The Terran Federation

The flag of the Terran Federation

The Emblem of the Terran Federation

Piper describes the flag of the Terran Federation as a wreathed globe on a light blue field. This suggests it is simply the flag of the United Nations, appropriated by the TF after the UN collapses in late 1973 or early 1974; a mere nine months or so before the Third World War. After the war, the Federation becomes "some kind of a world empire", and "rules the world" well into the Twenty-First Century.

But in the mid-Twenty-First Century, the Northern Hemisphere is completely devastated during the Fourth World War (2049-2052). The Southern Hemisphere then becomes the center of Terran civilization. So as I suggested to John Carr back in the early 1980s, the emblem should be updated to conform to the new political reality. The globe on the Federation flag, formerly centered on the North Pole, should now be centered on the South Pole.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

A Timeline to Piper's Thirty Days' War

Bringing together all the references to Piper's WWIII, this provides a comprehensive, linear look at the events up to, during and after the Thirty Days' War. Including the postwar recovery of America, aided by its burrow-cities, and the expansion of the Federation to include all the nations of the globe by 1996.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

Beam's Mars Revealed

In "Omnilingual", Beam's seemingly-casual references to the spaceships Cyrano and Schiaparelli actually reveal much about his version of the Red Planet. Looking at the classic maps of Mars by Giovanni Schiaparelli gives us a sense of the planetary canal system, which Piper improved to underground aqueducts. Schiaparelli's map also shows that Kukan, the only Old Martian city named by Beam, is located in the 'Martian Egypt', thereby explaining the references to Egyptian archaeology, including the Rosetta Stone, in the story.

The reference to Cyrano de Bergerac, an early science-fiction author, confirms that the human remains found on Mars are the ancestors of Terro-Humanity. For in his Voyage to the Moon (1657), de Bergerac travels to Luna, where he discovers the Garden of Eden. The place of Man's origin was not a 'Terrestrial' Paradise after all, but an Extra-Terrestrial one. Similarly, Beam has the Cyrano travel to Mars, where the Terrans find human remains. And Schiaparelli named one of the Martian regions 'Eden'. Thus, like Cyrano, the Terrans have merely returned to the ancient place where their first ancestors originated. Mankind did not evolve on Terra, it evolved on Mars and in probable fact, the Eden region, which is close to the Martian equator. The Terrestrial Paradise of Terro-Human myth was really an Extra-Terrestrial one.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

The Early Terran Federation

An improved version of "The Early History of the Terran Federation", my essay which appeared in The Rise of the Terran Federation (2017). With the addition of a final section called Historical Models of the Early Federation. This describes what I believe to be Piper's underlying scheme of historical models in the early Federation period, as revealed by the equation AE 1 = 1601 AD.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

An Overview of Historical Models in the Early Future History, Part 1

This expands on the Historical Models of the Early Federation section in "The Early Terran Federation". Much more detail is provided for Beam's events, based on their historical models from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. In Part 1, these include the parallels between his Free Scientists and the Italian condottiere; how the early settlers on stony Luna parallel the English settlers at Plymouth Rock; and the more than twenty parallels between the man who foreknows the future, Professor Edward Chalmers, and "the man who saw tomorrow", Michel de Nostredame, also known as Nostradamus.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

The Origin of the Freyans

A source of much debate, the completely human Freyans in "When in the Course-" are shown to have come from Old Mars in prehistoric times. Beam appears to have used three historical models for them. One ancient, one medieval and one modern.

The ancient model is the Greco-Trojan migration to Britain after the Trojan War, which reveals their interstellar journey as a kind of 'Freyan Odyssey' following an ancient great war on Mars, or 'Martian Iliad'. This explains Roger Barron's reference to the Iliad in the story. The medieval model is the Norse colonization of Iceland, which explains the beauty of Freyan women, as Icelandic women have the reputation of being unusually good-looking. And the modern model is the settlement of the Cape Colony by the Boers, which explains the Freyans' Boer-like firearms, as well as why the planet has three continents but only one is inhabited. The Freyan-inhabited continent parallels the Cape Colony, meaning that the Terran acquisition of Freya parallels the British annexation of the Cape. The other two continents on Freya, empty of humans, parallel the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, which did not yet exist when the British arrived in South Africa. The continents' imminent settlement by Freyan free-companies, proposed by Barron in the story, will parallel the Great Trek, mentioned by another character in relation to the Freyans.

Moreover, that the Freyans are fair-haired, Nordic-looking Martians whose ancestors apparently landed in "the northern corner of the [Sosti] continent" also indicates where their original homelands were on the Red Planet. They came from the higher latitudes, near the poles; probably including the region which Schiaparelli named 'Scandia'. And these locations tie in the Edgar Rice Burroughs influence on Piper. Because the Freyans, a remnant group of polar 'white Martians' discovered millennia after their home-world dried up and its civilization collapsed, also parallel the Therns, a polar remnant of the white race which ruled a more verdant Barsoom in the distant past, before their planet dried up and their civilization collapsed. On Freya, the religious tyranny of the false god Styphon therefore parallels the religious tyranny of the Holy Therns, based on the false goddess Issus.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

A Flag for the System States Alliance

Piper modeled the System States War mainly on the American Civil War. Upon seceding from the Union, the Southern States adopted a flag modeled on the Stars and Stripes, which they called the Stars and Bars. I figured that the System States Alliance would do something similar. Upon seceding from the Federation, they adopt a flag modeled on the wreathed globe; and I came up with several possible designs.

As revealed by Beam, the Alliance colors are green and black. But since he did not specify whether this meant a green emblem on a black field, or a black emblem on a green field, I depicted both. In addition, the Confederacy created the iconic Battle Flag, now universally recognized as the flag of Dixie. So I designed an Alliance Battle Flag. And since Alliance refugees found the Sword-Worlds, this battle flag can be connected to the emblem of the first Sword-World, Excalibur.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project

The Cosmic Computer - Piper's Foundation?

Many people may have noticed that Merlin's ability to predict the future is very similar to psychohistory, Asimov's method of predicting the future in the Foundation series. What they may not realize is that this is only the most obvious parallel. In Beam's story, and later Future History, there are literally dozens of parallels to the Foundation series.

A poor planet at the outer edge of the universal state (Terminus, Poictesme); a young graduate (Gaal Dornick, Conn Maxwell) who joins a group of older men (Seldon's mathematicians, the Fawzi's Office Gang); and who speaks to the psychohistoric project leader (Hari Seldon, Foxx Travis), who himself later appears on the poor planet via recorded message made at the capital of the universal state (Trantor, Terra/Luna); the coming Fall of the universal state (the First Galactic Empire, the Second Terran Federation), which is too late to prevent; the collection of all human knowledge (the Encyclopedia Galactica, Merlin's memory-bank); a search for the hidden predictor (the Search for the Second Foundation, the search for Merlin); a former military officer who is sent by a 'Fox' to infiltrate the enemy's stronghold with a miniature nuclear weapon ("The Fox" sends Han Pritcher to Terminus, Foxx Travis sends 'preacher' Mike Shanlee to Poictesme), both of whose missions fail; an ultimatum issued to the poor planet from another (Anacreon to Terminus, Koshchei to Poictesme), the duration of which is one week, and both of which are peacefully resolved; a secret plan to create a new universal state (the Seldon Plan, the Merlin Plan); many thousands of years of barbarism if the fall of the universal state is revealed prematurely; that this necessitates fifty years of secrecy, and a cover project to protect it; a Mayor who peacefully takes over the Foundation planet (Salvor Hardin on Terminus, Kurt Fawzi on Poictesme); and many more. There are even parallels in The Cosmic Computer to Asimov's Tamper Plateaus, "a circle has no end", and the location of the hidden predictor at "Star's End".

Moreover, looking beyond The Cosmic Computer we see that the Merlin Plan fails, just like the Seldon Plan, only to apparently recover later; that during the interregnum a new religion is created, based on psychohistory (Merlin as "Yah the Almighty", a parallel of the Galactic Spirit); that the Merlin Plan involves two 'foundation' planets, one physical (Poictesme, then Marduk) and the other psychohistorical (Poictesme, then Gilgamesh), paralleling the First and Second Foundations; that, as in Asimov, the Plan results in the appearance of a new universal state 1000 years after its fall is predicted (circa AE 848 to 1848); followed by the transfer of the capital from the periphery (Marduk, Terminus) back to the center (Odin, Trantor); and that the new universal state is a Galactic Empire (the First Galactic Empire in Piper, the Second Galactic Empire in Asimov).

It is interesting that in Piper's tale, all five main characters lie. Conn and Rodney Maxwell deceive the people of Poictesme, and are in turn deceived by Foxx Travis and Mike Shanlee; while in the end, Merlin becomes "a liar, too". Thus, The Cosmic Computer might better be called The Cosmic Liar, because not only does Merlin lie, the story itself is a lie. In fact, it appears to be Beam's "Big Lie"; possibly the biggest lie in the history of science fiction. Words spoken by two of his characters can therefore be placed back into the author's mouth. "I will tell them all a big lie. Such a big lie that nobody will dare to disbelieve it". And, "It was so simple that nobody had ever guessed it". Once The Cosmic Computer is seen through the lens of the Foundation series, it becomes simple. In my view, it takes a rare combination of genius and skill to model "the greatest all-time science fiction series", and do it so well that nobody guessed it for more than forty years.

That Piper selected Poictesme as the name for his 'First Foundation' planet seems deliberate. He was a big fan of James Branch Cabell, and at one time "was going to write like" him, "which would have taken a lot of doing". Beam was undoubtedly aware that "For Cabell, veracity was "the one unpardonable sin, not merely against art, but against human welfare"." In other words, in order to create truly great art, and for the greater good, one must lie. In token of this, Cabell gave his fictional French province a coat of arms and a motto. The motto of Poictesme, and therefore of Piper's planet as well, is "Mundus Vult Decipi" - the World Wishes to be Deceived. If my thesis is correct, Beam masterfully deceived us all.

The H. Beam Piper Research Project