Editor’s Introduction to Discovery:

By John F. Carr

The War World shared-world series was the brain-child of Jim Baen, when he was the newly minted publisher of Baen Books. Here’s how it came about:

When Ace Books offered Jim the position of Senior Editor in 1977, Baen left Galaxy magazine. One of his first acts as Ace Senior Editor was to approach Jerry about editing some anthologies for Ace Books. Jerry, at that time, was very involved with the L-5 Society, and told Jim he wanted to do an anthology on near space and L-5 colonies; thus, The Endless Frontier series was born. It was my first big editorial project with Jerry and it came together quite quickly. Jim was so pleased with the success of Endless Frontier that he quickly asked us to do another.

Introduction to War World, a shared-world anthology series, by Editor John F. Carr, and a story by Jerry Pournelle, below.

Meanwhile, with Jerry’s encouragement, Baen sought out the H. Beam Piper estate and purchased it for Ace Books—one of the biggest publishing coups in the SF field’s history.

Before the Piper anthologies could be published, Baen jumped ship again in 1980—this time to his former boss’s new line, Tor Books. He was made vice-president under Tom Doherty and was put in charge of the Tor science-fiction line. One of his first moves at Tor was to contact Jerry about a new anthology series: “This time, I want a military themed anthology series from you.” 

Jerry thought it sounded like a great idea, but quickly cooled off when he heard the title Jim offered, “There Will Be War.” Jim convinced Jerry that this was a title—despite the anti-war sentiments popular in the early 1980s—that would sell books. Jerry shrugged and said, “You’re the marketing genius. We’ll do it.”

The There Will Be War series was very successful for Tor Books, and went on for nine volumes and into the 1990s. It was so successful that when Baen left Tor three years later (with Tom Doherty’s blessing) to found Baen Books he was most unhappy to leave it behind. 

As the new publisher of Baen Books, one of Jim’s first phone calls was to Jerry. He wanted another war-themed anthology from us, only this time he wanted it set in a war-based shared-world anthology. Jim was the editor who created the idea of fantasy and SF theme world anthologies with Robert Lynn Asprin’s Thieves World in 1978 while at Ace Books. The Thieves World series was a great success, spawning a dozen anthologies (in its first incarnation) and a number of spin-off novels. It was followed by George R.R. Martin with Wild Cards, a shared-world series about superheroes—which was way ahead of its time—and Janet Morris’s Heroes in Hell, as well as several others.

I remember Jerry coming down the staircase from his second floor Great Hall, shaking his head. “Well, John, that was Baen on the phone.” 

I nodded; nothing new, they often spent hours on the phone together.

“Jim wants a new war anthology from us.”

I rubbed my hands together. “This sounds like fun! An update on There Will Be War series?”

“No. This one’s going to be a shared-world anthology, taking place on a planet in the CoDominium. We need a name: Any ideas?”

I scratched my head and put my thinking hat on: then it came to me—“War World,” I said. “No one in the field has ever used it.”

“I like it. Let me call Baen back and see what he thinks.”

Jerry came back down to my office about an hour later. “I talked it over with Jim, and he likes it, too. We were talking and decided to make this War World a moon of a Jovian planet, one with a really harsh environment—hellish even.” 

“Okay, I said. Then, let’s call it Haven.”

He laughed. We talked about who were going to be the first settlers and came up with a religious sect based on Earth, the Harmonies.

“John, you work up a planetary history and I’ll design the star system and its planets.” I spent a couple of months working out a history of Haven, while Jerry, with Poul Anderson’s help, got involved with the orbital mechanics and suddenly—War World came to life. 

Later that week Jerry dropped a bombshell: “You’ve been working with me for a long time. I’m not in a position tax-wise to set up a pension, instead when you leave: I will give you ownership of War World. You’ll be able to write and commission other writers to create new stories in my CoDominium/Empire of Man future history.”

I was speechless. I had never heard of any writer, in this field or any other, who had willingly given blanket permission to another writer to write new stories and non-fiction in his universe. I knew Jerry was generous: I’d been there when he helped set up the SFWA Medical Fund with Robert Silverberg and knew of several other down and out authors he had helped. Still, it was quite a shock, a pleasant one—I might add.

 

Before the first book was published, War World: the Burning Eye, we got a lot of help. Roland Green, who was co-authoring books in Jerry’s Janissaries series, helped with the War World background—especially planetary ecology. Steven Shervais became our continuity editor and provided valuable feedback on the physical constraints of the Byers’ Star System, Cat’s Eye and Haven itself.

We contacted a number of our favorite authors to write stories for the first War World anthology. Jerry collared Poul Anderson and Mike Resnick and convinced them to write stories, while I roped in Harry Turtledove, a friend and neighbor, and got Steve Stirling involved. There were a number of requests for a comprehensive author’s guide to explain all the oddities and peculiarities of the Byers System, the Jovian planet Cat’s Eye and its moon, Haven—more a loophole for life than a hospitable environment. The authors wanted detailed information about Haven’s astronomy, geography, day/night cycle, seasons, geology, biology, history, flora and fauna, inhabitants, etc., so a War World authors’ concordance of some 400 pages was created.

Don Hawthorne, who was working at Chaos Manor as our editorial assistant, offered his assistance and, on his own, ended up writing the pivotal story, “The Coming of the Eye,” on the Saurons. I am certain that the series would never have been as successful as it was without Don’s ideas and stories. A number of prominent authors, John Dalmas, Harry Turtledove, Mike Resnick, David Drake, Poul Anderson, S.M. Stirling and a few newcomers wrote stories for the first four War World anthologies. The books sold very well; the Baen edition of War World: The Burning Eye went into four printings—almost unheard of for an original anthology. The series even spawned two War World novels, Blood Feud and Blood Vengeance by Harry Turtledove, S.M. Stirling with Judith Tarr and Susan Schwartz, and a companion volume, CoDominium: Revolt on War World which told the story of the early days of Haven while under CoDominium rule.

Unfortunately, when Jerry went into semi-retirement in the mid-1990s and decided to stop doing any more anthologies, the War World series came to a halt. When I left, he transferred ownership to me as promised. The following note—written in response to a fan wanting to know why I was editing new War World volumes—was posted on Jerry’s online “Chaos Manor in Perspective” on November 18, 2008, which answered his question: “John Carr has permission to write in the War World, and to commission stories in it. Indeed, one reason I created the War World was to give John Carr something as a reward for long faithful, service. Jerry Pournelle.”

In 2007, I decided to revive War World under the Pequod Press imprint. This time I decided to redo War World properly: that is, put the stories in chronological order with lots of new yarns and novels. The first of these new works was the novel, War World: The Battle of Sauron, by me and Don Hawthorne. The new novel revitalized the series and got an excellent review by Tom Easton in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Sales were good and in November of 2010 Pequod released the first of a series of new War World anthologies, War World: Discovery.

Tom Easton had this to say about the new anthology in his review column in the March, 2011, issue of Analog: “About twenty-years ago, Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr brought about a shared-world series called War World. The five anthologies and two novels of the original series featured stories by a raft of authors, including Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, Mike Resnick, Susan Schwartz, S. M. Stirling, Harry Turtledove and William F. Wu. The stories were as diverse as their authors, ranging from pure military strategy to humor to surprisingly tender fables. The last volume, the novel Blood Vengeance, appeared in 1994, and the fun was over.

“At least until 2007, when John F. Carr brought War World back in War World: The Battle of Sauron. Apparently, his intent is to bring the entire corpus of War World stories back into print, supplemented with a substantial number of new stories, portraying the saga in chronological order (the original volumes jumped around haphazardly through history). War World: Discovery is the first volume in this grand reissue.

“The War World is Haven, a just-habitable moon of a gas giant called Cat’s Eye. In the future, Haven will become a battleground between humans and the Saurons, a genetically enhanced master race bent on universal domination. In the beginning, however, Haven was a peaceful colony that soon became a prison planet, a dumping ground for malcontents and undesirables of all types. When criminal gangs take over the place and start causing trouble, the Imperial Marines are sent to bring peace to a planet everyone considers a hell-hole.

“Of the fourteen stories in this volume, four appeared previously; the other nine are brand-new. Work by ten authors is included…if you’re a fan of War World and want to see how it all began, it’s worth it.”

 

Since that review was written, Pequod Press has brought out three more new War World CoDominium era anthologies and three more novels, including the recently released novel: War World: Falkenberg’s Regiment. All are available in both hardcover versions and as e-books. The next new anthology War World: The Fall of the CoDominium will has been published.

The Pournelle story you are about to read is the tale of the original survey ship and its crew and the problems they encountered both while surveying Haven, and then later trying to sell their discovery.

"Discovery," a short story by Jerry Pournelle, courtesy of the Pournelle Family and John F. Carr

By Jerry E. Pournelle

2032 a.d., Deep Space

 

CDSS Ranger was not a happy ship. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with her. Ranger wasn’t new, far from it—she’d been one of the first exploratory ships built after the discovery of the Alderson Drive made star flight possible—but she was well maintained. Captain Jed Byers saw to that. No, Allan Wu thought, that wasn’t the problem. It wasn’t even the food. That was getting pretty monotonous after ten months in space, but Allan had been brought up on rice and whatever could

be found to cook with it. He didn’t need variety, he simply wanted enough to eat, and Ranger provided that, even if the rest of the crew made jokes about Purina Monkey Chow.

It wasn’t the ship. It wasn’t even the crew, not really. The problem was that they weren’t accomplishing anything. No one was going to get rich on Ranger’s discoveries, least of all Allan Wu, and Allan needed the money.

They weren’t accomplishing anything. No one was going to get rich on Ranger’s discoveries, least of all Allan Wu, and Allan needed the money.

It was Captain Byers’ fault. Byers was fine at running a ship, but he didn’t know beans about negotiating with the Bofors Company and the CoDominium. None of the systems he’d been given the right to explore had inhabitable planets. That was to be expected, habitable planets were rare, but the systems hadn’t anything else either. One did have an asteroid belt with plenty of carbon, and even water ice—but no inhabitable planets, and no gas giant in the whole system. No place for merchantmen to get cheap hydrogen fuel. Belters could live without planets, but they couldn't live without some trade with Earth. Byers could file claims, but Bofors wasn’t going to pay any bonuses for that find.

Probably not for the one coming up, either. Allan frowned and stared at the computer screen. It didn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know. A G2 star four light-years away and some twenty parsecs, over sixty light years from Earth. Not that the distance mattered so much. There were two star systems nearby that could be reached by two Alderson Jumps. Not this one. “It’s a bear to get to, and there’s nothing when you get there.”

“You can’t know that,” Linda said. “We know there are planets—”

“At least one planet,” Allan agreed. “Maybe more. Pity the bloody telescope fritzed, we’d know more about that planet. I think it’s a big one.”

“A gas giant and a Belt,” Linda mused. “And a habitable planet, green, about—what? Point 7 A.U. out—?”

“That would do it,” Allan said. “Riches in plenty. But it’s a pipe dream.”

“We still have to go look,” Linda said. “And maybe we’ll get lucky.” She grinned, and Allan caught his breath as he always did when she smiled. He wondered if he’d ever get over that, and hoped he wouldn’t.

“Read the contract lately?” she asked.

“Which one? Mine, yours, or ours?”

“Ours.” She patted her stomach. “Just in time, too. Mother will be pleased....”

“HEAR THIS. PREPARE FOR ALDERSON JUMP.”

“SECURE FOR ALDERSON JUMP.”

Linda shuddered and began strapping herself into the seat in front of her console.

“I saw that,” Allan said. “Still worried about Jumps?”

“Well, some. Aren’t you?”

He nodded slowly. No one had any information on the effects of the Alderson Drive on pregnant women or their unborn children. “Damn, I wish we weren’t going on with—”

“Don’t be silly,” Linda said. “Two more Jumps can’t matter.”

“Sure,” he said, but he didn’t believe it. Alderson Jumps had unpredictably unpleasant effects on healthy adults. They couldn’t be good for fetuses. Allan didn’t care about their child, or at least could convince himself that he didn’t, but the thought of something happening to Linda turned him to jelly.

“ALDERSON JUMP PLOTTED. INITIATING COUNTDOWN.”

Allan checked his straps, then looked to make sure Linda's were properly fastened. All correct.

“STATION CHECK. BIOLOGICAL SECTION REPORT READY FOR JUMP.”

“BIOLOGY READY AYE AYE.”

“Biology,” Allan snorted.

“Sounds nicer than waste disposal.”

“ENGINEERING REPORT READY FOR JUMP.”

“ENGINEERING READY AYE AYE.”

“SCIENCE SECTION REPORT READY FOR JUMP.”

Allan touched a switch, and his computer screen went blank. He glanced at the status lights on his console. “SCIENCE READY AYE AYE,” he reported.

“QUARTERMASTER SECTION REPORT READY FOR JUMP.”

The station check continued. Then the speakers said, “ALDERSON JUMP IN ONE MINUTE. ONE MINUTE AND COUNTING.”

“Science section,” Allan said. There was contempt in his voice. “If I was a real scientist, I’d be investigating things. Why does the Alderson Jump rack people up?”

“Nobody knows that—”

“Exactly. I should be finding out—”

“STAND BY FOR JUMP.”

There was a moment of silence, and the universe exploded around them.

***

Allan hung limply from the straps. He felt drool run down his chin, but for the moment he was too sick to care. His thoughts spun wildly.

For a moment—

For a moment he had known everything. He was sure of it. During that moment, when he, and Linda, and CDSS Ranger had ceased to exist in the normal universe, he had known, known with utter certainty, how planets formed, how the universe began, why the Alderson Drive worked. Now he couldn’t remember any of it, only that he’d once known.

It was a common experience. Probably half the people who had made Jumps had felt it at least once. It was also an odd experience, because no experiment ever devised had measured the time a Jump took. To the best anyone could measure, it took literally no time at all. Yet during that zero interval, humans had thoughts and dreams while computers went mad, so that it was routine to shut down all computers except the ones needed for the Jump, and to have those on timers set to cut power as soon as the Jump was made.

“Linda?” he croaked.

“I’m fine.”

She didn't sound fine. But at first it was hard to care about her or anything else, and after he began to recover from Jump Lag he had work to do. He started the power-up sequences on his computers.

***

”All right, damn-it, so what do we do now?” Captain Byers demanded. He reached into a sideboard and took out a bulb of scotch whiskey, popped the top, and squeezed a shot into his mouth.

“I’m looking,” Allan protested. “Look, it takes time. First I have to establish the plane of the ecliptic. That means I have to find more than two planets, or wait long enough for one to move.”

“Yeah, I understand that,” Byers said. “I don’t suppose it will hurt your search if I mosey on over to the gas giant?”

“Not a bit,” Allan said. “I was going to suggest that. It looks interesting. Hey—”

“Yeah?”

“Moons,” Allan said. “The giant’s got some. Ten anyway. They’ll be in the ecliptic plane.”

“Well, hell, of course they’ll be in the ecliptic,” Byers said. He looked critically at Allan, then shook his head.

“Sir?” Allan asked.

“I keep forgetting,” Jed Byers said. “Not your fault. Mine.”

“Captain, I don’t understand at all,” Allan Wu pleaded.

Jed Byers shrugged and reached into the cabinet. “Have a beer?”

“Well, thank you, sir—”

“By way of apology,” Byers said. “Look, you can’t help it if they deliberately crippled your education.”

Allan frowned. “Captain, I—”

“You’ve got a PhD, from Cornell, and you’re a licensed scientist,” Byers said. “That what you were going to say?”

“Well—”

“And it don’t mean beans,” Byers said. “Not your fault. Look, nobody knows anything nowadays. It’s all in the computers, so there’s no point in knowing anything, right?”

“Well—it’s not worthwhile memorizing facts,” Allan said. “It’s easier to learn where to find them—”

“Where to find them. In the computer. Ever think the computers might be wrong?”

“Sir?”

Jed Byers sighed. “Look, maybe I’ve had too much to drink.” He eyed Allan carefully. “No recorders. Maybe you got one built into your teeth—the hell with it. Look, Dr. Wu, there was a time when ‘scientist’ meant somebody who knew something, who thought for himself—”

“Yes, sir,” Allan said. “I know, and I don’t measure up. I know that; I was just telling Linda. They don’t let us do real research—“

“Maybe it’s worse than that,” Byers said. “Think on it, laddie. The CoDominium Treaty is supposed to stop the arms race, right? So if the CoDominium powers abide by it, everybody else has to, or one of the little guys might get ahead of the CoDominium. Only one problem. Any scientific discovery is likely to have military value. Better to stop it all. So tell me, if you were in CoDominium Intelligence, how would you stop scientific discovery?”

“Well—”

“Get control of everybody’s research budget, every country and every company, not just the U.S. and the Sov world, all of them, Swiss and Swedes and the other neutrals. Put your people on the editorial boards of all the journals. Take over the faculty and administration of the big universities. Elementary stuff. But how can you stop people from thinking? And putting what they think into computer networks?"

Byers laughed bitterly. “When I was a kid—Wu, do you know how old I am?”

“No sir—”

“Older than God. I’ve heard you say it,” Byers said. “Oh, yeah, Ranger’s wired up pretty good. And I know her. I took her out on her first run—”

“Sir? But that was—”

“A long time ago. Yep. Making me old enough to remember when ‘scientist’ meant something, which is the point. When I was a kid, we used to think the computer networks would end censorship forever. How can you censor on-line communications? Hah. You don’t. What you do is corrupt them.” Byers swigged hard at the bulb of scotch. “Think about it. Control research, control publications, and feed false data into the system. Know what Planck’s Constant is? No? Look it up in your machine. Maybe you get the right answer. Maybe you don’t.”

“Sir—” Allan was interrupted by three chirps from his comcard.

“PLANET DETECTED, POINT SIX THREE AU FROM PRIMARY.”

“Hey, a good distance,” Allan reported. “Maybe we’re lucky after all. Sir, if you’ll excuse me—”

“Excuse hell! Doctor Wu, go find out if we’re rich, and be quick about it!”

Five minutes later Allan knew the worst. The planet was barren. So was the only other one in the Habitable Zone. There couldn’t be any life in the system. 

***

“That’s the story,” Geoffrey Wu said. He signaled to the waiter for another platter of pot stickers. “A new planetary system, with a gas giant. No Belt, though.”

“I suppose that’s why I’m buying the dinner,” Bill Garrick said. “Pity. But how’d you end up coming to an expensive school like this?”

Jeff grinned and fished in the pocket of his tunic, found a pink slip of paper, and laid it on the table. “No Belt, but there was something else.”

Garrick looked at the check and whistled.

“Peanuts,” Mary Hassimpton snorted.

“Yeah, well maybe to you, Miss Imperial Banks, but not to Dad,” Jeff said.

“Lighten up, Mary,” Garrick said. He drained his Chinese beer and lit a pipe of borloi. 

“You’re still grinning,” Elayne van Stapleton said.

“And you’ve got money. Tell us about it.”

“Now who’s turn to lighten up?” Mary demanded.

“Aw, let Elayne be,” Bill Garrick said. “Somebody’s got to study. Why not her? So, Jeff, where did the money come from?”

Jeff grinned even wider. “Well, none of the real planets were of any use, but they found a good planet after all. It’s a moon of the gas giant.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Mary said.

“Yeah, I heard about that,” Garrick said, “Haven, right?”

“Right. Not what Captain Byers named it, but it’s official now that the Holy Joes bought it.”

“So. Your old man did all right after all.” Garrick took the check and held it out for Jeff. “So you pay for the Peking Duck.”

“Well, all right,” Jeff said. “But I can tell you, nobody got rich—not real rich—from selling out to Garner Castell.”

(end)

 

Copyright 2020 by William F. Wu. All rights reserved.