H. Beam Piper

A Biography


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About the Book

H. Beam Piper is one of science fiction’s most enigmatic writers. In 1946 Piper appeared seemingly from out of nowhere, already at the top of his form. He published a number of memorable short stories in the premier science fiction magazine of the time, Astounding Science Fiction, under legendary editor John W. Campbell. Piper quickly became friends with many of the top writers of the day, including Lester Del Rey, Fletcher Pratt, Robert Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp. Piper also successfully made the turn from promising short story writer to major novelist, authoring Four-Day Planet, Cosmic Computer, Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen and Little Fuzzy, which was nominated for a Hugo award.
Even those who counted Piper among their friends knew very little about the man or his life as a railroad yard bull in Altoona, Pennsylvania. This biography illuminates H. Beam Piper, both the writer and the man, and answers lingering questions about his death. Appendices include a number of Piper’s personal papers, a complete bibliography of Piper’s works, and an essay on Piper’s Terro-Human Future History series.

About the Author(s)

John F. Carr has edited numerous anthologies of science fiction, and is also the author of three science fiction novels. He lives in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

John F. Carr. Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 262
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014 [2008]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7731-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1457-1
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1


1. A Prince Is Born      7

2. Soul Mates of the Quill      15

3. The Would-Be Writer      19

4. Prohibition—Phooey!      27

5. The Deer Stalkers      33

6. The Unholy Duo      39

7. The Old Brick House Beside the River      45

8. Never a Debtor Be      50

9. Three’s Company      54

10. Moment of Greatness      58

11. Changing Fortunes      64


12. Success at Last!      71

13. A Late Bloomer      76

14. The Campbell Years      79

15. The Collaborators      85

16. Beam’s Kids      90

17. Betty      96

18. The Case of the Missing Pistol      103

19. Weekend Marriage      109

20. Piper’s History of the Future      115

21. French Vacation      121

22. The Big Breakup      126

23. Sputnik      134


24. Leaving Altoona      141

25. Back to Work      145

26. Fuzzy Problems      152

27. When in the Course…      157

28. Unexpected Help      161

29. Little Fuzzy Finds a Home      167

30. Space Viking      173

31. Sequelitis      178

32. Pigeon Pie      183

33. Running Out of Steam      189

34. Let the Guns Bury Him      195

35. The Funeral      198

36. The Last Good-Bye      200

Afterword      205

Appendix A: Piper Story Log      207

Appendix B: The Future History      212

Appendix C: The Terro-Human Future History      215

Appendix D: Piper Weapons Inventory      220

Appendix E: Piper Bibliography      224

Notes      233

Bibliography      243

Index      245

Book Reviews & Awards

“Carr does an extremely good job of dragging [Piper] out of obscurity”—Science Fiction Studies; “in-depth…goes a long way toward clearing up the mystery of who H. Beam Piper really was. Carr knows his works thoroughly”—Locus; “excellent”—Steve Silver, SF Site; “definitive…well written”—www.jerrypournelle.com.