The Interregnum and Galactic Empires

The flag of the First Empire

Of Burrow-Worlds

In The Last Space Viking, John Carr describes how "the natives of too many planets ... retreated into the jungles or other inaccessible places" to avoid Space Viking raids. 'Other inaccessible places' made me think, what about underground or underwater? Piper describes the burrow-city of Port Sandor in Four-Day Planet, and though he never gave any more specific examples, he mentions burrow-cities and underwater dome cities in several other stories.

I figured these could be expanded to entire worlds, whose populations migrate underground or underwater in order to escape the Interstellar Wars; and later, from Space Viking raids. Thus, I came up with the idea of small groups of 'Burrow-Worlds' and 'Mer-Worlds', which develop after the breakup of the Terran Federation. Planets with subterranean and submarine civilizations actually have a long pedigree in science fiction, so these are not original concepts; but they would be new to the Terro-Human Future History. In this paper, I examine the first of these two new classes of planets, and provide an example. The most successful Burrow-World, the Tectonicon of Lakshmi.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

Knights of Gram and Tanith

This paper examines the "whole cargo of scrolls" and the "large and ornate knight's star, of unfamiliar design" mentioned in Space Viking. The scrolls, which make Boake Valkanhayn a Baron, Otto Harkaman a Count and Lucas Trask a Prince, appear to be Patents of Nobility, presumably issued by a 'Wardshaven King of Arms'. The knight's star seems to be the symbol of a new order of chivalry, created when Duke Angus made himself King of Gram; possibly a 'Royal Order of Gram'. Though unstated by Piper, these ennobled Space Vikings presumably acquire lands on Tanith as their personal fiefdoms. For example, as the ruler of the planet, Prince Trask likely takes Rivington and its surrounding area, thereby creating a 'Principality of Rivington' as his crown lands. The relative location of Rivington is discussed in an appendix.

I also include my design for Beam's "sword-and-atom symbol" of the House of Ward, as well as a possible design for Tanith under Prince Trask. Based on details from the story, this is the 'sword and morning star', white on black.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

The Emblem of the Galactic Empire

In "A Slave is a Slave", we learn that the emblem of Piper's First Galactic Empire is a black cogwheel on a golden sun. I show how this may have been inspired by the Spaceship-and-Sun, emblem of Isaac Asimov's First Galactic Empire in the Foundation series. Also included is the possible source of the cogwheel. In Beam's story, the planet Aditya is annexed by the Galactic Empire, and its planetary colors are the same as those of the Empire; black and gold. Its emblem is an eight-pointed gold star, emblazoned with a diagonal broadsword, on a black field. I discuss how this emblem may have also been derived from the Spaceship-and-Sun of Asimov's Galactic Empire.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

Emblems of Aditya

This paper is an outgrowth of "The Emblem of the Galactic Empire". It begins by reiterating the emblem of the Mastership of Aditya from "A Slave is a Slave", and reveals where the eight-pointed star may have come from. But the thought occurred to me that, when the slaves on Aditya revolt and take over the planet, it is almost certain that they would not retain the flag of their former masters. In the tale, the leaders of the ex-slaves decide to adopt a communistic system, called the People's Commonwealth. This suggests that Piper's historical model for Aditya is Russia, whose former serfs overthrew the monarchy and established a people's republic. I show how the Adityan Commonwealth could have changed the design and colors of its flag, paralleling the design changes to Russia's flags after the Revolution.

This took me into an analysis of the end of the First Galactic Empire, because Aditya also appears in the late-Empire story, "Ministry of Disturbance". And by this time, a great many of the Galactic Empire's citizens "act like robots!" That is, like slaves. Thus, the Empire itself has become a sort of huge Mastership, paralleling the planetary one overthrown on Aditya centuries earlier. In turn, this suggests that the First Galactic Empire, which collapses sometime after "Ministry", falls to a communist revolution. Probably made possible by the development of "instantaneous" communications between planets, based on the groundbreaking work of Prof. Klenn Farris. The communist ideology of Aditya could easily be spread throughout the Empire by this new method of communication, eventually causing its robot-like citizens to revolt.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

Gimli the Unusual

Although it seems to be a rather minor planet, Gimli appears in quite a few of Beam's stories, set in different eras; during the Federation period, the interregnum and the First Galactic Empire. These recurring appearances, plus the specific roles Gimli plays, suggest that Piper may have intended it to become a much more important planet later in the Future History. This is supported by Norse mythology, in which Gimli (or Gimlé) is the 'Second Heaven' of the gods, after Ragnarok destroys Asgard, the 'First Heaven'. In this war, almost all of the major gods are killed; including Loki, Thor and Odin, the king of the gods. It therefore seems less than a coincidence that in Piper's Future History, Asgard is the capital city of the First Galactic Empire, located on the planet Odin; and many other important worlds are named for Norse gods.

My thesis is that the fall of the First Galactic Empire, which occurs sometime after "Ministry of Disturbance", parallels Ragnarok (the fall of the 'First Norse Heaven'), and many Norse-named planets, such as Loki, Thor and the capital planet Odin, are destroyed. After this 'Twilight of the Norse God-Planets', lowly Gimli rises to become the capital planet of the Second Galactic Empire, paralleling the 'Second Norse Heaven' it is named for. In the Norse myths, Gimlé is inhabited by a remnant of the Norse gods, who return to the field of Ida, or Idawold. The survivors include Vali and Vidar (a son of Odin), and Magni and Modi (sons of Thor). This suggests that in the Second Empire, formerly minor Norse worlds like Vitharr (a mere trade-planet of Tanith in Space Viking) and Ithavoll (a former colony of Marduk) rise to prominence.

They are joined by Hoth (a Viking base planet) and Baldur, the only major Norse world to regain importance. Because in the myths, and at the instigation of Loki, Baldur was killed by Hoth not long before Ragnarok. After Ragnarok, Baldur returned from the underworld of Hela and entered Gimlé, where he was reconciled with Hoth. This suggests that the planet Baldur suffers a major disaster before the First Empire falls (related to the planet Hoth in some way), and remains in a shadowy, semi-civilized existence during the Second Interregnum. But it is 'resurrected' at some point, becoming the only major Norse world of the First Empire to once again become a significant planet, in the Second Empire.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

An Atlas of Piper's Galaxy

An in-depth analysis of the ship-speeds and distances contained in Beam's stories, compared and applied to maps of the Orion Arm and surrounding galaxy. His discrepancies and deliberate errors are largely solved, and, combined with his historical models, this enabled the creation of maps of the Terran Federation, including its 'Norse Core'; and the System States Alliance with its thousand light-year perimeter. From evidence in Space Viking, the distance from Xochitl to Gram was also calculated, revealing the surprising location of the Sword-Worlds; in turn, this shows why the Galactic Empire is shaped like a "pork chop". Subsequent maps estimate the size of the 'Mardukan Empire' and other spheres of influence after the time of Space Viking; as well as the sizes of the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Galactic Empires, along with the possible locations of their capital planets.

This version combines Parts 1 and 2, previously published on John Carr's websites, with Part 3, being the appendices and endnotes. The appendices provide vertical or 'cross-section' views of the Terran Federation, System States Alliance and First and Second Galactic Empires; my version of the "star map of Federation and Empire" mentioned by Jerry Pournelle, as well as a combined map of all the galactic empires; a tentative chart of the voyage of the Gilgameshers in Space Viking; a discussion of the evidence in Piper for a 'large' Federation and Empire, together with maps of how these might look; a comparison of the galactic empires of Isaac Asimov and H. Beam Piper; and finally, a speculative look at an 'Intergalactic Era' which could follow the Fifth Galactic Empire, starting with the expansion of Terro-Humanity into the local group of galaxies, also called the Council of Giants.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project