QuickTopic logo Create New TopicNew Topic My TopicsMy Topics News
Zarthani.net banner

H. Beam Piper Mailing List and Discussion Forum

Skip to Messages
Welcome to the H. Beam Piper mailing list and discussion forum. Initiated in October 2008 (after the demise of the original PIPER-L mailing list), this tool for shared communication among Piper fans provides an e-mail list and a discussion forum with on-line archives.
Membership in this moderated list/forum is by invitation only. (If you'd like an invitation please request one by sending an e-mail message to the Moderator.) In order for your messages to be approved for posting to the list you must be both registered with the QuickTopic site (click the "Sign In" link at the top-right of the page) and subscribed to receive messages from the list by e-mail (click the "Get email" button below).
Moderation will focus on keeping the discussion related to H. Beam Piper in a broadly interpreted sense. Off-topic posts or ad hominem comments will not be approved for posting and repeat offenders may be banned from posting to the list.
There is an annual subscription fee required to keep this list/forum free of advertisements and to provide expanded functionality such as the capability to post images. You can support the continued ad-free availability of this shared resource by making a contribution using the PayPal Donate link at the top of the page. (You don't need a PayPal account to make a donation, just a credit card.) Thank you for whatever level of support you can afford.
^     All messages            1835-1850 of 1850  1819-1834 >>
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
17:33 UT
Salvaging "Immunity"?

While "Flight from Tomorrow" ("Immunity" was Beam's original title) is an engaging yarn it is rendered unbelievable by the explanation offered for its central premise: the idea that humanity eventually became "immune" to atomic radiation. While that idea might have been tenable--barely--when "Flight" was published (just five years after the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki--and Trinity) it makes no sense to contemporary readers.

There is though an interesting possibility within the yarn itself which might suggest a potential resolution of this shortcoming. Here's Hradzka musing on what might explain his apparent toxicity to the people and other living things he encounters in the early years of the First Century of the Atomic Era:

"During the early centuries of the Atomic Era, he knew, there had been great wars, the stories of which had survived even to the Hundredth Century. Among the weapons that had been used, there had been artificial plagues and epidemics, caused by new types of bacteria developed in laboratories, against which the victims had possessed no protection. Those germs and viruses had persisted for centuries, and gradually had lost their power to harm mankind. Suppose, now, that he had brought some of them back with him, to a century before they had been developed. Suppose, that was, that he were a human plague-carrier. He thought of the vermin that had infested the clothing he had taken from the man he had killed on the other side of the mountain; they had not troubled him after the first day."

I've not looked closely at the rest of the yarn, but I wonder if it might be "rebooted" in a way which would utilize this "bacteriological immunity" as an alternative, more believable explanation for Hradzka's ultimate fate in his past (and for the "Ancient Spaceport" of his original era).


"You know how atomic energy was first used? There was an ancient nation, upon the ruins of whose cities we have built our own, which was famed for its idealistic humanitarianism. Yet that nation, treacherously attacked, created the first atomic bombs in self defense, and used them." - Kradzy Zago (H. Beam Piper), "Flight from Tomorrow"
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
17:36 UT
For some reason, that makes me think of some of the old Bob Newhart telephone-call comedy bits.

"He- Hello, sir? Yes, sir, this is Manager Slarth, down at the Central Zoo? You know how you'd asked us to supply a wolf for a fourth level outtime operation, one canis lupis, from the fourth level? Turns out, funny story, one of the new hires made a slight mistake, and sent along a canis khiftus. Ye- Yes sir, that's one of the not-quite wolves left over at the second-level Khiftan wars. No sir, we're not sure which Khiftan war it was. And we're pretty sure they don't know any more either. But back to the wolf, sir, it is pretty close, and unless you really know what you're looking at, it's just a big shaggy wolf, so we don't think- what do you mean, they've found out?"
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
05:29 UT
Verkan Vall Strikes Again

Montana authorities scratching their heads over discovery of wolflike creature


Nice touch too, with the conspiracy theories.

Down Styphon!

"Unsolved mysteries are just as good as explanations, as long as they're mysterious within a normal framework." - Verkan Vall, ~Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen~
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
23:31 UT
I had a bit of a re-read of Lord Kalvan. On page 2, during Chief Karf's setting up of the book:

"It all had to be policed. Some Paratimers were less than scrupulous in dealing with outtime races - he'd have retired ten years ago except for the discovery of a huge paratemporal slave-trade, only recently smashed."

So it looks like Vall had wrapped everything up, and everyone had been merged back into the main force.

Sadly, the lack of Mars expedition leads me to conclude that 'our home time line' is not in Piper Future History. The flip side of that is, I'm not minding the lack of 3rd or 4th world wars! And since there's no more Soviet Union to launch a trans-polar invasion of Ottawa and get Allan Hartley blasted at Buffalo, I think we're clear on that one.

When I google Martha Dane, I do get a lot of results. No, I'm not going to email them and ask if they've been to Mars.
jimmyjoejanglesPerson was signed in when posted
19:54 UT
The problem with Kalvan is that it makes no mention of the second Paratime police that Verkan was put in charge of at the end of Time Crime. Barring that; based on the descriptions of Tortha Karf, more than a few years pass between A Police Operation and Time Crime. I think Kalvan happened before Time Crime so I thiought more like the sixties or even later.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
18:35 UT
James "jimmyjoejangles" Romanski wrote:

> I don't see how that direct mention of space flight can be
> construed as them having Not discovered the THFH.

Well, Verkan is using that Second Level occurrence of hyperdrive as a sort of example of the "most advanced" civilization they've encountered in Paratime at that point in linear-time. "Temple Trouble" takes place sometime before ~Lord Kalvan~ so we're talking about the 1950s on Calvin Morrison's original timeline (if one assume his is the same as the Terro-human Future History--tough to call it "our timeline" at this point).

So, the Terro-human Future History doesn't yet exist at the time of "Temple Trouble." Ed Chalmers hasn't yet "pre-perceived" the Thirty Days' War and there's not yet been a ~Kilroy~ nor a U.S. Lunar Base to provoke a crisis with the Eastern Axis. Martha Dane likely hasn't even been born yet.

(Don't get me wrong here. I don't believe the Terro-human Future History is a Paratime timeline at all. I'm convinced they're entirely separate settings. I was just laying out--two decades ago, now--what needs to be considered for one to make that case; the key point here being that everything we see in the Terro-human Future History yarns occurs in the linear-time _future_ of the Paratime yarns.)


"There had been the time he'd mentioned the secession of Canada from the British Commonwealth. . . ." - Edward Chalmers (H. Beam Piper), "The Edge of the Knife"
jimmyjoejanglesPerson was signed in when posted
18:15 UT
I don't see how that direct mention of space flight can be construed as them having Not discovered the THFH.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04:08 UT
More from the Archives: The Ol' "Is the Terro-human Future History a Paratime timeline"?

Here's a message (from your truly) from the old PIPER-L mailing list back in November 1997 (just two years old at that point):


Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 13:12:49 -0500
From: David Johnson
Subject: Paratime and TFH

This is Verkan Vall from "Temple Trouble":

"We even know of one Second Level civilization which is approaching the discovery of an intstellar hyperspatial drive, something we've never even come close to."

This suggests that if the Terro-Human Future History universe *is* a part of the Paratime universe that it's a timeline that the First Level Paratimers have not come across.

Of course, TFH could be the *future* of Calvin Morrison's and Ed Chalmers's Fourth Level timeline, with Verkan's great-great-great-great- great-great grandson(daughter?) running Paratime Police operations in the Sword Worlds. :)

David Johnson


The original message is available here:


Here's your chance to weigh in again. Could it be that Merlin doesn't show up in ~Space Viking~ or any Empire era yarns because future Paratimers have destroyed (or stolen) it?

And let's not even _start_ with what future Paratimers might have to do about those "micropositos" in "Ministry of Disturbance"!


"Lord Kalvan is a Martian." - Jackson Russell, H. Beam Piper Mailing List and Discussion Forum, July 6, 2015
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
00:31 UT
From the Archives: John F. Carr - Wrong Timeline?

Here's a little taste of what was happening on the old PIPER-L mailing list back in May 2001:

Subject: Hey, Are They Telling Me I'm On The Wrong Time-Line?
From: John Carr
Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 13:53:32 -0700


Let me preface this post with a little backstory. On April 14, 1998 I had
open-heart surgery, for a 'routine' valve replacement. It wasn't
un-expected: I was born with a congenital heart defect, a damaged heart
valve. Through luck, determination not to have my chest ripped apart, and a
healthy life style, I managed to delay this operation for about 34 years
beyond my original cardiologist's prediction in 1954 of open-heart surgery
in early 60s! To make a long story short, the operation was a success and
when I came out of anesthesia and was walked (they don't coddle heart
patients these days!) into the post-op room, I was greeted by Dr. Yan, head
of my 4-surgeon surgical team. His first words were: "You very lucky. We
found aortic aneurysm: you had between 2 seconds and 2 weeks to live. If
your aneurysm would have blown out, we could not have saved you on the
table. Very lucky man."

Well, I don't need to belabor the point to tell you that I've felt VERY
lucky ever since -- my wife calls me her "Walking Miracle." The facts that
I hadn't seen a cardiologist (or any other doctor) for 16 years before going
to Dr. Ryman, that I hadn't had health insurance at any time in the previous
33 years (since I left my parent's home!), and that the job I had with Coast
Federal Bank only lasted 4 months beyond my health insurance qualification
period of 90 days (Coast was merged in March '98 with Home Saving/then
WAMA -- as Washington Mutual Bank is know unaffectionately here on the
Westcoast by anyone who's had to deal with the bastards!) gives you an idea
of just how many odds I beat. If I did this well on a roulette table in
Vegas I'd own the whole town before I left!

On top of this, I felt in wonderful shape -- no symptoms of the failing
heart I was told by my doctors I would soon have to deal with in a year or
two, leading to congestive heart failure. The fact that is I'm one stubborn
S.O.B. when it comes to not getting myself filleted, well, you get the
picture. If Dr. Ryman wasn't equally pig-headed, I'd probably not be here!
It was when she told me "get this operation now, or you'll need a transplant
in a year-and-a-half, that convinced me to 'face reality,' so to speak.

I talked, bullied my way out of the hospital in 4 days -- my wife still
calls this my 'Exorcist' period! -- and healed at home in the comfort of my
own bed. Not having taken drugs all my life -- I sometimes think I was the
only straight rock musician in the 1960s, and certainly the only one who
remembers it all! Well, I had a very bad reaction to the pain medication,
which I didn't even need thanks to a very high pain threshold -- and got a
bit snippy in the hospital, as my wife tells it. (Actually, she puts it a
little coarser, but we won't go into that!) Victoria finally convinced the
nurses I didn't need the pain pills and they gladly let me leave early!

The doctors don't like you to do much for the first 3 months after
open-heart surgery (especially driving cars, since upon impact with the
steering wheel bad things happen and chest cavities have been know to
unexpectedly and unhappily open up -- something they don't talk about! My
wife asks a lot of questions so I got in on this little bit of information,
I'd rather not have known.) so I had a LOT of time to think over my close
call with the grim reaper and life in general.

Needless to say, my overall mood was very good. However, after 25 years of
studying Beam Piper and writing several novels in Paratime, it couldn't help
but think about Beam's own death and the Piper curse, as some people call
it -- for example, my friend Bill Tuning died less than a year after the
publication of "Fuzzy Bones." My question was: how did I escape, or did I?

Are there time-lines where John F. Carr died sometime in April 1998...?
This is why, to this day, I celebrate my Re-Birthday on May 1, which is
exactly 2 weeks from my surgery and my longest possible lifespan after April
14, 1998. Don't worry, I don't really dwell on it: it's just a day for my
wife and I to appreciate the fact that I'm in actuality a walking poster
child for Miracles of the Week! (Maybe I ought to do a television
treatment -- nah, just kidding!) No presents: we just go out for a nice
dinner and enjoy our time together. My natal birthday is Christmas so it's
not much of a birthday, even if my initials are JC... Let's not even go

No religious conversions, no new truth 'to bring back from the void' -- just
a better appreciation for life and how short it can be, for any of us.

Now, what brought all this on -- besides my Re-Birthday about a week and a
half ago -- is the latest issue of 'Science Fiction Chronicle' where they
review "Kalvan Kingmaker" in Don D'Ammassa's Critical Mass: Book Reviews,
P-36. The good news is KK is the lead review and it's a positive review.
The bad news is they changed my name to John Ford about halfway through the
review -- I won't even bother to dwell on the fact that they dropped the
last half of the Pequod address and included my e-mail address instead of
the website! I know Don and I suspect it was the meddling that happens to
good magazines when you try to shorten a piece so that it fits on the page
and don't always pay attention to what gets cut.

I probably wouldn't have paid the name change much mind had Ace not also
changed my name, on the Copyright page of "The Complete Paratime," from John
F. Carr to John F. Last -- see what I mean, it's like a message.

Maybe Verkan's behind all this and letting me know that Beam wasn't just
writing fiction! John Ford, the director, has been dead for years and John
F. Last -- well that's obvious.

So maybe this is the Fourth Level, Europo-American, John Carr Time-Line and
on all the other Europo-American time-lines fate and/or the Paratime Police
caught up with me and I'm moldering in a box six feet underground --

Now hear this Verkan, wherever you are, I'm onto you and I'm not taking the
hint -- I'm going to continue writing Paratime yarns. Your agents
dispatched Beam, Bill and Richard Meredith -- I just want you to know that
I'm not going quietly into the night. I know you're behind the Ace Piper
re-issue ban and all the saucer sightings in the US. I don't know about the
cattle mutilations, but we're still investigating... This is one
time-line -- maybe the root Europo-American time-line, where you're not
going to get away with it!

Don't take this too seriously, this is just good fun. I woke up this
morning and this entire post blossomed in my mind. However, sometimes late
at night, after writing all evening, like last night -- when scenes and
visions of Aryan-Transpacific and First Level drop into my mind like I'm
patched into a 'broadcast' from another world, I sometimes just wonder if
maybe Beam wasn't onto something...

John F. Carr
Paratime Chronicler


The original message is available here:


I'm sure I'm not the only Piper fan who's happy that John is still with us--steadily turning out new material despite Verkan Vall's best efforts--twenty years after that life-altering surgery he was musing about back in 2001.


"You know what Lingua Terra is? An indiscriminate mixture of English, Spanish, Portuguese and Afrikaans, mostly English. And you know what English is? The result of the efforts of Norman men-at-arms to make dates with Saxon barmaids." - Victor Grego (H. Beam Piper), ~Fuzzy Sapiens~
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
14:41 UT
Piper Interview at eBay!

There is a copy of the "Double: Bill Symposium" on offer at eBay:


This item contains responses from many science-fiction authors, including Piper, to a list of questions about their work.

Good luck!

David (not the seller)
"I have heard it argued that fandom tends to make a sort of cult of science fiction, restricted to a narrow circle of the initiated. This I seriously question." - H. Beam Piper, "Double: Bill Symposium" interview
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
16:04 UT
Expanded, original "The Return" on eBay

There is a well-priced--for now, I imagine it will sell at a higher price--copy of ~The Science-Fictional Sherlock Holmes~ currently at auction on eBay:


This seems to be a copy of the third binding of this limited-edition book, without the original dust cover.

This anthology includes an expanded version of "The Return" by Piper and McGuire.

Good luck!

(not the seller)
"Ideas for science fiction stories like ideas for anything else, are where you find them, usually in the most unlikely places. The only reliable source is a mind which asks itself a question like, 'What would happen if--?' or, 'Now what would this develop into, in a few centuries?' Or, 'How would so-and-so happen?' Anything at all, can trigger such a question, in your field if not in mine." - H. Beam Piper, "Double: Bill Symposium" interview
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04:08 UT
Jon Crocker wrote:

> When I meant bigger, though, I meant on a grander scale - he
> is the Emperor, after all. I was thinking there would be big full
> length portraits, like the one you see of the guy standing, but
> the bigger-than-life size that you see of some of the old
> european royalty. And higher ceiling, etc etc - but of course,
> then you wouldn't get the full effect of all the portraits so I can
> see why the artist went that way.

I see what you're saying but I think the problem you've identified has more to do with Beam's description than with Van Dongen's illustration (which seems to correspond well to what Beam wrote).

These portraits are in a relatively private area, where the emperor is moving from the living space to the working space in the palace. I'm not sure one would expect these formal portraits of _all_ the former rulers in that sort of space. But Beam used this interlude to make his point about the continuity and stagnation of the empire through the dramatic device of the portraits. That bit with the portraits would have worked better in one of the scenes with the Adityan and Durandalan leaders but other stuff was going on then, including other things in Paul's "inner dialogue."

Basically, I agree with your point, I just see the shortcoming as Beam's rather than Van Dongen's.

> I see the point about the failing optimism - another way of
> looking at it is that the spotlight just wasn't on those areas,
> as Piper wanted to show more of his universe, not just one
> world for ever and ever. True, we never see Ullerans (well,
> at least Kragans) as full citizens, but we never see Uller again
> anyway. One could argue it happened off-camera.

Agreed. Those have always been my assumptions: Ullerans--Kragans, as you note--in their own starships; Walt Boyd comes back to a prosperous life on Fenris; it's not so much that Poictesme "disappears" as it is that Merlin is "hiding;" and Trask's League is some sort of at least informal precursor to the Empire--all happening "off-stage." There's lots of space in the Future History for things like "Fuzzy enclaves" on planets other than Zarathustra and other "minor states" in the Viking era Old Federation which might challenge the emerging Mardukan empire.

> And The Keeper - it was mostly concerned with small-unit
> tactics, so the interstellar communications setup never really
> came up.

Yes. Still, those "micropositos, if real, are pretty revolutionary in the Future History universe. I'm guessing the Empire of Prince Salsavadran and Lord Dranigrastan looks very, very different from that of Paul and his son Rodrik. So different that it would seem just as unusual to a Lucas Trask or a Conn Maxwell as the late Federation or Viking eras would seem to an ancient Roman or Mayan.


"Britain was a great nation, once; the last nation to join the Terran Federation. . . ." - Lord "Dranigo" Dranigrastan (H. Beam Piper), "The Keeper"
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
23:29 UT
Is Irminsul a "civilized planet"?

In the Space Viking era, Irminsul was an Old Federation planet but apparently not a trade planet of Tanith or Marduk. Trade goods brought to Tanith from Irminsul by Gilgamesh traders included "vegetable-amber and flame-bird plumes."

Irminsul was discovered by the ~Hubert Penrose~ expedition later in the Federation era. It was "covered with forests of gigantic trees" and was known for its hostile fauna, including "a race of subsapient near-humanoids who had just gotten as far as clubs and ~coup-de-poing axes~" at the time of discovery.

By the time of the late Federation era, settlers on Irminsul were seen as likely customers of salvaged military arms and ammunition from Poictesme. The second voyage of the Poictesme trading starship ~Ouroboros II~ was planned for Irminsul with "a cargo of arms, machine tools and contragravity vehicles." Wade Lucas and Flora Maxwell planned to travel to Irminsul for their honeymoon aboard ~Ouroboros II~.

In the early Empire era, Irminsul is one of the major worlds of the Empire included in the Imperial annexation presentation to the leadership of Aditya.

All of this suggests that Irminsul was well-equipped for independent survival when the Federation collapsed. And early in the Empire era it was a major planet. It's not specifically identified any time any of the "dozen and a half" civilized planets described by Harkaman are mentioned but there are several of those "civilized planets" which go unmentioned.

Might Irminsul be one of them?


"There aren't a dozen and a half planets in the Old Federation that still have hyperdrive, and they're all civilized." - Otto Harkaman (H. Beam Piper), ~Space Viking~
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
02:26 UT
I like the complete image. Thanks!

When I meant bigger, though, I meant on a grander scale - he is the Emperor, after all. I was thinking there would be big full length portraits, like the one you see of the guy standing, but the bigger-than-life size that you see of some of the old european royalty. And higher ceiling, etc etc - but of course, then you wouldn't get the full effect of all the portraits so I can see why the artist went that way.

Off to Gimli? As long as it's under that revered professor Vann Evaratt I should be fine!

I see the point about the failing optimism - another way of looking at it is that the spotlight just wasn't on those areas, as Piper wanted to show more of his universe, not just one world for ever and ever. True, we never see Ullerans (well, at least Kragans) as full citizens, but we never see Uller again anyway. One could argue it happened off-camera.

And The Keeper - it was mostly concerned with small-unit tactics, so the interstellar communications setup never really came up.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
19:30 UT
Jon Crocker wrote:

> After the story, do you think that the emperor's son 'Rod' will
> break with tradition, introduce a third name into the annals of
> emperors when it's time to name his own child?

Whoa, that's crazy talk! Off to the University of Brannerton on Gimli for you! ;)

It's an interesting question. We get no clear indications from Beam either way, especially because "Ministry" is the last Terro-human Future History yarn until "The Keeper." It seems apparent from the yarn that Paul XXII and his boyhood friend Travann are intent upon making some substantive changes to the stagnant Empire. One would expect these would be continued by young Rodrik when he succeeds his father.

On the other hand, Beam's yarns suggest repeatedly that such optimistic / hopeful impulses will ultimately fail. We never see Ullerans as full-members of the Federation after ~Uller Uprising~. Fenris never becomes an important Federation planet. Poictesme disappears from post-Federation history. The Space Vikings degenerate into barbarism and are ultimately swallowed by the Empire. Trask's "League of Civilized Worlds" never seems to materialize--morphing instead into an Empire led by Marduk. Even the apparent "faster-than-light" communication discovered in "Ministry" seems to have been lost by the time of "The Keeper."

Still, that's long term. In the near term, perhaps young Rodrik assumes a different name when he ascends the throne, as symbolic indication of his aspiration to continue the changes initiated by his father--and names his own son something other than "Paul."

If Piper had lived to write more first Empire era yarns, I'm guessing these same reforms would ultimately encourage an usurper who would one day topple Paul's and Rodrik's line. . . .


"It's all pretty hush-hush, but this term Terran Federation is a tentative name for a proposed organization to take the place of the U.N. if that organization breaks up." - Major Cutler (H. Beam Piper), "The Edge of the Knife"
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
18:53 UT

Here's the two-page spread of Van Dongen's original illustration combined into a single image.
^     All messages            1835-1850 of 1850  1819-1834 >>

Print | RSS Views: 24986 (Unique: 6017 ) / Subscribers: 22 | What's this?