H. Beam Piper Mailing List and Discussion Forum — "Olson's Rule"

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David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
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

     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:

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.


"Lord Kalvan is a Martian." - Jackson Russell, H. Beam Piper Mailing List and Discussion Forum, July 6, 2015