H. Beam Piper

H. Beam Piper

No one really knows what H. Beam Piper’s “H.” stands for: he signed a book to his cousin as “Henry,” and that is what his gravestone reads, but other sources list his name as Horace or Herbert. But isn’t “Beam” a great name for a science fiction writer?

Born in 1904, Piper worked at the rail yards in Altoona, PA. Turning the usual stereotype about writers on its ear, his day job was writer, as for many years his regular employment was as a night watchman.

He didn’t make his first sale until 1946 and was known as a writer of short stories for another decade, with one novel, Uller Uprising, in the mix. Between 1957 and 1964, though, he turned out nine novels, as well as the classic short story “Omnilingual,” which has been repeatedly reprinted since. He wrote seven novels and stories enough for two collections (Federation and Empire) in his Terro-Human future history series.

Piper was a self-taught student of history, and it shows in a number of his works. Uller Uprising, for instance, is a science fiction update of the Sepoy Rebellion (India, 1857), and Space Viking explicitly takes the Norsemen out of their longboats and puts them into starships, and into the middle of a traditional space opera that is practically Wagnerian. It has to be noted, though, that his thinking also reflects the day that he was raised in: in many of his books he sees only humans, born to rule, and lesser races.

His Paratime stories, in which a human species from a parallel universe more advanced than ours finds the secret of moving between all the parallel universes, also draws on his historical knowledge: Paratime operators routinely go to universes less advanced than their own, many of the universes representing periods of our own history. The best known, Lord Kalvin of Otherwhen, takes a 20th century policeman and moves him back to cope in a world of 1600’s technology, politics, and military science, all the time watched by the more advanced humans from the “home” timeline.

Along with history, he was fascinated by the field of semantics, the study of meaning. Semantic issues underlie “Omnilingual,” in which Terran scientists attempt to decipher a dead alien language (and succeed when they find a basic text on chemistry), and one of his best books, Little Fuzzy, in which the Terrans must decide whether an alien species resembling Teddy Bears is sapient.

Piper was also an avid gun collector, and around November 6th, 1964, in what most people assume to be a deep depression about his career and broken marriage, used one of his pistols on himself. He was not found until several days later, and so his exact date of death is as unknown as his first name. But Piper’s work has continued on, guarded and authorized by his biographer, John F. Carr, who has continued the Lord Kalvin story line through five more novels (with a sixth planned for 2016) and authorized books in the Terro-Human future history series. Harry Turtledove’s YA series starting with Gunpowder Empire is also an homage to the Paratime stories, and John Scalzi has “rebooted” Little Fuzzy, telling the old story in a new way. Piper’s Lone Star Planet, in which government office holders are fair targets for well-armed constituents with a beef about their performance, retroactively won a Prometheus award for best libertarian novel in 1999.

Many of Piper’s works are available for free download at Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org

Dave D'Alesio
Dave D’Alessio is an ex-industrial chemist, ex-TV engineer, and ex-award winning animator currently masquerading as a practicing social scientist. Along with his short fiction, he is the author of the infamous space light opera HMS Thutmose XLI, which, if all the gods grant our wishes, will never see the light of day.
  • Space Viking
  • Fuzzies


Collaborations with other authors.

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From Wikipedia

H. Beam Piper
H. Beam Piper
Born Henry Beam Piper
(1904-03-23)March 23, 1904
United States
Died c. November 6, 1964(1964-11-06) (aged 60)
Williamsport, Pennsylvania, United States
Pen name Horace Beam Piper, Herbert Beam Piper
Occupation Novelist
Nationality United States
Period 20th century
Genre Science fiction, alternate history

Henry Beam Piper (March 23, 1904 – c. November 6, 1964) was an American science fiction author. He wrote many short stories and several novels. He is best known for his extensive Terro-Human Future History series of stories and a shorter series of "Paratime" alternate history tales.

He wrote under the name H. Beam Piper. Another source gives his name as "Horace Beam Piper" and a different date of death.[1] His gravestone says "Henry Beam Piper". Piper himself may have been the source of part of the confusion; he told people the H stood for Horace, encouraging the assumption that he used the initial because he disliked his name. On a copy of "Little Fuzzy" given to Charles O. Piper, Beam's cousin and executor, he wrote "To Charles from Henry."


Piper was largely self-educated; he obtained his knowledge of science and history "without subjecting myself to the ridiculous misery of four years in the uncomfortable confines of a raccoon coat." He went to work at age 18 as a laborer at the Pennsylvania Railroad's Altoona yards in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He also worked as a night watchman for the railroad.

Piper published his first short story, "Time and Time Again", in 1947 in Astounding Science Fiction; it was adapted for the radio program Dimension X and first broadcast in 1951, and was re-produced for X Minus One in 1956. He was primarily a short story author until 1961, when he made a productive, if short-lived, foray into novels. He collected guns and wrote one mystery, Murder in the Gunroom.

In 1964, his career apparently on the skids, and prevented by reticence and his Libertarian principles from asking anyone to assist him with his financial difficulties, Piper committed suicide.[2][3] The exact date of his death is unknown; the last entry in his diary was dated November 5 ("Rain 0930"), and the date his body was found is reported as November 9 or November 11 by various sources. According to Jerry Pournelle's introduction to Little Fuzzy, Piper shut off all the utilities to his apartment, put painter's drop-cloths over the walls and floor, and took his own life with a handgun from his collection. In his suicide note, he gave an explanation that "I don't like to leave messes when I go away, but if I could have cleaned up any of this mess, I wouldn't be going away. H. Beam Piper'".[citation needed]

Some biographers attribute his act to financial problems, others to family problems; Pournelle wrote that Piper felt burdened by financial hardships in the wake of a divorce, and the mistaken perception that his career was foundering (his agent had died without notifying him of multiple sales). Editor George H. Scithers, who knew Piper socially, has stated that Piper wanted to spite the ex-wife he despised: by killing himself, Piper voided his life insurance policy, and prevented her from collecting.

An unpublished story, "Only the Arquebus", has gone missing since his suicide; it is probable that he destroyed it along with many of his personal papers.

His output was eventually purchased by Ace Science Fiction and reprinted in a set of paperbacks in the early 1980s. Many of these have since gone out of print, though his two best-known arcs were again reprinted by Ace in 1998 and 2001. Late in his career, Piper corresponded with Pournelle, who was the Ace editor who helped reprint some of his novels.

Many of his earlier copyrights have been allowed to lapse, permitting Project Gutenberg to distribute his work online.

Themes and hallmarks

Piper's stories fall into two camps: stark space opera, such as Space Viking, or stories of cultural conflict or misunderstanding, such as Little Fuzzy or the Paratime stories.

A running theme in his work is that history repeats itself; past events will have direct and clear analogues in the future. The novel Uller Uprising is the clearest example of this, being based on the Sepoy Mutiny. A similarly clear example is the very name of Space Viking; although that novel is not a direct reinterpretation of a specific historical precedent, a later theme in the book involves the takeover of a planet in a manner reminiscent of the rise of Adolf Hitler.

Piper's characterization was rooted in the notion of the self-reliant man: a man able to take care of himself and both willing and able to tackle any situation which might arise. This is perfectly exemplified in a bit of dialogue found in his short story "Oomphel in the Sky" (1960):

He actually knows what has to be done and how to do it, and he's going right ahead and doing it, without holding a dozen conferences and round-table discussions and giving everybody a fair and equal chance to foul things up for him.

As a result, his yarns tend towards the heroic, and the conflict is usually driven externally.[citation needed]

Piper was interested in general semantics. It is explicitly mentioned in Murder in the Gunroom, and its principles, such as awareness of the limitations of knowledge, are apparent in his later work.

Influence on other works

Elizabeth Bear has described her novel Undertow as "Little Fuzzy meets The Italian Job".[4]

John Scalzi published a re-telling of Little Fuzzy, entitled Fuzzy Nation.

Major storylines

Terro-Human Future History

The Terro-Human Future History is Piper's detailed account of the next 6,000 years of human history. 1942, the year the first fission reactor was constructed, is defined as the year 1 A.E. (Atomic Era). In 1973, a nuclear war devastates the planet, eventually laying the groundwork for the emergence of a Terran Federation, once humanity goes into space and develops antigravity technology.

The story "The Edge of the Knife" (collected in Empire) occurs slightly before the war, and involves a man who sees flashes of the future. It links many key elements of Piper's series.

Most of the stories take place during the next millennium, during the age of the two Federations. Most notable among these novels are the three Fuzzy novels (starting with Little Fuzzy), which concern the recognition of a peculiar alien species as sapient, and the efforts of the two species to learn to live together on the Fuzzies' home world of Zarathustra.

The Federation collapses in the System States War and following Interstellar Wars (a bit of which can be seen in The Cosmic Computer), leading to a lengthy interregnum, during which there is no central human power. Space Viking is set in this chaotic period.

The interregnum ends with the founding of the first Empire. At least five empires rule humanity during the next four thousand years, but only a handful of short stories (collected in Empire) depict this period. Piper generally portrays these empires as benign, ruled by enlightened despots.

Piper's future history resembles in some ways Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, and was probably influenced by it, especially since both authors wrote for John W. Campbell.


A much shorter series of alternate history stories is Piper's Paratime sequence, collected in Paratime, followed by the novel Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen. These stories concern the Paratime Police, a law enforcement outfit from a parallel world which has learned how to move between timelines. They jealously guard the secret, even as they mine other worlds for their resources. Notably, it appears that humans are in fact Martian refugees who escaped a calamity on their home planet and migrated to Earth.

Unlike many alternate histories, these stories tend to focus on points of divergence far back in the past. For instance, Lord Kalvan involves a police officer who is accidentally transported to a world where the ancestors of modern Europeans failed to move into Europe. Instead, the nomadic tribes migrated across Asia and into North America. The people living on the eastern coast of North America in this novel settled the area from the west, and still live in a medieval society.

Many readers point towards the short story "Genesis" (anthologized in The Worlds of H. Beam Piper) to suggest that the Terro-Human Future History universe is in fact an alternate world in the Paratime universe, where the Martians' escape from Mars resulted in their forgetting their heritage and having to start over. However, in several letters to friends and in an article published in a fan magazine, Piper himself listed the true Paratime stories, and he never identified "Genesis" as one. On the other hand, "He Walked Around The Horses" is referenced in "Police Operation" so that is a sidebar story to the series.

By the same token, in spite of Piper's lack of explicit stipulation, "Omnilingual" (1957) — which concerns a near-future scientific expedition to Mars under the aegis of an international Earth government — may also be a Paratime story. The scientists and scholars involved in this effort are found in medias res excavating the ruins of the advanced human civilization which had been gradually destroyed on the fourth planet some 50,000 years before. It should be noted that in "Omnilingual" there is no mention of the northern hemisphere's thermonuclear devastation as a result of the NATO/Communist "cold war" kindled into an orgy of extermination by the impact of an antimatter meteorite, which was detailed by Piper in his story "The Answer" (1959). Throughout the Terro-Human Future History, that conflict and the destruction wrought across the nations of the First and Second Worlds is pervasive as an explanation of the precise manner in which the home planet's culture (by way of South America, Australia, and South Africa in particular) comes to influence the planets of Piper's Federation and Empire.

Published works

Terro-Human Future History

Federation series

Fuzzy series

  1. Little Fuzzy (1962) ISBN 0-441-48498-0,
  2. Fuzzy Sapiens (1964, originally The Other Human Race) ISBN 0-441-26196-5
  3. Fuzzies and Other People (1984) ISBN 0-441-26176-0


  • The Complete Fuzzy (1998) ISBN 0-441-00581-0 (pbk.)--collecting Little Fuzzy, Fuzzy Sapiens, and Fuzzies and other People.
  • The Fuzzy Papers (September 1980) ISBN 0-441-26193-0 (pbk.) --collecting Little Fuzzy and Fuzzy Sapiens.
  • The Fuzzy Papers (?) ISBN ? (hdbk.)--collecting Little Fuzzy and Fuzzy Sapiens.


Other novels

Lone Star Planet was originally published in the March 1957 issue of Fantastic Universe
  • Murder in the Gunroom (1953, not science fiction but rather a murder mystery) ISBN 1-882968-02-6
  • Crisis In 2140 (1957, with John J. McGuire, half of Ace Double D-227). This was first serialized in Astounding Science Fiction as Null-ABC, copyright 1953.
  • Lone Star Planet (1958, originally A Planet for Texans) with John J. McGuire ISBN 0-441-24892-6. The work is a clear and obvious tribute to H.L. Mencken's classic essay "The Malevolent Jobholder" (from The American Mercury, June 1924), in which Mencken proposed

    ...that it shall be no longer malum in se for a citizen to pummel, cowhide, kick, gouge, cut, wound, bruise, maim, burn, club, bastinado, flay, or even lynch a [government] jobholder, and that it shall be malum prohibitum only to the extent that the punishment exceeds the jobholder's deserts. The amount of this excess, if any, may be determined very conveniently by a petit jury, as other questions of guilt are now determined.

    In 1999, the novel won the Prometheus Award, Hall of Fame Award for Best Classic Libertarian SF Novel. This tongue-in-cheek tale features a planet of Texans whose dinosaur-sized cattle have to be herded with tanks, and whose system of government derives its character from Mencken's essay. The protagonist is an insubordinate junior diplomat who is appointed as ambassador to this cantankerously independent planet in the hope that he will be assassinated (as the previous ambassador had been), thereby justifying the forcible invasion and conquest of the Texans. The crux of the story is the trial of the previous ambassador's assassins—actually paid killers hired by an alien empire also planning invasion—under a legal system that considers the killing of a practicing politician to be justifiable homicide.
  • First Cycle (1982, Michael Kurland expanded this from a Piper outline) ISBN 0-441-23919-6
Cover of Hunter Patrol, written with John J. McGuire

Short stories

  • "The Answer" (1959)
  • "Crossroads of Destiny" (1959)
  • "Day of the Moron" (1951)
  • "Dearest" (1951)
  • "The Edge of the Knife" (1957)
  • "Flight From Tomorrow" (1950)
  • "Genesis" (1951)
  • "Graveyard of Dreams" (1958)
  • "He Walked Around the Horses" (1948)
  • "Hunter Patrol" (1959, with John J. McGuire) (1959)
  • "The Keeper" (1957)
  • "Last Enemy" (1950)
  • "The Mercenaries" (1950)
  • "Ministry of Disturbance" (with John J. McGuire) (1958)
  • "Naudsonce" (1962)
  • "Omnilingual" (1957)
  • "Oomphel in the Sky" (1960)
  • "Operation R.S.V.P." (1951)
  • "Police Operation" (1948)
  • "Rebel Raider" (1950)
  • "The Return" (1954) (with John J. McGuire)
  • "The Return" (1960) (with John J. McGuire) expanded version of the original[5]
  • "A Slave is a Slave" (1962)
  • "Temple Trouble" (1951)
  • "Time and Time Again" (1947)
  • "Time Crime" (1955)
  • "When in the Course—" (1981)


Piper's "Fuzzy" books by other authors

Piper's "Terro-Human History" books by other authors

  • The Last Space Viking, by John F. Carr and Mike Robertson
  • Space Viking's Throne, by John F. Carr (A sequel to the Last Space Viking)
  • Space Viking Returns, by John F. Carr (A direct sequel to Space Viking, confirmed by the author for 2018 and is the long-awaited book once announced by Jerry Pournelle)
  • Rise of the Terran Federation, Edited by John F. Carr (A new anthology due in 2016)
  • Cosmic Computer Legacy: The Tides of Chaos, by Dietmar Wehr (A sequel to Cosmic Computer)
  • Space Viking Legacy: The Tanith Gambit, by Dietmar Wehr (A sequel to Space Viking released as an ebook in 2013)
  • Space Viking Legacy: Book II: The Loki Gambit, by Dietmar Wehr (released as an ebook in 2013)
  • Prince of Tanith: A Space Viking Novel (The Tanith Series)by Terry Mancour (A sequel to Space Viking on Amazon Kindle)
  • Princess Valerie's War: A Space Viking Novel (The Tanith Series Book II) by Terry Mancour on Amazon Kindle

Piper's "Paratime" books by other authors

The Paratime Trilogy

  • Time Crime, by H. Beam Piper and John F. Carr (Carr expanded the previous Novella with a brand new third act)


  1. ^ Carr, John F., H. Beam Piper: A Biography, McFarland, 2008 ISBN 978-0-7864-3375-9, p.10. According to Carr, during his lifetime Piper claimed the "H." stood for "Horace" and the son of Piper's good friend, Ferd Coleman, claimed it stood for Herbert.
  2. ^ F., Carr, John (2008). H. Beam Piper : a biography. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. p. 1. ISBN 9780786433759. OCLC 173240831. 
  3. ^ "Piper, H Beam". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  4. ^ Mandelo, Brit (July 30, 2010). "Queering SFF: Interview with Elizabeth Bear". Tor.com. Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Bibliography of H. Beam Piper First Publications". Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 

External links

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._Beam_Piper

Ian Douglas

Ian Douglas

Collaborations with other authors.


From Wikipedia

William H. Keith (born August 8, 1950) is an American author, who writes also under several pen names, such as Ian Douglas, Robert Cain and H. Jay Riker.

Early life

William H. Keith served in the United States Navy as a hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War era.


William H. Keith Jr. and his brother J. Andrew Keith had seen ads in Journal of the Travellers Aid Society that stated that Game Designers' Workshop (GDW) was seeking authors; Loren Wiseman brought them on to begin freelancing for GDW in 1978 or 1979, and together the three of them set up a lot of the early tone for the Traveller universe.[1]:56 William Keith also helped to define the graphical vision of that era of Traveller books.[1]:56 The Keith brothers were making enough money that they were able to freelance full-time starting around 1979.[1]:56 The Keith brothers began working for FASA by the end of 1980, with William Keith providing art for the magazine High Passage beginning in 1981.[1]:119 FASA began getting into publishing adventures for Traveller beginning with Ordeal by Eshaar (1981) by the Keith brothers, who then wrote FASA's "Sky Raiders" trilogy (1981-1982).[1]:119 William Keith designed the role-playing game Behind Enemy Lines (1982), the first RPG set in the 1940s.[1]:120 When FASA ended its support of Traveller, the Keith brothers moved their Traveller writing to a new company called Gamelords, but continued working for FASA in other capacities.[1]:120 The Keith brothers wrote seven supplements for Gamelords, including The Mountain Environment (1983), The Undersea Environment (1983), and The Desert Environment (1984).[1]:131

The Keith brothers did some work on the Chivalry & Sorcery line in 1984, and in 1985 they expanded into Fantasy Games Unlimited's other lines including Aftermath!, Daredevils, Flashing Blades, and Psi World.[1]:75 The Keith brothers also designed Freedom Fighters (1986), one of the last role-playing games published by FGU.[1]:75 William Keith authored Delta Force: America Strikes Back! (1986), the first role-playing game from Task Force Games.[1]:116 In 1986, FASA began publishing fiction, starting with William Keith's Decision at Thunder Rift (1986).[1]:122 Digest Group Publications' final publication, The MegaTraveller Journal #4 (1993), featured a huge campaign for MegaTraveller set in the Gateway sector, authored by William Keith.[1]:206

William Keith became a professional artist and writer, working in the game industry with his brother Andrew, particularly for Game Designers' Workshop and FASA for before becoming a full-time author. Much of his early work, including the Warstrider series, the Freedom's Rangers series, the Cybernarc series, and the Invaders of Charon series, is currently out of print; 'Warstrider' will be re-released in 2014. He was also an early author for BattleTech, writing the saga of the Gray Death Legion.

Keith also writes under various pseudonyms and "house names", including Ian Douglas and H. Jay Riker, and is a shadow author of several books "by" celebrities. He has written extensively in Keith Laumer's Bolo series, contributing several short stories to the Bolo anthologies, as well as three full-length books, Bolo Brigade, Bolo Strike, and Bolo Rising. As Ian Douglas, he writes military science fiction: the Galactic Marines series (composed of the Heritage Trilogy, the Legacy Trilogy, and the Inheritance Trilogy), and the newer Star Carrier series. As H. Jay Riker he writes military fiction: a series about the United States Navy SEALs progression from World War II through the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom, and another series, The Silent Service, about the United States submarine service.

Other novels include Diplomatic Act with Peter Jurasik, and Two of Minds, nominated for a Newbery Award. He also continued Keith Laumer's Retief series with Retief's Peace. His first non-fiction book, The Science of the Craft, was published in 2005; it is about the link between witchcraft and science.

Keith's recent work includes three books in Stephen Coonts' Deep Black series; a police procedural/detective novel in the Android universe; and a new series about Navy Hospital Corpsmen in the future.

Keith, a Wiccan and a Reiki master, is also a member of Western Pennsylvania Mensa.


Significant works

Writing as William H. Keith Jr.:

BattleTech series

Writing as Ian Douglas:

Heritage Trilogy

Legacy Trilogy

Inheritance Trilogy

Star Corpsman Series

Star Carrier series

  1. Earth Strike (2010) ISBN 978-0-06-184025-8
  2. Center of Gravity (2011) ISBN 978-0-06-184026-5
  3. Singularity (2012) ISBN 978-0-06-184027-2
  4. Deep Space (2013) ISBN 978-0-06-218380-4
  5. Dark Matter (2014) ISBN 978-0-06-218399-6
  6. Deep Time (2015) ISBN 978-0-06-218405-4
  7. Dark Mind (4-25-2017) ISBN 978-0-06-236898-0

Andromedan Dark

Writing as Robert Cain:

Cybernarc series

Writing as H. Jay Riker


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 
  2. ^ Douglas, Ian (October 25, 2016). "Altered Starscape: Andromedan Dark: Book One". Harper Voyager – via Amazon. 

External links

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_H._Keith,_Jr.

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