H. Beam Piper

Much like Ayn Rand, H. Beam Piper was a big believer in the virtue of self-reliance. (So much so, in fact, that he did his best to clean up after his own suicide.) His novels tended to feature highly competent men, doin’ what needed to be done. Piper was also very interested in weaponry—those self-sufficient heroes were all heavily armed, and prone to making statements like “We want to stay out of [a war]. You don’t do that by disarming” and “Guns don’t cause trouble. People cause trouble”.

Frankly, I was surprised by how non-eye-twitch-inducing Piper’s books were. His female characters are relatively well written, and unfortunate racial and gender-related comments are kept to a minimum. I realize that this sounds like damning with faint praise, but, comparing his novels with other genre stories from the period, it’s actually pretty impressive.

Note: In his introduction to the recent reprint of Piper’s Murder In The Gunroom, L. Fred Ramsay blames the poor sales of the original release of The Other Human Race (eventually re-titled Fuzzy Sapiens) on its unfortunate title and what he describes as “one of the worst covers in science fiction publishing history”. I kinda like it—you can judge for yourself here.

Note #2: In 1999, Piper’s novel A Planet for Texans (written by Piper in 1958, and later “expanded” by John J. McGuire and renamed Lone Star Planet) won the Prometheus award for “Best Classic Libertarian SF Novel”.


Very limited, although a few of his titles are being reprinted.

Other Recommendations:
Anything by Alfred Bester

Anything by Iain M. Banks
Posted by: Julia


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