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The Cosmic Computer

H. Beam Piper

Book Overview: 

Conn Maxwell returns from Terra to his poverty-stricken home planet of Poictesme, “The Junkyard Planet”, with news of the possible location of Merlin, a military super-computer rumored to have been abandoned there after the last war. The inhabitants hope to find Merlin, which they think will be their ticket to wealth and prosperity. But is Merlin real, or just an old rumor? And if they find it will it save them, or tear them apart?

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .That made sense. If he'd been Foxx Travis, and if there had been a Merlin, that was exactly where he'd have put it himself. But there was no Merlin, and he wanted a ship. He argued mulishly for a little, then saw that it was hopeless and gave in.

"I want to find Merlin as much as any of you," he said. "More. Merlin was the only thing I was trained for. We'll look there first."

Somebody asked where, approximately, this underground Force Command headquarters was.

"Why, it's in the Badlands, over between the Blaubergs and the east coast."

"Great Ghu! We'll need an army to go in there?" Tom Brangwyn said. "That's where all these outlaws have been coming from, Blackie Perales and all."

"Then we'll get an army together," Klem Zareff said happily. "Might make a little of that reward money that's been offered."

"We'll need more than that. Well need excavation equipment, and labor. Lots of labor," Conn said. "It's a couple of. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Oddly, Piper had a very limited vision of what future computer technology might look like, but the story is more about people than about hardware.
At the core of the story is the economic upheaval that can follow a war, in this case an entire planet that was in a "boom town" economy during wartime...more

From my lofty perspective of the 21st century, it is amusing how many classic sci-fi authors were able to imagine computers of near-godlike capacity... and yet never imagine miniaturization. I suppose the former follows, while the latter was dependent on advances and discoveries not currently in...more

Short and almost pointless. Not the best example of H. Beam Piper.

It was just barely okay.

The planet Poictesme is in a deep economic rut: the original Gartner Trisystem colonies was almost exclusively an export economy, and when its trading partners gained manufacturing capabilities the Trisystem economy collapsed. After a long depression the System States War briefly returned prosper...more

The Cosmic Computer is basically a story about economic development. It features the same sorts of hardy capable men as Four Day Planet did. It also includes a hardy capable woman. It's set in the same fictional galaxy, as well.

The adventure isn't quite as rollicking as in Four Day Planet. But no...more

The book takes place in a "universe" that is a forerunner to the "Firefly" universe. There was a big war of unification/consolidation, and after the war the backwater planets are poor while the core planets remain wealthy. The residents of one of the backwater planets intend to better their situa...more

The Cosmic Computer is set in a post inter-galactic war society. The economy of the planet the story centers around is in the midst of a depression, and things are only getting worse. During and after the war rumors circulated about a super computer that could solve the problems of mankind, and r...more

You know that asshole friend of a friend who is always going around telling people to read The Fountainhead or, heaven forbid, Atlas Shrugged as a way to really get excited about capitalism? And it always turns out that the only things those books do is to produce another asshole who blames his...more

Well, this was enjoyable--especially because it was so compact! It clocks in at 190 pages, for a story that would almost certainly require 300 or more these days. Part of that difference might benefit the modern version, as a novel like this now would probably go to more trouble to flesh out the...more

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