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David SoobyPerson was signed in when posted
15:49 UT
I presume Merlin was either destroyed or, with repeated use, broke down and ceased functioning. The latter seems inevitable, sooner or later; replacement circuits were no longer being made, and with the general breakdown of galactic commerce, it seems unlikely that level of sophistication in computer tech would have been re-created during a "dark ages" period.

Certainly there is no evidence in any later story that Merlin had any effect on history, nor is there any later reference to "Merlin" or to a super-computer.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04:15 UT
From the Archives: "What happened to Merlin?"

Below, another message to the old PIPER-L mailing list, from nineteen years ago, way back in June 2000, which, in the context of discussing why we don't see Merlin in the Future History yarns which come after ~Junkyard Planet~, gets to the heart of why the Space Vikings turned out to be such a "wild card" for Merlin's predictive capabilities:


Subject: Re: What happened to Merlin?
From: Harold S. "Woody" Wood
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 18:06:25 -0400

Gentlemen & Ladies of the List;

Allow me to point out a couple of things about Merlin and its ability to
foretell the future.

a. Somewhere early on in Cosmic Computer (Junkyard Planet) it is pointed
out that the 3rd Force Army Headquarters is 30 parsecs from the fighting
front. I don't think you can really say that this is very close to the
front. Long way to me anyway.

b. Having worked in Threat and Intentions (part of the intelligence world),
I can totally understand how Merlin was surprised by the collapse of SSA.
Heck, we had all sort of information about Saddam's little idea for Kuwaitt
and we were still surprised (not to mention amazed) when he started moving
South. We call it intelligence lag. The Area of Operations (AO) is so far
from the site of the action that the transmission time defeats your analysis
of the data (not to mention the fact that you also have to deal with the
political leadership's reluctance to admit that things are falling apart at

c. In the data updates done for Merlin right after the war and at the time
of the rediscovery, it would not be possible (if I understand the time lines
correctly) for the data concerning the escape of part of the SSA's Navy and
personnel to be included in the updates as it was not known at these times.
This leads me to believe that the Merlin Plan and the later Maxwell Plan did
not include anything about Space Vikings.

Maybe it is possible that the Sword Worlds are on one side of the old
Federation and Poictesme on the other or something like that.

Just my two cents worth, for what's it worth.



Woody's original message is available here:


Woody hits the nail on the head: there's likely no way Merlin could predict the Space Vikings because it has no information about the Alliance refugees who fled from Abigor.


"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~
John F. CarrPerson was signed in when posted
22:42 UT
I thought I'd share this post that I recently posted up on Galactic Journey's latest review of the June 1964 issue of Fantastic, which contains "Testing" by J.J. McGuire:

The J.J. McGuire’s story is a sad one. According to Anne McGuire, John’s wife, who I interviewed extensively, John McGuire was drafted right after graduation at Shippensburg State College in Pennsylvania, with a degree in English. John had aspirations of being a professional writer, while Anne was dreaming of performing on stage. (Even in her early 90s, when I spoke with her, she had a wonderful voice.) Their hopes and plans were dashed when WWII began and John was drafted.

Due to McGuire’s quick reflexes and athletic background, he was selected out of Officers Candidate School, to become a member of the new Office of Strategic Services (OSS). After a short period of training, he was parachuted into Germany to work behind enemy lines. His job was to disrupt the German war effort and to assassinate targeted Nazis underlings and Gestapo officials. He was quite good at his job and barely escaped capture and execution several times. He also robbed a number of German banks in order to disrupt the Nazi economy.
After the War, he remained behind to testify at the Nuremburg Trials. The man who returned from Germany, Anne told me, was not the same person she had married—a sensitive man with courtly manners. He was suffering from Post-Traumatic Shock, which was untreated and he typically used alcohol to “calm his nerves,” as he put it. To support his new growing family, he went to work as a junior high school teacher. In his spare time, he wrote short stories but was unable to sell any of his works.

The family moved to Altoona, Pennsylvania where he got a job at Keith Junior High teaching children with special needs (behavioral problems) and met H. Beam Piper. Piper was an already established pro and McGuire met him through mutual friends. McGuire courted him since he believed that Piper could help him attain his goal of becoming a published author. Piper, a lonely man who lived with his elderly mother, soon became a beloved part of the McGuire household. [Even 50 years after Piper’s death, the McGuire children (Terry and John, Jr.) I talked with remembered their time with H. Beam Piper as an idyllic interlude in and tumultuous childhood with a father moved to drunken rages and unpredictable behavior.]
The collaboration was a moderate success and they published a short novel, Null ABC, in Astounding Science Fiction and several shorter works. By the mid-1950s, they had fired their Agent, Fred Pohl, and McGuires heavy drinking was beginning to interfere with both their work and friendship. [When H. Beam Piper, recommends that someone join Alcoholic Anonymous, you knew that person’s drinking is way out of control!] The final break came when McGuire came over to Piper’s apartment and “borrowed” one of his pistols, while Beam was in New York courting his soon-to-be wife Betty. That was the end for Piper and he was openly pleased about the break since McGuire was beginning to become a problem, showing up unannounced with fellow drunks at odd hours.

Shortly thereafter, John McGuire and family moved to Red Bank, New Jersey (incidentally near Fred Pohl) where he taught at another school. He sold a few more stories to John Campbell and several other markets such as Fantastic. “Testing,” which appeared in the June, 1964 issue of Fantastic was his last published story.
Dave EdenPerson was signed in when posted
15:59 UT
Thanks for sharing those, David. We had the Muster this past Saturday. Unfortunately, Dennis was sick. We appreciated his efforts the prior evening to trim the grass around Piper's grave and blaze a trail through the tall grass (even a city slicker like Leonard Kellogg could have followed the trail).

We stopped at the transposition site you showed in the link, as well as the scene of a battle from Great Kings War, and finished the day at Piper's grave and the traditional dinner destination in Altoona.

I'd like to personally say thank you to Mark and Steve for driving, to Lisa for allowing my son and I to monopolize John in the latter half (given vehicle arrangements), and to John for providing an afternoon of fascinating stories and insights.

It was very nice meeting all of you.

David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
17:26 UT
2019 Muster of Piper Irregulars

As the Irregulars prepare for the annual Muster in Hostigos next weekend take a look at this extensive visual tour of locations in ~Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen~ provided by Piper fan Dennis Frank:


And here's a bit of our adventure during the first Muster--well, the second, actually--fifteen years ago:


And the Irregulars at the Waffle House at the beginning of the 2008 Muster:


Smooth travels this year, Irregulars.

Down Styphon!


P.S. The first actual Muster--though it wasn't called that yet--occurred way back in 1988:

"Oh, my people had many gods. There was Conformity, and Authority, and Expense Account, and Opinion. And there was Status, whose symbols were many, and who rode in the great chariot Cadillac, which was almost a god itself. And there was Atom-bomb, the dread destroyer, who would some day come to end the world. None were very good gods, and I worshiped none of them.” - Calvin Morrison (H. Beam Piper), ~Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen~
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03:27 UT
2019 Irregulars' Muster

> I'd just like to confirm the meeting location
> for the Irregular's Muster on May 18. Is 1229
> N Atherton St, State College the correct address?

Dave has gotten his confirmation off-line but for anyone else who's going, the Irregulars will meet at the Waffle Shop on Atherton around 10am.


"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
Dave EdenPerson was signed in when posted
22:18 UT
Hello, I'd just like to confirm the meeting location for the Irregular's Muster on May 18. Is 1229 N Atherton St, State College the correct address? I'm looking forward to meeting whoever is there.
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
04:15 UT
In Lord Kalvan, the timeline where Corporal Morrison emerged was on Aryan-Transpacific.

Here's a link to a news item from a nearby sector, one Europo-American timeline. A local reporter submitted this, photos of their own tribe that didn't migrate.


I'm not seeing any blondes. But, in a pinch, if we need a Willem Dafoe lookalike, we could consider recruiting the older gent in the fourth photo.
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
04:45 UT
LOL! And then no Wagner. Trust us.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
05:22 UT

Drink Evri-Flave!
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
03:37 UT
I hope I haven't mentioned this before - there's a little local grocery store nearby, and on the shelf there was a brand of fruit-flavoured sodas with the brand name Effevre, from France, with an accent on the last letter that I don't know how to duplicate here.

It reminded me of Evri-Flave, the drink from Hunter Patrol. It's not many times I do a double-take at a bottle of fizzy water at the store!
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
05:32 UT
My wife picked up a book from the library the other day, “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” by Stephen Hawking. I was reading one of the sections, “How did it all begin?” talking about the formation of the universe(s) and came across this part:

“M-theory, which is our best candidate for a complete unified theory, allows a very large number of possible histories of the universe. Most of these histories are quite unsuitable for the development of intelligent life. Either they are empty, or too short lasting, or too highly curved, or wrong in some other way. Yet, according to Richard Feynman’s multiple-histories idea, these uninhabited histories might have quite a high probability.”

Don’t ask me to explain M-theory, I can’t – but that section struck me as being very similar to a quick overview of paratime – a very large number of possible histories, all those different levels, and so many uninhabited fifth-level timelines. Maybe Piper was on to something!
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
04:42 UT
John "Calidore" Anderson wrote:

> He would say, "Hell, you think you're right and I think
> I'm right, and we're never going to agree. So let's
> call a truce and have a drink."
> (Looks, smiles.) "Make it several."

Hear, hear! ;)


"And there were the Australians, picking themselves up bargains in real-estate in the East Indies at gun-point, and there were the Boers, trekking north again, in tanks instead of ox-wagons. And Brazil, with a not-too-implausible pretender to the Braganza throne, calling itself the Portuguese Empire and looking eastward." - Lee Richardson (H. Beam Piper), "The Answer"
CalidorePerson was signed in when posted
18:07 UT
David “PiperFan” Johnson wrote (about the dating events),

>I’ve mentioned this before, but we have a basic disagreement here between the
>dating of the succession of Venus (and thus the dating of WWIV). You prefer the
>date in the ~Empire~ Chronology for the succession of Venus (174 AE) and I prefer
>the date shown in Beam’s “The Future History” for WWIV (106-109 AE). I don’ know
>where the date in the ~Empire~ Chronology comes from but there is plenty of internal
>evidence in Beam’s work to support the WWIV dates in “The Future History.” Indeed,
>you can see me making a guess at the dates of WWIV (circa 101-108 AE) based
>upon the internal evidence in Beam’s work back on the old PIPER-L mailing list here:


>That guess, from May 2003, was made three and a half years ~before~ I got my hands
>on a copy of “The Future History” from Peter Weston (and posted it shortly thereafter
>on Zarthani.net.

Yes, it is an excellent guess. Congratulations; you have successfully paralleled what I believe were the excellent ‘guesses’ (deductions) made by John Carr and Jerry Pournelle that the secession of Venus occurs in AE 174 and the Second Federation begins in AE 183.
However, your statement that our disagreement involves “the succession of Venus (and thus the dating of WWIV)” is incorrect. Our disagreement is when the secession of Venus occurs. You believe it roughly coincides with WWIV; I believe it happens much later. Your “plenty of internal evidence in the Future History” consists of several vague sentences by Piper that cover the fifty-year period before WWIV, and roughly seventy years after; a total of over a century. That is hardly definitive enough to conclusively connect the secession of Venus, which is not even mentioned by name in “The Future History”, with WWIV.

>Putting the dates aside for the moment, it seems to me like post-Revolution America
>is a poor model for the Future History Venus. Venus is described throughout the
>Federation era as a corrupt and seemingly backward place, sort of a Federation version
>of what used to be called a “banana republic.” That seems rather different from the
>American experience, at least through the period when Beam was writing…


>This again is conjecture, unrelated to anything we can find in Beam’s actual work.
>The chronically corrupt Member Republic of Venus seems to be a poor analog to
>the post-Revolutionary history of the United States. (There’s also nothing in Beam’s
>work—certainly not the single French Canadian on the ~Cyrano ~ expedition any
>more than the Andean Martian in ~Uprising~--to suggest that the Martian colonies
>are somehow modeled on British-controlled Canada.

Here, as in a previous case, I believe you are misconstruing ‘parallel’ for ‘equivalence’. There are simply similar historical forces at work, which result in a parallel revolution. This is also true of the System States War, in which the parallel of ‘America’ is now the Federation itself, while the Alliance parallels the Confederacy. So the culture of Venus is a side issue. There will certainly be similarities with the early US; as in Venus being a rough, jungle-covered frontier planet compared to Terra, like America was a rough, forest-covered frontier continent compared to Britain. (And Venus is a warmer planet than Mars, just as America has a warmer climate than Canada.) But there will also be differences, as in Venus being more swampy and ‘tropical’ in climate than the average topography and climate in eastern America.
These differences probably play a role in the development of Venusian culture, which will contribute toward making its society different from that of the early US (and thereby likely explaining the perennial corruption). The differences also include the fact that it is a different time period (so we have interplanetary spaceships rather than intercontinental sailing ships), which also contribute to a different culture, and I don’t think Piper would exactly copy the model anyway. The important point is that the ‘general shape’ of the historical situation is the same, which is why we end up with a parallel of the American Revolution in the early Federation’s history, and later a Civil War parallel.
>Even without your attempt to use the American Revolution as the historical model—
>and when you want to date that using your ‘key’ and the ~Empire~ Chronology date—
>it’s clear from Beam in “The Future History” that the “First Federation begins to crack
>under the strains of colonial claims and counter-claims of member states.” This seems
>to be a broader-based problem rather than something focused on Venus specifically.
>Furthermore, the unfolding of “colonial claims and counter-claims by member states
>is something rather different from the revolt of the American Colonies against the British
>Empire. But, in general, we agree that the succession of Venus from the “first” Federation
>--whenever it occurs—is part of the process of disintegration and transformation from
>the U.S.-led “first” Federation to the Southron-led “second” Federation.

Right; we do agree that the secession is closely connected with the transition from the First to the Second Federation. In the first part of your paragraph, however, you seem a bit confused about what I said. I am not the one who is connecting the secession of Venus with the colonial claims and counter-claims of the First Federation’s member states. That’s your scenario. The competing claims are certainly one of the main factors which lead to WWIV, during which forces of the various North Terran nations try to conquer each other’s off-world colonies (and which I believe is modeled on Queen Anne’s War). But I think it’s a bit of a stretch to interpret ‘competing claims and counter-claims’ to include a ‘secession’, which seem to refer to different events; nor do I believe that Venus is yet unified enough to do so.
The secession of an entire planet is much more likely, in my opinion, to happen sometime after WWIV, which results in one of the “wars of colonial pacification and consolidation”. Venus ‘consolidates’ itself and secedes, and the Federation attacks it. So very much like the Americas in the colonial period, I believe that Mars and Venus (and probably the other celestial bodies in the Solar System) are divided into many smaller political units at the time of WWIV, and the nations of North Terra are struggling to gain supremacy over them. A subset of their struggle for supremacy over Terra itself.

>I don’t think there is any “treaty” marking the transition from “first” Federation to “second.”
>As Beam puts it in “The Future History” (and describes in several places in his Future
>History yarns), WWIV results in the “complete devastation of [the] Northern Hemisphere
>of Terra. There is no one left in the North to make any treaties (though there may be
>rump elements of the U.S. and some other Northern states in the Southern Hemisphere
>or even, perhaps, among the remnants of their former off-world colonies).

Again, you seem to be talking more about your own scenario than mine. My interpretation of the evidence in Piper has Venus secede from the completely unified Terra long after WWIV. So the deduced treaty would be between the now Southern-dominated Federation (paralleling unified Britain), and the now-unified Venus (paralleling the united colonies, or US). This ‘Treaty of Venus’ officially ends the war between Terra and Venus, as the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war between Britain and America; but does not necessarily document that the First Federation has ended, and the Second has begun. It just occurs at that time, because the result of the war—presumably a defeat for Terra, assuming that Venus wins like the Americans did—has a strong political effect on Terra, causing a major change in how the Federation is constituted.

>As Beam further explains in “The Future History,” rather than being formed by a
>war-ending treaty, the “Second Federation [is] organized by South Africa, Australia
>and New Zealand, Brazil, the Argentine, etc.” What Beam has described here is
>something rather different from what historians had in mind in the transition from
>”first” to “second” British Empires. It’s also a process where the role of the rebellious
>Venus is secondary at best. Indeed, Beam’s very next sentence says there are
>”wars of colonial pacification and consolidation; the new [Terran Federation] imposes
>a System-wide pax.” These are the Southrons bringing to heel those off-world colonies,
>including Venus, which had “cracked” and “strained” the “first” Federation, leading
>to WWIV and the destruction of civilization in the Northern Hemisphere of Terra.

As I have admitted before, “The Future History” does seem to suggest that the Second Federation is formed soon after WWIV. But again, Beam does not explicitly state this, and “The Future History” is very ambiguous about the time both before and after WWIV, a period covering many decades. His reference to South Africa and the other countries can certainly be taken to mean what you say, and I get why you prefer that interpretation. But it could also mean that the people of South Terra—in which former nations such as South Africa and Brazil are now states or provinces of the global nation—have had enough of the First Federation (which I believe has become somewhat ‘tyrannical’ by this time, a tyranny which provoked the Venusians to secede) and are replacing it with something better.

To support this contention of uncertainty regarding Piper’s statements, let’s take a closer look. Right before WWIV, he gives us four sentences summarizing many events. These are separated by subject matter. Two sentences of socio-politico developments (exploration of the Solar System and tensions due to overlapping claims) followed by two sentences describing technological developments and their economic consequences (collapsium, financial dislocations). Are we to assume that the technological and economic developments happen *after* the socio-political ones? Maybe; but it is much more likely that they occur concurrently, since Beam is simply giving a general description of events that happen in the “First Century A.E.”

After WWIV, we see the same thing. Piper gives us two sentences describing politico-military events (the creation of the Second Federation and colonial wars) followed by two sentences describing technological advance (the development and first use of hyperdrive). This makes it *look* like the System-wide pax is achieved before the development of hyperdrive theory, particularly since this time Beam provides a few dates. But none of the politico-military events are dated, and since Piper again separated them by subject, we can’t be certain that they occur in a linear fashion. More likely, they happen concurrently, as with the political and technological developments before WWIV. Thus, while hyperdrive theory *may* be developed after the System-wide pax is established, it could just as easily occur during the wars of pacification and consolidation. And my ‘key’ shows that’s exactly what happens. The development of hyperdrive theory (AE 172) occurs before the secession of Venus (AE 174), and the subsequent war associated with it.

Even the order of stated events in this part of “The Future History” is not certain. Under the First Century heading, Piper says “Contragravity, direct conversion of nuclear energy to electric current, and collapsed matter for radiation shielding.” This seems to suggest that contragravity is developed before collapsium, and—because they are mentioned after the first landing on Mars—that it also occurs sometime after 1996 (AE 53). But in the non-THFH story “The Mercenaries”, Beam has Kato Sugihara make the first breakthrough in developing collapsed matter in 1965, and this is necessary in order to insulate the first spaceship to Luna (presumably a nuclear-powered rocket) against cosmic radiation. (Worlds, pp. 36, 37, 38)

Contragravity is not mentioned in the story, and probably has not been developed yet since the characters are still using ground-cars to get around, rather than aircars. So here we see collapsium being invented before contragravity, not after. Moreover, the year 1965 is AE 22, which is well within the First Century, and therefore agrees with the development of contragravity in “The Future History”. So that begs a couple of questions. In the THFH proper, is collapsium really developed after contragravity, or does it happen before? And is it invented after AE 53 as “The Future History” seems to suggest, or before WWIII, to help shield the Kilroy on its trip to Luna? All we can really say for certain is that it happens sometime in the First Century. Furthermore, if the undated events before WWIV are not necessarily in the correct order, then the undated ones following WWIV (including the formation of the Second Federation and colonial wars) might not be either.

This is why I believe we should be careful when applying “The Future History”. As a summarizing document, it is prone to errors being introduced, due to the compression of many events over many years into a few sentences.

>I don’t disagree that there are some dating problems with “The Future History.”
>In particular, there often seems to be the sort of mistake that would be made by
>someone “who remembered too late that there was no C.E. Year Zero.” (The
>problems with ~Four-Day Planet~ also exist within that novel itself!) Whether this
>was Beam’s confusion or an error in Weston’s transcription—or perhaps both—is
>something we’ll likely never know but I am much more reluctant to throw out the
>dates shown in “The Future History” for WWIV, particularly because there is so
>much internal evidence in Beam’s work—as my old 2003 guess on the PIPER-L
>list makes clear—which also points to those dates.

>That internal evidence—and “The Future History”—puts the secession of Venus
>circa 105 AE, which, using your “key,” would have us looking for the historical
>model circa 1706, well before the American Revolution. This is, as you’ve mentioned,
>the period of the War of the Spanish Succession—and the Great Northern War—which,
>considered together, seem like a pretty good model for a global war which results
>in the end of civilization in the Northern Hemisphere.

This time you seem to be confusing Piper’s statements in “The Future History” and elsewhere with your own interpretation of them. The date of the secession is simply unknown, and the internal evidence is inconclusive. These colonial wars could follow right after WWIV as you’ve suggested, but since Beam provided no dates, they could just as easily occur several decades later. Numbered examples from British history would include the First and Second Afghan Wars (separated by 36 years) and the First and Second Boer Wars (separated by 18 years). So the Second and Third Interplanetary Wars—or however many there are—could similarly follow the First Interplanetary War (WWIV) by many years. And I think it far more likely that they do, rather than happening in rapid succession, as you appear to believe.

>Here, I think, is the better model for the secession of Venus. Rather than being
>modeled on the American Revolution, I think the tertiary theaters of the War of
>Spanish Succession where European powers battled for control of colonies in
>North America, South America, South Asia and Southeast Asia are more like
>what was probably happening on Terran colonies throughout the Solar system
>during WWIV.

But Queen Anne’s War did not involve a ‘secession’, which implies a declaration of independence, whether officially proclaimed or not. It simply involved fighting between the forces of the European states, plus colonial militias, which were trying to conquer each other overseas territories. This suggests that during the First Interplanetary War, the forces of the various North Terran nations (plus armed colonists) try to conquer each other’s off-world colonies. That’s it; no secession included.

>There is much conjecture here which rests on a foundation that rejects the dates
>provided for WWIV by Beam in “The Future History.” It’s conjecture—rather than
>deduction or extrapolation—because there isn’t anything tied to Beam’s work which
>suggests there was some additional conflict beyond WWIV. (Interesting that you’ve
>chosen to dump Beam’s dates for that conflict but keep his mention of the “wars of
>colonial pacification and consolidation.” That seems like some heavy-handed cherry-
>picking to me, especially since Beam seems to suggest in the same paragraph that
>these wars are completed and a “System-wide pax” imposed within ten years, i.e.
>by 119 AE—smack-dab in the middle of the period of a “completely unified world”
>foreseen by Chalmers in “Edge” too.)

Nowhere have I rejected Beam’s date for WWIV; I gladly accept it. What I do ‘dump’, if you will, is your connection of WWIV with the Secession of Venus. There doesn’t seem to be anything conclusive in Piper which makes your deduction that they are closely connected events any more certain than mine that they are not; and my ‘key’ provides good reason to believe they are separated by several decades.

This is supported by comparing Beam’s socio-political sentences in “The Future History” for the pre- and post-WWIV eras. His pre-WWIV references to the exploration of the Solar System and competing claims of member states suggest that these events happen over many years, not necessarily within ten years after the first landing on Mars. Particularly because the ‘cracking’ of the First Federation almost certainly refers to the tensions which precede the outbreak of WWIV in AE 106. In the same manner, the post-WWIV references to the formation of the Second Federation and colonial wars could easily mean that these events happen over many years, not necessarily “within ten years” of WWIV. That is simply your surmise, your deduction.

As for an “additional conflict beyond WWIV”, I assume you mean “on Terra”. If so, this is true, and the main reason I did not insist that the French and Indian War is the model for an off-world colonial war between WWIV and the Secession of Venus. That event is not certain (and I said it was not), since Beam was vague about whether “the revolt of the colonies on Mars and Venus” is the same as the secession of Venus, or a different conflict.

>One of the things you’ve done in dumping Beam’s dates from “The Future History”
>for WWIV is to miss their alignment with the “completely unified world” that Chalmers
>”foresees” in the period 2050-70 AD (108-128 AE). This is the period immediately
>following WWIV, when the Southrons are establishing the “second” Federation and
>imposing that “System-wide pax.” This is a bit of what I mean when I say that there
>is internal evidence in Beam’s work which fits well with the dates he’s provided in
>”The Future History.” You’ve overlooked—or dismissed—this by choosing the date
>from the ~Empire~ Chronology for the secession of Venus.

I have not dismissed or dumped what Beam has said; I simply interpret what he has said differently than you. I do ‘dismiss’ certain dates in “The Future History”, but that is because they are contradicted by statements he makes in some of his stories. Nor have I missed the alignment of WWIV with Terran unification. My original post agrees that the completely unified world occurs right around the time of WWIV (and I believe is modeled on the unification of Britain which occurred during the War of Spanish Succession). That seems certain, given the evidence in Piper which consists of actual dates. But again, it is your interpretation of what Beam says next that I disagree with. I have not overlooked or dismissed his date for the secession of Venus, for the very good reason that he never provided one. It is you who have assumed that this occurs around the time of WWIV. You have every right to make that assumption, and to base your scenario on it. I just happen to disagree with it, because my research has led me to different conclusions.
>Here, I think, is a highlight of something which has been nagging at me about your
>”key” thesis. Too often it seems you’re committed to the “key” being the only connection
>between the models you find in actual history and Beam’s fiction. I think you can do
>better than that by looking not solely to the “key” but also more closely at the ~substance~
>of what Beam has left us. When something Beam has written doesn’t fit your “model”
>(or your “key”), the solution shouldn’t be to pitch out Beam’s “error.” The solution should
>be to take a second—and third, if necessary—look at your models.

With all due respect, my friend, I believe I have looked at the substance of what Beam has left us at least as much as you have. I accept the vast majority of it, particularly with regard to dates, and greatly wish he had provided more. I only ‘pitch out’ Beam’s errors when they become obvious, as in his mid-IV century date for Four-Day Planet, which is refuted by the story itself. Where there are contradictions, ambiguous references or downright omissions, I try to deduce which is the best or most likely answer. And I believe the ‘key’ provides a great means to do just that, at least for the early Federation period.

In the case of “The Future History”, it is evident that I take it with a larger grain of salt than you. That is, I view it more skeptically, given its errors and ambiguous statements, the latter of which—despite what you would have us believe—don’t necessarily mean what you think they do, and can be interpreted in more than one way. Given my analysis of its summarized content as provided above, perhaps it is you who should take another look.
I understand why you do not find my ‘key’ thesis convincing; in turn, I don’t find your counter-arguments persuasive. But I certainly thank you for reviewing the models and giving me feedback, which (as in other instances) has actually helped my thinking on several points. Perhaps I am taking the ‘key’ too seriously, but it seems to me that events line up too well, and explain too much, to be mere coincidence.

>That's what Beam would have done.

Maybe he would. But since none of us ever had the good fortune to meet Piper, now it is you who are engaging in conjecture (and it is conjecture). So permit me to respond with what I THINK Beam would have done.

He would say, “Hell, you think you’re right and I think I’m right, and we’re never going to agree. So let’s call a truce and have a drink.”

(Looks, smiles.) “Make it several.”

David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
17:13 UT
John "Calidore" Anderson wrote (more about the Thirty Days' War and WWIV):

> the future histories I had read seemed to use historical
> models in a random manner (such as Asimov) or not at
> all (Niven). So if Piper had used an actual timeline, it
> would make his Future History a huge improvement over
existing ones, or at least the ones I was aware of. It would
> 'feel' like a real history, because its course was based on
> real history.

I think sci-fi "future historians" don't do this because it unnecessarily constrains their dramatic ends. It seems like you're beginning to recognize that Beam often chose his historical models "in a random manner" too--because what he was trying to do was to write good yarns rather than trying to craft a "history of the future" which "would feel like a real history" in the manner you've suggested.

> Piper's official Future History began with Uller Uprising,
> published in 1952. Since this was at a 'hot' point in the
> Cold War (the Korean War was then raging), I believe
> the ideological component was not only present, but
> paramount. In 1952, everyone was convinced that a
> nuclear war with the Communist Bloc was inevitable,
> and could happen at any time.

Again, these are assumptions you're making about the "real world" Beam was living in, not details you're pulling from his work. Sure, this was what was happening in Beam's world, but there's ~none~ of this in his fiction.

One of the things that makes ~Uller Uprising~ so remarkable is precisely the way it "tramples on" the ordinary expectations of Beam's readers at the time he was writing. No one picking up a copy of ~The Petrified Planet~ in 1952--or of the ~Space Science Fiction~ serial in which "Ullr Uprising" appeared in 1953--would have expected a story (less than a decade after WWII had come to an end) with a hero and a heroine who were descendants of Nazis and Vichy French! (Even today this remains a jarring turn.) Beam was all about turning the ideological sensibilities of his time upside-down and inside-out in his fiction (particularly in ~Uller Uprising~).

> So in creating his Future History, I don't think Beam
> would have ignored the most important geopolitical fact
> of that time.

If Beam were interested in conforming to the "important geopolitical facts" of his time, he would ~not~ have written a yarn which featured the descendants of Nazis and French collaborationists as hero and heroine!

> While he was not explicit (perhaps he felt he didn't
> need to be), the Eastern Axis almost certainly refers to
> the Communist Bloc, in my opinion.

I agree it's reasonable to assume that the "Eastern Axis" included Russia and China--though the addition of India gives it an interesting twist--but it's not obvious at all that Beam envisioned the conflict which led to the Thirty Days' War as essentially ~ideological~. When Beam tells us that the Eastern Axis was at the UN trying to get the U.S. Lunar Base "demilitarized" and "internationalized"--ideas swirling around about Antarctica at the time "Edge" was being written (with the U.S. and Britain on opposite sides)--he's writing about good old ~realpolitik~, not an ideological struggle. (This is an important point to keep in mind when trying to understand what happens in ~WWIV~ too.)

> The postwar, bipolar world was East versus West, so
> we get the Eastern Axis against the 'Western Allies', or
> Terran Federation.

This doesn't fit with the withdrawal of Canada from the British Commonwealth. With that tidbit Beam is showing us the beginnings of a rift between the United States and Britain. The Canadian on the ~Cyrano~ expedition tells us that Canada ends up in the U.S.-led Terran Federation. So where does Britain--and the rest of the Commonwealth--end up in the Thirty Days' War? What does the rift between the U.S. and Britain mean for Western Europe? Does France--which began the first steps in its withdrawal from NATO's military structure in the period between the time when Beam wrote "Ministry of Disturbance" and "Oomphel in the Sky"--stick with the Americans or join with the British?

These are all questions we would never even consider if we tried to understand the conflict which leads to the Thirty Days' War simply in terms of the "real world" Cold War.

> The great ideological struggle of the Twentieth Century
> (which could be called the 'Wars of Ideology') therefore
> parallels the great religious struggle of the Seventeenth
> Century (the Wars of Religion).

Perhaps, but it's not at all clear from what Beam left us that what he was writing about in the conflict which led to the Thirty Days' War was the same thing as the "great ideological struggle of the Twentieth Century."

> The moonbase concept is a kind of 'planetary excalibur',

That is a marvellous metaphor! It should have been "Operation Excalibur" instead of "Operation Triple Cross." ;)

> Thus, there is no parallel for the moonbase in the Thirty
> Years War.

Here is Beam writing his future history "in a random manner," like Asimov. ;)

> But the US lunar base changes the equation, allowing
> the US/Federation to destroy the Soviet Union (and
> perhaps the whole Eastern Axis), which is (are) "utterly
> overwhelmed under the rain of missiles from across
> space".

That's what we get from Beam. This, I think, is why we don't see any Chinese--or Russians--in later Future History yarns. The vast majority of them were killed in the Thirty Days' War--and to the extent there was any post-War recovery it was undone by the destruction of the Northern Hemisphere in the Fourth World War (leaving only the "Eurasian barbarians" that the young "second" Terran Federation officer Reginald Fitzurse campaigned against).

> This secures 'world supremacy' for the US-led Terran
> Federation.

You're forgetting Britain and its Commonwealth (from which Canada withdrew to join the U.S.-led Terran Federation). Yes, the Eastern Axis--Russia, China and India--are destroyed in the Thirty Days' War but the United States ~also~ "suffers grievously." If Britain and its Commonwealth--and perhaps a few other nations, like France--managed to "sit out" the Thirty Days' War then it may not be the case that the U.S.-led Terran Federation "secures world supremacy" in its aftermath.

> but the rest of your question again takes us into the
> full overview section, where I show my method for
> identifying the parallels between the modern nations
> involved in WWIII and WWIV, and their historical models
> in the Thirty Years War and War of Spanish Succession.
> Basically, in both of these eras, France was the most
> populous nation in Europe. This means its parallel in
> WWIII and WWIV should be the most populous nation
> in the world, which is China. That this aligned the
> "Sun King" with the leader of China, traditionally called
> the "Son of Heaven", seemed a point in its favor.

I think China is decimated in the Thirty Days' War. India (and Russia) too. Given the destruction also suffered by the United States, the most powerful bloc in the post-Thirty Days' War world may be the British Commonwealth--augmented by the French Union. I don't know whether or not your effort to draw an analogy between the historical French "Sun King" and some post-Communist Chinese "Son of Heaven" works but it does seem like your premise might benefit from a bit closer attention to what Beam left us in his work.

> The second part of your statement is actually an
> argument in favor of my scenario. For if Red China is
> the main enemy in WWIV, its total destruction means
> that few Terran Chinese will survive, particularly those
> with Mandarin names.

We're agree on what happens to China in Beam's Future History; we just disagree on which War it happens in. The fact remains there's nothing in what Beam left us which would indicate that China was a principal adversary in the Fourth World War. On the other hand, we do get bits from Beam which suggests that Britain may have managed to stay out of the Thirty Days' War and a great deal which makes clear that former British Commonwealth nations in the Southern Hemisphere "come out on top" in the aftermath of the Fourth World War (in no small part by "managing to stay out" of the Atomic Wars), which means some other nation (or bloc), a Northern Hemisphere nation (or bloc), must have been a principal combatant in the Fourth World War.

Beam doesn't tell us which nation (or bloc) that might be, but he leaves us some clues. None of them point to China.

> That's a keen observation. As an American ally and
> former Security Council member of the disbanded UN,
> Nationalist China probably becomes an early and
> important member of the Terran Federation.

On this point we are agreed.

> And in the overview section, I show that during the
> Thirty Days' War, Federation forces from Taiwan
> (Nationalist Chinese, Americans) do invade the
> mainland. Its model is the Spanish invasion of
> eastern France in the Thirty Years War. This
> invasion was subsequently defeated, however,
> suggesting that the Nationalist/American invasion
> of eastern China is ultimately a failure.

I doubt there's time in the Thirty Days' War for any large-scale ground action. But it seems likely that "first" Terran Federation forces--in which the Nationalist Chinese (and perhaps even the Japanese and the South Koreans) likely would play a prominent role--would undertake post-War occupation and reconstruction in eastern Asia. Thus, it seems unlikely that a potential adversary to the U.S.-led "first" Terran Federation would arise in eastern Asia--devastated in the War, occupied by the "first" Federation in its aftermath--in the period between the Thirty Days' War and WWIV.

> Moving on to WWIV, the major Western or democratic
> powers of the Terran Federation now parallel the
> 'democratic' powers of the Grand Alliance in the War of
> Spanish Succession

Except that, if you take away the British Commonwealth (and possibly France, and therefore, likely much of northwestern Europe), then the U.S.-led Terran Federation ~isn't~ a bloc of "the major Western or democratic powers." It is instead, a bloc of member-states like Japan (where Sachiko Koremitsu was born) and West Germany (where one of Selim von Ohlmhorst's parents was born) which are still very, very new to democracy at the time Beam was writing, member-states like Turkey (where von Ohlmhorst's other parent was born) and Pakistan and Iran, member-states like Nationalist China and South Korea and, perhaps, Indonesia, and perhaps even member-states like Portugal and Spain and Greece, all of which had authoritarian governments with little or no experience of democracy at the time Beam was writing.

Then consider the U.S. itself in the aftermath of the Thirty Days' War. It's suffered "grievously," with major cities nuked into oblivion by the nuclear missiles of the Eastern Axis. Much of the nation probably ends up under martial law with substantial "emergency powers" in place for an extended period after the War. The post-War U.S. is a ~de facto~, if not ~de jure~, non-democratic state.

Bottom line is, the post-Thirty Days' War "first" Terran Federation--the U.S. and its allies--looks very different from the U.S. (and its major allies) at the time Beam was writing. It's both less "Western" ~and~ less "democratic," especially in comparison to Britain and the Commonwealth nations of the Southern Hemisphere. . . .

> the Franco-Spanish Alliance in the WSS becomes the
> model for an 'absolute' or totalitarian 'Sino-Hindic Axis'
> in WWIV.

There is nothing from Beam which suggests that China (or India) might be the WWIV adversary to the U.S.-led "first" Federation. Nor is it clear from what Beam has left us that the post-Thirty Days' War "first" Federation is the paragon of democracy our Cold War sensibilities might lead us to assume.

As he did in ~Uller Uprising~ with his hero von Schlichten and his heroine Quinton, it may be that Beam had something rather different in mind for the combatants and the nature of the conflict in WWIV from what readers of his era--or those of us today still making similar assumptions--would expect to be the case.


"It is not . . . the business of an author of fiction to improve or inspire or educate his reader, or to save the world from fascism, communism, racism, capitalism, socialism, or anything else. [The author's] main objective is to purvey entertainment of the sort his reader wants. If he has done this, by writing interestingly about interesting people, human or otherwise, doing interesting things, he has discharged his duty and earned his check." - H. Beam Piper, "Double: Bill Symposium" interview
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
16:27 UT
Jon Crocker wrote:

> An alternate theory is that all those A-bombs disturbed
> the spacetime continuum enough that it ruined
> Chalmers' ability to see the future. Then by the time
> the eddies subsided, Chalmers had passed away from
> old age.

That would do it! (Though what this might forebode for all those "planetbusters" as the Old Federation came to end boggles the mind.)

> But, there were rumours that Chalmers wrote a number
> of manuscripts of his visions of the future...

That's a wonderful story idea. It could begin with a prologue where Chalmers is locked away at Northern State, writing furiously . . . and some nurse or orderly who was an aspiring amateur historian. . . .


"And don't let anybody else see any of it. Keep it safe for me." - Edward Chalmers (H. Beam Piper), "The Edge of the Knife"
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