These five stories are from a collection of H. Beam Piper’s work compiled at Librivox.org.
Two scientists, one from the former USSR and one from the former USA, are working together toward an anti-matter explosion. Some years before, a strange explosion wiped out the home town of the American scientist. He remains haunted by the last memory of wife. The ensuing battle between the USSR and America left both countries a wasteland; now, the two leading scientist are working toward a new form of energy in peaceful cooperation.
The fact is, the USSR denied firing the first shot. They accuse the US of firing it to provoke a war.
The Question: Who fired the first shot?
The Answer: ?
The premise for this story is time travel – not to the future or the past, but horizontal travel. Piper plays on the idea of parallel universes that can be visited. Various companies travel through time to other more primitive time lines to mine ores and various other minerals. These companies have a non-intervention law similar to Star Trek’s Prime Directive. They are not to pollute the time line with artifacts from other times.
The Trans-Temporal Mining Corporation routinely sets up a religion with regular temple worship in time lines as a cover for mining operations. What happens when an alternative religion begins steal converts and urges a king to wipe out the Trans-Temporal Mining Corporations cover? Temple Trouble….
Flight From Tomorrow
When a madman takes control of an entire civilization, he creates a few enemies. Enemies that want a coup. In an effort to flee the coup, Hradzka planned to use a prototype time travel machine to flee to the past. From there, he could build an army and return to conquer the present. That is if the prototype works as planned.
Sadly, Hradzka discovers that his Flight From Tomorrow is short-lived. Landing in the U.S. in the 1950’s instead of the 5,000’s, he was in for a rude awakening. He genetic makeup wasn’t quite the same as humans from 9,000 years earlier. Any other simple difference between the man of the future and the one of the past might have been overlooked as just a passing oddity except that this couldn’t be overlooked.
This difference made all the difference in the world….
When wild young kids joyride between parallel universes, things are ugly enough. But when said kids die and leave nasty presents behind, it is time for the Paratime Police to straighten things up. Somehow, the police need to discretely capture a Venusian nighthound before the locals find it. This is NOT your standard Police Operation.
When I reviewed The Cosmic Computer, I suspected several things about H. Beam Piper’s philosophies. Unfortunately, since the elements were only implicitly implied, I couldn’t pin them down for certainty. Now, I can. In just a few words, a sentence or two, Piper declares himself to be anti-God and anti-morality. Still, it took me a couple of readings to be sure I really understood what the sentence was saying. I don’t think that the statements will be problematic.
Graveyard of Dreams
Graveyard of Dreams is the original short story upon which The Cosmic Computer was based. Mostly, if you have already read The Cosmic Computer, this is interesting just to read the differences and to compare the stories.
All told, an enjoyable series of stories. Have fun reading.