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The Edge of the Knife

H. Beam Piper

Book Overview: 

The Terro-Human Future History is Piper’s detailed account of the next 6000 years of human history. 1942, the year the first fission reactor was constructed, is defined as the year 1 A.E. (Atomic Era). A nuclear war devastates the planet, eventually laying the groundwork for the emergence of a Terran Federation, once humanity goes into space and develops antigravity technology.

The story “The Edge of the Knife” (collected in Empire) occurs slightly before the war, and involves a man who sees flashes of the future. It links many key elements of Piper’s series. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I know about hasn't happened yet."

Weill snatched the cigarette from his mouth to keep from swallowing it. As it was, he choked on a mouthful of smoke and coughed violently, then sat back in the booth-seat, staring speechlessly.

"It started a little over three years ago," Chalmers continued. "Just after New Year's, 1970. I was getting up a series of seminars for some of my postgraduate students on extrapolation of present social and political trends to the middle of the next century, and I began to find that I was getting some very fixed and definite ideas of what the world of 2050 to 2070 would be like. Completely unified world, abolition of all national states under a single world sovereignty, colonies on Mars and Venus, that sort of thing. Some of these ideas didn't seem quite logical; a number of them were complete reversals of present trends, and a lot seemed to depend on arbitrary and unpredictable factors. Mind, this was before the first rocket la. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Part of this prolific author's popular Terra-Human Future History series, the tale "The Edge of the Knife" takes place just prior to the devastating world war that occurs in 1973, wiping out much of humanity and leading to the ascendance of a new world order. The story focuses on a protagonist who i

Brilliant short story.

Loved every aspect of the story.

H. Beam Piper really does know how to write an interesting tale.

There's a great twist towards the end, which makes this a satisfying read. It was slower and less interesting, in my opinion, than the other Piper works I've read.

This one deals with precognition - knowing the future. A history professor with precognition spills future history during one of his lect

A great story

I just love to read dated science fiction and Piper is one of the best from this time period ,this story is about being able to see the future and the trouble you can get into because of it.

In the distant future of 1973, Professor Chalmers of Blanley University is having a little trouble with his history class. He knows the subject and all his facts are true, the only problem is none of them have happened yet. After a disastrous lesson where he accidently revealed foreknowledge of an a

I've only just started reading Piper's works, and it does seem to be character based sci-fi, with characters that are realistic, flawed and have stood the test of time. An interesting look at someone given powers to see into the future, and their passive response to it.

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