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The Mercenaries

H. Beam Piper

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Tonto Basin. The inside guards jumped to attention and saluted; the barrier shot up as though rocket-propelled, and the car slid through; the barrier slammed down behind it. On the other side, the guards were hurling themselves into a frenzy of saluting. Karen made a face after the receding car and muttered something in Hindustani. She probably didn't know the literal meaning of what she had called General Nayland, but she understood that it was a term of extreme opprobrium.

Her husband contributed: "His idea of Heaven would be a huge research establishment, where he'd be a five-star general, and Galileo, Newton, Priestley, Dalton, Maxwell, Planck and Einstein would be tech sergeants."

"And Marie Curie and Lise Meitner would be Wac corporals," Karen added. "He really hates all of us, doesn't he?"

"He hates our Team," MacLeod replied. "In the first place, we're a lot of civilians, who aren't subject to his regulations and don't have to salute. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I actually agree with Piper's basic premise on this one, that scientists basically should be outside political control.

Scientists are the condottierri of the future in this classic Piper tale.

A decent, but not great, read. A group of scientists who do research for hire get caught up in a case of international intellectual espionage, and because they are independent (i.e. Mercenaries) they will be held responsible for the treasonous acts unless they deal with it themselves.

Interesting, bu

I'll open by saying I love H. Beam Piper. That said this is a good story but far from his best, honestly, one of the weaker ones I've read. What's interesting as with so many of H. Beam's books is the thought behind them. In this case looking at contractors as mercenaries and more importantly them h

Short story about a coalition of independent scientists that operate outside political control. When it's discovered that a traitor lies in their midst, the head of the team must quickly discover who it is before causing an international incident.

As I'm learning, many of H Beam Piper's heroes are larger than life, take charge, Alpha male scientists, who are also excellent athletes, and who are comfortable with their own sovereignty. Such is the hero of this book.

Like all the Piper I've read these past two weeks, the story is marvellous and

I actually liked this story, the characters and settings really focused on just plain storytelling rather than getting too engrossed in the science. While in this short story it was the focus, the dialogue pretty much took care of it, and was a bit short, which I'd give a lower rating but that would