Review: Space Viking, H. Beam Piper, 1963.
With a title like that, I don’t really have to tell you what historical analogy Piper was working with in this Terro-Human Future History story. But, as we’ll see, Piper works with other historical parallels too.
Piper began this novel around October 1961 and finished it on May 8, 1962. John W. Campbell bought it for serialization in Analog that month even though he had a backlog of material. Campbell really liked the story and proposed several stories set in the Sword Worlds, but Piper would not write any more stories using that setting. It appeared in the January 1963 issue of Analog.
It would turn out, with the check from Analog and Ace paperback sales, to be Piper’s most profitable book in his lifetime.
Our story opens with Lucas Traskon, an aristocrat on Gram, one of the Sword Worlds. It’s centuries on from the collapse of the Terran Federation of Piper’s earlier stories.
Traskon is to be married to Lady Elaine that day. Before the wedding, we hear of Andray Dunnan, a man spurned by Elaine and kind of crazy. He’s sort of a stalker and refuses to believe she is willingly marrying Traskon. Dunnan also spreads stories that nobody believes that he was born before his brother. He inherited a barony but squandered his money, and his property is heavily mortgaged. He’s set to ship out soon with a mercenary company he’s formed.Continue reading