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Pearls of Wisdom

But don’t you realise that profit is sordid and dishonest and selfish? Not al all like drawing a salary-cum-expense-account from the government.

H. Beam Piper (Oomphel in the Sky)

It took me a long time to understand how much this man had influenced me. Heinlein, yes. Everyone acknowledges Heinlein, mentioning him is a sign of membership to the club, like a badge, or a not terribly secret handshake. Piper though? If you haven’t read him since you were fifteen go back and read him again. I suspect you will find much you never realised was there.

Consider Lone Star Planet, which posits a legal system that considers the killing of a practicing politician to be justifiable homicide.

One can dream I suppose.

I have just read Omnilingual, one of my all time favourite short stories by any writer, hadn’t read it for years and had forgotten just how good it was.

And another, the story of Benjamin Bathurst, an envoy of His Britannic Majesty; if you have never heard of him He Walked Around the Horses in 1809, never to be seen again. For those unfamiliar with British history, pay close attention to the name of the author of the final dispatch.


  1. Sam Duncan says:

    If you’d said “Harry Beam Piper” to me, it would probably have rung a faint bell, although I wouldn’t have been able to tell you why. I’d certainly never read any of his work. But I got through Oomphel and the Bathurst one last night, and I’m planning another raid on Gutenberg tonight.* Great stuff. Thanks, Cats.

    *“Let’s give Jerry another bloody nose, eh Ginger? Keep my cocoa warm; I’ll be home for supper.”

  2. CountingCats says:

    Try Omnilingual
    Little Fuzzy is one of his best known books
    Lord Kalven of Otherwhen is pretty good too

  3. Rob Fisher says:

    On a somewhat related note, I am reading The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge. The Ungoverned is about a David Friedman-esque world; and Conquest by Default posits a solution to the problem of governments forming out of anarchy.

  4. Rich Rostrom says:

    You might find this interesting: _Murder in the Gunroom_ (1953). It’s a conventional mystery, except that the protagonist detective is an overt practitioner of General Semantics. There’s also a _lot_ of detail about antique and collectible guns. I stumbled across it at the Chicago Public Library – pulled it off the shelf and didn’t realize till later that it was H. Beam. The text is on-line at

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