AUTHOR: H. Beam Piper
CATEGORY: Short Fiction
PUBLISHER: Ace Books, New York, 1981, ISBN: 0-441-23189-6-295
FORMAT: Paperback, 284 pages
- Preface, by Jerry Pournelle
- Introduction, by John F. Carr
- 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.