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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            1825-1840 of 1840  1809-1824 >>
1840
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04-21-2018
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:

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/332627334659

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!

David
(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
~
1839
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04-21-2018
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.

Cheers,

David
--
"Britain was a great nation, once; the last nation to join the Terran Federation. . . ." - Lord "Dranigo" Dranigrastan (H. Beam Piper), "The Keeper"
~
1838
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04-20-2018
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?

Cheers,

David
--
"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~
~
1837
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
04-16-2018
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.
1836
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04-15-2018
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. . . .

Cheers,

David
--
"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"
~
1835
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04-15-2018
18:53 UT


Here's the two-page spread of Van Dongen's original illustration combined into a single image.
1834
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
04-15-2018
18:49 UT
I like that drawing, it's very evocative. I must admit, I'd pictured the hall as larger, but this gets the point across. Too bad we can't see more of the Thoran, though.

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?
1833
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04-14-2018
17:07 UT
~
Turns out we do have an illustration of a Thoran from the time Piper was writing!

That image I just uploaded is a detail from H.R. Van Dongen's interior illustration for the original publication of "Ministry of Disturbance" in the December 1958 issue of ~Astounding Science Fiction~.

The image is pretty pixilated. You can tell he's wearing a kilt but you'd never guess he wasn't human from this image. It's from the scan of Van Dongen's interior illustration at Greg Weeks's archive of the original Piper works he used to create the Project Gutenberg collection of Beam's work:

http://durendal.org/hbp.html

The actual scanned image is here:

http://durendal.org/bpmd/bpmd009.gif

If you have a copy of the original ~Astounding~ issue I encourage you to have a look.

Cheers,

David
--
"They were turning into the main hallway, between the rows of portraits of past emperors, Paul and Rodrik, Paul and Rodrik, alternating over and over on both walls." - H. Beam Piper, "Ministry of Disturbance"
~
1832
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04-14-2018
16:59 UT


Thoran by H.R. Van Dongen
(From "Ministry of Disturbance," ~Astounding~, Demember 1958)
~
1831
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04-12-2018
03:32 UT
~
Milk Runs: Six Months to Everywhere

I've been looking again at this "star map" from Rogue Games' ~Transmissions from Piper~:

https://html1-f.scribdassets.com/9teuazv4l...es/1-35358eb923.jpg

As we've discussed before, it's an excellent illustration of Piper's "milk runs" where it seems like the travel between Terra and many different colony worlds ends up being "six months," even across centuries of time where hyperspace travel times presumably increase with improvements in hyperdrive technology. If a "milk run" between Terra and Svantovit (in this case), is designed to make total travel time to be about "six months" while traveling to each of the intermediate worlds, the direct route between Terra and Svantovit might be a shorter distance which would take a correspondingly less amount of travel time.

What's interesting though about this particular map is that it also provides the distance between each star system (in the small boxes). If we assume, for the sake of estimation, that the shortest, "one unit" distance between Svantovit and "Kosharoth" (a fanciful name invented by the map creator, not Piper) occurs in the (x) plane of the illustration we can also calculate the "z-axis" distance into--or out of--the illustration. (We don't know, in any given instance, whether the "z-axis" distance is "positive"--out of the page--or "negative"--into the page--but we can still calculate it.) This also is a fanciful exercise but it does illustrate the "milk run" circumstance even more sharply by showing that the travel distance along the "milk run" can be substantially more than the direct-line distance between Terra and Svantovit.

Again, this is all illustrative. We don't actually know all of the individual star systems between Terra and Svantovit, much less the actual, intermediate distances between each of them. (Again, some of the star system names in this map were invented by the map illustrator.) Bottom line though is that it would seem possible to make Beam's "six months to everywhere" narrative descriptions "fit" to realistic Federation/Empire astrography--and perhaps even give us some sense, in some cases of the locations of variously-mentioned star systems "along the way" (or otherwise "nearby").

Cheers,

David
--
"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~
~
1830
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03-23-2018
04:30 UT
~
From the Archives: Federation Day

Here's a little taste of what was happening on the old PIPER-L mailing list twenty years ago this month:

-----
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 09:07:26 -0500
From: David Johnson
Subject: Federation Day?

I've been rereading *Four Day Planet* again and came across this little tidbit. It's narration from Walt Boyd that comes just after the tallow-wax fire has been extinguished, as the hunters are preparing to march on Hunters' Hall (and before they've learned that Bish Ware has helped Steve Ravick to "escape").

"What I was getting now . . . was the beginning of the First Fenris Civil War. A long time from now, when Fenris was an important planet in the Federation, maybe they'd make today a holiday, like Bastille Day or the Fourth of July or Federation Day." (Ace paperback, p. 178)

What's interesting here is the linkage of the uprising on Fenris and the historical French and American *independence* "uprisings" to an apparently similar event in Federation history. This suggests that the Federation experienced a similar sort of "uprising" and that, because it's now commemorated by a holiday, the "victors" in this uprising were the "founders" of the second Federation.

This would seem to support the previous hints we've had that the *second* Federation was the outcome of a successful independence effort on the part of colonies on Venus against the first Federation. (For example, in "When in the Course--" we learn that Atomic Era dating comes from Venus, not from Earth.) *FDP* takes place during the time of the second Federation. It's doubtful that any sort of "Federation Day" associated with the founding of the first Federation-- which took place amidst the "traditional" international conflict of the Thirty Days' War--would be linked to the French and American (and Fenrisian) independence efforts. (You would, instead, expect this to be linked to "holidays" like Armistice Day, VE-Day and VJ-Day.)

Walt mentions "the Third and Fourth World Wars" to Murell early in the story. (p. 31) These would seem to have been the Thirty Days' War ("Third") and the Atomic Wars ("Fourth"--mentioned in "WitC"). The only question that seems to remain is whether the "uprising" that is commemorated by Federation Day corresponds to the Atomic Wars or some other conflict. Perhaps the Venusians secceeded *after* the Atomic Wars when the first Federation was in turmoil. Of course, that would require some *other* explanation for the "civil war" nature of the Atomic Wars.
-----

The original message is available here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20060615192828...iper-l&T=0&F=P&P=51

Twenty years later I'm still wondering about "Federation Day." What do you think?

Cheers,

David
--
"I was born in Antarctica, on Terra. The water's a little too cold to do much swimming there. And I've spent most of my time since then in central Argentine, in the pampas country." - Glenn Murell (H. Beam Piper), ~Four-Day Planet~
~
1829
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03-07-2018
04:51 UT


~
John "Calidore" Anderson wrote:

> By ‘new Alliance’ I didn’t mean an actual resurrection
> of the System States. That’s not their goal; they are
> simply against the current planetary government,
> which not only hasn’t taken on the pirate problem, it
> bankrupted Poictesme in the first place. (CC, pp. 3,
> 5, 18)
[snip]
> So the initial role of the Fawzi’s Office
> Gang is that of an ‘anti-Government’ force. Not by
> choice; it’s just that the politicians in Storisende
> aren’t doing anything to make things better—and
> will probably make things worse if they do get
> involved (ibid., p. 18)—so the FOG have to do it
> themselves. But eventually, this makes them a
> threat to the political status quo.

Agreed. I'm just suggesting that whatever they might do it will look a lot less like a government--System States Alliance, Confederate States of America, whatever--and more like a privateer concern.

Look at the way Conn gets those "public works" efforts underway in Litchfield, only to see them fall by the wayside when the hunt for Merlin intensifies. It's a lot easier to complain about government ineffectiveness than it is to actually govern effectively.

> It is strongly suggested that Kurt Fawzi will be the
> next president of Poictesme, while Rodney
> Maxwell will be running things from behind the
> scenes. (ibid., pp. 248-249)

I read that a bit differently. The elder Maxwell is interested in being "privateer-in-chief," not elder statesman. Sure, he'll manipulate the government to his ends--getting Fawzi and his "gang" out of his hair in doing so--but he's more interested in making money trading with planets like Baldur and Irminsul than in governing Poictesme.

> And Poictesme seems to be a microcosm of the
> Federation, which “impoverished a hundred
> planets” in the course of defeating the Alliance.
> (ibid., p. 7)

The difference being, of course, that those other frontier (and former Alliance) planets aren't sitting on an old fleet of surplus naval ships and assorted other war materiel.

> So to the Federation, the Fawzi’s Office Gang is
> not just anti-planetary Government, it is an anti-
> Federation (or ‘con-federate’) force.

Maybe not the Fawzi-led Planetary Government but Maxwell's privateering enterprise (which will control Merlin, not Fawzi's government), yes.

> But again, not by their choice. The FOG is trying
> to renew planetary prosperity within the Federation,
> not outside it, and are unaware that finding and
> unsealing Merlin could cause “the whole Federation
> breaking up into bloody anarchy”. (ibid., p. 225)
> Once again, the FOG is a threat to the political
> status quo, only on a much larger scale.

Sure, Rodney Maxwell is the one who explains the political-economic basis of the System States War to Conn. He knows what he's doing and has decided, I think, that he _is_ acting "outside" the Federation, at least on a _de_facto_ basis if not _de_jure_.

> Furthermore, this threat isn’t diminished when they
> first find out. When he learns that Merlin predicts
> the end of the Federation, Conn Maxwell’s reaction
> is “We can’t begin to handle this without Merlin…
>If that means blowing up the Federation, let it blow.
> We’ll start a new one here.” (ibid., p. 243)

Yes, but this is twenty-something Conn, not his older and wiser father. I agree that Merlin--and the economic success which came from the hunt for Merlin--has changed the calculus for the older Maxwell. I imagine he now hopes for a time when a future Poictesme--and perhaps a few nearby planets--can carve a refuge for themselves out of the coming, post-Federation turmoil.

My point was merely that this "refuge," whatever it might be, is rather different from--and therefore not likely to be modelled on--the Confederacy.

I think we're largely in alignment here. I'm just not as convinced that the connection to the ~Harriet Lane~ is as clear. But what we suspect happens to Poictesme going forward after Merlin is rediscovered seems fairly similar.

> The Federal authorities would undoubtedly use any
> means necessary to prevent a second breakup of the
> Union. And that can help explain Minister-General
> Murchison’s machinations, as well as why a retired
> Federation General (Mike Shanlee) was sent to
> eliminate Merlin with extreme prejudice (improvising
> a small thermonuclear weapon), which presumably
> would have also taken out much of the FOG if he
> had succeeded in setting it off. (ibid., p. 215, 221-222)

Well, sure, but we know--and Rodney Maxwell knows too, because Merlin has told him--that the Federation will ultimately fail at this. So rather than looking to _oppose_the Federation (like the Confederacy did with the Union) he's looking to _survive_ it. He seems to believe that a little local, mercantilist "redoubt" will accomplish this.

> So while you are absolutely right that the FOG is a
> major business concern, they are ~seen~ by major
> politicians and military leaders on Poictesme and
> Terra as a ‘confederal’ or ‘rebel’ threat; one with
> the potential to take over their own planet and split
> the Federation into more pieces than the System
> States Alliance ever did. And this perception would
> not be helped when they learn that the FOG’s
> paramilitary commander is an ex-Alliance officer,
> who trains his men in the manual of arms and drill
> of the SSA, and who named his gunboats for capital
> ships of the Alliance. Not to mention painting the
> vehicles of the Gordon Valley Home guard black
> and green, the Alliance colors; which causes Conn
> to react with “What’s going on?...The System States
> Alliance in business again?” (ibid., p. 34)

Sure. We are in agreement. But though this may be how Maxwell's "adventure" looks to the Federation it's not actually what he's about. He's not building a "new Alliance" (or a "Confederacy-like" government). He's building a metaphorical "castle" within which to resist the coming collapse of the Federation and subsequent barbarism.

> My impression is that Piper made the military-
> merchant connection a close one; probably due
> to the Civil War model, as seen in the case of the
> USRC Harriet Lane.

Could be. I simply see it differently. I imagine before long Maxwell's "adventure" will be _selling_ those old Federation navy ships--just like he's been selling salvaged Third Fleet-Army stuff his whole life, only on a much larger scale. Meanwhile, Conn will be using that refurbished shipyard to build _new_ starships, commercial ones and military ones, as needed. None of that looks much like the American Civil War. . . .

> Thanks, and you may be right about a source in
> Cabell. I have only read Jurgen so far--great fun,
> and I can see why Piper enjoyed it--but I plan to
> read more of his Poictesme novels in the near future.
> If I find anything of interest, you can be sure I will post it!

That would be great.

Remember Belphegor! Remember Ashmodai!

David
--
"You are my chieftain. That's another mark of the barbarian." - Otto Harkaman (H. Beam Piper), ~Space Viking~
~
1828
CalidorePerson was signed in when posted
03-05-2018
17:58 UT
Thanks to David and Jon for their kind words on my post.

David wrote,

>>Here I’m less convinced. Many of the “Fawzi’s Gang” are explicitly antagonistic toward the planetary government—and none of them are fans of the Alliance, despite Zareff’s naming of the gunboats after Alliance capital ships. If anything, the Fawzi/Maxwell/Zareff paramilitary forces are more like privateers themselves than they are like a government entity. The historical model is more akin to something like the Dutch East India Company than to the Confederacy (much less a “new Alliance”).

I may not have been clear. By ‘new Alliance’ I didn’t mean an actual resurrection of the System States. That’s not their goal; they are simply against the current planetary government, which not only hasn’t taken on the pirate problem, it bankrupted Poictesme in the first place. (CC, pp. 3, 5, 18) As Klem Zareff puts it, “Gehenna with what the Government likes! If they’d put a few of those ships into commission, they could wipe out these outlaws and a private company wouldn’t need an armed ship.” And Tom Brangwyn says, “We get a ship out to Koshchei, and the next thing you know we’ll be the planetary government.” (CC, pp. 18, 62-63) So the initial role of the Fawzi’s Office Gang is that of an ‘anti-Government’ force. Not by choice; it’s just that the politicians in Storisende aren’t doing anything to make things better—and will probably make things worse if they do get involved (ibid., p. 18)—so the FOG have to do it themselves. But eventually, this makes them a threat to the political status quo.

“A lot of people have been saying that if Merlin’s found, it should be used to determine Government policy. A few extremists are beginning to say that Merlin ought to ~be~ the Government, and Jake Vyckhoven and his cronies ought to be dumped. Into the handiest mass-energy converter, preferably.” (ibid., p. 167) This sort of agitation only gets worse, until Rodney Maxwell says that “The planetary government has stopped liking us, you know.” To which Conn replies, “Then we’ll have to get one that will like us.” (ibid., pp. 178, 184) That certainly sounds like they intend to move toward governing the planet themselves, and at the end, that’s essentially what happens. It is strongly suggested that Kurt Fawzi will be the next president of Poictesme, while Rodney Maxwell will be running things from behind the scenes. (ibid., pp. 248-249)

And Poictesme seems to be a microcosm of the Federation, which “impoverished a hundred planets” in the course of defeating the Alliance. (ibid., p. 7) If not completely bankrupt like Poictesme, the Federation is certainly far less prosperous than before the War. In addition, Poictesme is overseen by a Federation Minister-General, Sam Murchison, who doesn’t like the Fawzi’s Office Gang either. “He thinks this whole thing’s a plot against the Federation.” (ibid., p. 190) Murchison actually plots against them, funding groups like the Armageddonists and Human Supremacy League to bug and burgle the FOG’s offices, bribe and intimidate their employees, illegally mind-probe Rodney’s secretary and even attempt to assassinate the Maxwells by bomb-robot. (ibid., pp. 181, 187, 189, 200) So to the Federation, the Fawzi’s Office Gang is not just anti-planetary Government, it is an anti-Federation (or ‘con-federate’) force. But again, not by their choice. The FOG is trying to renew planetary prosperity within the Federation, not outside it, and are unaware that finding and unsealing Merlin could cause “the whole Federation breaking up into bloody anarchy”. (ibid., p. 225) Once again, the FOG is a threat to the political status quo, only on a much larger scale.

Furthermore, this threat isn’t diminished when they first find out. When he learns that Merlin predicts the end of the Federation, Conn Maxwell’s reaction is “We can’t begin to handle this without Merlin…If that means blowing up the Federation, let it blow. We’ll start a new one here.” (ibid., p. 243) That view would probably not go over well in the circles of power on Terra, any more than Washington would approve of a Southerner in 1895—one who actually had the means to bring it about—saying “Let the United States collapse into bloody anarchy. We’ll build a new one here in the South.” The Federal authorities would undoubtedly use any means necessary to prevent a second breakup of the Union. And that can help explain Minister-General Murchison’s machinations, as well as why a retired Federation General (Mike Shanlee) was sent to eliminate Merlin with extreme prejudice (improvising a small thermonuclear weapon), which presumably would have also taken out much of the FOG if he had succeeded in setting it off. (ibid., p. 215, 221-222)

So while you are absolutely right that the FOG is a major business concern, they are ~seen~ by major politicians and military leaders on Poictesme and Terra as a ‘confederal’ or ‘rebel’ threat; one with the potential to take over their own planet and split the Federation into more pieces than the System States Alliance ever did. And this perception would not be helped when they learn that the FOG’s paramilitary commander is an ex-Alliance officer, who trains his men in the manual of arms and drill of the SSA, and who named his gunboats for capital ships of the Alliance. Not to mention painting the vehicles of the Gordon Valley Home guard black and green, the Alliance colors; which causes Conn to react with “What’s going on?...The System States Alliance in business again?” (ibid., p. 34)
 
>>Zareff’s gunboats seem to have been surplus military airships, not converted merchant ships.

True. But the Lester Dawes is a surplus military airship which is being used as a (armed) merchant ship. And when all the lost interplanetary spaceships are found, they are located at a military installation; Sickle Mountain Naval Observatory on Koshchei. (ibid., p. 182) During the War, these vessels were presumably used to ferry men and materiel around the Alpha System, if not the whole Trisystem; while at the end of the War, they were used as military transports; bringing most of the troops to Koshchei, where they would then be embarked on hyperships for their flights back home. (ibid., pp. 182, 183) So these are ex-military vessels which will now be converted to merchant use, as the FOG begins selling them to other companies interested in renewing interplanetary trade. (ibid., p. 184) My impression is that Piper made the military-merchant connection a close one; probably due to the Civil War model, as seen in the case of the USRC Harriet Lane.

>>I think this is the key question—where does “(Harriet) Barne” come from?—but even I think it’s a bit of a reach to draw the connection to Mrs. Pratt.

Yes. I simply gave your suggestion some thought, and found what I believed would be good reasons for Piper to have possibly used her as a partial model. As you say, this is by no means certain.

>>Certainly possible, but why would Beam bother to conflate the two? He doesn’t seem to do that sort of thing in other circumstances. Why not just stick with the ~Harriet Lane~?

Perhaps for the same reason he called the enemy in the previous war the ‘System States Alliance’. This is undoubtedly a hint at his historical model, the Confederate States of America; with ‘States’ being the exact same word, and ‘Alliance’ having the same first initial as America. CSA, SSA. The Harriet Barne could then be Piper hinting at the USRC Harriet Lane; with the first name being the same, and the second not too dissimilar.
 
>>Well, Pratt’s husband was an heir to the Standard Oil fortune, so it seems doubtful there was any actual familial relationship between Mrs. Pratt and Piper’s friends.

I wasn’t suggesting one. Merely that ~if~ Piper had used Harriet Barnes Pratt as a partial model for the Harriet Barne, the name could have suggested to his mind Fletcher and Inga Pratt, thereby giving him a personal reason to use it.

>>Again, that’s some nice research you’ve done into the ~Harriet Lane~ but I’m still wondering if there isn’t a character named “Harriet Barne” in some obscure bit of Cabell’s work. That’s where ~Countess Dorothy~ comes from and given the lack of a good fit for “Harriet Barne” in any of these other examples we’ve discussed I’m left wondering if that’s not also the actual source.

Thanks, and you may be right about a source in Cabell. I have only read Jurgen so far—great fun, and I can see why Piper enjoyed it—but I plan to read more of his Poictesme novels in the near future. If I find anything of interest, you can be sure I will post it!

John
1827
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
02-24-2018
15:55 UT
That's a lot of information, John, thanks for that.
1826
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
02-24-2018
01:59 UT
~
John "Calidore" Anderson wrote:

> 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.

Those are some fascinating parallels! I'm not sure I'm convinced--why Beam would have switched "Lane" to "Barne" remains a sticky unknown--but your research and reasoning here is, as usual, remarkable.

> 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)

I agree it's more likely the ~Harriet Barne~ was a surplus airship from the War era than a new ship built since the War, but that would probably have been the case whatever she had been named. I'm not sure we can rely on this point to tell us much one way or another.

> 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.

Here, I'm less convinced. Many of "Fawzi's Gang" are explicitly antagonistic toward the planetary government--and none of them are fans of the Alliance, despite Zareff's naming of the gunboats after Alliance capital ships. If anything, the Fawzi / Maxwell / Zareff paramilitary forces are more like privateers themselves than they are like a government entity. The historical model is more akin to something like the Dutch East India Company than to the Confederacy (much less a "new Alliance").

> 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.

Zareff's gunboats seem to have been surplus military airships, not converted merchant ships.

> Why Beam changed Lane to Barne I don’t know. David may
> be right that it comes from Harriet Barnes Pratt.

I think this is the key question--where does "(Harriet) Barne" come from?--but even I think it's a bit of a reach to draw the connection to Mrs. Pratt. I suspect the idea of any connection at all here may have more to do with Google's search algorithm than it does with Beam's inspirations for airship names. Mrs. Pratt would have been know as "Harriet Pratt" to anyone but her closest acquaintances. And then there's that "missing 's'" for those who knew her as "Harriet Barnes Pratt." If there were any better suggestions I wouldn't have mentioned this possibility.

> 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.

Certainly possible, but why would Beam bother to conflate the two? He doesn't seem to do that sort of thing in other circumstances. Why not just stick with the ~Harriet Lane~?

> ;(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.

Those matching initials are a nice coincidence but if that's really what was going on, why'd he drop the "s"? And if he was naming the ship after his mother, why not stick with her maiden name and name the airship the ~Harriet Maurer~? Again, we'd be hard pressed to find other examples of Beam conflating his inspirations like this.

> And third, ‘Pratt’ could be connected to Inga and Fletcher
> Pratt.

Well, Pratt's husband was an heir to the Standard Oil fortune, so it seems doubtful there was any actual familial relationship between Mrs. Pratt and Piper's friends.

Again, that's some nice research you've done into the ~Harriet Lane~ but I'm still wondering if there isn't a character named "Harriet Barne" in some obscure bit of Cabell's work. That's where ~Countess Dorothy~ comes from and given the lack of a good fit for "Harriet Barne" in any of these other examples we've discussed I'm left wondering if that's not also the actual source.

YMMV, of course.

David
--
"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
~
1825
CalidorePerson was signed in when posted
02-20-2018
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.
 
John

(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.
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