castles, but had not seen/were not familiar with them prior to meeting the Beanies. Cueball says that he wasn't sure castles actually existed, suggesting their knowledge (implied by sandcastle making) is cultural.
    • Their initial guesses as to the nature of the survey tower equipment suggest familiarity with long-range weaponry.
  • Beanie People: A group who live in the mountains that Cuegan have arrived at, with whom they were not previously familiar. They appear to have a greater level of technological sophistication and larger settlements than Cuegan's group (assumed from their reaction to the city), and they speak a different language, not represented with latin characters.
    • The diagram drawn by Beanie-2 to indicate that they know a translator suggests that they recognise Cuegan's language (Unglish).
    • Apart from surveying the land for mapping purposes, it appears that the Beanies are aware of the sea rising and are using their surveying equipment to track its progress.
  • People in the Hills: A group with with Cuegan seem to be familiar (including familiarity with their writing), and who live upsteam on 'their' river, in the opposite direction to their journey (see the map). It is possible that they are the speakers of the Squarish language hinted at by Beanie-2, but this is speculative.

Items and structures of human origin[]

This is an attempt at a comprehensive list (not solely noting items of importance); it is split into categories based on the items we have seen to be associated with the various cultures, but this doesn't necessarily mean any particular item isn't also known to the other group. 


  • Sandcastles
  • Trebuchets
  • Ladders
  • Relatively complex wooden pole structures
  • Pulleys
  • Berets
  • Buckets
  • Flags
  • Steam bottles
  • Water bladders
  • Bags
  • Written language (implied by reaction to baobab writing)


(see also: Beanish Objects)

  • Via ferrata
  • Survey towers consisting of a central tower to hold the equipment (theodolite) and a scaffolding tower
  • Theodolites, accurate enough measure the rising sea apparently a long distance away
  • Beanies (or hard hats)
  • Medical/wound paste
  • Book/manual (including trigonometric maps)
  • Stools
  • Water dispenser
  • Cups
  • Surveying tripod (portable)
  • Philadelphia rod?
  • Outpost/habitation (not fully seen)
  • Large bag or glass vase
  • Food eaten on journey to city
  • Flags
  • Cities (walled?)
  • Castles
  • Gates
  • Small houses, including double-storey (Mediterranean/European style), with grass roof
  • Vegetable patches
  • Broad-brimmed hats
  • Outdoor table and seats
  • Wires, most likely clothes lines


(abandoned items and structures on the mountain prior to the towers; now generally assumed to be of Beanish origin, but it has been suggested that the different style of the buildings and apparent level of technology mean that these items come from another group.)

  • Campsites/fire
  • Cairns
  • Written language (on the baobab)
  • Vineyards (apparently)
  • Rafts
  • Furniture of some kind
  • Small single-room building/habitation (abandoned)
  • Wells
  • Shovels
  • Buckets
  • Bowls