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News Archives - 2008

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July 3, 2008

Dear Friends,

H. Beam Piper - A Biography

It's official: "H. Beam Piper: A Biography" is now in print and available in the Shop from our website. As you can see from the cover scan, McFarland & Company did a great job on the book. The biography covers H. Beam Piper's personal life as well as his writing career.

Even those few who counted H. Beam Piper among their friends knew very little about the man and his real life as a night watchman for the Pennsy Rail Road in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Piper enjoyed the role-playing and mystery involved in 'hiding' his real self. Mike Knerr, his friend, wrote: "Beam wanted to be what he believed a man should be, a living example of what he put on paper and, when he failed in his quest he could not allow it to be seen.

The argument with his wife (Betty) over nothing resulted in a separation that tortured him, yet he felt he could not compromise his decision and, in order to reinforce his attitude, he told lies about it. His bullheaded determination to write unsalable mysteries resulted in wasted time and a lack of funds that eventually had him shooting pigeons to survive. Even in his writing, as skillful as it was, he believed that he couldn't live up to what he felt a writer should be.

"His stories were excellent, almost always earning the Analog bonus of extra money. They were popular with the world of fandom at the time when science fiction was a 'closed club,' as far as the writing fraternity was concerned."

"Piper was generous with his knowledge of science fiction and writing, but extremely chary about his personal life, and he continually lurked in a lonely silence behind a dark suit and the black overcoat he often wore slung over his shoulders. He was recognized by many people, known by very few and understood by even fewer. He was, 'that writer…what's his name…?' He was not initially friendly, nor much given to casual relationships with neighbors, but was extremely loyal to those he liked. One was never given friendship by H. Beam Piper; one earned it."

"He was opinionated, stubborn and in some ways a bit selfish, and his refusal to bend or compromise what he called his principles often bordered on the absurd. He was an atheist by his own admission, hated Democrats and believed that Social Security was the invention of the devil. He liked animals and often made friends with stray dogs and cats. He was an original. A brilliant, often tormented writer, but an original to the core."

"Little of the character that H. Beam Piper displayed to the world resembled the inner man. Beam preferred to be an enigma wrapped in a riddle and he often went to great lengths to perpetuate this belief... He maintained that attitude toward everyone, a solitary individual who spent his life chuckling at society, politics and the masses and the clumsy handling of their affairs."

"His life, and the various myths that swirled around him, is as difficult to bring into focus as the character of the man himself. Swathed in secrecy and a verbal smoke screen of self-produced fiction, he lived out his final years in a lonely, frustrated existence that few people, if any, understood. Except when it suited his purposes, he refused to discuss his past and his origins and, when he did, he frequently lied. He generally summed up everything with a favorite expression: "Man is born, he suffers, he dies; so far, I've done two thirds of this."

"H. Beam Piper: A Biography" will show the man behind the smoke screen. The book includes a number of never before published photos from the 1920's through the 1950s of H. Beam Piper, Betty Piper, Verkan Vall (their dog) and friends. The appendix will include Piper's Story Log, his own History of the Future, an article on Piper's Terro-Human Future History, a bibliography of published works and an inventory of his pistol collection compiled by Piper himself.

"H. Beam Piper" will illuminate H. Beam Piper the writer and the man behind the mask, how he became a writer and answer the lingering questions about H. Beam Piper's death: whether or not it was really a suicide, or murder?

The majority of this information in the book has never seen the light of day and will show Piper the man, as well as unlock many of the 'mysteries' surrounding his life and death.

After a three month delay, when my computer died and both hard drives crashed, I'm back to work on "The Fireseed Wars", the next book in the Kalvan Saga.

The Continuity Team has copies of the first draft of "The Fireseed Wars," and I'm presently waiting for their comments and suggestions. I hope to have a complete final draft by the end of this summer.

John F. Carr

January 12, 2008

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year's to all my readers! It's been a busy end-of-the-year: I finished the first draft of "The Fireseed Wars" (three-years in the making) and am now doing the final rewrite. Next it will go to the Kalvan Continuity Team for vetting. "The Fireseed Wars" now runs 180,000 words and I'm really excited about this new book. It veered way off my original outline; you could almost say, it wrote itself! After I finished the book in early November, I was on a roll. I got the idea for a new Paratime story, The Transtemporal Man, which I wrote in a creative fury. I also found time to write a third "Time Crime" novelette (I always thought Piper cut the last third of the story, at John Campbell's orders), under the working title, Back From the Dead. I haven't decided whether or not to publish the new "Time Crime" as a stand-alone novel, or as part of the "Paratime Police Chronicles"... Time will tell.

My wife came up with the idea of putting out an H. Beam Piper T-shirt to coincide with the publication of the new Piper biography. Well, "H. Beam Piper: A Biography" is due from McFarland & Company on March 30, 2008 and that time has arrived.

Tori and I have always thought the Typewriter 'Killer' image from the Pennsy article of the same name was the best surviving photograph of H. Beam Piper and certainly the most noir.

Thanks to Tom Rogers, we've obtained a very high quality copy of the September 1953 "Pennsy" issue and have made up a limited number of white Typewriter 'Killer' T-shirts with this black and white image.

These will be 100% cotton Gildan T-shirts. The Typewriter 'Killer' image will be on the front and the back will read: H. Beam Piper: A Biography with my web address underneath. We have them available in the following sizes: Large, Extra-Large, XX-Large and XXX-Large sizes. If you have a special request for a smaller size, write and I'll see what I can do. Visit the Shop on our menu for a scan of the T-shirt, pricing and other details.

These shirts will be a unique Piper memento. I'm really looking forward to wearing mine at some SF Cons next year. It's a striking image of the Thin Man, as Beam's close friends called him, and they should be a great conversation starter!

Finally, after thirty years, my Piper biography will soon be in print - March 30, 2008!

We will be selling copies in the Shop here at as soon as they're available. "H. Beam Piper: A Biography" will illuminate H. Beam Piper the writer and the man. The majority of this information on H. Beam Piper has never seen the light of day and I fully intend to show Piper the man, as well as unlock many of the 'mysteries' surrounding his life and death.

My final announcement is that the H. Beam Piper Memorial website is up and running on the Internet at

The H. Beam Memorial Fund was founded by Dennis Frank and John Carr to collect donations from Piper fans and readers to purchase a proper granite memorial headstone for Piper's grave in Fairview Cemetery, Altoona, Pennsylvania and to pay tribute to the memory of H. Beam Piper.

It is our plan to raise enough money through contributions so that we, as a group of Piper fans and admirers, can replace the existing grass covered marker at Altoona's Fairview Cemetery with a solid granite memorial stone. The new headstone will include an etching of Beam's face and his epithet, provided by his ex-wife, Betty Piper in a 1975 letter: "'He always maintained his independence.' he said he wanted that on his tombstone."

It is only fitting that we who love his work memorialize his burial site. The new headstone will be composed of gray granite (Rock of Ages) and will cost approximately $5,115.00, which is the Altoona Memorial Studio estimate. We plan to raise the money through contributions here and on the new Memorial website.

Donations can be made via PayPal at, or by sending a check or money order to:

H. Beam Piper Memorial Fund P.O. Box 96 Boalsburg, PA 16827

John F. Carr