Starship Eridanus

"[2087 C.E.] — The first interstellar expedition."α
— John F. Carr, "Terro-Human Future History Chronology," Empire

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The Epsilon Eridani Expeditions

A future historical setting based on
H. Beam Piper's "Hartley" yarns

Hartley Yarns | Chronology | Databank

Image - Western Union flag

Western Union flag

In his Hartley yarns, H. Beam Piper began a future historical setting which is somewhat different from his more fully-developed Terro-human Future History.  This setting begins with Piper's first published story, the 1947 yarn "Time and Time Again" in which Allan Hartley "awakens" in his childhood past—and in his fourteen-year-old body!—with memories of his adulthood up to his "death" in the Third World War.  Successfully convincing his father of the veracity of his future "memories," Hartley begins an undertaking to avert the coming Third World War by taking advantage of his knowledge of the future.

In his 1950 yarn "The Mercenaries" Piper tells the story of a band of "free scientists" beset by treachery while working under contract on the Philadelphia Project, aimed at launcing a spaceship to the Moon and building a lunar military base which will enable the Western Union to dominate the world.  An adult Allan Hartley is a wealthy patron of the MacLeod Research Team and his father is President of the United States, a key member of the Western Union.

In 1951's "Day of the Moron" Piper describes labor unrest at a cybernetic-control systems company (which had worked previously on the Philadelphia Project) contracted to support the Long Island Nuclear Reaction Plant.  President Hartley, presumably Allan's father still, attempts to intervene in the labor dispute by ordering naval technicians to the troubled nuclear power plant.

Image - World Union flag

World Union flag

The Interstellar Expeditions

The expanded future history of this setting assumes that Allan Hartley (and his father) succeed in averting the Third World War.  It assumes a successful Philadelphia Project enabled the Western Union to establish a World Union which brought a period of unparalleld peace and prosperity to the Earth.  Combining the competing Moon project efforts of its former adversaries and the talents of the "free scientists" the World Union embarked upon an ambitious space exploration program that culminated in the launch of a sub-light starship to Alpha Centauri.

Sub-light colonization efforts are launched to other nearby star systems too but as these starships are making their years-long journeys trouble erupts on Earth.  The Insurrection—a revolt by the descendants of the "free scientists" against the political order of the World Union—is a terrible outbreak of unrest and warfare across Earth and throughout the Solar system.  News of the Insurrection, traveling at the speed of light, takes several years to reach the colony worlds and the sub-light starships in transit between them and Earth.  Eventually, the Insurrection comes to an end in exhaustion and stalemate.

Image - Western Union's Philadelphia Project

Eridanus (Bayer's Uranometria, 1661, archive image, originally service by UNSO)

In 2087, near the end of the Insurrection, the faster-than-light (FTL) Francis Drive is invented and eventually Francis Drive starships are sent to the colony worlds (beginning with Scintillant, sent Alpha Centauri), some of them overtaking the much slower sub-light starships that had departed years before.


α "The First Interstellar expedition," John F. Carr, PIPER-L mailing list, 12 January, 2001.  In this archived message, Carr describes creating the 2087 C.E. (144 "Atomic Era") date for the Terro-human Future History timeline which appears in his Empire collection of Piper's yarns.  Carr also recognizes that the date was not accurate on the basis of information about the first interstellar expedition which subsquently came to light from Piper himself in his 1964 essay "The Future History."  In recognition of Carr's many contributions to Piper's work, his date of 2087 C.E. is used as the date of the first faster-than-light interstellar expedition in the Starship Eridanus timeline.

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