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

H. Beam Piper Mailing List and Discussion Forum

Skip to Messages
Welcome to the H. Beam Piper mailing list and discussion forum. Initiated in October 2008 (after the demise of the original PIPER-L mailing list), this tool for shared communication among Piper fans provides an e-mail list and a discussion forum with on-line archives.
 
Membership in this moderated list/forum is by invitation only. (If you'd like an invitation please request one by sending an e-mail message to the Moderator.) In order for your messages to be approved for posting to the list you must be both registered with the QuickTopic site (click the "Sign In" link at the top-right of the page) and subscribed to receive messages from the list by e-mail (click the "Get email" button below).
 
Moderation will focus on keeping the discussion related to H. Beam Piper in a broadly interpreted sense. Off-topic posts or ad hominem comments will not be approved for posting and repeat offenders may be banned from posting to the list.
 
There is an annual subscription fee required to keep this list/forum free of advertisements and to provide expanded functionality such as the capability to post images. You can support the continued ad-free availability of this shared resource by making a contribution using the PayPal Donate link at the top of the page. (You don't need a PayPal account to make a donation, just a credit card.) Thank you for whatever level of support you can afford.
^     All messages            1926-1941 of 1941  1910-1925 >>
1941
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
12-08-2018
22:38 UT

~
From the Archives: "Olson's Rule"

Below, another message to the old PIPER-L mailing list, from way back in January 1996, which, while dealing specifically with the question of whether Paratime and the Terro-human Future History are a single setting, outlines a more general concept I like to call "Olson's Rule":

---

Subject: Re: neat packages
From: Mark Olson
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 1996 13:40:41 ...

     Agreed that they *could* all fit together. Does that mean that they
     do? If you intend the definition of inclusion within Piper's future
     history to be 'one [which] would have little trouble fitting into the
     TFH as pre-30 Days War stories' then you've gotten too broad and the
     Colleen McCullough novel about Julius Caesar's political days that I
     just read would also fit in.

     I think you need something a little more positive than mere
     non-contradiction.

     It's certainly true that the Paratime and Federation/Empire (F/E)
     universes are consistant, but the only points of contact that I can
     see are:

     (1) The history of Mars as evidenced in "Omnilingual" is not
     inconsistant with a human origin on Mars about 200,000 years ago as
     required by the Paratime universe. But there is *no* positive
     evidence in any story. (I don't consider humanoid habitation of Mars
     in recent geological times to be enough.)

     (2) I vaguely remember that one of the Paratim stories refers to
     Galactic Empires or the like in the Fourth Level paratime universes.
     Again, this is not inconsistant with the two beinng connected, but
     IMHO, insufficient.

     (3) The switch of background in *When in the Course* seems to me to be
     essentially irrelevant.

     Arguing *against* their connection is the lack of discovery of
     paratime travel the F/E universe and the lack of hyperspatial travel
     in the Paratime universe. It's hard to imagine that hyperspatial
     engineers would have missed paratime if it existed in their universe.
     (Of course, that's one of the basic flaws in Piper's whole Paratime
     series, but we'll ignore that....)

     -- mlo

-----

Marks's original message is available here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20080310055937...-l&T=0&F=&S=&P=1192

I think Mark's basic point, that when we're trying to fit something into one of Beam's fictional settings we "need something a little more positive than mere non-contradiction," is spot on. I still find his argument in favor of Paratime and the Terro-human Future History being distinct settings to be compelling but more importantly I believe his "rule" is a useful one across Beam's work.

Cheers,

David
--
"Lord Kalvan is a Martian." - Jackson Russell, H. Beam Piper Mailing List and Discussion Forum, July 6, 2015
~
1940
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
11-29-2018
04:08 UT
We'd talked a bit about 'transpolar air invasions' - I came across this link shortly afterward, it said it was a US Air Force film from 1958. Yes, it's ten or twelve years after Piper wrote that story, but it's an interesting look at the sort of procedure that would have been involved with that sort of technology.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pps1xNGRzdY

With a few changes, it could be Governor General von Schlichten taking a similar briefing in Uller Uprising, there was certainly enough smoking on screen.
1939
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
11-26-2018
14:28 UT
~
Jon Crocker wrote:

> Maybe it's not a secret discovery? Maybe the powers-
> that-be prod the tabloid press to give coverage of the
> 'ancient alien menace that kidnapped Terrans and
> stranded them light-years from home', especially
> before the budget debates in Parliament.

Given Von Schlichten's suggestion of the size of the Federation Navy--even if he was engaged in a bit of hyperbole, I have to imagine that there was some form of this, even if it was just something like "one day, somebody like the Thorans, but in starships, is bound to show up in Federation space."

> Or, another wild theory - maybe the citizens don't.
> Every industry we hear about on Terra is part of a
> 'cartel', what if all those cartels were formed so that
> they could survive the staggering corporate surtaxes
> the Federation levied to support the Navy? There's
> no room for real competition, not with Executive
> Special Agents roaming the boardrooms of Terra
> and making certain the tax payments go through
> on time. The personal taxes and golf course fees
> goes to support the 'normal' stuff on Terra, and then
> the cartels and Chartered Companies pay for the
> Navy that keeps the spacelanes safe for their profits.

This is an interesting idea too. One of the reasons the Dutch East India Company was supplanted by the British East India Company was that the company was unable to meet the increasing security demands of its commercial operations and the Dutch Republic government was unable to supply them for the Company. Eventually, the British East India Company faced a similar challenge and, like every good capitalist enterprise, dumped those costs upon the British Navy--and British taxpayers--which eventually led to British government control of former Company holdings.

Perhaps the early (second) Federation government remembered this history when the Chartered Companies were established and part of the "chartering" included built-in taxation which was meant to enable Federation security efforts at the outset (rather than having the security mission dumped on the public sector after the companies were unable to fund it themselves). That sort of foresight is rare in a government but it's not like there weren't plenty of historical examples for them to draw upon.

Such an arrangement, of course, would support a view of the (second) Federation as being an institution focused primarily on protecting the interests of interstellar investors.

> You can have fun extrapolating from too few data
> points. :)

Hear! Hear!

David
--
"The Federation Government owns a bigger interest in the Company than the public realizes, too. . . ." - Carlos von Schlichten (H. Beam Piper), ~Uller Uprising~.
~
1938
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
11-25-2018
18:54 UT
David “Piperfan” Johnson wrote,

>Arctic operations--and later, antarctic operations--seemed like a reasonable and interesting science-fictional theme at
>the time Beam was writing (especially when someone was also writing about the first explorations of the Moon and Mars).

Piper wasn't the only one - I remember a story by Arthur C Clarke that had a throwaway line about 'battles on the antarctic front', it was likely written about the same time. (I can't remember the title, but it was about 'The Master', a new and global would-be dictator. His last redoubt was dug into the sides of Everest, and he had a suspended animation chamber ready to convey him a hundred years into the future. Kicker was, it used photocells to count days, and when artillery fire smashed that part of the mountain, there went his wake-up call...)

That's a good point about the IGY - for all of those radar chains, and I think the Alaskan Highway too, they could only really operate in the summer, that must have played a part in those decisions.
1937
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
11-25-2018
17:27 UT
~
James "jimmyjoejangles" Romanski wrote:

> So if we all know that the most likely Soviet attack was
> coming from the polar region, why is it such a sticking
> point?

As Jon suggests, it's merely about how _unlikely_ a "transpolar air invasion" seems to us in hindsight.

Arctic operations--and later, antarctic operations--seemed like a reasonable and interesting science-fictional theme at the time Beam was writing (especially when someone was also writing about the first explorations of the Moon and Mars).

But even by the time the DEW and the two other "lines" Jon mentioned were developed, they were intended to provide advance warning of a strategic bomber--and later, ICBM--attack, not of an "air invasion" by ground troops which might go on to capture Ottawa and lay siege to Buffalo.

The idea of a troop invasion became increasingly less conceivable with time, likely in no small part due to the U.S. and Canadian experience constructing the DEW. It was a major military operation simply to get the people and materials in place to build the radar sites in that harsh climate, much less to do any actual war-fighting. No doubt that's (part of) why there weren't follow-on efforts to "fortify" the Arctic.

That experience in the Arctic likely also contributed to the subsequent International Geophysical Year (IGY) efforts in Antarctica and ultimately to the Antarctic Treaty which "demilitarized" (and "internationalized") Antarctica. Folks truly came to recognize how harsh the Arctic and Antarctic environments were and realized they would never be able to maintain a "transpolar" military logistics operation that was less difficult than that required to launch an invasion via a longer-but-less-inhospitable route.

But as Jon has pointed out, that was all in the future at the time Beam was writing "Time and Time Again." Still, it seems Beam was paying attention to Arctic and Antarctic developments, writing about characters like Glenn Murell and using disputes over the "demilitarization" (and "internationalization") of Luna as key elements leading to the Thirty Days' War in "The Edge of the Knife" (submitted for publication as planning for the "IGY" was well underway).

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~
~
1936
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
11-25-2018
16:17 UT
Only the people in Red Army general staff know what the 'most likely' attack path would have been - the transpolar one certainly worried a lot of people on this continent, or else they would not have bothered to set up NORAD, and the various radar chains, that sort of thing.

It's not a sticking point as such - it's a perfectly logical attach path. The problem is, with hindsight, NORAD would have made the attack a very costly one. We now know that the Soviet economy was so badly run and mismanaged, they never could have mounted such an attack. But, the west didn't find that out until after the Soviet Union fell, which was roughly 45 years after Piper wrote the story.

It's still a good story.
1935
jimmyjoejanglesPerson was signed in when posted
11-25-2018
14:20 UT
So if we all know that the most likely Soviet attack was coming from the polar region, why is it such a sticking point?
1934
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
11-25-2018
03:59 UT

(Courtesty of Wikipedia)
1933
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
11-25-2018
03:40 UT
David “Piperfan” Johnson wrote,

>Bit of a tangent here, but that statement from Von Schlichten--I hadn't remembered that "fifty-odd-ship task-force" >detail--contradicts the premise that the Federation Navy isn't a particularly large force. If fifty-odd ships is just
>a "task-force" then there are likely hundreds, if not thousands of ships in the Federation Navy. Why in the
>_universe_ does the Federation have a navy of that size when it has no external adversaries? Even if we go
>with Jon's suggestion that perhaps they _have_ secretly discovered evidence of star-faring extraterrestrials--
>whether it be star-faring Fuzzies or ancient star-farers who transported humans from Terra to Freya (or someone else)
>--why do Federation taxpayers _pay_ for this Navy to protect against a potential foe they don't even know about?
>
>It's a conundrum. (End of tangent.)

Maybe it's not a secret discovery? Maybe the powers-that-be prod the tabloid press to give coverage of the 'ancient alien menace that kidnapped Terrans and stranded them light-years from home', especially before the budget debates in Parliament.

Or, another wild theory - maybe the citizens don't. Every industry we hear about on Terra is part of a 'cartel', what if all those cartels were formed so that they could survive the staggering corporate surtaxes the Federation levied to support the Navy? There's no room for real competition, not with Executive Special Agents roaming the boardrooms of Terra and making certain the tax payments go through on time. The personal taxes and golf course fees goes to support the 'normal' stuff on Terra, and then the cartels and Chartered Companies pay for the Navy that keeps the spacelanes safe for their profits.

You can have fun extrapolating from too few data points. :)
1932
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
11-25-2018
03:39 UT
>It seems that you are not aware of the DEW Line. Distant Early Warning. A very extensive and expensive ring of
>radar stations that was in place to warn of a transpolar attack.

Oh yes, quite aware of it, I knew someone that worked there.

DEW line was actually the third radar chain, the first one was much further south and called the Pine Tree Line. The second was the Mid Canada Line. DEW line was up and running in 1957.

None of these existed when Piper wrote that story, if it was written in '47.

There was also the small matter of the Royal Canadian Air Force, we had a few hundred Sabre jets in that era. The powers that be had also developed a few nasty air-to-air missiles for just such a situation, look up the AIR-2 Genie.

But, if you're the USSR and just flush with forces, and are able to use vast reserves of equipment and not care about niggling things like casualties in the great marxist struggle, then you're able to mount transpolar air invasions and drop great big nukes during the Siege of Buffalo.

Sometimes, all that hindsight makes a plot line more scary, not less! Yes, I'd vote the Hartley ticket to avoid all that.
1931
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
11-25-2018
02:07 UT
~
John "Calidore" Anderson wrote:

> > I choose to assume a sort of "middle ground." I think
> > there's space, with enough imagination--a planet is
> > a big place, for a Venus that would both look familiar
> > to a science-fiction reader who grew up with the
> > "romantic Venus" and yet still seem plausible to a
> > budding planetary scientist working at the time Beam
> > was writing his last Terro-human Future History yarns.
>
> Again, quite possible. And a good place to do so might
> have been if he went back and rewrote “When in the
> Course—”, recasting the Freyans with different names and
> politics, since he had used these in only slightly altered
> form for the Paratime tales of Lord Kalvan.

I tried that first part, in a bit of fan-fiction called "In Congress Assembled--," which was posted at Zarthani.net for a while. ("When in the Course--" is not yet in the public domain though, so I've since taken it down.)

> Details of the revised Venus could have been given
> through the character Roger Barron.

I closely followed the original text, simply replacing the references which were duplicated in "Gunpowder God" with new details. You're right that more "back story" for Barron could have given us a bit more insight into the Future History Venus.

> > Heck, consider what might happen if a planet like
> > Yggdrasil--or the investors in a company like the
> > Chartered Yggdrasil Company, to be more accurate--
> > decided, say, to stop shipping guano to Terra for the
> > Reclamation Projects?
>
> The Banking Cartel angle is an interesting point, but
> your example may have not been the best possibility
> to raise. I think refusing to supply guano for the
> reclamation projects would likely be considered a
> political threat to Terra itself, the capital of the
> Federation.

Perhaps, but the actual threat is not the point. The point is who would be making it: not folks actually _on_ Yggdrasil but rather _investors_ (in the CYC) on _Terra_. That's the thing we need to keep in mind about the (second) Terran Federation. It's not so much a collection of "Member Republics" as it as a collection of various interstellar investors (and their colonial administrators) _based_ on Terra (and perhaps on the larger colonial planets). We read ~Uller Uprising~ (or ~Little Fuzzy~) and focus on Von Schlichten (or Grego) and the other Company employees on Uller (or Zarathustra) but the folks with the _real_ power are the CUC (or CZC) _investors_ back on Terra (and perhaps elsewhere). We don't see them because they don't play a role in the story Beam is telling but we know they're there nonetheless.

> What this planet needs, though, is a visit by a
> fifty-odd-ship task-force of the Space Navy, just
> to show the geeks what we have back of us. After
> a show like that, there’d be a lot less znidd suddabit
> around here.” (UU, p. 71)

Bit of a tangent here, but that statement from Von Schlichten--I hadn't remembered that "fifty-odd-ship task-force" detail--contradicts the premise that the Federation Navy isn't a particularly large force. If fifty-odd ships is just a "task-force" then there are likely hundreds, if not thousands of ships in the Federation Navy. Why in the _universe_ does the Federation have a navy of that size when it has no external adversaries? Even if we go with Jon's suggestion that perhaps they _have_ secretly discovered evidence of star-faring extraterrestrials--whether it be star-faring Fuzzies or ancient star-farers who transported humans from Terra to Freya (or someone else)--why do Federation taxpayers _pay_ for this Navy to protect against a potential foe they don't even know about?

It's a conundrum. (End of tangent.)

> > Again, we don't know, but I don't think a good
> > model is to think about regular U.S. military
> > forces dealing with an imagined troublesome
> > state governor. . . .
>
> Being that the Federation was originally founded
> by the United States, and has an American-style
> President and Constitution, I think the American
> model is appropriate. (Or at least two-thirds
> appropriate, since it has a British-style Parliament.)

Again, we seem to disagree on who founded the (second) Federation but there are nevertheless many other "non-American" markers in Beam's portrayal of the (second) Federation. All those "Government Houses" and "Company Houses" that seem to be based on British Imperial models which persist in Southern Hemisphere nations like Australia and New Zealand and South Africa. Those "Resident-Agents" and "Resident-Generals" are also markers from the British colonial experience. (One would expect a "governor" or perhaps "governor-general"--as the early U.S. executive in the Philippines was known--for an American model.) And, of course, there are the Chartered Companies, which recall the chartered companies of the British (and Dutch) Empire (and have no analog in American history).

> It also has a marine corps, the TFMC in Little Fuzzy,
> which seems to be modeled on the USMC.

I'm not sure why it seems this way. They might just as easily have been modelled on Britain's Royal Marines. Australia and New Zealand didn't/doesn't have marines but Argentina, Brazil and South Africa all had marine forces at the time Beam was writing.

Of some interest here is the "Space Force" of "Omnilingual." This is a (first) Federation military force, a new service of ground-based troops apparently created especially for off-planet operations (though Penrose also has experience fighting the post-atomic "barbarians" on Terra). No such organization is ever mentioned in a (second) Federation era yarn (as we might expect, given that the U.S.--and presumably it's (first) Federation institutions--was completely destroyed in World War IV).

Also of interest are the officer insignia, both of that (first) Federation Space Force and of the (second) Federation Army (and of the company armies and colonial constabularies that seem to follow the Federation Army model), which seem to be patterned on the insignia of the Confederate States Army. That seems an odd choice--in both instances--for a force which had evolved from the U.S. military. It may be that Beam was simply using a system with which he was familiar but that would nevertheless indicate that it was something _different_ from U.S. army (and air force) officer insignia that he could reasonably assume many of his readers would recognize. But the point is, it's _different_, suggesting he was specifically trying to indicate that the Terran Federation was _not_ an evolutionary descendant of the United States.

> So its military has recruits from all over the
> Federation, which are melded into a single force,
> much like recruits from the various US states make
> up the American military. And as there is no
> external enemy for them to fight, yes, I think
> they will be expected to understand that they
> may be called upon to take action against their
> home planet, if necessary.

This may be--it's conjecture; we get no details one way or the other from Beam--but it does make it much harder to explain how the System States Alliance put together a force which managed to fight the Federation for nearly a decade. . . .

> The System States War, however, is modeled on
> the US Civil War, so I believe at that time the
> Federation military will fracture much as the US
> military did in 1861.

I think it's fare to assume that the Civil War was used as a model by Beam, but there were obviously some stark differences. There was no slavery at the heart of the conflict; it was entirely one of political-economic differences. (It would have been easy for Beam to suggest that one side was interested in sophont "emancipation" but no such indication is ever mentioned.) But more importantly, just because the System States War may have been modelled on the U.S. Civil War it doesn't obviously follow that the (second) Federation was modelled on the United States.

> But since we know from Space Viking that the
> Federation government has become somewhat
> tyrannical by this time,

No, what we know is that the descendants of a small number Alliance refugees who fled a devastating defeat taught their children and grandchildren that the Federation was corrupt and "tyrannical." In some sense, what we get from the Space Vikings is sort of like what we'd get if the great-grandchildren of those wing-nuts who hole-up with some guns in some Interior Department reserve from time to time were telling us American history (or as if the children of Carlos Von Schlichten and Paula Quinton were trying to explain the Vichy France government . . .).

We get a much better view of the late (second) Federation era government in ~Junkyard Planet~. There is much that is wrong with the Federation in this era but Conn Maxwell didn't see it as "tyrannical" when he was studying at the University of Montevideo. Foxx Travis isn't seen by those on Poictesme as some sort of tinpot soldier when he's speaking from his bedroom on Luna. . . .

> > Unless . . . there is some countervailing force
> > _early_ in the (second) Federation which pushes
> > the Federation to take a "hands-off" approach to
> > local governance. A Federation comprised mostly
> > of multiple "Member Republics" on Terra itself
> > might do that.
>
> Right, that’s what I meant. Its more relaxed form
> of government comes after the Federation
> forcefully unifies the Solar System. Barron’s
> statements suggest that corruption is
> commonplace in Third Century Venusian
> politics.

But it seems we still disagree about the source of this "relaxed" or "hands-off" (second) Federation approach. I think it must come from elements _on_Terra_ which didn't want to see a powerful "world" (and later "system-wide") Federation government.

> > If we want to grasp what Beam was up to, we
> > need to "think outside the box" of the United
> > States of the 1950s and early 1960s in which
> > he was writing. . . .
>
> All kidding aside, you may be right. I’m no expert
> on industrial or corporate espionage. I tend to
> think it is more common than we know, but
> maybe I’m just becoming old and cynical. :)

I'm no expert either and have no idea what's actually happening, but what we know is that it's not commonly _recognized_ that it's happening. On the other hand, many people on planets like Fenris early in the (second) Federation era and on Zarathustra later on take it for granted. That's very different from circumstances in the United States at the time Beam was writing.

> In turn, I certainly understand how “The Future
> History” has contributed to your scenario for these
> events, and admit that seems to be what Piper is
> saying. But that document has problems; most
> notably a major error in the date for Four-Day
> Planet, which it says takes place in the “Mid-IV
> Century”. It does not; internal evidence indicates
> that the story occurs in the late Fifth Century,
> meaning that when Beam wrote “The Future
> History”, he himself was wrong by about a century
> and a half.

I agree that there are issues with "The Future History," and that dating ~Four-Day Planet~ (which as you say is a mess internally, and as compared to ~Uller Uprising~ too) is one of them. In particular, it also seems that Beam may have "had to count on his fingers to transpose to Christian Era and . . . usually remembered too late that there was no C.E. Year Zero." ;) But on the other hand, "The Future History" remains the primary and most expansive commentary we get from Beam himself.

> So “The Future History” is not a completely reliable
> guide, and we must be careful when applying it.

Agreed, but--with no disrespect to John Carr intended whatsoever--we have even less understanding of the provenance of some of the dates in the ~Empire~ chronology. (Well, most of us do; perhaps whatever you learned back in 2000 gives you some insight the rest of us don't have.) So, when there's a conflict between "The Future History" and the ~Empire~ chronology that can't be resolved by referring to Beam's yarns, I'm inclined to go with what Weston transcribed from Beam in "The Future History."

Cheers,

David
--
"There was a lighter oval on the side of his beret, where something had been removed, and the collar of his tunic showed that his major's single star had quite recently replaced a first lieutenant's double bars." - Jack Holloway (H. Beam Piper), ~Fuzzy Sapiens~
~
1930
jimmyjoejanglesPerson was signed in when posted
11-25-2018
01:05 UT
It seems that you are not aware of the DEW Line. Distant Early Warning. A very extensive and expensive ring of radar stations that was in place to warn of a transpolar attack.
1929
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
11-24-2018
21:21 UT
~
John "Calidore" Anderson wrote:

> Apart from these concerns, however, I have a much
> more important reason for sticking with the timeline
> in Empire. It's something I've known since the summer
> of 2000, and have only revealed to a few people.
> Perhaps it's time I finally gave it to Piperdom at large.
>
> The 'key' to the historical models for Beam's early
> Future History.

Oh my. Talk about a teaser! I can't help but wonder what this "key" can possibly be.

Could it be that Beam's fabled "notes" on the Terro-human Future History actually were in the "trunk" that Mike Knerr took from Beam's apartment after his death? Knerr died in 1999 after having some years before sold at auction copies of several of Beam's manuscripts previously believed to have been burned by Beam shortly before his suicide. Beam's "trunk" apparently ended up with Knerr's widow. Is it possible you somehow managed to have a look at what remained inside in the summer of 2000? Do tell!
 
> I am currently working on an overview of these findings,
> and hope to post it here (and on Wolf's Piper-Worlds
> site) in the next few months.

It will be a long few months. . . . ;)

Cheers,

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
~
1928
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
11-24-2018
21:18 UT
~
Jon Crocker wrote:

> Oh, definately, nothing against Piper for coming up with
> that as an element of the story - defending against a
> transpolar air invasion makes a great story, very 'fifteen
> minutes into the future'.
>
> I've heard other writers say that the near-future stories
> are among the most difficult to get right, you have to
> balance the 'familiar enough' against the 'future cool'.

This is why I always try to give Beam's work the benefit of the doubt. Even if he seems to make an "error" between one work and another my favorite explanation is the one that tries to reconcile those contradictions rather than dismissing (one of) them.

Cheers,

David
--
"Why Walt Disney bought the movie rights to ['Rebel Raider'], I've never figured out. Will Colonel Mosby be played by Mickey Mouse, and General Phil Sheridan by Donald Duck? It's baffling. However, I was glad to get the check." -- H. Beam Piper, ~The Pennsy~ interview, 1953
~
1927
CalidorePerson was signed in when posted
11-24-2018
19:54 UT
Another somewhat late response to the previous discussion.

David “Piperfan” Johnson wrote,

>I'm generally amenable to the idea of a "romantic Venus" but there is a bit
>of a difference here with respect to Beam's depiction of Mars. The "romantic
>Mars" of the Terro-human Future History occurs well in the past. What the
>early Federation explorers find are the extinct remnants of that "romantic Mars"
>(and thus a "contemporary"--for them--Mars that is closer to the "real life"
>understanding of Mars at the time Beam was writing).

>To me, that suggests we have to allow for a similar sort of modification
>of Beam's "romantic Venus," one that falls somewhere in between the
>"romantic" version of "swamps-and pseudo-dinosaurs" and the more
>"scientific" version that was emerging by the time Beam was writing
>most of his Terro-human Future History yarns. That way, at least,
>we can preserve the assumption that Beam wasn't writing "alternate
>history" from the get-go.

I still think Piper was using the same Venus in the Future History as in Paratime, just as he seems to have used the same Mars for both. But I don’t have a problem with the idea that he could have used a modified version in later THFH tales, since he had not been explicit about the climate of Venus in that series. That also goes for those who are writing tales in his universe.

>Well, that's the idealized question but I think the more practical one is,
>what assumptions will we make about Beam's Terro-human Future History
>Venus? I choose to assume a sort of "middle ground." I think there's space,
>with enough imagination--a planet is a big place, for a Venus that would
>both look familiar to a science-fiction reader who grew up with the "romantic
>Venus" and yet still seem plausible to a budding planetary scientist working
>at the time Beam was writing his last Terro-human Future History yarns.

Again, quite possible. And a good place to do so might have been if he went back and rewrote “When in the Course—”, recasting the Freyans with different names and politics, since he had used these in only slightly altered form for the Paratime tales of Lord Kalvan. Details of the revised Venus could have been given through the character Roger Barron.

>Yes, I mean politically, or at least political-economically. I think the Federation
>is a more complex society than we often realize. From what we read in Beam's
>work, institutions like that Federation Parliament don't seem to play a large role.
>For example, some of the Chartered Companies--likely modelled on historical
>examples like the Dutch and British East India Companies--might rival
>governments. A planet like Odin might not have much more formal power in the
>Federation Parliament than does Terra--perhaps even significantly less, if
>parliamentary representation is based in some way upon population--but what
>does its influence look like in the Banking Cartel? Heck, consider what might
>happen if a planet like Yggdrasil--or the investors in a company like the
>Chartered Yggdrasil Company, to be more accurate--decided, say, to stop
>shipping guano to Terra for the Reclamation Projects?

The Banking Cartel angle is an interesting point, but your example may have not been the best possibility to raise. I think refusing to supply guano for the reclamation projects would likely be considered a political threat to Terra itself, the capital of the Federation. Parliament would probably become involved fairly quickly, with the Space Navy ready to pay a ‘visit’ to Yggdrasil if a political solution to whatever dispute caused the cutoff is not forthcoming. This would be a variant of the Federation Space Navy visit proposed by Carlos von Schlichten, in order to overawe the native Ullerans. “What this planet needs, though, is a visit by a fifty-odd-ship task-force of the Space Navy, just to show the geeks what we have back of us. After a show like that, there’d be a lot less znidd suddabit around here.” (UU, p. 71)

Though the chartered companies do have a great deal of power—Victor Grego says “We can do anything we want as long as we don’t violate colonial law or the Federation Constitution”—the Federation maintains Space Navy bases at strategic points like Xerxes, as a constant reminder to the various planetary governments and companies “that there was something bigger and more powerful” than them. (LF, pp. 11, 13) The Federation government on Terra seems to wield its military power lightly during the middle centuries of its existence, but this velvet glove still contains a mailed fist.

>Even this might be problematic. It certainly was by the time of the System
>States War: where else did the Alliance Navy (and Army) come from except
>from former Federation Navy (and Army) units which sided with the Alliance?
>Would Federation forces raised from a planet like Marduk or Aton _actually_
>support a military action against their home world ordered by commanders on
>Terra?

>Again, we don't know, but I don't think a good model is to think about regular
>U.S. military forces dealing with an imagined troublesome state governor. . . .

Being that the Federation was originally founded by the United States, and has an American-style President and Constitution, I think the American model is appropriate. (Or at least two-thirds appropriate, since it has a British-style Parliament.) It also has a marine corps, the TFMC in Little Fuzzy, which seems to be modeled on the USMC. So its military has recruits from all over the Federation, which are melded into a single force, much like recruits from the various US states make up the American military. And as there is no external enemy for them to fight, yes, I think they will be expected to understand that they may be called upon to take action against their home planet, if necessary.

But there is little chance of that while the Federation remains unified through its middle centuries, for during this period, its government remains largely "hands-off" and benevolent. The System States War, however, is modeled on the US Civil War, so I believe at that time the Federation military will fracture much as the US military did in 1861. Ninety systems secede; this is a serious breach to the unity of the Federation, which is what the military is maintained to prevent. But since we know from Space Viking that the Federation government has become somewhat tyrannical by this time, a great many soldiers whose home planets are now in the Alliance will reckon their duty to their home outweighs their duty to the Federation (which is now perceived to be a malevolent body), and return to defend them. Even some TF general officers, paralleling Robert E. Lee who sided with the Confederacy, will decide to side with the Alliance.

>That may be the case later in the Federation era but I doubt it's the case
>when the early (second) Federation is waging those "wars of pacification
>and consolidation." And, presumably, the early (second) Federation wouldn't
>put up with too much "poor governance" for a fairly long period after the
>last Federation "pacification forces" leave Venus (which makes it hard to
>believe Barron's experience of Venusian politics would have already become
>commonplace).

>Unless . . . there is some countervailing force _early_ in the (second) Federation
>which pushes the Federation to take a "hands-off" approach to local governance.
>A Federation comprised mostly of multiple "Member Republics" on Terra itself
>might do that.

Right, that’s what I meant. Its more relaxed form of government comes after the Federation forcefully unifies the Solar System. Barron’s statements suggest that corruption is commonplace in Third Century Venusian politics.

>Here, I think, are actually some good examples of why the American federal
>government--and American society generally--are poor models for the mature
>Terran Federation that we see in Beam's yarns. Yes, some federal agency might be
>investigating a company like Google, but they don't have "spies" masquerading as
>employees on the Google campus.

Well, not that we know of. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be very good spies, would they? :)

>Likewise, there are no Google employees working "undercover" at Apple.
>There might be a few _Chinese_ or _Russian_ "secret agents" working in
>Silicon Valley--and the executives of Facebook might take this for granted
>in a way that's similar to what we see from Grego, but there are no such
>"foreign powers" in the Federation.

>Now, there might have been various sorts of "secret agents" working both
>for national governments and employed by companies like the Dutch and
>British East India Companies, but those are governments--and companies—
>that functioned rather differently than does the contemporary American
>government and society. If we want to grasp what Beam was up to, we need
>to "think outside the box" of the United States of the 1950s and early 1960s
>in which he was writing. . . .

All kidding aside, you may be right. I’m no expert on industrial or corporate espionage. I tend to think it is more common than we know, but maybe I’m just becoming old and cynical. :) I wonder too if the seemingly numerous ‘spies’ are connected with Piper’s life-long interest in the mystery genre, which often includes various subterfuges, espionage and cloak-and-dagger skullduggery. Not a serious argument, just an idea.

>In his essay "The Future History," Beam describes World War IV as the "First
>Interplanetary War," so I think the rebellious colonies on Venus and Mars are
>caught up in it somehow. This is the war which results in the "complete
>devastation of [the] Northern Hemisphere of Terra." That means the end of
>the U.S.-led (first) Terran Federation. Then the "Second Terran Federation [is]
>organized by South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, the Argentine, etc."
>If there are any remnants of Northern Hemisphere nation-states left at this point
>--say, a rump American government based in post-Thirty Days' War settlements in >Antarctica--they are taking terms from the new (second) Federation, not setting
>any agendas for the reformed Federation.

And,

>It is this (second) Federation which undertakes those "wars of colonial
>pacification and consolidation" and subsequently "imposes a System-wide
>pax." That doesn't sound like somebody on Venus--or Mars--uniting former
>colonies on their planet. That sounds like those colonies being "pacified and
>consolidated" by an off-planet, (second) Federation force.

And,

>We know Venus ends up as a "Federation Member Republic" (and I agree it's
>reasonable to assume a similar outcome for Mars) but that seems to be an
>outcome which is _imposed_ from off-planet, not one that unfolds organically.

And,

>Well, Beam speaks specifically about "first" and "second" Federations, both in
>his yarns and in "The Future History" essay, so they are distinctly different entities.
>They oddly carry the same name--I tried to suggest an explanation for this in
>"The Satchel"--but are distinct entities nonetheless. Beam specifically identifies
>the "second" Federation as that entity organized by the Southern Hemisphere
>nations in the aftermath of the Fourth World War, which makes it distinct from
>the U.N.-replacing, U.S.-led "first" Federation described in "The Edge of the Knife"
>that fights the Thirty Days' War.

>Bottom line is "Terran Federation" is not one thing, but rather two distinctly
>different things, which happen to have the same name. This distinction is so
>significant that it is still remembered many centuries later during the Viking era,
>long after the Terran Federation ceased to exist.

And,

>Alas, these dates from the ~Empire~ chronology don't fit with Beam's essay
>"The Future History." Here's the text:

>Second Century
>-------------
> World War IV (First Interplanetary War), 106-109 [AE]; minor wars for ten
>years thereafter. Complete devastation of [the] Northern Hemisphere of Terra.
>Second Terran Federation [is] organized by South Africa, Australia and New
>Zealand, Brazil, the Argentine, etc. Wars of colonial pacification and consolidation;
>the new Terran Federation imposes a System-wide pax.
>Keene-Gonzales-Dillingham Theory of Non-Einsteinian Relatively, AE 172.


>Now, Beam doesn't specifically date the formation of the "second" Federation,
>but this suggests it's shortly after those "minor wars" which follow the end of the
>Fourth World War, i.e. circa, say, 125 AE (2068 CE), very near the 2070 CE date
>for a "single world sovereignty" from "The Edge of the Knife." In any event, it
>definitely occurs _prior_ to 172 AE.

>Likewise, Beam doesn't precisely date any "revolt" of the colonies on Venus
>(and Mars) in "The Future History," but he does describe the Fourth World War
>as the "First _Interplanetary_ War," which suggests warfare on Venus and Mars.
>The previous entry in "The Future History" for the "First Century AE" includes the
>following text (immediately following a reference to the Cyrano Expedition of
>"Omnilingual"):

>"Further explorations of Mars, Venus, Asteroid Belt and Moons of Jupiter.
>First Federation begins to crack under strains of colonial claims and counter-
>claims of member states."

>Here Beam seems to be foreshadowing the "revolt of colonies on Mars and
>Venus" which revolt against the _first_ Federation near the end of the First
>Century, AE (or early in the Second Century).

And,

>Understood, and I recognize how the ~Empire~ chronology contributes to this,
>but I think "The Future History" paints a pretty clear picture of the colonial revolts
>on Venus and Mars occurring much earlier as _part_of_ the Fourth World War,
>followed quickly by the formation of the "second" Federation which then goes on
>to "pacify and consolidate" those formerly rebellious colonies in short order. By
>the 174 AE/183 AE period from the ~Empire~ chronology, the (second) Federation
>has been in place and enjoying a "System-wide pax" for nearly half a century and
>is on the cusp of launching the first interstellar expedition to Alpha Centauri. . . .

In turn, I certainly understand how “The Future History” has contributed to your scenario for these events, and admit that seems to be what Piper is saying. But that document has problems; most notably a major error in the date for Four-Day Planet, which it says takes place in the “Mid-IV Century”. It does not; internal evidence indicates that the story occurs in the late Fifth Century, meaning that when Beam wrote “The Future History”, he himself was wrong by about a century and a half. And for the post-WWIV period, he glosses over the better part of the Second Century AE in just three sentences. A summary such as this is prone to errors and/or misrepresentations, due to compression—if not confusion, as Beam seems to have been for the date of 4DP. (I sometimes wonder if the errors occurred because he was in a hurry to finish the piece and send it to Peter Weston, and/or if he was being purposely vague or misleading, so as not to reveal too much about the THFH.) So “The Future History” is not a completely reliable guide, and we must be careful when applying it.
  
Apart from these concerns, however, I have a much more important reason for sticking with the timeline in Empire. It’s something I’ve known since the summer of 2000, and have only revealed to a few people. Perhaps it’s time I finally gave it to Piperdom at large.
 
The ‘key’ to the historical models for Beam’s early Future History.

Very simple yet very subtle, this key reveals Piper’s historical models for the First and Second Terran Federations (and incidentally explains why they have the same name), WWIII, WWIV, the unification of Terra, the Secession of Venus and the Freyans. In addition, the key reveals the historical model for Professor Chalmers, why the first spaceship to Mars is named the Cyrano (plus its significance for the human remains found there, as well as why one of the crew members is French-Canadian), the possible model for General Lanningham, and even explains the appearance of Lt. Ranjit Singh in Four-Day Planet.

Knowing the historical models has allowed me to analyze them, and thereby deduce previously unknown details of early Federation events. Such as what Professor Chalmers does in the years following “The Edge of the Knife”; the courses, combatants and outcomes of WWIII, WWIV and the Secession of Venus; the date Terra should be completely unified; and the approximate date of “When in the Course—”. The last also reveals the reason Freya has three continents but only one is currently inhabited, why the two uninhabited ones will soon be settled with Freyan mercenaries, and the model for the sub-sapient native kholphs.

As a minor aside, the key also works for Beam’s non-THFH tale Lone Star Planet, as well as the rise of the Free Scientists after WWII in “The Mercenaries”.

I am currently working on an overview of these findings, and hope to post it here (and on Wolf’s Piper-Worlds site) in the next few months. The historical models show that while Venus (and Mars) is involved in WWIV, the part it plays is minor compared to its Secession, which does in fact take place sixty years later (and could therefore be termed the ‘Second—or as we will see, maybe Third—Interplanetary War’, though Beam doesn’t explicitly call it that). It fights a Terra which has been completely unified for many decades. When the Second Federation is organized by South Terra, “South Africa and New Zealand, Brazil, the Argentine, etc.” are not independent countries at the time, having long been mere ‘states’ of the global union. I don’t know how John Carr and (presumably) Jerry Pournelle originally came up with them, but the key supports his/their dates for the Secession and the beginning of the Second Federation as being essentially correct. Thus revealing that it is “The Future History” which is in error, not the timeline in Empire.

I think I can promise some very interesting insights into the early history of the Federation. (Assuming, of course, that my interpretation of the historical models is accurate. That the key itself is correct I have no doubt.)

John
1926
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
11-24-2018
19:53 UT
Oh, definately, nothing against Piper for coming up with that as an element of the story - defending against a transpolar air invasion makes a great story, very 'fifteen minutes into the future'.

I've heard other writers say that the near-future stories are among the most difficult to get right, you have to balance the 'familiar enough' against the 'future cool'.
^     All messages            1926-1941 of 1941  1910-1925 >>

Print | RSS Views: 26245 (Unique: 6340 ) / Subscribers: 22 | What's this?