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Welcome to the Zarthani.net H. Beam Piper mailing list and discussion forum. Initiated in October 2008 (after the demise of the original PIPER-L mailing list), this tool for shared communication among Piper fans provides an e-mail list and a discussion forum with on-line archives.
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David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
14:27 UT
From the Archives: "THFH: Even the villains have P.h.d.'s...."

Here's another item from the archives, a post from twenty-one years ago this month, with some observations about Beam's Terro-human Future History characters.

Subject: THFH: Even the villains have P.h.d.'s....
From: Theo D. Light
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2000 23:51:35 -0600


Most of the characters in Piper's work seem to have a surprisingly high
level of "formal" education. Even the two minor criminals in "Fuzzy Sapiens"
(Heckerd and Novaes, I think?) were a geologist and a zoologist-- which even
in the future must require extensive post-secondary education.

Also in the Fuzzy novels-- Gerd VanRiebeek (xenobiologist), Ben Rainsford
(something similar), the two lawyers-- Branhard and Coombes, the mammologist
who later becomes head of the Science Center whose name escapes me (Juan
something?), as well as the "pure scientists" Kellog, Mallin, etc. And of
course the various doctors, judges, psychologists, and biochemists that the
novels abound with. One gets the feeling that a lot of smart people
emigrated to Zarathustra.

Then there are the scholars/alien rights workers in "Uller Uprising", who
seem to play an important and accepted role in various Terran Colonial
Societies. For that matter Gerd Van Riebeck remarks that a good
xenobiologist can ALWAYS find a job anywhere. Nifflheim is full of Mining
Engineers-- and that takes a ton of schooling.

Or how about the various individual specialists in the First Contact team of
"Naudsonce"? Audiologists, Forensic Archaeologists, Master Tool and Die
Analysts, etc.

And of course at any time and in any place, being a sailor is a matter of
lifelong education-- whether in the US Navy or aboard the Terra-Odin-Baldur
commercial starships.

What other examples can YOU add to this list?

My point is that in Piper's future a majority of the people seem to have a
lot more education than we see today in America. To me this makes sense-- it
is an almost inevitable result of the increases in technology that comes
with a hyperdrive civilization.

I was also struck by how prescient Piper's description of the Terran
education system from "Oomphel in the Sky" was-- more than forty years ago
he had figured out the principles of interactive audio-visual computer
assisted instruction. (Jack (?) Gilbert, who features in that story-- is
also a young man-- with a Master's Degree.)

Even then Piper must have guessed that there would be advances in the field
of how real learning takes place, and that, as psychologists have since been
discovering, there are better ways of teaching that involve the use of audio
cues, computer animations and computer generated images, music, and so on.
(For a goofy but enthusiastic summary of this topic, check out "Accelerated
Learning for the 21st Century" from your local library. In between the
aw-shucks and golly-gees of its two British editors there are a number of
summaries of remarkable research about recent advances in deciphering the
structure of the brain, and how educators can use this to teach more,
better, and faster.)

I know there will be exceptions to this observation-- Jack Holloway springs
to mind. But Piper does stress that Holloway, although lacking in formal
schooling, does know a lot of science in order to be a successful prospector
on several different planets. And of course Piper's description of the
Mallorysport Tramptown has the implicit message that even in the future,
there will be people who choose to live uneducated, unambitious,
uninteresting lives. And the closure of schools is listed as one of the
critical factors in the decline of late Federation civilization that we
glimpse in "Cosmic Computer".

But still, it seems that to Piper, in the Terran Federation, people were
well educated-- more so than today-- by a significant factor.

For a man who stressed self-reliance so much, it is odd how many of the
people he chose to write about are products of an organized education
system. Piper clearly disdained the American school system-- there are some
derogatory (and accurate!) remarks about Ivy League colleges in "Lord Kalvan
of Otherwhen". But underneath it all there is a profound respect for
education itself-- the feeling that his "Self Reliant Man" was always
learning and growing.

This somewhat exaggerated respect for advanced technical and scientifc
degrees suggest that Piper was a mostly a self-educated man himself. Can
anyone comment on that? What do we know of his background?

I guess this strikes a chord with me because at age 32 I still do not have a
college degree of my own. I am really starting to feel the lack of it, and
to see how many doors are closed to me professionally (and socially! and
romantically!!!) without a formal education. So I am scrambling to attend
night classes and correspondence courses in between my military deployments.
And I also find that never having taken the time to finish college myself, I
do have a great deal of admiration myself for mining engineers and
mammologists and forensic archaeologists and so on...

Who has opinions about this subject? I challenge you to respond and refute
my claims! I sort of miss those protracted debates last month concerning
travel time from Odin to Marduk, or the efficacy of ground based Missile
defense systems in the Second Empire, or whether or not Merlin knew that it
was lying. Let's get some good Piper discussions started here again.

And that's just my two centisols on the subject.

I am

Ted Light

Ted's original message is available here:


Bonne journée,

"Do you know which books to study, and which ones not to bother with? Or which ones to read first, so that what you read in the others will be comprehensible to you? That's what they'll give you [at university]. The tools, which you don't have now, for educating yourself." - Bish Ware (H. Beam Piper), ~Four-Day Planet~
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
02:20 UT
NEW PIPER WEB SITE: www.astravian.com

John Anderson, the Dean of Piper studies, has put up his own web site: "The H. Beam Piper Research Project."

It's a great-looking site with over 18 different studies that John has worked on over the past decade or two. I've been the only one -- until now -- who has been privy to all of his wonderful studies on the works of H. Beam Piper. It's a site that every Piper fan will find engrossing and useful, especially during these trying times.

I highly recommend John's new site and I believe it's a wonderful compliment to both David Johnson's Zarthani sites and my own Piper web sites.

Finally, it is a real tribute to our favorite author, H. Beam Piper.

John F. Carr
Jon CrockerPerson was signed in when posted
01:45 UT
Thanks for posting those!

The pictures look especially cool in the middle of a heat wave.
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
20:49 UT
The Sword-World Quernbiter

This photo of an island in Quernbiter Fjord on Baffin Island in Nunavut was posted to the old PIPER-L mailing list back in August 1998:


Here's another photo of the fjord itself:


Which, of course, leaves us wondering if this was what the area around the initial landing site and settlement on the world Querbiter looked like as well.

Here's a bit about how the fjord was named:


By the leader of a 1937 scientific expedition to Baffin Bay:


Querbiter was the sword of Hákon the Good, a Tenth Century king of Norway. The world's capital may likely be called "Hákon" but on the other hand, perhaps it's called "Isbjřrn" ("polar bear") after the Wordie expedition ship.


"Excalibur, Tizona, Gram, Morglay, Durendal, Flamberge, Curtana, Quernbiter; the names [of the Sword-Worlds] were a roll-call of fabulous blades of Old Terran legend." - "A Slave is a Slave"
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