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Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen Mass Market Paperback – May 5, 1955

37 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Lord Kalvan Series

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Mass Market Paperback, May 5, 1955
$74.47 $0.38

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 215 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Reissue edition (January 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441490557
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441490554
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,879,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By George R Dekle on June 29, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Cpl. Calvin Morrison of the Pennsylvania State Police goes out to arrest a killer, stumbles into a lateral time machine, and falls suddenly into the feudal princedom of Hostigos, which is not in another world, but right in the middle of Pennsylvania. Hostigos, ruled by a benevolent prince with a beautiful daughter, faces the short end of a war of extermination. Morrison has a chance to display his leadership ability, utilize his knowledge of military history, rescue the princedom, and wed the princess (who could never be mistaken for the stereotypical damsel in distress). But can he do it before he is hunted down by the Paratime Police? He did, after all, manage to shoot a Paratime Policeman when he stumbled into the lateral time machine.
Piper explores the ramifications of alternate universes and parallel time lines, and makes good use of his knowledge of Renaissance military science in crafting a fast moving, entertaining novella. He should have written a novel.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul Camp on January 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
In the november, 1964 issue of _Analog_, on sale in early October, there appeared a novelette by H. Beam Piper called "Gunpowder God." It was accompanied by a spectacular cover by John Schoenherr. Roughly a month later, because of personal and financial problems, Piper committed suicide with one of his guns. (He was an ardent gun collector, and his knowledge of guns was used extensively in his writing.) Almost exactly a year later, a sequel to "Gunpowder God" entitled "Down Styphon!" appeared in _Analog_, this time with a cover illustration by Kelly Freas.

The two novelettes were assembled into a paperback novel, _Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen_ (1965). It's a good novel, but I can't help but feel that it is a bit incomplete. There are enough loose ends hanging at the close of the work to make me suspect that a third novelette was planned but never written.

The Lord Kalvan stories were part of a larger series of stories that appeared over the years in _Astounding/Analog_ called the Paratime Patrol stories. They involved an undercover police force that patrols alternate history timelines to squash skulduggery among them. Most of these stories were told from the point of view of the Paratime cops. The Lord Kalvan stories are told mostly from the point of view of Calvin Morrison, a member of the Pennsylvania State Police who is accidently snatched from our own timeline into an alternate history in which America has been settled by the Aryan races who migrated east instead of west. He begins to rise rapidly in this timeline. But the Paratime cops fear that they may have to kill him.

In the anthology, _The Good Old Stuff_ (1998), Gardner Dozois argues that while _Lord Kalvan_ was not Piper's best book, it was "his most _entertaining_ book" (305). This is a fair assessment. It seems incredible that Piper could entertain at a time when he was wrestling with his personal demons, but he did. Give this book your attention.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
An exciting treatment of alternate history, this book and its sequel by Green & Carr are the start of a great story that begs for continuation. The main characters call for sympathy, although somewhat two-dimensional supporting roles detract from the story. A modern man in a feudal society makes great upheavals in the life of all around him as he battles a religious order with a gunpowder manufactoring monopoly.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a lifelong fan of time travel and alternate timeline stories, I first read this yarn when it was serialized (as "Gunpowder God") in ANALOG in 1964. I came across it recently at a university book sale and decided it was time to reread it, and I wasn't disappointed. Calvin Morrison, a Korean War veteran and the son of a minister, is a corporal in the Pennsylvania State Police (an organization for which Piper evidently had a high regard). While preparing to rush a bad guy holed up in a farmhouse, he's sideswiped by a passing Paratime Patrol transtemporal vehicle and gets bounced into an alternate Pennsylvania countryside where the Aryans of India went east instead of west, occupying what did not become China and then crossing the Pacific. Morrison is extremely adaptable -- it apparently takes him only an hour or so to accept what's happened to him and that he's not going back to his own world -- and quickly finds himself "Lord Kalvan," chief advisor and war leader to Ptosphes, Prince of Hostigos. All in all, this is a delightful exercise in military and geopolitical fantasizing . . . though it seems odd that people who get scooped up willy-nilly and dumped in ancient Rome, or wherever, always seem to possess all the political, historical, and technical knowledge to set themselves up nicely. Of course, if the displaced person were an overweight fries-cooker at Burger King, or a Mary Kay saleswoman, there wouldn't be much of a story! This is by far the best (and longest) of Piper's Paratime stories. If you liked Sprague De Camp's _Lest Darkness Fall,_ you'll love this one!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Norman Strojny on December 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen" is an excellent read. The pace is relatively fast, with good action. Better yet, Piper puts in plenty of material to make us, all, think.

Perhaps the setting of this story prejudices me in its favor. I grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Everything in this story occurs in North Central Pennsylvania, which has some of the most beautiful scenery in the lower 48 states. It is perfect territory for the type of warfare that Piper describes.

The story follows Pennsylvania State Trooper Calvin Morrison, who wakes after an accident to find himself in familiar territory, but disturbingly different. Everyone speaks a language he never heard. There is a piece of trouble and Calvin decides to help. Calvin awakes in what seems to be a castle. By coincidence, he has 'saved' the local princess. As he recovers and learns the odd language, Calvin becomes Kalvan. And, finds that his new friends are about to be conquered by some forces to the North. Somehow, the religious order that controls the production of gunpowder, and worships Styphon, is supplying the enemies of his friends and not supplying his friends with gunpowder. Kalvan applies some personal knowledge to make gunpowder. What follows is spell-binding.

Calvin/Kalvan has, somehow, slipped into a parallel time line. The result is unexpected by the only folks who know how to move from time line to time line.

Read the story for the sheer fun. Or, read the story for the philosophic questions that it raises. Either way, I enjoyed the story and recommend it strongly.
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