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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.
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^     All messages            1810-1825 of 1825  1794-1809 >>
CalidorePerson was signed in when posted
16:36 UT
The Harriet Barne

Aside from David Johnson’s suggestion, I don’t know what other theories have been put forward about the origin of the airship/spaceship Harriet Barne. But this is what I’ve come up with; an expansion on an idea I got back in 2009, while working on a paper about Lone Star Planet.

As we all know, The Cosmic Computer opens forty years after the System States War ends. The novel is largely concerned with the events of the System States era, particularly with regards to Merlin, built during the SSW and the primary cause of the Alliance’s defeat. The System States War is modeled on the American Civil War, so Piper could have had a Civil War model in mind for the Harriet Barne. He was an expert on the subject, having first learned about it at an early age from his mother, Harriet, who “was able to relate so much knowledge of the war…she having been born shortly before its ending.” (Carr, Piper Biography, p. 9)

The Harriet Barne is a Poictesmean merchant and passenger vessel which is captured by pirates, who then begin converting her into a spaceship for an essentially military purpose. The pirate leader, Blackie Perales, wants to take the Harriet Barne to Koshchei and pick up some Space Navy superweapons, left there by the Federation at the end of the War. If he gets his hands on them, he could make himself king of all the criminal gangs on Poictesme; and thereafter, presumably, of the planet itself. But the ship is recaptured in a battle, and becomes a prize of the victors. Nevertheless, some legal litigation ensues with the original owners. This is finally resolved by the creation of a new company, Alpha Interplanetary, which will use the Harriet Barne as a merchant vessel to planets in the Alpha system, notably Koshchei. (Piper, Cosmic Computer, pp. 3, 102, 103, 104-113, 115, 116-118, 121-122)

All of these elements—merchant-related vessel, captured by enemies, conversion to military use, litigation, recapture by friendly forces, and conversion to trade ship—are found in a Civil War vessel; the USRC Harriet Lane.

“Harriet Lane was a revenue cutter of the United States Revenue Cutter Service and, on the outbreak of the American Civil War, a ship of the United States Navy and later Confederate States Navy. The craft was named after the niece of senator and later United States President, James Buchanan; during his presidency, she acted as First Lady. The cutter was christened and entered the water for the Revenue Service in 1859 out of New York City, and saw action during the Civil War at Fort Sumter, New Orleans, Galveston, Texas, and Virginia Point and was captured by the Confederates in 1863, whereupon she was converted to a trade ship. She was recaptured by Union forces at the end of war, declared unfit for service, sold, and rechristened the Elliot Ritchie out of Philadelphia, only to be abandoned at sea in 1881.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USRC_Harriet_Lane_(1857))

The Harriet Barne is arguably the most important ship in The Cosmic Computer. She’s “the biggest contragravity ship on the planet”, and her interplanetary missions lead to the reactivation of the mines and factories on Koshchei, thereby bringing products to Poictesme that are currently in short supply; the discovery of all the interplanetary ships abandoned after the War, which enables more companies to begin trade in the Alpha System and beyond; in turn resulting in the Maxwell Plan “getting things really started.” (CC, pp. 3, 126, 161, 184, 195)

And although the USRC Harriet Lane does not possess the fame of Civil War-era ships like the Monitor and Merrimack, she played an important supporting role in the war, and even distinguished herself in the antebellum period.

In 1858, she was temporarily transferred to the Navy, taking part in a successful show of force against the dictator of Paraguay. “In his report, Flag Officer William B. Shubrick singled out Harriet Lane for special commendation on the invaluable service she rendered in extricating his other ships that repeatedly ran aground in the treacherous waters of the Paraná River.” And “In September 1860 she embarked Edward Albert, the Prince of Wales, the first member of the British Royal Family to visit the United States, for passage to Mount Vernon, where he planted a tree and placed a wreath on the tomb of George Washington.” (wikipedia)

Upon the outbreak of the American Civil War, the Harriet Lane was again transferred to the Navy, “and sent to Charleston, South Carolina, to supply the Fort Sumter garrison…On the evening of the 11th, the Harriet Lane fired on the civilian steamship Nashville when that merchantman appeared with no colors flying. Nashville avoided further attack by promptly hoisting the United States ensign. When Major Robert Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter 13 April, USRC Harriet Lane withdrew with her sister ships. According to Coast Guard historian Captain Commandant Horatio Davis Smith, USRCS, Ret; Lieutenant W. D. Thompson fired the first naval shot of the Civil War with the thirty-two pounder he commanded on the deck of the Harriet Lane at the Nashville.” (ibid.)

After firing the first naval shot of the Civil War, the Harriet Lane engaged in several other battles along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and was briefly used as Commodore Farragut’s flagship in the West Gulf Squadron. Then, “During the Battle of Galveston, Harriet Lane sank the Rebel tugboat Neptune, leaving one-half of the two-vessel Confederate fleet lying on the bottom of the harbor.” Unfortunately she was damaged, and when the other Union ships withdrew, the Harriet Lane was captured by Confederate forces. (ibid.)

“After a week of repairs, Harriet Lane was placed under the command of Captain Thomas C. Saunders and dispatched to fight the Union vessels at sea, despite lengthy legal discussions regarding the capture of the prize which had not yet drawn to a close.” (ibid.)

However, her usefulness was now in some doubt. “The ship was…considered by the [Confederate] navy to be too slow and inefficient to become a blockade runner…naval secretary Stephen Mallory recommended that the navy relinquish control…In the 30th of April 1864 she was dispatched past the Union blockade to Cuba, loaded with a cargo of cotton. At Havana she was entered into the British naval registry and named Lavinia. At the end of the war she was interned at Havana and was recovered by the U.S. government.” (ibid.)

By that time, the “Harriet Lane was declared unfit for naval service. She was refitted to an unarmed three-masted fore-and-aft schooner and renamed Elliot Ritchie, and operated out of Philadelphia, transporting coal and merchandise.” (ibid.)

One might object that in a true parallel, the Harriet Barne should be a vessel from the System States War, not forty years later. But the ship could actually be a leftover of the War, which once sat on Mothball Row behind the West End docks at Storisende along with all the other mothballed ships, before being brought back into service by Transcontinent and Overseas. (CC, pp. 3, 62, 85) Moreover, the Harriet Barne is taken from the pirates by the contragravity gunboats of Col. Klem Zareff, who trained his men in “the manual of drill, arms and salute [of the] System States Alliance”, and named the gunboats “for capital ships of the old System States Navy.” (ibid., pp. 67, 79) It can therefore be considered a ‘new Alliance’ (or ‘Confederate’) flotilla. Seen in this light, the Harriet Barne’s later merchant-related trips to Koshchei for the ‘Alliance’ of Col. Zareff and the Fawzi’s Office Gang would parallel the Harriet Lane’s merchant voyage to Cuba for the Confederacy.

Cuba is an island in the ocean; Koshchei is a planet in space.

It is also interesting that, during the initial conversion process of the Harriet Barne, “the whole underside was sheathed in shimmering collapsium.” (ibid., p. 118) Beam appears to deliberately make it sound like the hull of an ocean-going vessel, beneath the superstructure. Of course, the Harriet Barne is later completely sheathed in collapsium, before making its first voyage to Koshchei. And the Harriet Lane “was a copper-plated steamer”; “the entire ship was sheathed and fastened with copper.” (wikipedia)

Copper, collapsium.

Another bit of evidence in support of the Harriet Lane model is its connection to Pennsylvania, Piper’s home state. For both Harriet Lane and her uncle, James Buchanan, were born in Franklin County, along the southern border. Buchanan served in the Pennsylvania state congress, and was then a US Senator representing his home state, before becoming president. Moreover, his term of office in the White House was from 1857-1861; just before the Civil War. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Buchanan)

Assuming this theory is correct, Piper modeled the Harriet Barne on the Harriet Lane, and the converted Harriet Barne itself is related to the other ships ‘converted’ to merchant or military use in The Cosmic Computer; including the ‘new Alliance’ ones of Col. Zareff. Since the USRC Harriet Lane was named for a niece of a US senator who later became president, it is possible that the Harriet Barne was named for a female relative of a Member of the Federation Parliament, who later became President of the Terran Federation. Indeed, the fact that Harriet Lane acted as First Lady for the bachelor President Buchanan creates the possibility that the character Harriet Barne was, or became, a First Lady of the Terran Federation.

Why Beam changed Lane to Barne I don’t know. David may be right that it comes from Harriet Barnes Pratt. This makes sense, for three reasons of personal interest to Piper. (1) But it also makes sense because Harriet Barnes Pratt worked in the White House, just like Harriet Lane. “Mrs. Pratt served on White House advisory committees on furnishings during the presidential terms of Calvin Coolidge through to Harry S. Truman. In 1925 she was appointed as chair of the White House's first committee, by President Coolidge. Through Pratt's efforts, Eleanor Roosevelt agreed to the establishment of the Subcommittee upon Furniture and Furnishings and Gifts for State Rooms of the White House to be placed under the United States Commission of Fine Arts. Mrs. Pratt served as the subcommittee's chair and as a member until 1947.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Barnes_Pratt)

Within Beam’s imagined universe, the name Harriet Barne could therefore be a creative combination of the Harriet Lane and Harriet Barnes Pratt, referring to a wealthy Poictesmean or Terran philanthropist who is related to a major political figure on Terra. If she is from Poictesme, she probably makes her fortune during the war, and leaves for Terra after its end. Because when “The Federation armies departed [the Trisystem]…The people who had grown richest out of the War had followed, taking their riches with them.” (CC, p. 5)
Assuming Harriet Barne was a wealthy patron who embarked for Terra after the System States War, the airship Harriet Barne would then be another ‘abandoned relic’; left behind by the woman she was named for.
Now let’s look at the vessel’s future. As we’ve seen, the USRC Harriet Lane (as the Elliot Ritchie) was ultimately abandoned at sea, which should mean that the Harriet Barne is ‘abandoned’ yet again; she ceases operation as a vessel of Alpha-Interplanetary. This is supported by the fact that, after her second trip to Koshchei, all the lost interplanetary spaceships are found; these being in the standard spherical shape. (ibid., pp. 124, 182) And Conn Maxwell himself suggests that the use of unorthodox interplanetary vessels like the Harriet Barne won’t last long. “Well, till we can get a shipyard going on Koshchei and build some real [spherical] spaceships, there are going to be some rare-looking objects traveling around the Alpha System.” (ibid., p. 129) Sometime afterward—presumably not long past the end of The Cosmic Computer, since the standard interplanetary vessels have been found—all the ‘rare-looking’ spaceships will be withdrawn from service.
A strict parallel would have the Harriet Barne abandoned in space, paralleling how the Harriet Lane (Elliott Ritchie) was abandoned at sea. But given Piper’s penchant for happy endings—at least, in the short term—in later years the Harriet Barne could become an orbiting museum, where citizens of the ‘Poictesmean Federation’ can learn about how the Trisystem became prosperous again, and experience the vessel’s two configurations; for air and space-travel. If so, this situation could potentially last for many decades, even past the end of the Terran Federation, until whatever Interstellar War occurs which causes the ruin of the Maxwell/Merlin Plan, and, presumably, the destruction of Poictesme.

What then would be the final fate of the Harriet Barne? She could be destroyed during this postulated war in which Poictesme is devastated. Or, she could indeed become ‘abandoned’; an empty relic of the short-lived Poictesmean Federation, floating adrift in orbital or interplanetary space.

(1) The first personal reason being, of course, that ‘Harriet’ was the name of Piper’s mother. The second reason is that Harriet Barnes Pratt has the same initials as Henry Beam Piper. And third, ‘Pratt’ could be connected to Inga and Fletcher Pratt. Piper was good friends with Fletcher, and Inga appears to have played matchmaker; not only urging Beam to marry the woman who became the love of his life, Betty Hirst, but acting as a witness at their wedding. (Carr, Piper Biography, pp. 94, 96, 101, 120)
By the time Piper wrote The Cosmic Computer in the early 1960s, however, Fletcher Pratt had died, Beam’s marriage to Betty had crumbled, and he seems to have lost touch with Inga. Thus, like the airship Countess Dorothy, which appears to have a subtle connection to Beam’s lost loves Lillian and Betty, the air/spaceship Harriet Barne might be another subtle tribute to lost loved ones; in this case, his mother and the Pratts.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
23:56 UT
Jon Crocker wrote:

> I'm also re-thinking some of the Nemesis/Victrix vs
> Enterprise/Yo-Yo battle scenes from Space Viking in
> light of that chart. "She hairpinned on us" becomes
> a lot more impressive if you think of a small mountain
> making a hairpin turn.

I've been re-reading Anderson's Polesotechnic League stories lately and while there are differences in the technology--Polesotechnic hyperships can detect other ships in hyperspace at a certain range--it's interesting that most of the battles occur at distances where the battling ships can't actually see each other because the distances and speeds at which they are interacting are greater than those allowing for visual detection.

There are plenty of instances in ~Space Viking~ where crews aboard the battling starships seem to be able to see the other starships in their respective screens. One wonders--especially given the idea of "a small mountain making a hairpin turn"--if these aren't actually real-time computer-generated animations made to help the humans visualize what's happening rather than actual imagery being captured and displayed by some sort of imaging device.

"Royal Navy; smash the traitors first!"

"We talk glibly about ten to the hundredth power, but emotionally we still count, 'One, Two, Three, Many.'" - Otto Harkaman (H. Beam Piper), ~Space Viking~
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
00:06 UT
I'm also re-thinking some of the Nemesis/Victrix vs Enterprise/Yo-Yo battle scenes from Space Viking in light of that chart. "She hairpinned on us" becomes a lot more impressive if you think of a small mountain making a hairpin turn.
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
05:55 UT
Thanks for posting the size comparison charts - when I'm reading and it mentions the ships, I think I know what it means, but I don't really stop and figure it out.

The illustration with only part of the Piper ship really drives that point home. If they ever went over the dayside of a planet, you wouldn't need radar to track them! Well, not really. But I'd hate to live near one of Piper's spaceports, the shadows of the landed ships would kill your lawn.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03:47 UT
Jon Crocker wrote:

> If that's the case, the philanthropist seems a likely source.

That's my guess, especially given she was a patron of this little contraption:


which it's not difficult to imagine Beam encountering during one of his visits to New York.

'Ware the air pirates!

"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
03:20 UT
Post Script: Piper's Space Viking Starships in Traveller

Here's an interesting blog post from a while back over at The Zhodani Base:


It's a discussion of spherical starships in Traveller (and sci-fi in general) but it begins with Piper's ships from ~Space Viking~, and includes John Schoenherr's wonderful cover illustration from the original ~Analog~ serialization. What's interresting is that Piper's ships are among the earliest of all of the sci-fi examples mentioned.

There's also a link to an interesting size-comparison chart here:


While this shows some interesting comparisons for Traveller's Broadsword-class mercenary cruiser, a more interesting comparison chart is here:


From this chart we can see that 2000-foot Space Viking ships dwarf even Traveller's Tigress-class dreadnoughts.

There's also a link to an interesting piece which explains that a sphere-shaped ship makes the most effective use of internal volume and external surface area:


There's Beam, ahead of his time.

"We talk glibly about ten to the hundredth power, but emotionally we still count, 'One, Two, Three, Many.'" - Otto Harkaman (H. Beam Piper), ~Space Viking~
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
02:56 UT
Maybe he saw that name, or a similar one, in a newspaper article and liked the sound of it?

If that's the case, the philanthropist seems a likely source.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
00:17 UT
Namesake of the ~Harriet Barne~?

One of the little enduring mysteries of the Terro-human Future History is the namesake of the contragravity airship ~Harriet Barne~, converted by Conn Maxwell and his compatriots in ~Junkyard Planet~ into a makeshift interplanetary spaceship.

Unlike the airship ~Countess Dorothy~, the ~Harriet Barne~ doesn't seem to be named after some character from the works of James Branch Cabell, inspiration for Poictesme's founder Genji Gartner. I've suggested previously that perhaps the airship-cum-spaceship was named for philanthropist Harriet Barnes Pratt, a contemporary of Piper's (though there's no indication that he knew her personally). Still, this is simply a guess and one complicated by the fact that she had an "s" at the end of her maiden name that isn't there in the name of the airship.

Recently, I stumbled across this obituary of Piper's father, Herbert Piper, posted to the old PIPER-L mailing list back in 2001:


It reminded me that Piper's mother's name was Harriet but it also notes that her maiden name was Maurer, which suggests it's unlikely that Piper named the airship for his mother. I suppose it's possible that "Harriet Barne" could have been _her_ mother, Piper's maternal grandmother, but at this point that's simply another guess.

And so, the mystery of the ~Harriet Barne~ continues. . . .

"Is there no Great Computer?"

"A lot of technicians are girls, and when work gets slack, they're always the first ones to get shoved out of jobs." - Sylvie Jacquemont (H. Beam Piper), ~Junkyard Planet~
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03:59 UT
John Carr wrote:

> This years Muster is going to be held on Saturday,
> May 19, 2018. We will be meeting at the Waffle Shop
> on North Atherton in State College at 10:00 a.m.
> You're all invited! We hope to see lots of new faces
> this year.

I've thoroughly enjoyed the Irregulars Musters I've attended. I wholeheartedly recommend the experience. From the Piper fan camaraderie around the breakfast table at the Waffle Shop:


to the wandering in the woods--and alleys--of Hostigos in the footsteps of Calvin Morrison--and Beam Piper:


it's an all-around fantastic time.

Dennis Frank wrote:

> I'm looking forward to seeing as many of you as
> can come, too. I can tell you about my experiment
> of walking from the Transposition Point to Vurth's
> Farm last summer. I figured that recreating Calvin
> Morrison's hike might help to firm up the location.
> I got sore feet and a bit more confidence in my
> previous suppositions.

Dennis has been scouting Hostigos and surrounds for years; he's an excellent guide and a genuinely nice guy!

If you haven't yet made it for the annual Irregulars Muster I hope you'll make it this year. (And if you're returning to Hostigos again this year then you already know the wonderful time you're in for!)

Down Styphon!

"You are my chieftain. That's another mark of the barbarian." - Otto Harkaman (H. Beam Piper), ~Space Viking~
Edited 02-03-2018 04:00
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
01:37 UT
But if you'd already sent him the money, why'd he ask me, too?

Obviously I got that one before reading the warning, ah well.

Thanks for the tip about the JTAS article, I'll have to dig that one out to have a read.

And best of luck at this year's Muster, I hope it goes well!
Tanith in OzPerson was signed in when posted
02:52 UT
Lol. I didn't notice the second R. Good catch there. Somehow I really didn't think John was stranded in the Philippines, that made no sense.

Thanks for the condolences. Losing Dad has rocked my universe somewhat.

David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
02:22 UT
Terry "Tanith in Oz" Glouftsis wrote:

> My father passed away in November last year and I've
> had to deal with a number of things.

Sorry to hear that, Terry. Please accept my condolences.

> But I just wanted to put a warning out to the group.
> otherrwhen@aol.com, which is John Carr's Pequod Press
> email seems to have been hacked.

Thanks. I got those messages too. You'll note there's an extra "r" in there that's not in John's actual address. (In the message I received, John's address was correct in the "Sent" field but that bad address was in the "Reply-To" field.) I assume this was a "phishing" effort to get people to reply to that bogus message (like I did). It was only after I'd replied that I got the message asking me to send him some money in the Philippines. . . .

> If you're reading this John, or if someone can get a
> message to him this is something he will need to get
> fixed (if possible).

I've sent a message to John now at his correct e-mail address. Not much for him to do though. The hacked messages aren't actually coming from his account, I think.


Dennis FrankPerson was signed in when posted
02:02 UT
Hi Everyone,

This years Muster is going to be held on Saturday, May 19, 2018. We will be meeting at the Waffle Shop on North Atherton in State College at 10:00 a.m.

You're all invited! We hope to see lots of new faces this year.

I'll be there, along with Dennis Frank (our gracious guide), my brother Steve and Wolfgang, too. My latest novel, a new Space Viking novel, "Space Viking's Return," is done and at Baen Books (They hold the original contract). We'll be talking about that and lot of things Piper.

For those of you who haven't heard, we lost Jerry Pournelle in September of last year. He was friend and mentor and the last living adult who knew Beam well; the end of an era....

John Carr

From Dennis Frank--

I'm looking forward to seeing as many of you as can come, too. I can tell you about my experiment of walking from the Transposition Point to Vurth's Farm last summer. I figured that recreating Calvin Morrison's hike might help to firm up the location. I got sore feet and a bit more confidence in my previous suppositions. Until May! Dennis
Tanith in OzPerson was signed in when posted
02:02 UT
Hi all.

It's been awhile. I'm sorry for that. My father passed away in November last year and I've had to deal with a number of things.

Getting better now.

But I just wanted to put a warning out to the group. otherrwhen@aol.com, which is John Carr's Pequod Press email seems to have been hacked. I got an email today asking me to loan John $1900 because he is stuck in the Philippines. I sincerely doubt this to be the case.

If you're reading this John, or if someone can get a message to him this is something he will need to get fixed (if possible).

Enjoy all, I'll be in touch soon.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03:55 UT
Traveller's Sword Worlds - Inspired by Piper

One of the most obvious ways in which the Traveller role-playing game's official "Third Imperium" campaign setting was influence by Piper's ~Space Viking~ is its "Sword Worlds Subsector," a frontier region which includes worlds like Gram and Excalibur and Joyeuse and Durendal. But a more compelling indication of the influence of ~Space Viking~ comes from a less well-known article which appeared in issue 20 of the ~Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society~ about a non-player character named Lucas Trask, er . . ., I mean, Gamaagin Kaashukiin.

Kaashukiin is the holder of a barony on a frontier world, during the era of the Fifth Frontier War, an interstellar conflict between the "Third Imperium" and the "Sword Worlds Confederation." Just before Kaashukiin is to be married, her betrothed is killed in an attack by a raiding starship called ~Enterprise~, er . . . I mean ~Excalibur~. Emotionally devastated by the death of her fiance', Kaashukiin vows revenge and sells her barony to purchase a mercenary starship which she names ~Retribution~ (one of the ship names Trask actually rejects before choosing ~Nemesis~). She hires a crew and takes her ship raiding on a hunt for ~Excalibur~.

Both ~Excalibur~ and ~Retribution~ are ~Broadsword~ class mercenary cruisers. Here's an illustration:


Sure, they've made the bereaved former noble a woman and switched sides between Sword Worlds and Old Federation, er . . . I mean, Third Imperium, but it's impossible to read the article and not be reminded of the plot of Piper's ~Space Viking~.

(The Kaashukiin piece is credited to "Keith Douglas," the pseudonym of prolific Traveller contributors J. Andrew Keith and William H. Keith, Jr. William is the illustrator of the image linked above which appeared with the original article about the ~Broadsword~ class starships written by Traveller creator Marc W. Miller.)

"Royal Navy; smash the traitors first!"

"I don't know what plans you have for a next story project, but the world-picture you've been building up in the Sword Worlds stories, or Space Viking stories, or whatever you designate the series, offers some lovely possibilities." -- John W. Campbell (to H. Beam Piper)
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03:16 UT
Thanks for your support

Once again, let me thank those of you who have made contributions to support the Piper discussion forum and mailing list for another year. Your generosity is very much appreciated.

"I always was a present-peeker [on] New Year's. . . ." - Elaine Karvall (H. Beam Piper), ~Space Viking~
^     All messages            1810-1825 of 1825  1794-1809 >>

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