Five short stories from H. Beam Piper – A Review

H. Beam Piper

As previously promised, here are the reviews of some short stories from H. Beam Piper that I’ve read recently. They are all available for free from Project Gutenberg or Amazon. I decided to look up the origins of each, along with some art. The images are not mine.

There are many more H. Beam Piper stories on Project Gutenberg as well, and there are many compiled anthologies out there too. I read most of Piper’s stores prior to creating this blog site, so they never got reviewed here. I may correct that in the future!

In the mean time, see if any of these tickle your fancy, and read them for yourself! Links are at the bottom of each.


“I’m convinced that I’m in direct-voice communication with the spirit of a young girl who was killed by Indians in this section about a hundred and seventy-five years ago.”

First published in Weird Tales Vol. 43, No. 3 in March 1951

An old Colonel is being forcefully committed by a scheming nephew and his wife because he seems to have an imaginary friend… but is she?

A nice quick read with an excellent ending.

4 out of 5 Stars

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link

The Mercenaries

“…every literate person in the world knew that the four great power-blocs were racing desperately to launch the first spaceship to reach the Moon and build the Lunar fortress that would insure world supremacy. “

First published in Astounding Science Fiction Jan 1950

Blurb: Once, wars were won by maneuvering hired fighting men; now wars are different—and the hired experts are different. But the human problems remain!

A decent, but not great, read. A group of scientists who do research for hire get caught up in a case of international intellectual espionage, and because they are independent (i.e. Mercenaries) they will all be held responsible for the treasonous acts as a group unless they deal with it themselves.

Interesting, but I’m not sure what the point of it was. I guess things have changed too much for the story to be relevant. Still, the point of how to deal with rogue operators in a mercenary outfit was well made.

Only 2 out of 5 Stars on this one.

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link

Day of the Moron

“It’s natural to trust the unproven word of the fellow who’s “on my side”–but the emotional moron is on no one’s side, not even his own. Once, such an emotional moron could, at worst, hurt a few. But with the mighty, leashed forces Man employs now….”

First published in Astounding Science Fiction in Sept 1951

Should there be an intelligence test for highly sensitive jobs? Dangerous ones with huge ramifications to the general public if it’s done wrong? Probably, but only if the Union gets a say!

I liked this story and was left shaking my head that the true-to-life ‘defense of the stupid because he’s our man’ that so often makes headlines even today.

3 out of 5 Stars

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link


“Was this ill-fated expedition the end of a proud, old race—or the beginning of a new one?
There are strange gaps in our records of the past. We find traces of man-like things—but, suddenly, man appears, far too much developed to be the “next step” in a well-linked chain of evolutionary evidence. Perhaps something like the events of this story furnishes the answer to the riddle.”

First published in Future combined with Science Fiction stories magazine in Sept 1951

Imagine you’re fleeing your dying home world on your way to colonize a new planet with all your supplies and plans, but then the worst happens and you crash – stranded with no hope of rescue or support – how do you survive?

Now imagine that new planet is Earth when the Neanderthals roamed… and they don’t like you AT ALL!

A neat take on the alternate origins of mankind! Excellent Read!

5 out of 5 Stars

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link

Flight From Tomorrow.

Hunted and hated in two worlds, Hradzka dreamed of a monomaniac’s glory, stranded in the past with his knowledge of the future. But he didn’t know the past quite well enough….

First published in Future combined with Science Fiction stories magazine in Sept 1951

A megalomaniacal tyrant uses a time machine to escape a coup against him and travel to the past to try again, but sabotage lands him in a different time than he intended. 

A very interesting story with a tragically flawed premise (it’s flat wrong). Setting that aside… IF the main scientific premise (which I will not state here as it is a spoiler) WERE to be factual, then the story is quite thought provoking. It is well written, interesting (despite the flaw because you don’t get to that until the end), and action packed. It’s a worthwhile read.

4 out of 5 Stars

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link

My obligatory reminder that you can find my books on as well!

If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.

If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.


Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:


The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.