H. Beam Piper

American science fiction writer

Henry Beam Piper (March 23, 1904 – c. November 6, 1964) was an American science fiction author of future history and alternate history stories.

Quotes edit

  • English is the product of a Norman warrior trying to make a date with an Anglo-saxon bar-maid, and as such is no more legitimate than any of the other products of that conversation.
  • You know, it's quite all right to give the underdog a hand, but only one hand. Keep the other hand on your pistol - or he'll try to eat the one you gave him!
  • Count Erskyll said nothing for a moment. He was opposed to the use of force. Force, he believed, was the last resort of incompetence; he had said so frequently enough since this operation had begun. Of course, he was absolutely right, though not in the way he meant. Only the incompetent wait until the last extremity to use force, and by then, it is usually too late to use anything, even prayer.
  • Oh, he won't think of it in those terms. He'll be preventing me from sabotaging the Emancipation. He doesn't want to wait three generations; he wants to free them at once. Everything has to be at once for six-month-old puppies, six-year-old children, and reformers of any age.
  • Young man,the conversation was between Lord Trask and myself. And when someone says something you don't understand ,don't tell him he's crazy. Ask him what he means. What DO you mean Lord Trask?
  • Apparently, on New Texas, killing a politician was not malum in se, and was mallum prohibitorum only to the extent that what happened to the politician was in excess of what he deserved.
  • Keep a government poor and weak and it's your servant; when it is rich and powerful it becomes your master.
  • There's something wrong with democracy. If there weren't, it couldn't be overthrown by people like Makann, attacking it from within by democratic procedures. I don't think it's fundamentally unworkable. I think it just has a few of what engineers call bugs. It's not safe to run a defective machine till you learn the defects and remedy them.

The Complete Paratime (1947-1965) edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback edition published by Ace, ISBN 0-441-00801-1, in March 2001 (1st printing)
See H. Beam Piper's Internet Science Fiction Database page for original publication details
  • “I wanted to know what sort of a madman—there are various kinds of madmen, all of whom must be handled differently—but all Hartenstein would tell me was that he had unrealistic beliefs about the state of affairs in Europe.”
    “Ha! What diplomat hasn’t?” I asked.
    • He Walked Around the Horses (p. 27)
  • “The standard smother-out technique,” Verkan Vall grinned. “I only heard a little talk about the ‘flying saucers,’ and all of that was in joke. In that order of culture, you can always discredit one true story by setting up ten others, palpably false, parallel to it.”
    • Police Operation (p. 57)
  • Politics is nothing but common action to secure more favorable living conditions.
    • Last Enemy (p. 81)
  • You show me ten men who cherish some religious doctrine or political ideology, and I’ll show you nine men whose minds are utterly impervious to any factual evidence which contradicts their beliefs, and who regard the producer of such evidence as a criminal who ought to be suppressed. For instance, on the Fourth Level Europo-American Sector, where I was just working, there is a political sect, the Communists, who, in the territory under their control, forbid the teaching of certain well-established facts of genetics and heredity, because those facts do not fit the world picture demanded by their political doctrines. And on the same sector, a religious sect recently tried, in some sections successfully, to outlaw of the teaching of evolution by natural selection.
    • Last Enemy (p. 82)
  • He listened to a series of angry recriminations and contradictory statements by different politicians, all of whom blamed the disorders on their opponents. The Volitionalists spoke of the Statisticalists as “insane criminals” and “underminers of social stability,” and the Statisticalists called the Volitionalists “reactionary criminals” and “enemies of social progress.” Politicians, he had observed, differed little in their vocabularies from one time-line to another.
    • Last Enemy (p. 86)
  • Nobody will admit his own mental inferiority, even to himself.
    • Last Enemy (p. 91)
  • Two were Assassins, and the other three were of a breed Verkan Vall had learned to recognize on any time-line—the arrogant, cocksure, ambitious, leftist politician, who knows what is best for everybody better than anybody else does, and who is convinced that he is inescapably right and that whoever differs with him is not only an ignoramus but a venal scoundrel as well.
    • Last Enemy (p. 95)
  • Those people, because of deforestation, bad agricultural methods and general mismanagement, are eroding away their arable soil at an alarming rate. At the same time, they are breeding like rabbits. In other words, each successive generation has less and less food to divide among more and more people, and for inherited traditional and superstitious reasons, they refuse to adopt any rational program of birth-control and population-limitation.
    But, fortunately, they now have the atomic bomb, and they are developing radioactive poisons, weapons of mass-effect. And their racial, nationalistic and ideological conflicts are rapidly reaching the explosion point. A series of all-out atomic wars is just what that sector needs, to bring their population down to the world’s carrying capacity; in a century or so, the inventors of the atomic bomb will be held as the saviors of their species.
    • Last Enemy (p. 125)
  • Before the epidemic ended, it had almost de-populated this planet. Since the survivors knew nothing about germs, they blamed it on the anger of the gods—the old story of recourse to supernaturalism in the absence of a known explanation—and a fanatically anti-scientific cult got control.
    • Time Crime (p. 143)
  • We define people as criminals when they suffer from psychological aberrations of an antisocial character, usually paranoid—excessive egoism, disregard for the rights of others, inability to recognize the social necessity for mutual cooperation and confidence.
    • Time Crime (p. 173)
  • He had always suspected that beauty was the real feminine religion, from the willingness of its devotees to submit to martyrdom for it.
    • Time Crime (p. 178)
  • A planet could take pretty good care of itself, he thought, if people would only leave it alone.
    • Time Crime (p. 209)
  • “Bad luck!” Brannad Klav snorted. “That’s the standing excuse of every incompetent!”
    • Temple Trouble (p. 225)
  • What does he think a religion is, on this sector, anyhow? Do you think these savages dreamed up that six-armed monstrosity, up there, to express their yearning for higher things, or to symbolize their moral ethos, or as a philosophical escape-hatch from the dilemma of causation? They never even heard of such matters. On this sector, gods are strictly utilitarian. As long as they take care of their worshipers, they get their sacrifice; when they can’t put out, they have to get out. How do you suppose these Chulduns, living in the Caucasus Mountains, got the idea of a god like a crocodile, anyhow? Why, they got it from Homran traders, people from down in the Nile Valley. They had a god, once, something basically like a billy goat, but he let them get licked in a couple of battles, so out he went.
    • Temple Trouble (p. 227)
  • I’ve always wondered whether the theory of the divine right of kings was invented by the kings, to establish their authority over the people, or by the priests, to establish their authority over the kings. It works about as well one way as the other.
    • Temple Trouble (p. 245)
  • Alexandrian-Roman: off to a fine start with the pooling of Greek theory and Roman engineering talent, and then, a thousand years ago, two half-forgotten religions had been rummaged out of the dustbin and fanatics had begun massacring one another.
    • Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (Chapter 1, p. 250)
  • “What gods did your people worship?”
    “Oh, my people had many gods. There was Conformity, and Authority, and Expense Account, and Opinion. And there was Status, whose symbols were many, and who rode in the great chariot Cadillac, which was almost a god itself. And there was Atom-bomb, the dread destroyer, who would some day come to end the world. None were very good gods, and I worshiped none of them.
    • Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (Chapter 4, p. 278)
  • He’d seen theocracies all over paratime, and liked none of them; priests in political power usually made themselves insufferable, worse than any secular despotism.
    • Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (Chapter 6, p. 290)
  • For each man the world ends when he dies.
    • Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (Chapter 9, p. 319)
  • Very high on the I love Rylla, reasons why list was the fact that the girl had a brain and wasn’t afraid to use it.
    • Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (Chapter 10, p. 327)
  • There were dead infantry all along the road, mostly killed from behind. Another case of cowardice carrying its own penalty; infantry who stood against cavalry had a chance, often a good one, but infantry who turned tail and ran had none. He didn’t pity them a bit.
    • Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (Chapter 12, p. 350)
  • They are people who believe in only one god, and then they believe that the god they worship is the only true one, and all others are false, and finally they believe that the only true god must be worshiped in only one way, and that those who worship otherwise are vile monsters who should be killed.
    • Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (Chapter 17, p. 384)
  • A religious war, the vilest form an essentially vile business can take.
    • Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (Chapter 17, p. 385)

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