Between “The Answer” and this story, Piper also published “Oomphel in the Sky”.
Review: Four-Day Planet, H. Beam Piper, 1961.
Probably my favorite Piper novel which is somewhat surprising because it’s a juvenile novel published by G. P. Putnam. According to John F. Carr’s Typewriter Killer, Piper was following the example of Andre Norton and Lester del Rey in producing juvenile novels in the wake of the successful Robert A. Heinlein’s juveniles from the same publisher.
Carr notes that it was a relatively painless effort for Piper who wrote it quickly and went through only two drafts as opposed to his usual false starts and frequent revisions. Jack Chalker, in an appreciation of Piper, said it was one of his best works, enjoyable for adults as well as teens. Putnam only edited a few words of “violent action” from Piper’s manuscript.
The narrator is Walter Boyd, a 17-year-old reporter for his dad’s newspaper (actually written and then wired to several remote teleprinters) on the planet Fenris.
Fenris is a hellish place where day and night are each 4,000 hours long, and the latter gets cold enough to freeze carbon dioxide out of the air. There are only four days in the planet’s year. The settlement on the planet is now only about 24,000. That’s down 90 percent from the original settlement. It went bust about a 100 years ago when the original Chartered Fenris Company and its mining operation went out of business. The Federation Navy evacuated most of the settlement, but a few people remained behind.
Eventually, a new industry arose—the hunting of large marine beasts, “monsters”, for their “tallow-wax”. That’s a substance of very large molecules (large enough to see in a microscope) which will stop radiation from penetrating anything coated with it. The wax is very inflammable and has its own oxygen, so, once it starts burning, you have to let it burn out. However, it also has a very high ignition temperature.Continue reading