FEDERATION by H. Beam Piper

TITLE: FEDERATION
AUTHOR: H. Beam Piper
CATEGORY: Short Fiction
SUB-CATEGORY: Collection
PUBLISHER: Ace Books, New York, 1981, ISBN: 0-441-23189-6-295
FORMAT: Paperback, 284 pages

CONTENTS:

  • Preface, by Jerry Pournelle
  • Introduction, by John F. Carr
  • Omnilingual
  • Naudsonce
  • Oomphel in the Sky
  • Graveyard of Dreams
  • When in the Course-

The book starts with a brief Preface by Jerry Pournelle, a short but fitting tribute to H. Beam Piper and his writing. This is followed by a lengthy twenty-page Introduction by John Carr, which is a much more detailed and even more fascinating essay on the life and writings of Piper.

The five stories themselves are from Piper’s acclaimed TerroHuman Future History cycle, one of the most complex and detailed future histories in science fiction literature. This collection, Federation, is made up of stories from the earlier stages of that Future History, and a later collection, Empire, completes the stories from the later part of the cycle.

There are certainly some very good stories in this collection, but the stand-out for me is definitely Omnilingual, which I first read a long time ago, way back in my teens. Along with He Walked Around the Horses (which isn’t in this collection, and isn’t part of the Future History), this has always been one of my favourite pieces of SF short fiction, and I’ve always regarded both Omnilingual and He Walked Around the Horses as Piper’s two best short stories, although his other stories are also of an extremely high calibre.

As far as I’m concerned, the collection is worth buying just for Omnilingual alone. But the other four stories are nothing to turn your nose up at either. This is H. Beam Piper we’re talking about here, and he simply did not write bad SF stories.

A very good collection.

Plaything of Sutekh #3

Plaything of Sutekh #3

I’m absolutely delighted to report that, after quite a long wait since the previous issue, Plaything of Sutekh #3 is at long last out in the wild. I’m tickled pink by this news, as it is not only one of my favourite zines, but one of the best fanzines being produced today.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Plaything is an ultra-classy, professionally produced traditional A5 print fanzine – yes, a real paper zine, not an electronic download, a website or a blog. It’s forty pages of pure, wholesome Doctor Who goodness, with full colour front and back covers, and black and white insides. It is brought to you by the same folks (Richard Farrell and John Connors) who produce the excellent A5 Gerry Anderson fanzine Andersonic. Both zines are heavily influenced both stylistically and quality-wise by one of the greatest telefantasy fanzines ever, the classic Circus. So anyone who appreciates really good fanzines will know just what they’re getting. One of the best zines currently available.

I won’t elaborate on the contents of Plaything of Sutekh #3 – all of the details are available online from the Plaything of Sutekh blog, which is where you should be heading right now, instead of reading this tatty old blog. And just to make things even better, Plaything #’s 2 and 3, which have been out of print for quite a long while, are now back in print, for a “limited period”. Snap them up before they’re gone again.

If you live in the UK, each of the zines are available for the paltry sum of £2.40, including postage. You can’t even buy one lousy pint of beer down the pub for £2.40. That’s a bargain by any measure. Postage/shipping costs vary, depending on where you live:

  • The UK: £2.40 for the zine, postage is free
  • Rest of Europe: £2.40 for the zine plus £1.70 for 1 issue or £3.00 for 2 or 3 issues
  • Rest of the world: £2.40 for the zine plus £3.90 for up to 3 issues

All self-respecting Doctor Who fans should have every single issue of Plaything of Sutekh in the reading pile by their bedside. I’ve already got mine. Take my advice, run, don’t walk, over to the Plaything of Sutekh blog, and pick up the latest issue, or, even better, all three issues, if you haven’t got them yet. That’s an awesome stack of excellent Doctor Who reading material for just over seven quid.

Plaything of Sutekh #'s 1 and 2