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Starship Eridanus

"2087 C.E. — The first interstellar expedition."
— John F. Carrα

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The Epsilon Eridani Expeditions
A future historical setting based on Piper's "Hartley" yarns

Hartley Yarns | Chronology | Databank

Canon: The Hartley Yarns

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 of 1945 — and in his fourteen-year-old body — with memories of his adulthood up to his apparent death in the Third World War in 1975.  Successfully convincing his father, Blake Hartley, of the veracity of his future "memories," the Hartleys begin an undertaking to avert the coming Third World War by taking advantage of Allan's knowledge of the future.

In his 1950 yarn "The Mercenaries," Piper tells the story of a band of "Free Scientists" in 1965 beset by treachery while working under contract on the U.S. Philadelphia Project, aimed at launcing a spaceship to the Moon and building a lunar military base which will enable the U.S.-led Western Union to dominate the world.  In this yearn, an adult Allan Hartley is a wealthy patron of the band of Free Scientists and his father is President of the United States.

In 1951's "Day of the Moron," Piper describes a labor-management dispute at a cybernetic-control systems company (which had worked previously on the Philadelphia Project) contracted to support the Long Island Nuclear Reaction Plant in 1968.  President Hartley, presumably Allan's father still, attempts to intervene in the labor dispute by ordering U.S. naval technicians to the troubled nuclear power plant.

The Interstellar Expeditions

Image - World Union flag

World Union flag

The expanded future history of this setting assumes that the Hartleys succeed in averting the Third World War.  A successful Philadelphia Project enables the Western Union to establish a World Union which brings 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 embarkes upon an ambitious space exploration program that culminates in the launch of a sub-light starship to Alpha Centauri.

Scintillant blazon

Starship Scintillant blazon

Sub-light colonization efforts are launched by the World Union 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.

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 to Alpha Centauri), some of them overtaking much slower, in-transit 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 "chronology" which appears in his Empire collection of Piper's Terro-human Future History yarns.  He also recognizes that the date was no longer accurate on the basis of information about the first interstellar expedition in the Terro-human Future History 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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