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H. Beam Piper's Paratime

"Well, you need a man who'd know the historical background, and you'd need a man with a powerful creative imagination, who is used to using it inside rigorously defined limits."
— H. Beam Piper, "Crossroads of Destiny"


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Piper's Cross-time Travellers

Image - Parallel worlds

Illustration by Lee Davy (licensed by CC BY 2.0).

Piper's conception of Paratime posits an infinite number of parallel timelines (i.e. "para-time"), distinct universes which have diverged from one another at some point in their history.  Many of these timelines are exploited by the parasitic inhabitants of the "Home" timeline who have discovered a way to "transpose" from one timeline to another.  Their Paratime Police are responsible for ensuring that the secret of paratime transposition is not discovered by the inhabitants of any other timeline.  The Paratime yarns consist of the novel Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, several short stories and novellas originally published between 1948 and 1955 and collected in the collection Paratime edited by John F. Carr (and perhaps also in the collection The Worlds of H. Beam Piper), and the authorized Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen sequels by John. F. Carr and his occasional co-authors.

Piper's ideas about Paratime were apparently inspired by the non-linear time theories of British aeronautical pioneer John W. Dunne (1875-1949) which were first discussed in his book An Experiment with Time (1927).

Bibliography

Image - Cover illustration for Astounding, August 1950

"Last Enemy" illustration by Walt Miller.

A comprehensive list by date of publication of Beam's Paratime stories and novels, including republishings and reprintings, from "He Walked Around the Horses," first published in Astounding Science Fiction, April 1948, through Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, first published by Ace in 1965, after Piper's death — though it had been previously serialized (in part) as "Gunpowder God" (part one of three), in Analog Science Fiction — Science Fact, November 1964, and as "Down Styphon!" (part two of three), in Analog Science Fiction — Science Fact, November 1965.  The final instalment, "Hos-Hostigos," was not published separately until 2020.


Gallery

Cover illustration  Astounding Science Fiction, April 1951

"Temple Trouble" illustration by Hubert Rogers.

A gallery of cover and interior illustrations from Paratime stories and novels, including republishings and reprintings, beginning with Edd Cartier's interior illustrations for "He Walked Around the Horses," published in Astounding Science Fiction, April 1948, and Walt Miller's cover illustration for "Last Enemy," published in Astounding Science Fiction, August 1950.  Includes Michael Whelan's iconic cover illustrations for the Ace reprint of Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen and for John F. Carr's Paratime collection.


Chronography

Cover illustration for Astounding Science Fiction, February 1955

"Time Crime" illustration by Kelly Freas.

A complilation of the structure — the hierarchy of levels, sectors, subsectors, belts of "timelines" — of Paratime, including the timelines of the Second Level, Akor-Neb Sector of "Last Enemy" and of the Fourth Level, Aryan-Transpacific Sector of Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen.


Concordance

Cover illustration for Analog Science Fiction--Science Fact, November 1964

"Gunpowder God" illustration by John Schoenherr.

A compendium of background and setting information from Beam's Paratime stories and novels, including details about characters like Traugott Zeller from "He Walked Around the Horses," technology like the Ghaldron-Hestor field generator in "Police Operation," and timelines like those of Second Level Akor-Neb Sector of "Last Enemy."


Development

Cover illustration for Great Kings' War

Great Kings' War illustration by Alan Gutierrez.

See Port Sandor Times for details about the characters, settings, background and technologies of Beam's Paratime stories and novels as well as expansions, development claims, gaming and commentary related to these yarns.




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Bibliography | Gallery | Chronography | Concordance | Development



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