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Welcome to the H. Beam Piper mailing list and discussion forum. Initiated in October 2008 (after the demise of the original PIPER-L mailing list), this tool for shared communication among Piper fans provides an e-mail list and a discussion forum with on-line archives.
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^     All messages            1860-1875 of 1875  1844-1859 >>
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03:25 UT
[John Carr askes me to post the following.]

Hi Friends,

I'm working on a Paratime novel (the one that explains what happened to Verkan and Dalla at the end of "Down Styphon!") and I ran into some interesting questions:

1.) I assume, from the fact that the Paratime Police are able to limit unrestricted Paratime travel to non-police First Level inhabitants, that the Paratime Police conveyors do not have a governor, that is, are not restricted. How else could they travel to un-surveyed time-lines otherwise, such as their search for Kalvan throughout Aryan-Transpacific, Styphon's House Subsector?

We know from "Temple Trouble" that outtimers are restricted in where they can travel. I assumed that the Paratime Police Routing Department provides the companies with a route to and from the exploited time-lines. One of the Paratime Police's jobs is to keep outtimers from straying from their designated time-lines.

2.) The big question is how do the Paratime Police find or travel to these "new" time-lines? What mechanism do their conveyors use or have that the commercian conveyors do not? Certainly, Piper had them traveling all over Paratime, but omitted mentioning how? Or did I miss it?

3.) Which brings up another question, what "drive" or "force" is used to propel the conveyors from Home Time Line to other levels and sectors?

John Carr
jimmyjoejanglesPerson was signed in when posted
03:01 UT
I think its hard to miss that Null-Abc was right on. HE's talking about how kids will mostly speak in emojis and slang and not really use our language. He basically is describing our society where you get a "Quick STart Guide" that is all pictograms instead of an instruction manual. The descriptions of the schools are pretty accurate for some places when I was in High School. I think its a bit fun and a bit camp and am pretty sure that is was a collab which will always bring up the goofiness. I'm all about the audiobooks and it is available on Librivox, so check it out there for sure.
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
00:58 UT
I just bought one ticket for each. Fingers crossed! Thanks for hosting the draw, David.

I was leafing through some of the posts, and had a look at "John Espley's Annotated Piper Bibliography" mentioned in post 1860 - sure enough, in the writeup of Four Day Planet it calls it the 'weakest'. Of course, it also states the story is about labour trouble on the planet Fenris, which I'd say was a bit of a miss.

This raised the question - what story of Piper's is the weakest? I haven't read Null-ABC yet, and I've asked here if I should bother to try to track down a copy, and the consensus was 'no'.

The flip side is, there are many contenders for 'best', and not even the absolute best writer can write their best work all the time.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
00:39 UT
10th Anniversary Celebration!

Zarthani'net Piper Mailing List (and Discussion Forum) will celebrate its 10th anniversary on October 4, 2018:


In celebration of this anniversary Zarthani.net is holding a fundraising "virtual raffle." One each of the 1975 Garland hardcover editions of ~Space Viking~ and ~Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen~ will be given away as raffle "prizes." These hardover facisimiles of the respective original Ace paperback editions are both used books in very good condition.

Virtual raffle "tickets" are US$10 each, submitted via PayPal using the two buttons here:


You can purchase as many "tickets" as you want. The raffle "drawings" will be held on or shortly after October 25, 2018, so buy your raffle tickets now!



P.S. Please share this message with any Piper fans who might be interested in participating in the raffle. If someone here could also "cross-post" this message on the Yahoo Piper list that would be much appreciated.
"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
02:41 UT
Jon Crocker wrote:

> One thing I did notice on a recent re-read of Lone Star Planet,
> where Ambassador Silk was getting to the barbecue - "The
> cacophony... ...was as bad as New Year's Eve in Manhattan
> or Nairobi or New Moscow, on Terra."
> Part of me wondered, what happened to Old Moscow? And
> is Manhattan just the borough of New York, or was there
> renaming there, too?

It's difficult to know because ~Lone Star Planet~ is a stand alone work. We know there was a "Fourth World--or First Interplanetary--War" (which presumes a Third World War, and perhaps at least one more Interplanetary War) but we don't know much about these conflicts. We can make assumptions about them using what Beam told us about the World Wars in the Terro-human Future History and in the Hartley yarns but we're just guessing at that point.

Not hard to imagine, given the era Beam was writing in, that "Old Moscow" didn't survive those world wars. The interesting thing here is that "New Moscow" seems to have become a major city in the Solar League.

I'm guessing Manhattan is still just Manhattan, with the New Year's Eve celebration there being a cultural marker that Beam would expect his American readers to recognize. That assumption, of course, tells us a bit about what happened in those world wars too.


"You know how atomic energy was first used? There was an ancient nation, upon the ruins of whose cities we have built our own, which was famed for its idealistic humanitarianism. Yet that nation, treacherously attacked, created the first atomic bombs in self defense, and used them." - Kradzy Zago (H. Beam Piper), "Flight from Tomorrow"
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
02:24 UT
Jon Crocker wrote:

> I agree that "technical ability" would be a better descriptor
> than 'culture'. Unless he's making the point that technology
> is so interwoven with society?

I'm guessing the first part. The only insight we get is into Marduk and there doesn't seem to be anything particularly salient about technology in the culture there.

> I don't know how uniform any 'federation culture' would be,

This is a good point. It does seem though that there weren't any monarchies among the "Federation Member Republics." There may have been some which were more autocratic than democratic--as long as they weren't expansionist, and thereby threatening to the Federation's interstellar order--but the petty government corruption in a place Poictesme--or early Venus, for that matter--seems rather far removed from the "Planetary Nationalist" dictatorship of Viking era Aton.

Point is, there does seem to be _some_ "culture" in the Federation and it's different from what we see on Marduk and hear about on Aton.

The interesting thing here is the "space" this leaves for the "cultures" on other Viking era "civilized worlds" like Odin, Baldur and Osiris. Lots of room for variety there, given the examples of Marduk and Aton. One would guess, given the origins of the (first) Galactic Empire on Marduk and then Odin, that Odin is also a monarchy. But the other "civilized planets"? Who knows?


"There aren't a dozen and a half planets in the Old Federation that still have hyperdrive, and they're all civilized." - Otto Harkaman (H. Beam Piper), ~Space Viking~
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
02:09 UT
Jim Broshot wrote:

> https://www.fadedpage.com/showbook.php?pid=20180890

Thanks for this, Jim. Good to see Greg Weeks (along with some friends) is still doing the rest of us Piper fans this service.


"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
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
01:34 UT
You're probably okay right now if you're tapped for downloading from the Canadian site. Or if you live in, say, Arizona. If you live where it snows in the US, and it's dead of winter, well...

I agree that "technical ability" would be a better descriptor than 'culture'. Unless he's making the point that technology is so interwoven with society? I don't know how uniform any 'federation culture' would be, after all most people here-and-now can spot the differences between UK and US and Australian culture. Maybe Canadian. Probably New Zealand too. And that's just the anglosphere. Similar differences in the spanish-speaking world, too.

It's interesting the things you pick up on re-reads. One thing I did notice on a recent re-read of Lone Star Planet, where Ambassador Silk was getting to the barbecue - "The cacophony... ...was as bad as New Year's Eve in Manhattan or Nairobi or New Moscow, on Terra."

Part of me wondered, what happened to Old Moscow? And is Manhattan just the borough of New York, or was there renaming there, too?
Jim BroshotPerson was signed in when posted
14:39 UT
Another Piper work has been posted on the Canadian Faded Page site.

Fuzzy Sapiens


Again note warnings about downloading if you are not a Canadian. :)

Jim Broshot
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
16:39 UT
The culture of the Terran Federation?

Here's how Beam introduces Gilgamesh in ~Space Viking~:

"Gilgamesh was rated, with reservations, as a civilized planet though not on a level with Odin or Isis or Baldur or Marduk or Aton or any of the other worlds which had maintained the culture of the Terran Federation uninterruptedly."

Beam's conception of "the culture of the Terran Federation" seems to be focused on technological capability. He goes on immediately to write, "Perhaps Gilgamesh deserved more credit; its people had undergone two centuries of darkness and pulled themselves out of it by their bootstraps. They had recovered all the old techniques, up to and including the hyperdrive."

This emphasis upon technological capability seems to fit with Marduk being described as having "maintained the culture of the Terran Federation" because Marduk, a constitutional monarchy, seems rather different "culturally" from the bureaucratic, nominally-representative democracy which characterized the Terran Federation.

Furthermore, Aton, with a "Planetary Nationalist" government described explicitly as a dictatorship, is also considered to have "maintained the culture of the Terran Federation." Yet, putting aside the views of some radical Alliance sympathizers, the Federation could hardly have been considered a dictatorship.

If Beam--or his editors--had instead written "worlds which had maintained the _technological_capability_ of the Terran Federation uninterruptedly" would it have captured more accurately what he actually meant? Would such a description have omitted anything Beam intended when he wrote "the culture of the Terran Federation"?


". . . in one of the big hollow buildings that had stood since Khepera had been a Member Republic of the Terran Federation." - Lucas Trask (H. Beam Piper), ~Space Viking~
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03:58 UT
From the Archives: Islamic Caliphate (and Kaliphate) II

Below, another long message to the old PIPER-L mailing list from back in September 2001 (nine days before the fateful day that month):


Subject: The Islamic Caliphate
From: John Anderson
Date: Sun, 2 Sep 2001 14:16:45 -0400

Dear fellow Piper aficionados--

As the topic has been brought up, it might be a good time to reveal some of my research. For the past year, I have been working on ‘A Study of Piper’s WWIII’, though it also includes projections for WWIV and even the Mars-Venus Revolt. It’s a fairly large paper, and not quite done (I only have a few more sections to flesh out, though it will still need to be rewritten), but I believe I have some answers as to how the nuclear exchange proceeds, who survives the war to fight in WWIV, and what steps Alan Hartley thought needed to be taken ‘to stop a world war’ (I agree the Hartleys could be in the THFH). John Carr has seen the sections in serial fashion, and has generously given me plenty of positive feedback. I can start posting the sections this week (a few at a time), either beginning with ‘The Red-Menaced Middle-East’ or ‘The First Terran Federation’ sections ‘Corporate State’ and 'WWIII Survivors’. As a preliminary, here are my answers to points Steve has posted previously, which are in ‘The Islamic Caliphate’ sections of my paper. Since he’s a real historian, I will state that my slightly variegated background includes a stint as a Research Scientist for a world leader in sensor technology. I have worked on a variety of government and environmental projects using satellite imagery and Geographic Information Systems. My degree is in geography, which is closely linked with history, another longtime love of mine. So I’m no historian, but pretty good at research.
1. Turkey
My belief is that Turkey is a member of the Caliphate, or at the very least, the discussions between Khalid and the President of Turkey are concerning its joining that organization. (See ‘North Africa’ below for my explanation of the IC’s origin and extent.) Turkey is a pro-Western country, and Khalid is pro-Western as well, so they are likely friends. Also, Turkey is one of the most powerful Moslem countries, so its leader would be a logical person for Khalid to confer with closely; especially if it is in the IC, since Turkish support in the Parliament would be politically important. (The discussions with the Turkish President could then be about coordinating their positions on some question about to be debated in the Parliament.) Thus, I come to the opposite conclusions as Steve apparently does as to Turkey’s later actions. Tallal is probably also pro-Western, because he was educated in England, and he will have known the assassination of his father and destabilization of his country were Eastern-inspired. The rebellions in Damascus and elsewhere are presumably anti-Tallal and anti-Western. Turkey’s army goes on the march ‘to restore order’, therefore they are probably aiding Tallal put down the insurrections. The annexation of Syria and Lebanon certainly show the Turks are taking opportunistic advantage of the situation to reconquer these formerly Ottoman territories, but this may actually be the price Tallal must pay for their support. Tallal brings the Caliphate into the TF just before WWIII, which suggests he has gained the upper hand over the rebels, and has probably largely reunified the IC with Turkish (and other pro-Tallal elements’) help. I do agree that Khalid and Tallal are Iraqis, and the IC capital is in Basra. But I would suggest that after Khalid’s death, Tallal does not go to Iraq (or possibly Jordan) to ‘wait out the storm’. Rather, this is to secure his power-base, and rally Caliphate and international support before beginning his counterattack.

2. Afghanistan
Piper does mention the country; in ‘Operation RSVP’, the Afghan Ameer says that ‘the invasion of India’ by the USSR and China ‘would mean nothing short of the national extinction of the Kingdom of Afghanistan, and the enslavement of the Afghan people.’ (WoHBP, pg. 142) The logical deduction is that the ‘Fall of India’ to communism also involves the communizing of Afghanistan, which may support Steve’s view that it is not in the IC. As he notes, this could mean a direct ground invasion by the USSR on the way to India (which also means they invade Pakistan), and I agree that physical linkage with India is on the Soviet agenda. The Afghans would certainly put up stiff resistance; not counting the actual Soviet invasion in 1979, in the 19th Century the Afghans trounced the British a few times. Though the British repaid them in kind, the Raj was forced to be content with having Afghanistan in the British ‘sphere of influence’ (recognized as such by Russia). Piper’s Afghanistan may give the Soviets similar headaches. The country might not be a member of the IC, since I believe the ‘Fall of India’ takes place in the late 1960s/early 70s of the THFH, and becomes a major catalyst in the creation of the Caliphate in 1973. The Moslem nations can see the regional clockwise trend in the Eurasian spread of Communism (first Russia, then China, now India—the Middle East is probably next), and unite against it. And the threat would be even more immediate if the Soviets do in fact directly invade Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the Ameer and his government could flee the country when the Communists take over. If so, they would certainly take refuge in the Middle East, and could therefore participate in the creation of the Caliphate. This would make their country ‘technically’ part of the IC, giving Khalid a claim to the area.

3. Azerbaijan
I agree with those who equate the ‘Eastern-inspired uprising in Azerbaijan’ with ‘more trouble in northern Iran’. This is certainly the Iranian province the Soviets occupied after WWII. The Soviets are fomenting unrest to destabilize Iran (and by extension, the Caliphate), as a pretext to return troops to the area. This makes more sense than an independent Azerbaijan, because Beam’s USSR and Iran were probably the same as ours. In any case, I don't think Steve’s statement ‘Khalid meanwhile peels Azerbaijan away from the Soviets’ is credible. The IC cannot possibly take a bite out of a big superpower without a major war, which would probably result in the breakup of the fledgling Caliphate. It’s like saying Mexico (or better, a Latin American coalition) could take New Mexico from the US without any consequences or conflict.

4. North Africa
North Africa is also most likely part of the Caliphate. Circumstantial evidence includes the Egyptian who kills Khalid, and the ‘Ankara to Alexandria, Alexandria to Dakar’ (WoHBP, pg. 96) route Benson takes home from WWIII. But this is also because the most likely origin of the IC is the Arab League, which was set up after WWII, and includes North Africa and the Arab Middle East. I envision Khalid as the Arab League leader (they have a Secretary-General like the UN, which may be why Khalid is never called ‘Caliph’) who persuades the non-Arab nations to join with the existing membership in a new pan-Islamic organization. ‘Islamic’ Caliphate suggests the entire non-communist Moslem world, probably with aspirations on the communist-ruled Moslem areas in the Caucasus and Central Asia. This would then match the other power-blocs in ‘The Mercenaries’, which also control large regions. The Western Union contains the US/Canada, Western Europe, and Japan (possibly even Australia and New Zealand), the Ibero-American Confederation is all Latin America, and the Fourth Komintern is the entire communist bloc. A Caliphate only including the Middle Eastern nations does not ‘fit’ this system. Also, a ‘Power-Bloc Period’ of large regional groupings seems the logical intermediate step between the ‘Nation-State Era’ of previous world wars and the ‘Unified Planet’ of Piper’s later Terra. Moreover, WWIV destroys the entire Northern Hemisphere. Assuming the Caliphate survives WWIII (see ‘Israel’, below), then North Africa is destroyed in WWIV, therefore it is probably part of the IC. If Piper is thinking of history in a cyclical sense, think back to Islam’s beginnings. In the reunification of the entire Moslem world, Islam would come full circle. It is probably not too hard for Khalid to get the non-Arab nations to agree to join with the Arab ones, since these include Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia, which are all ‘front line’ nations in Asia under direct threat from expansionist Communism. Most of these nations were/are members of NATO, CENTO, SEATO, and the Baghdad Pact, anti-Communist defense leagues set up by the US after WWII to ‘contain’ the Soviet Bloc. I propose that the IC is a unification of the Arab League countries with those in the Baghdad Pact; this would explain why Iraq is the ‘linchpin’ of the IC, since it was the only member of both organizations. It could also explain why Piper was vague about Afghanistan and Indonesia, as they are the only two nations belonging to neither group.

5. The Subcontinent
I agree that the Indian Communist invasion of Bangladesh is part of its strategy to rule the entire Subcontinent. It may also be to forestall a two-front war with the Caliphate, which is inevitable if Bangladesh is still part of Pakistan, but may be too an opportunistic move taking advantage of the IC’s internal unrest. The Sikhs likely leave during or directly after India’s Revolution, since revolutions always cause refugee problems. The Sikhs are in NW India, and so probably go to Pakistan; other refugees (including devout Hindus and Moslems fleeing 'godless' communism) also end up in neighboring countries, including Bangladesh, Ceylon, and Burma. Not to Nepal and Bhutan if they can help it, for with India communist, these countries are caught between Hindu-hammer and Sino-anvil; they will not long remain free. This may be part of India’s excuse to invade Bangladesh, for among the refugee camps, Indian guerilla groups probably form, and make strikes across the border. The reason India’s invasion activates the alliance systems (TF versus Eastern Axis), similar to WWI, is because this is an overt act of war, unlike the previous ‘covert’ attempts to destabilize the Caliphate. But why does the Eastern Axis strike at this time? I have an answer, which I will post another time.

6. Israel
I agree that they are probably ‘waiting out the storm’, though also being pro-Western they might lend some covert aid to Tallal and the Turks (with whom Israel has always had pretty good relations). There is also evidence Israel continues far into the future. In ‘Crisis in 2140’, Piper mentions that ‘the Arab-Israeli dispute has been finally, definitely, and satisfactorily settled. This morning’s reports from Baghdad and Tel Avivů’ (Crisis, pg. 9). It is significant that Piper does not say ‘Damascus’, ‘Amman’, or ‘Cairo’. His use of Baghdad, which is not far from Basra, suggests the Caliphate exists in that story, and thus survives WWIII, as does Israel, which remains independent of it. Contrary to ‘Crisis’, however, we can presume they both go down in WWIV.

7. Indonesia
And contrary to what has been posted, I see no reference to Indonesia being part of the Eastern Axis in ‘Hunter Patrol’. There are mentions of Hindu troops and the Hindi language, which of course means India. Beam is unclear on Indonesia’s fate, so it could go either way (unless someone can give me a direct quote from a Piper story). My own feeling is that the ‘Indonesian campaign of ’62 and ‘63’ is a successful suppression of a communist insurgency. That’s because Blake Hartley is likely President at the time (Allan says, ‘In 1960, I think we can elect you President’), and we know the Hartleys will follow strong policies. Also, the successful spread of communism in Piper’s time was almost entirely land-based. Indonesia is an archipelago; the dominance of the US Navy could interdict arms shipments to the rebels, strangling the insurgency. The Soviets would likely veto any resolution for UN action; therefore the campaign is by the US and Indonesian government, probably supported by America's SEATO allies. (The only exception to the ‘mainland expansion’ rule is Cuba, whose revolution could probably have been reversed. Though the Soviets had threatened to use their missiles if the US invaded, Kennedy knew the ‘Missile Gap’ was illusory. Had he been more courageous, Cuba would probably not be communist today. Indeed, I remember reading the Soviets were amazed that we didn’t follow up the Cuban Exiles’ invasion with a full-fledged US one, as they themselves would have done in our place.)

--John Anderson


John's original message is available here:


Like Steve Newton's previous post, John's message also sparked a wide-ranging follow-on discussion. Still seemed to be some conflation here of the "Islamic Caliphate" of the Terro-human Future History and the Islamic Kaliphate of the "Hartley yarns"--many of us were doing that back then--but interesting work nonetheless.


"I was trying to show the results of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War, and the partition of the Middle East into a loose collection of Arab states, and the passing of British and other European spheres of influence following the Second." - Edward Chalmers (H. Beam Piper), "The Edge of the Knife"
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
16:17 UT
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David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
18:17 UT
From the Archives: Islamic Caliphate (and Kaliphate)

Below, a long message to the old PIPER-L mailing list from back in August 1997:


Subject: Caliphate
From: Steve Newton
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 00:30:18 EDT

Depending on the response this gets, I'll actually start trying to make some
of it into a coherent narrative.

Gleanings about the Caliphate and Middle East affairs in general:

(All citations are from the ACE paperback editions)

From "The Mercenaries":

p. 30
In 1965 the Caliphate's Moon program is known as the Al-Borak Undertaking

p. 35
"Heym ben-Hillel, the Israeli quantum and wave-mechanics man. . . ."

pp. 35-36
Mentions of treachery in the Islamic Caliphate in general, social unrest in
Basra, and begging in the streets in Istanbul

p. 218
"he gave Melroy the impression of having recently seen military service;
probably in the Indonesian campaign of '62 and '63. . . ."

From "Day of the Moron":

p. 205
"I was with the Armed Forces Medical, Psychiatric Division, in Indonesia in
'62 and '63. . . ."

p. 218
"he gave Melroy the impression of having recently seen military service;
probably in the Indonesian campaign of '62 and '63. . . ."

From "The Edge of the Knife":

p. 13
Khalid ib'n Hussein assassination in mid-November 1973
    "In 1973, at Basra. . . . He was shot, while leaving the Parliament
Building, by an Egyptian named Mohammed Noureed, with an old U. S. Army M43
submachine gun. Noureed killed two of Khalid's guards and wounded another
before he was overpowered. He was lynched on the spot by the crowd; stoned
to death. Ostensibly, he and his accomplices were religious fanatics;
however, there can be no doubt that the murder was inspired, at least
indirectly, by the Eastern Axis."

p. 14
Just prior to his assassination, Khalid had been in Ankara, talking with the
President of Turkey and had apparently just returned from those deliberations
to talk to the Parliament

pp. 16-17
"Assassination of Khalid ib'n Hussein, the pro-Western leader of the newly
formed Islamic Caliphate; period of anarchy in the Middle East; international
power-struggles; Turkish intervention. He wondered how long that would last;
Khalid's son, Tallal ib'n Khalid, was at school in England when his father
was . . . killed. He would return, and eventually take his father's place,
in time to bring the Caliphate into the Terran Federation when the general
war came. There were some notes on that already; the war would result from
an attempt by the Indian Communists to seize Bangladesh. . . ."

p. 30
"Khalid's death was necessary to the policies of the Eastern Axis. . . .
would hasten the complete dissolution of the old U. N., already weakened by
the crisis over the Eastern demands for the demilitarization and
internationalization of the United States Lunar Base, and necessitate the
transformation of the Terran Federation, and how it would lead, eventually,
to the Thirty Days' War."

p. 30
Khalid as "the greatest Moslem since Saladin" "a wonderful man and a fine
scholar" who had at least an interest in Byzantine history

p. 36
"The Turkish army would move in and try to restore order. There would be
more trouble in northern Iran, the Indians would invade Bangladesh, and then
the general war. . . ."

p. 37
"Basra, Where Khalid ib'n Hussein was assassinated early this morning-early
morning-early afternoon, local time."

p. 48
"All about the revolt at Damascus, and the sack of Beirut, and the war
between Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and how the Turkish army intervened, and the
invasion of Pakistan. . . ."

p. 54
"I was trying to show the results of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after
the First World War, and the partition of the Middle East into a loose
collection of Arab states, and the passing of British and other European
spheres of influence following the Second. You know, when you consider it,
the Islamic Caliphate was inevitable; the surprising thing is that it was
created by a man like Khalid. . . ."

p. 54
"The period of anarchy following Khalid's death would be much briefer, and
much more violent, than he had previously thought. Tallal ib'n Khalid would
be flying from England even now; perhaps he had already left the plane to
take refuge among the black tents of his father's Bedouin. The revolt at
Damascus would break out before the end of the month; before the end of the
year, the whole of Syria and Lebanon would be in bloody chaos, and the
Turkish army would be on the march."

pp. 55-56
"There would be an Eastern-inspired uprising in Azerbaijan by the middle of
the next year; before autumn, the Indian Communists would make their fatal
attempt; the Thirty Days' War would be the immediate result. . . ."

p. 59
"And you remember what I told you about the Turks annexing Syria and
Lebanon?" Immediate precursor of the 30 days war


Composition of the Caliphate:

    Confirmed membership in the Caliphate includes the following countries:
Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,
and Syria. The mentions of Saudi Arabia almost certainly subsume the various
lesser emirates along the Persian Gulf Coast, which have traditionally
followed the Saudi line in foreign policy.
    Turkey was most probably not a member of the Caliphate. Piper tells us
that the Caliphate had a parliament, and that Khalid was returning from talks
with the President of Turkey to the parliament, from which I infer that the
Turks were not represented in the parliament. A counterargument can be made
the other way, that Khalid was engaging in direct diplomacy with the head of
state rather than parliamentary representatives, but I think that is the
weaker of the two possibilities, especially given Turkey later actions.
Regardless of Turkey's formal membership or non-membership it is evident that
there was something of a crisis going on between the Caliphate at large and
    Outlining the Caliphate on a map you quickly notice that Afghanistan
sticks out like a sore thumb. I would guess that Piper's omission of the
Afghanis is intentional, and that he didn't see them being brought into the
    Azerbijan is obviously an independent country that belongs to the
Caliphate; otherwise the comments about the Eastern Axis manipulating an
uprising there make no sense. If Azerbaijan still belonged to the Soviet
Union there would be no reason (A) for a pro-Soviet demonstration or (B) for
such a demonstration to in any way heighten tensions within the
disintegrating Caliphate. The mention of Azerbaijan does raise the question
about other, unmentioned, Soviet "Muslim" republics and whether or not they
had broken away. At this point I would say no.
    A most interesting feature of the Caliphate membership is the fact that
Piper does not mention (in any context) Egypt, Libya, Algeria, or Morocco. I
am 99.99% certain this was intentional on his part. It is evident throughout
"Edge" that Piper was an accomplished student of Islamic history, and that he
has created a Caliphate that is centered around the region of the old Sefavid
Persian Empire of the 14th-16th Centuries. The interesting aspect here is
that the Sefavids had two main enemies in the world: the Turkish-based
Ottoman Empire (which included the North African Muslim states) and Moghul
India. History continually cycled for Piper, and I find the parallel with
the modern Islamic Caliphate caught between an obvious militaristic Turkey
and a Communist India to be an excellent fit. I think the North African
states were trying to stay the hell away from the conflict.

Internal tensions within the Caliphate:

    Piper picks up several traditional Middle East tensions as the Caliphate
dissolves into chaos, and his selections of quarrels are not random. They
fall into five major categories: (A) Turkish annexation of Lebanon and
Syria; (B) Saudi-Jordanian war; (C) uprisings/unrest in Syria, Azerbaijan,
and northern Iran; (D) Indian invasion of Bangladesh; and (E) invasion of
Pakistan (by parties unnamed). Frankly, in a very economical fashion, Piper
manages to create a tapestry of great complexity and sophistication that
eerily mirrors the modern Middle East in our own timeline. Consider. . . .
    Turkish expansion down the Med Coast through Lebanon would follow one of
the traditional expansion routes of the Ottoman Empire, but Lebanon has
generally fallen into Syria's sphere of influence. Thus Damascus could be
expected to oppose this and to covet an expansion toward Beirut as well.
(How many times have we seen the Syrians occupy Lebanon?). The only
important traditional element missing with regard to Turkey is any mention of
the Kurds, but that's easily explainable. The Turks have never been
interested in controlling the entire Kurdish region per se; they have
followed a more ominous policy of cultural eradication, which is easier as
long as the Kurds remain fragmented between Turkey and Iraq. Moreover, as I
will suggest below, Iraq was probably the seat of Khalid's power, and I don't
think the Turks were ready to bite that nut.
    The Wadfists of Saudi Arabia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan have
been at odds for the length of their existence. Piper would have been well
aware, for example, that there were several occasions in the 1920s when the
two countries nearly went to war (interestingly enough, once over Shareef
Husain ib'n Ali's pronouncement of a new Caliphate).
    Uprisings/unrest: In Syria the revolt in Damascus could reasonably be
either a military coup by officers unhappy with the Caliphate's proposed
policy toward Turkey or a power struggle between the Arab majority and the
Allawhyte minority that has often controlled the government. Whatever
happened in Azerbaijan was obviously Soviet-inspired, while northern Iran is
the traditional hotbed of fundamentalism. Piper lets us know that there are
religious fanatics within the Caliphate opposed to Khalid; northern Iran
would be the place you'd expect to find them.
    India's invasion of Bangladesh would be a completely predictable result
from the melding of traditional Indian claims to the entire sub-continent
with a Communist take-over.
    The invasion of Pakistan is more difficult because Piper never directly
tells us who invaded. My guess here is that it wasn't India, just from the
way he structures the reference, and because the Indian Communists would not
have wanted a two-front war if they could have avoided it. More than likely
Pakistan was invaded by the Soviets, seeking a direct outlet into the Indian
Ocean and a consolidation of their southwest Asian position. (This, as an
aside, would almost inevitably require the Soviets to violate Afghani
    Missing in all of this is any mention of Israel. Why? Most Islam
specialists would probably argue that Piper got it exactly right by making
internal Moslem differences central to his story rather than focusing on
Israel. In fact, the only way we can even be relatively sure Israel still
exists is from the designation of one of the McLeod Team's scientists as an
"Israeli." For now, the best I can offer is that Israel appears to have its
head down to wait out the storm (I'll suggest a few possibilities under

Khalid ib'n Hussein

    What does Piper tell us about the greatest Arab since Saladin? He is
pro-Western, personally quite popular, and has taken pains to both educate
and safeguard his son. His background is Bedouin and his religion
(undoubtedly) is Sunni rather than Shi'a.
    Khalid, I think, is an Iraqi. Aside from the fact that the Caliphate's
center of gravity appears to be Basra, Iraq is the only segment of the
Caliphate that does not go directly into convulsions on his death. There are
no uprisings and no invasions. Khalid's son comes home and takes his
followers into the wasteland to wait out the storm, a refuge from which he
later emerges to lead the battered Caliphate into the Federation.

Timeline following Khalid's death

    Ignoring the mistake on p. 29 of "Edge" that moves Professor Chalmers'
prediction back to April 1973, it is clear that Khalid ib'n Hussein is
assassinated sometime between 15-20 November 1973. The Damascus Revolt takes
place within days (prior to the end of November) and the Syrian incursion
into Lebanon occurs in December, with the Turks intervening right at the end
of the year. Turkey takes several months to defeat the Syrians and annex
Lebanon/Syria (Piper doesn't tell us exactly how long, but Chalmers' comment
at the end of "Edge" suggests that it happens right before the blow-up). The
Eastern-sponsored Azerbaijani uprising takes place in early summer (let's
say, June 1974) and the Indian invasion of Bangladesh is "before
autumn"-probably mid- to late August.
    The Thirty Days' War, by context, kicks off in early September 1974.

Extensions (here's where I indulge myself in some wild guesswork):

    Piper talks about European influence over the Middle East evaporating
pretty quickly after World War Two, which must have taken place much more
rapidly than in our timeline. Why? My best guess would be that Blake
Hartley's commitment to nuclear power for the US in such a big way seriously
cuts into oil revenues, which creates a major crisis in and around the
Persian Gulf. Around the same time King Saud died (he was dead before Piper
wrote "Edge") and the mantle of leadership, such as it was in the Arab world,
was briefly up for grabs.
    Enter Khalid ib'n Hussein. I don't think Piper picked his name out of a
hat. Many histories of the period spelled the name of the man who declared
himself Caliph in the 1920's as "Hussein" and not "Husain," and good old
Shareef had connections in both Jordan and Iraq. It is not too great a
stretch to see a Western-educated Khalid as a relative of this family and as
a man who appreciates the idea of dusting off the old Caliphate nomenclature
for his version of an Arab Union. (This also truly annoys the Shi'a
fundamentalists in Iran, who would consider such an act blasphemous.)
    What would Khalid want? Simply put, to create a world-class power bloc
that brings Dar al Islam to the bargaining power as an equal player. I think
we can also assume that he is anti-Communist.
    What is his strategy for building the Caliphate?
    First, he needs US support. I think the clearest evidence that he got it
is found in the fact that the US (not Great Britain) takes an active role in
the suppression of what is undoubtedly a Communist-backed insurrection in
Indonesia in 1962-1963. (Note that Hartley wouldn't necessarily have had to
be president to influence US policy here, perhaps at this point still Senator
from Pennsylvania.) Not part of the Caliphate, the world's largest Moslem
nation would still have figured into Khalid's plans. Okay, if we assume that
Khalid and Hartley are seeing eye to eye, how did this happen?
    My best guess here is that Khalid keeps the heat off of Israel. Not much
else explains why Israel is such a non-player in the upswing toward the 30
Days' War.
    Khalid meanwhile peels Azerbaijan away from the Soviets and gets
Bangladesh into the organization, which makes India much more paranoid.
(India would have drifted into Communism sometime in the early 1950's.) This
makes the Caliphate a prime target for the Eastern Axis.
    Then Turkey. Turkey sits at a beautiful strategic location between the
Western Union, Eastern Axis, and Caliphate, ready to pursue the main chance,
but definitely interested in annexing Lebanon-Syria. My guess is that the
East would love to see Turkey gobble up a country or two in order to
de-stabilize the Caliphate, while the West and Khalid would be struggling to
avoid that. (Piper's mention of Turkey in Allan Hartley's original timeline
in "Time and Time Again" suggests strongly that he considered the country a
key focal point in world affairs.) So Khalid is attempting to forestall
Turkey with personal diplomacy, but probably not taking as hard a line as the
Syrians felt was appropriate. He's keeping the Syrians in line by force of
personality and personal power, but when he's waxed, that all goes out the
    Meanwhile, the Soviets have developed a two-pronged plan to take
advantage of the chaos. Part one-instigate an uprising in Azerbaijan to
provide a pretext for going back in; and Part Two, invade Pakistan to
consolidate the physical linkage between India, the USSR, and China (remember
again that when Piper wrote this, there was no Sino-Soviet rift apparently in
the cards.)
    The wild card is the invasion of Bangladesh by India, which Piper
repeatedly tells us was the proximate cause of the 30 Days' War. I am going
to assume that the Indian action was a spontaneous move and not part of the
Soviet master plan. I will further assume that Bangladesh (isolated from the
rest of the Caliphate) may have enjoyed some treaty protection specifically
from the Western Union if not the US. Remember that the 30 Days' War starts
with the East hitting US lunar re-supply launching sites as well as city
targets, not with a Western military response to anything we've already
covered. If I'm right, and Piper was recreating the same sort of "Iron Dice"
situation that ignited World War One, then the Soviets realized that the
Indian invasion of Bangladesh was somehow going to bring on American
intervention, and decided that they had to strike with their do-or-die
attempt to eliminate the US lunar missile threat before it could be used
against them.

    Thus my very very speculative chronology for the period leading up to the
30 Days' War runs like this:

c. 1952: India goes Communist.

c. 1955: Khalid begins formation of the Islamic Caliphate with initial
membership of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran (and perhaps Pakistan/Bangladesh).

1962-1963: US (and Western Union) intervene against Eastern-inspired
insurrection in Indonesia.

c. 1965: Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan drawn into the Caliphate

c. 1968: Khalid manages to pry Azerbaijan loose from the Soviet Union.

mid-1973: Turkish crisis with Caliphate breaks out

October 1973: Khalid begins personal diplomacy with Ankara

November 1973: Khalid assassinated; military coup in Damascus.

December 1973: Syria invades Lebanon to "protect" it from Turkey; Turkey

Early 1974: Fundamentalist uprisings in northern Iran; tensions mount
between Jordan and Saudi Arabia leading to a border war in late April

June 1974: Azerbaijani uprising; Soviet invasion of Pakistan through

August 1974: Indian invasion of Bangladesh

September 1974: Eastern Axis missile attacks on US kicks off 30 Days' War

Steve Newton


Steve's original message is available here:


With a decade-and-a-half-plus of additional reflection, it doesn't seem like the Islamic Caliphate of "Edge of the Knife" (a Terro-human Future History yarn) and the Islamic Kaliphate of "The Mercenaries" (a Hartley yarn) are the same things (just as the "Western Union" of "The Mercenaries" is different from the US-led first "Terran Federation") but this was excellent work by Steve nonetheless--which prompted a wide-ranging follow-on discussion too--from a time when much of Beam's work was not yet available in public domain, electronically-searchable text.


"I was trying to show the results of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War, and the partition of the Middle East into a loose collection of Arab states, and the passing of British and other European spheres of influence following the Second." - Edward Chalmers (H. Beam Piper), "The Edge of the Knife"
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
15:47 UT
Jim Broshot wrote:

> Dearest

This has been available at Project Gutenberg since Greg Weeks and his team put up so much of Beam's work there in the early-mid Oughts:


> Down Styphon!
> Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen

These are new! Interesting that they've been found to be in the public domain in Canada. Not sure what that means for Project Gutenberg in the U.S. Also interesting that they don't (yet?) have "Gunpowder God." Perhaps it's just a matter of volunteer time-and-effort; maybe we'll see it in the future.

> The caveat posted is "These books are public domain in
> Canada (because we follow the Canadian copyright laws),
> but if you are in another country, you should satisfy yourself
> that you are not breaking the copyright laws of your own
> country by downloading them."

Good advice worth repeating.

Thanks for pointing us to this, Jim! (And thanks to Al Haines and his team for making these available.)

Down Styphon!

"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~
Jim BroshotPerson was signed in when posted
07:05 UT
FWIW, I discovered that a Canadian site, fadedpage.com, which is posting works no longer under copyright in Canada, has three of Piper's available


Down Styphon!

Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen

The caveat posted is "These books are public domain in Canada (because we follow the Canadian copyright laws), but if you are in another country, you should satisfy yourself that you are not breaking the copyright laws of your own country by downloading them."
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
03:37 UT
John Espley's Annotated Piper Bibliography

This is interesting:


Espley describes ~Four-Day Planet~ as "the weakest of Piper's stories" which seems odd (and unfortunate). He also offers some remarkable spoilers, particularly for yarns like "Crossroads of Destiny" and "The Return" (especially given that he's commenting on the ~Astounding~ edition rather than the ~Holmes~ anthology edition).

There is an intriguing end note which refers to a personal letter Espley apparently received--or had access to--from Bill Tuning, but I can't seem to find the reference in the body of the bibliography.

Nice to see this at the Internet Archive.


"Do you know which books to study, and which ones not to bother with? Or which ones to read first, so that what you read in the others will be comprehensible to you? That's what they'll give you [at university]. The tools, which you don't have now, for educating yourself." - Bish Ware (H. Beam Piper), ~Four-Day Planet~
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