Quote of the Day: Arms and the Vote

 

“You mean, the people are armed?” Prince Bentrik was incredulous.

“Great Satan, aren’t yours?” Prince Trask was equally surprised. “Then your democracy’s a farce, and the people are only free on sufferance. If their ballots aren’t secured by arms, they’re worthless.”

– H. Beam Piper, from Space Viking

H. Beam Piper was a Silver Age SF author, in my opinion, one of the best. I first started reading his stories when I was in 4th or 5th grade, going through my dad’s collection of Astounding/Analog SF magazines. I think I read Space Viking for the first time when I was 12.

It is classic space opera, the tale of revenge sought by Lucas Trask against Andre Dunnan, who killed Trask’s bride on their wedding night. The quest for revenge turns into something else over time, something far more positive. Yet it is a ripping good adventure story, one worth reading and (as I do every few years) re-reading. Click the link to find an e-version of the book (all of Piper’s work is in the public domain) or go to librevox.com for an audio version.

The exchange quote above is part of a conversation between Prince Bentrik of Marduk and (by then) Prince Trask of Tanith about Marduken politics. In the book, Marduk has a constitutional monarchy, modeled on that of Great Britain. I was re-reading the book when the Las Vegas shooting occurred, and I thought this passage appropriate following the Democrats’ call to repeal the Second Amendment. It underscores the reason I most believe in the Second Amendment. Without the right to own guns any vote we take is at the sufferance of those with the guns. (Come to think of it, even with the Second Amendment, any vote we take is at the sufferance of those with guns. The only difference is the voters are the ones with guns.)

Seawriter

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    A thousand or fifty thousand years from now, what Piper wrote will still apply. He was a man who fundamentally wrote about human nature.


    This is an entry in our ongoing Quote of the Day Series. We still have eight openings in October, if you have a favorite quote you would like to share or if current events bring a quote to the fore of your memory. You can sign up here.

    • #1
  2. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Excellent.

    How did the blacks in the post-Civil War south become disenfranchised?

    First, their guns were taken away. Then their votes.

    • #2
  3. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I like space.

    I like vikings.

    What’s not to like?

    • #3
  4. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Doesn’t John Ringo/David Webber’s space opera about Prince Roger (March Up Country) have four-armed Mardukans, an alien race?

    • #4
  5. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Doesn’t John Ringo/David Webber’s space opera about Prince Roger (March Up Country) have four-armed Mardukans, an alien race?

    Believe so. In Piper’s future, Marduk is inhabited by humans It is part of a unified future where the earliest planets were named for various Terran gods, with the earliest ones colonized named for Viking gods (Baldur, Odin, Fenris), the next set after Middle Eastern gods (Marduk among them), and then increasingly obscure gods (like Tanith) and finally legendary figures (Beowulf, Poictesme). The Sword Words (Trask is from Gram) were named after famous swords, and settled by the losers in the System States Alliance War, who fled Federation Space.

    Seawriter

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Doesn’t John Ringo/David Webber’s space opera about Prince Roger (March Up Country) have four-armed Mardukans, an alien race?

    Piper was active from the 1940’s until his death in November of 1964. His work influenced many other science fiction authors, and many of us have found ways to give him a nod.

    • #6
  7. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Arahant (View Comment):

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Doesn’t John Ringo/David Webber’s space opera about Prince Roger (March Up Country) have four-armed Mardukans, an alien race?

    Piper was active from the 1940’s until his death in November of 1964. His work influenced many other science fiction authors, and many of us have found ways to give him a nod.

    I found Little Fuzzy in a used bookstore and bought it for Papa Toad last May.

    I think you’d mentioned Piper in a thread around that time and it influenced me in the store.

    Arahant, you’ve changed my life in this and many other little and large ways. Bless you!

    Image result for piper little fuzzy

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Arahant, you’ve changed my life in this and many other little and large ways. Bless you!

    Glad to have been able to do so. Little Fuzzy and The Other Human Race, later retitled Fuzzy Sapiens, were one place where Piper explored legal systems. (See also Lone Star Planet/A Planet for Texans.) Space Viking was a book much more focused on the birth, life, and death of civilizations. It is an incredible vision. It has some elements in common with Toynbee’s work. It has that in common with “The Edge of the Knife.” I would recommend every child/teen read his complete works.

    • #8
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    finally legendary figures (Beowulf, Poictesme)

    Poictesme was from a period where they had used up gods and legends and had started using places made up by romantic writers. In the Gartner Tri-System, Poictesme and the planets of that sun (was it alpha-Gartner?) were named from the work of James Branch Cabell. Another of the systems had planets named from Rabelais, such as Pantagruel, whose moons are mentioned repeatedly.

    • #9
  10. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    finally legendary figures (Beowulf, Poictesme)

    Poictesme was from a period where they had used up gods and legends and had started using places made up by romantic writers. In the Gartner Tri-System, Poictesme and the planets of that sun (was it alpha-Gartner?) were named from the work of James Branch Cabell. Another of the systems had planets named from Rabelais, such as Pantagruel, whose moons are mentioned repeatedly.

    Right. But as with Tolkien characters I think you can characterize these as legendary.

    Seawriter

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    But as with Tolkien characters I think you can characterize these as legendary.

    Based on the text itself, I don’t think so.

    That had been two hundred years ago, at the beginning of the Seventh Century, Atomic Era. The name “Poictesme” told that—Surromanticist Movement, when they were rediscovering James Branch Cabell. Old Genji Gartner, the scholarly and half-piratical space-rover whose ship had been the first to enter the Trisystem, had been devoted to the romantic writers of the Pre-Atomic Era. He had named all the planets of the Alpha System from the books of Cabell, and those of Beta from Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and those of Gamma from Rabelais. Of course, the camp village at his first landing site on this one had been called Storisende.

    They knew exactly where the names had come from, and that they were literary in nature.

    • #11
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    The Cosmic Computer and “Graveyard of Dreams” were another set of Piper stories that were wonderful from both an economics perspective, but also a society in decline and people trying to reverse the decline.

    • #12
  13. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    But as with Tolkien characters I think you can characterize these as legendary.

    Based on the text itself, I don’t think so.

    That had been two hundred years ago, at the beginning of the Seventh Century, Atomic Era. The name “Poictesme” told that—Surromanticist Movement, when they were rediscovering James Branch Cabell. Old Genji Gartner, the scholarly and half-piratical space-rover whose ship had been the first to enter the Trisystem, had been devoted to the romantic writers of the Pre-Atomic Era. He had named all the planets of the Alpha System from the books of Cabell, and those of Beta from Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and those of Gamma from Rabelais. Of course, the camp village at his first landing site on this one had been called Storisende.

    They knew exactly where the names had come from, and that they were literary in nature.

    And Galadriel and Aragorn are literary characters, too, but are also considered legendary. Beowulf is a literary character, who is legendary. So are Lancelot and Guienevere.

    Seawriter

    • #13
  14. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    And Galadriel and Aragorn are literary characters, too, but are also considered legendary.

    By whom? Does any sane person think there may have been a grain of truth to these characters, that Tolkien was basing them on real kings and elves?

    What would separate these characters from Lucas Trask or Simon Bentrik in your mind? Or are they also legendary?

    • #14
  15. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Great stuff. Thanks, Seawriter.

    • #15
  16. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Doesn’t John Ringo/David Webber’s space opera about Prince Roger (March Up Country) have four-armed Mardukans, an alien race?

    Anabasis?

    • #16
  17. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Doesn’t John Ringo/David Webber’s space opera about Prince Roger (March Up Country) have four-armed Mardukans, an alien race?

    Anabasis?

    Based on that. Drake is capable of borrowinging from three or four places at once.

    Seawriter

    • #17
  18. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Right on.

    I read a little of this guy on my phone. Thanks to @arahant for the recommendation!

    • #18
  19. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Yeah, I like this.

    I’m with Locke: The rights of the individual include his right to defend himself. That is inalienable. It can be delegated to the government when the government works by the consent of the people and protects the rights to life, liberty, and property; but when the government has it is still derived from the inalienable right of the individual.

    Like the folks at National Review keep saying, the Lockean idea which the Founders were writing about and the state conventions who adopted the Constitution and the Second Amendment were reading about was an idea of a right which is recognized by the Constitution–not at all created by it.

    • #19
  20. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    “The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.”

    • #20
  21. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    And Galadriel and Aragorn are literary characters, too, but are also considered legendary.

    By whom? Does any sane person think there may have been a grain of truth to these characters, that Tolkien was basing them on real kings and elves?

    What would separate these characters from Lucas Trask or Simon Bentrik in your mind? Or are they also legendary?

    It’s not so much that I think they’re real and/or legendary; it’s that the characters in the books think they’re legendary and I tend to identify them as such. Although in either of those cases those characters were part of the story, so I wouldn’t myself give them legendary status.

    • #21
  22. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    “The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.”

    Does anyone read Van Vogt anymore?

    • #22
  23. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    “The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.”

    Does anyone read Van Vogt anymore?

    Isher doubt it.

    • #23
  24. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    “The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.”

    Does anyone read Van Vogt anymore?

    Isher doubt it.

    *Groooaaan*

    • #24
  25. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Matt Balzer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    And Galadriel and Aragorn are literary characters, too, but are also considered legendary.

    By whom? Does any sane person think there may have been a grain of truth to these characters, that Tolkien was basing them on real kings and elves?

    What would separate these characters from Lucas Trask or Simon Bentrik in your mind? Or are they also legendary?

    It’s not so much that I think they’re real and/or legendary; it’s that the characters in the books think they’re legendary and I tend to identify them as such. Although in either of those cases those characters were part of the story, so I wouldn’t myself give them legendary status.

    As Aragorn said to Eomer, one may walk on the green grass in the open sun of the real world and walk in legends at the same time, for the legends of our day will be written by those coming later.

    • #25
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    As Aragorn said to Eomer, one may walk on the green grass in the open sun of the real world and walk in legends at the same time, for the legends of our day will be written by those coming later.

    Which is true of a real person. But a fictional character is just a fictional character made up by the author, unless you believe authors are merely tapping into the histories of other worlds and other universes where things work differently.

    • #26

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