Customer Reviews: The Complete Paratime
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on October 9, 2001
H. Beam Piper was obsessed with reincarnation, time travel, and alternate worlds. He capitalized on that obsession by writing the Paratime stories, a loosely knit series of novelettes. Verkan Vall, of the Paratime Police, served as the central character of most of the Paratime stories, and he made a capable, likeable hero.
The best of the Paratime stories centered around another hero, Cpl. Calvin Morrison of the Pennsylvania State Police. Morrison figured in three short stories, "Gunpowder God," "Down Styphon," and a third unpublished story. The three were posthumously conjoined to form the novella "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen."
The stories in which Cpl. Morrison takes no part were collected in "Paratime." The present book contains both "Paratime" and "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen." It also contains a very interesting prologue in which John F. Carr discusses Piper's ideas on time travel, alternate worlds, and reincarnation. He offers Piper's firm belief in reincarnation as a possible explanation for Piper's suicide.
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on February 14, 2001
H. Beam Piper,in this collection of stories, provides insight into a society that can leverage the resources from a near infinite number of worlds and the awesome responsibility that entails. The Paratime police force is tasked with monitoring the vast number of parallel worlds, many of which have had history take a different path then in ours.

Verkan Vall, one of the Paratime officers, deals with criminals intent on exploiting less advanced civilizations and the problems with civilizations more advanced then his own, while keeping the secret of paratime travel safe.

The longest story in this collection, Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, describes the fate of a man from our 20th century Earth who is dropped accidentally into a parallel universe where different population migration patterns have resulted in a drastically different world. Coming into a world centuries behind his own, Calvin Morrison, once of the Pennsylvania State Police, ends up leading the beleagured nation of Hostigos against the corrupt theocracy that holds a monopoly on technology.

Another story in this collection include: "He Walked around the Horses," which offers a possible explanation on the disapperance of Benjamin Bathurst, a diplomat in Napoleonic Europe.

There are several other well paced stories in this collection. Most of the parallel worlds are described in tantalizingly little detail allowing the reader to imagine what other alternatives could be. If you like parallel world fiction, you'll get your fill with this collection.
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on November 3, 2006
"The Complete Paratime" collects all the works from H. Beam Piper that deal with paratime, i.e. the existence of alternate universes and people either accidentally or purposefully crossing from one to another. This collection, published in 2001, contains a previous collection called "Paratime", which was published in 1981. The previous collection included five stories. Also included is the novel called "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen" which was originally published in 1965 and itself was a collection of two previously published stories along with a new one.

"He Walked around the Horses" is Piper's first paratime story, and doesn't directly fit with the other stories collected in this book. This novelette was first published in April of 1948, and is the story of a British envoy to the court of Austria who vanished while en route from Vienna to Hamburg in 1809. The story is cleverly told as a series of statements from witnesses as being reported by the Minister of Police.

"Police Operation" is the first story to feature Verkan Vall, a Paratime policeman who in tracing someone, learns that they have broken the law by bringing along a pet from another time-line, which ultimately threatens to reveal the existence of paratime. This is another novelette which was first published in July of 1948, and it serves as a good introduction to the Paratime Police and Verkan Vall, both of which are present in the rest of the stories in this collection.

"Last Enemy" is perhaps the best of the stories in this collection. This novelette was first published in August of 1950. This novelette brings in the character of Dalla, and is an interesting story involving a time-line where reincarnation is considered an established fact. This is his only story which involves a Second Level time-line, which means a civilization nearly as advanced as that of the First Level. This story was nominated in 2001 for the Retro-Hugo for novelettes written in the year 1950.

"Time Crime" is the novella story, which was first published in February and March of 1955. The story involves a criminal slave ring operating out of the First Level. This is the longest individual story of the series, although the joining of the three Lord Kalvan stories did create one longer work. Much of this story deals with the First Level, which makes it very different than the other stories.

"Temple Trouble" is a novelette which was first published in April of 1951. In this story the Paratime Police are called in to help fix a problem with a commercial venture, only to find that there may be a bit more to the problem than they originally thought.

"Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen" is a novel created out of three pieces of shorter fiction. The first was called "Gunpowder God", in which Corporal Calvin Morrison is accidentally taken from the "Earth" time-line to a Fourth Level time line. There his knowledge of how to make Gunpowder makes him looked at as a powerful sorcerer, and a potential threat to the Paratime Police. This novelette was first published in "Analog" in November of 1964. The second part is "Down Styphon", which picks up the story where it was left off, and covers the war between Hostigos and Nostor. This novelette was first published in "Analog" in November of 1965. The last section, as far as I know, was never published apart from being the conclusion of the entire novel. Here Kalvan becomes the great King Lord Kalvan in pursuing his war against Styphon.

This is an interesting series of stories, and there is a good variety of themes explored in them as well. I would definitely recommend this to fans of Piper, as it is an interesting blend of science fiction and fantasy.
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on March 9, 2001
Piper's Paratime stories are great action adventure yarns with admirable lead characters and satisfying solutions. Each story is enjoyable in its own right, but having them all collected together will also allow the reader to enjoy them in the context of H. Beam Piper's "big picture", the society that discovered infinite probability worlds, and now exploits and protects them with its Paratime Police. The pinnacle of the Paratime stories is "Lord Kalvan Of Otherwhen" wherein a contemporary character is accidentally transported by the Paratime Police to a pike and musket society. He doesn't just survive, but lives a fuller and more important life than was possible before his "accident". Kalvan's adventures are continued in "Great King's War" and the just published "Kalvan Kingmaker", both written true to Piper by John F. Carr. Kudos to Ace for bringing all the original Piper stories together in one book.
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on August 12, 2013
I have said it elsewhere, and I'll say it again, the greatness of an Author can be counted by the number of years his works stay in print. Hugh Beam Piper is now in the fiftieth year or so. There are two worlds that are kept Alive. The Fuzzies, and the Paratime Police. And now you can read all about a man who walks around his carriage and vanishes; and a Pennsylvania State Policeman who gets caught up by a conveyer and is dumped into a weird (to Him)world of swords and Armour, and ridiculous Gods and beautiful Princesses. And Boy do they ever smoke, even possibly having sex, I think! Lots of blood and guts, not for the faint of heart, but if Lester delRey thinks its great who am I to argue.
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on March 9, 2001
If you've ever wondered how (or if) you could survive in a late medieval society, Lord Kalvin is for you. It chronicles the adventures of a Pennsylvania State Trooper who is carried across timelines to an alternate reality where North America is a land of feudal princes and castles. The Paratime short stories all build up to Lord Kalvin and show a much greater variety of parallel worlds than has been writen about in the last 30 years. Even though Piper is dead and gone, his work is still alive, in the hands of author John Carr. He's just released his second 'Lord Kalvin' novel; "Kalvin Kingmaker" and it can be found out at His first Kalvin sequel is out of print, though it is available online from various bookstores. "The Complete Paratime is IMHO the definative work on parallel time and alternate worlds.
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This book is a compilation of two books by the incomparable H. Beam Piper. The first is Paratime, a collection of five short stories, and is complete with its fascinating introduction by John F. Carr. The stories are fascinating, and show off Piper's masterful writing. The second is Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, a fascinating story of a Pennsylvania State Trooper who is lifted out of his (our) own space-time continuum and is dropped down into a very different world.

I must admit that I was hoping for a little something extra in buying this book, a new introduction perhaps. But, even so, my copies of the original books were becoming worn-out, and it is nice to be able to get a new copy of these books.

To those new to the Paratime stories: H. Beam Piper created a fascinating multiverse where a culture has developed the ability to travel laterally between universes (parallel Earths), and has undertaken to maintain its monopoly of such travel. The Paratime Police were formed to ensure that the secret is kept, and that no unlicensed travel would occur. These stories document the Paratime Police's activities and showcase a number of fascinating parallel Earths created by the author. I highly recommend this wonderful book.
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on March 16, 2001
H. Beam Piper's Paratime stories, first published between 1948 and 1965 and culminating in his 1965 novel Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, chronicle the efforts of a human civilization from a parallel world which has discovered the secret of cross-time travel to protect the "Paratime Secret," the very existence of the multitude of parallel worlds. As the Paratime Police protect the Secret they also make it possible for this "First Level" civilization to exploit the parallel worlds, something they have been doing for the past 10,000 years! Naturally, much of the adventure takes place on Fourth Level, Europo-American Sector, Hispano-Columbian Subsector--our own place in the multiverse. Piper's novel traces the exploits of Calvin Morrison, a Pennsylvania state trooper who is mistakenly transported to a parallel world of musket and pike warfare and a theocracy based upon the secret of gunpowder. Morrison becomes "Lord Kalvan" as he helps a local prince--and his lovely daughter--to combat the gunpowder god's minions.

While billed as "complete" this compilation, which consists of the Kalvan novel and Piper's stories previously collected in the 1981 anthology Paratime edited by John F. Carr omits two other possible Paratime stories, "Genesis" and "Crossroads of Destiny" which appeared in the 1983 anthology The Worlds of H. Beam Piper also edited by Carr. Three authorized sequels to Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, 1985's Great Kings War by John F. Carr and Roland Green, 2001's Kalvan Kingmaker by Carr, and 2003's Siege of Tarr-Hostigos also by Carr, are also not included.

Also recommended by H. Beam Piper: Four-Day Planet (1961), Uller Uprising (1952), The Cosmic Computer (1958), Space Viking (1962), Federation (1981), and Empire (1981).
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on February 20, 2013
I read Lord Kalvan when I was a youth and remembered it warmly. This was for my son and, truth to be told, I read it before I gave it to him. Time may have dimmed my memory for the story, but it was still a good read and I recommend it. The other stories in the volume are different enough to make for interesting reading.

I recommend this as good science fiction with an very interesting premise - Parallel universes.
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on August 26, 2006
H. Beam Piper's Paratime stories are considered today to be classic SF of the old school. This book prints all these stories, in chronological order, under one title at last. The best known story today is "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen", and having read all these stories it is easy to see why it strikes such a positive note with many people - especially if you like war stories in parallel universes.

This book contains the following short stories and novellas:

He Walked around the Horses

Police Operation

Last Enemy

Time Crime

Temple Trouble

Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen

These are a fine collection of classic stories that are worth taking the time to read and they easily keep you entertained for the length of this book, and while they are dated to some degree (It would be hard to credit so many characters in one book which smoke today) they have not dated to the extent that they are no longer enjoyable.
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