News Archives - 2006
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November 22, 2006
Last week I received the contracts for my long awaited H. Beam Piper biography, H. Beam Piper: The Last Cavalier. The publisher will be McFarland & Company, Inc. McFarland is a scholarly press which has published several hundred science fiction studies as well as other genre. They also have access to hundreds of libraries and book stores. We've been in negotiation for a couple of months, but I didn't want to announce it until I received a green light from the McFarland Editorial Board.
This will be McFarland's first SF biography, so the acceptance process took longer than usual.
As I've mentioned previously, I finished a rough draft of H. Beam Piper: The Last Cavalier in 2003 amounting to some 155,000 words. McFarland wants me to cut it back to 110,000 so there will be significant rewriting.
H. Beam Piper was one of the most enigmatic writers in the field of science fiction. He appeared suddenly in 1947 as a mature writer and went on to write a number of memorable short stories in the premier science fiction magazine of the Golden Age, Astounding Science Fiction, under legendary editor John W. Campbell. Piper quickly became friends with many of the top writers of that era, Lester Del Rey, Fletcher Pratt, Frederick Pohl and Sprague de Camp.
Even those who counted Piper among their friends knew very little about the man and his real life as a railroad yard guard for the Pennsy Railroad in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Piper was very protective over his personal privacy and had a Victorian view of publicity and self-promotion. Most of his science fiction friends and fans believed he was an engineer, of the slide rule variety, working for the Pennsy Railroad. Not even his closest friends knew that he began writing as a teenager and received rejection after rejection for close to thirty years before he made his first sale to Astounding Science Fiction in 1945 with "Time and Time Again", which appeared the following year.
H. Beam Piper's entire life was draped in secrecy and he lived in dire poverty for great stretches of time.
After reading this book, you will feel like you've actually met H. Beam Piper; The Last Cavalier contains a treasure trove of material. Over ninety-percent of the information in The Last Cavalier: H. Beam Piper has never been published, made available through the Internet or any other source. The crowning jewel is the complete collection of correspondence between H. Beam Piper and his best friend, Ferd Coleman, which runs from 1929 to 1953 until Coleman's death in a tragic plane crash in Mexico. Thanks to Don Coleman these letters were collected and put together with the Coleman family's personal recollections of Beam as The Early Letters. We owe Don a great round of thanks for saving these several hundred valuable letters, which open up a period of Piper's life that up until now has been pure conjecture and illuminates Beam's early years as a struggling author.
The last half of the book draws heavily from PIPER, Michael E. Knerr's autobiography written for Ace Books in 1987, which they rejected out-of-hand, despite a promise to publish it in return for the "lost" third Fuzzy novel... Serendipitously, I talked to Mike right after his biography was turned down, and he cursed a blue streak against Ace and threatened to destroy the manuscript. I attempted to talk him out of it, pointing out that to throw it away would be a great loss to Piper's legacy. I was surprised as hell, when three months later, he sent me the original manuscript. I had a very nice talk with Mike Knerr's son Daniel recently and learned that Mike Knerr had died in 1999. Dan didn't even know the manuscript of PIPER existed and very graciously gave me permission to quote extensively from it.
This rare manuscript provides a firsthand look at Beam during the last years of his life and provides great insight into Piper's financial and mental decline. I've also had access to Piper's diaries. I was able to interview several members of John J. McGuire's family, Terry and John J. Jr., who have provided me with the exclusive story of the Piper/McGuire collaborative partnership. Anne McGuire, Jack's widow, bestows even more insights about their collaborative efforts and Beam's life in a wonderful question and answer session which she taped.
H. Beam Piper was a fascinating character with a wry wit and an irreverent view of science fiction, his own foibles, the politics of his time and the human species. His letters were written with an eye toward posterity and they truly reward and fascinate even the most casual reader. Piper's humanity and informed intelligence grace every page. Beam was an original, even for his own time.
With the wealth of information I have unearthed over the past twenty-five years, I intend to lift this veil of secrecy from Piper's life and show my readers the real H. Beam Piper beneath his carefully created facade. This book will reveal "the man inside the black cape;" the animal lover, the friend of children everywhere, the lonely man who was imprisoned by his own solitude and unaware of the high regard he was held in by his peers and the science fiction readership—all of whom were stunned by his unexpected suicide.
I'm really excited about getting this book into print and into the hands of readers who will truly enjoy it. It is scheduled for publication in 2008. Visit our Gallery for Alan Gutierrez's latest Paratime color sketch: this time it's a view of Dhergabar City for the Paratime section that will be appearing on the website. This is the first draft and it will go through some further revision before it's finalized. I thought everyone might enjoy seeing this early version.
Meanwhile, I've made good progress with the latest Kalvan volume, Queen Rylla's Victory. There are over 100,000 words committed to paper and it will be finished after the biography is done and off to the publisher. War World: The Battle of Sauron required more continuity work than anticipated and has been delayed a bit longer than expected. A gaming company is very interested in acquiring the rights to the War World series and is now in the process of doing their own continuity study to insure that it's compatible with the other games planned for their future Empire of Man gaming projects. Once they've finished, we will make the necessary adjustments and Pequod Press will go ahead with its plans to publish the book.
All in all, it's been a very busy and exciting couple of months. Wishing you all Happy Holidays!
John F. Carr
June 27, 2006
We have just received two advance copies of Great Kings' War. I'm very pleased with it; the new printer did a wonderful job. The dust jacket art is an expansion of Alan Gutierrez's original cover for the Ace Edition and it took this printing to do it justice!
Inside there are several new maps, one of the Princedom of Hostigos and surrounding areas, one of the Five Kingdoms and two maps of Hostigos Town, a black and white one and a full color map on the end pages. There's also a new dramatis personae. With 60,000 words of new text, this revised edition is the definitive version of Great Kings' War.
The books are scheduled to arrive from the printers by the end of next week. We will package the pre-ordered books and get them out to you as soon as possible.
From some of the e-mails I've been getting, I know a lot of you can't wait to get your hands on them. For those of you who didn't pre-order copies of Great Kings' War, go to Books on the website menu bar and you can order your copy via PayPal or by mail.
At the website Gallery, you can view Alan's latest color sketch for Queen Rylla's Crown (formerly Gunpowder God), the next volume in the Kalvan Saga. I'm making progress on the first draft and should have it completed in time for publication in 2007. It was Victoria's idea that we should finally feature Great Queen Rylla on a book cover and I'm very pleased at how it's coming out, as I'm sure you will be, too.
It's been a busy month as we just received the galleys for War World: the Battle of Sauron to proofread, as well! You can find the artwork for this upcoming book in the Gallery. The Battle of Sauron is scheduled for publication in September.
See our new ad for the new edition of Great Kings' War on the back cover of the July Locus: The Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field.
John F. Carr
April 23, 2006
Welcome to the new Kalvan web site! First, lets give a big round of applause to Mark Richardson for all his great work in creating our new Hostigos home. He's really come up with an outstanding format and I'm very pleased to add him to the Kalvan staff. Thank you Mark!
Also, thanks go to Ed Hebner for all his help in keeping the old web site up and running for the past three years! Hostigos.com will continue under Mark's stewardship as our new webmaster.
Mark and I have taken this redesign opportunity as an opportunity to create some new features, like the Gallery, while recasting some of the former features and making them easier to navigate and access.
We've also trimmed away some of the older and redundant material. Another big plus: our Buy the Books feature now has direct access to PayPal.
There are some new venues for you to visit such as the Road to Hostigos, which tells the story of how H. Beam Piper began the Kalvan Saga as part of his Terro-Human Future History series. It's fortunate that the novelette, When in the Course…, was never published during Piper's lifetime; otherwise, there would have been no Lord Kalvan or any series to continue.
Most of the information in the Road to Hostigos has never been previously published and appears here for the first time.
Great Kings' War is at the printers now and we hope to have copies within the next eight to ten weeks. For a picture of the new Great Kings' War dust jacket cover, go to Gallery.
Gunpowder God is past the halfway mark and on schedule for publication in 2007.
My next book, War World: The Battle for Sauron, is at the typesetters and it will be appearing in about six months. See the Gallery for the preliminary color sketch for the War World dust jacket cover.
If you have any suggestions, ideas or comments about the new web site, please send them to Otherwhen@aol.com. Thanks!
John F. Carr
February 26, 2006
While unpacking and proofing the final manuscript of "Great Kings' War" last year, I discovered, much to my delight, several lost scenes. These were scenes that Roland and I had been forced to cut from the original manuscript when Ace Books informed us that the book was too long. After reading and enjoying them, I decided they were worth restoring and put them back into the book. With the other previously written new scenes and expanded text, the Revised Edition of "Great Kings' War" will contain 60,000 more words (equal to another book the length of "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen") of text than the Ace Books original paperback!
This edition will also feature three brand new maps, including a two-page map of Hostigos and a map of the Six Kingdoms. In addition, there will be a street map of Hostigos Town.
Late last year, after our move from Granada Hills, California, I met Dennis Frank (Chief of the Kalvan Map Team), in person for the first time. We had been e-mailing back and forth for several months regarding the geographical details of the new maps that were to be included in "Great Kings' War." When I mentioned to Dennis that I was thinking of creating a Map of Hostigos Town, he suggested we meet in Bellefonte (aka Hostigos Town) for a walking tour of the town. Two weeks later we met at the Bellefonte Railroad Museum and spent the first half of the day going over topographical maps and discussing the geography of Hos-Hostigos.
After a great lunch at Schnitzels Tavern, we went on a tour of downtown Bellefonte, where we investigated the various possible locations for Ptosphes' Summer Palace, the Red Halberd Inn, the High Temple of Dralm and other Hostigi landmarks that needed to be included on any worthwhile map of Hostigos Town. Over the next few weeks, I put together a list of streets, temples, and other notable places mentioned in the Kalvan books, along with many others I created on the spot, and then sent them to our mapmaker, Alan Gutierrez.
This Hostigos Town Map was the labor of several months, as Dennis, Alan and myself debated places of significance, street names, landmarks and the style of the drawings. From the beginning, I told Alan I wanted two maps: a colour one for the Hostigos website and a black and white one for the book.
The colorized map of Hostigos Town is now on the website for all to enjoy. Alan did a superb job. A slightly different black and white version of this map will appear in the new Limited Edition hardcover of "Great Kings' War."
I've been busy fixing up the house and organizing my office since my last post. Victoria and I are really enjoying both the change of scenery and actual seasons we experience here in Centre County, Pennsylvania! The new office remodel was finished in late December so I now have an ideal workspace with a beautiful view of Mt. Nittany. Plus, I'm making good headway on the next book in the Kalvan Saga, "Gunpowder God."
Victoria Carr and the Copyediting Team of Chief Chris Corley, Dwight Decker, Eric Oppen and Richard Oakley have proofed the galleys for the new and revised edition of "Great Kings' War". I'm fortunate to have a wife who not only loves to read, but is also an excellent copyeditor. Roland Green, who is recovering from serious health problems that have plagued him for the past three years, also gave them the once-over. With their large number of exotic spellings, geographical descriptions and a huge cast of characters, the Kalvan books are daunting for even the most proficient copyeditors. Let's all give a hearty Hostigos cheer to these volunteers!
We are still on track for having the revised edition of "Great Kings' War" in print before the end of spring.
For those of you who would like to visit the Otherwhen site of the mythical Princedom of Hostigos, May 20, 2006 is the date of the 3rd Annual Hostigos Irregular's Muster. This year we will be meeting at Webster's Book Store.
For those who are unfamiliar with this celebration of Piper Country, the Irregular's Muster is a daylong celebration of H. Beam Piper's creation, Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen. The meeting is held in State College, where there are a number of affordable hotels and fine restaurants. The day is spent meeting friends, visiting those places mentioned in the Kalvan books and in good fellowship. Dennis Frank and Fred Ramsey are the tour guides. Dennis has done a lot of work locating and documenting the Hostigos sites mentioned in "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen" and "Great Kings' War." Visit Dennis's website at http://users.penn.com/~djfrank/Home_Page.html for more information, maps and photos of Hostigos and other places of interest, as well as a complete appendix to "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen."
After our tour of Bellefonte, Dennis drove me to the exact spot where Calvin Morrison rolled out of the Paratime Police transtemporal conveyer onto Aryan-Transpacific, Styphon's House Subsector soil! He devoted a lot of effort in researching the area and finding the exact farmhouse where the escaped prisoner was holed up. All the clues were there, including proximity to Bellefonte (Hostigos Town), the small cliff and the bubbling creek mentioned in "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen." Visiting that spot was a moving experience for me; I felt like a Muslim visiting Mecca for the first time! Maybe we can convince Dennis to lead another expedition to this out-of-the-way spot again this year at the Irregular's Muster.
Now that I'm living in Hostigos, I will be attending the Irregular's Muster to answer questions on H. Beam Piper and give an update on the Kalvan Saga, including the new Kalvan book, "Gunpowder God," currently a work-in-progress. My goal is to finish the book this year and get it to Pequod press for publication in 2007.
In other book news, plans are now underway for Pequod Press to publish a trade edition of the long awaited War World novel, "War World: The Battle of Sauron" by John F. Carr and Donald Hawthorne in the fall of 2006. During the late 1980's and early 1990's, Baen Books published five collections and two novels in the War World shared-universe series edited by Jerry Pournelle and myself. These stories all take place on the planet Haven, a world in the CoDominium and Empire of Man future history. The new book will chronicle the fateful Battle of Sauron and the attack on Haven. If this volume is well received, there are two more complete and unpublished War World collections to follow.
John F. Carr