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The Cosmic Computer (Federation)

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  754 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
During the System States' War, Poictesme was the general HQ and supply depot for the final thrust at the enemy. When the war ended, the buildings, the munitions, the freeze-dried food supplies, were all abandoned without a thought. Now the colony world is a poverty-stricken agricultural society with only two exports: the fermented products of their world's unique grapes, a ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Reprint; U.S. paperback Edition, 249 pages
Published 1983 by Ace (first published January 1st 1963)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,229)
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Tommy Carlson
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 nor is the tale quite as simple, either.

The reveals are decent. (One draws a bit from Asimov's Foundation.) The conclusion is okay, short-term, but isn't really a conclusion. But, hey, no one ever promised
Short and almost pointless. Not the best example of H. Beam Piper.

It was just barely okay.
Shannon Appelcline
Piper's The Cosmic Computer is an interesting artifact of its time. It crosses a lot of genre lines, and the result isn't really scientific enough to be a modern science-fiction novel, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. Overall, it's an intriguing story of a civilization rebuilding itself, with some tomfoolery along the way. The characters are weak, and I'd like to see a bit more action. I also some qualms that the ending of The Cosmic Computer falls a bit close to Isaac Asimov's fam ...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 characters, who are, herein, pretty shallowly sketched. On the other hand, the tight length means it chugs along quite quickly. And the plot really isn't that complex, so added verbiage would not necessa ...more
Dec 24, 2012 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space-opera
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 prosperity, as Poictesme was strategically important to the Federation. At its sudden conclusion, the Federation forces quickly withdrew, taking their jobs and personnel but leaving practically all of their equ ...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 evidence.
In any case, "Junkyard Planet" (I greatly prefer this title) is an unremarkable and yet perfectly competent little tale from the golden age of Sci-Fi. I had to look up whether this book pre- or
Apr 19, 2010 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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, but in near collapse after peace returned, because the military had provided so much of its economic structure. He may have used real world cities within the U.S. as a pattern for this, in the way some
Mar 02, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

H. BEAM PIPER is rather enigmatic where his personal statistics are concerned. It may be stated that he lived in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, that he was an expert on the history and use of hand weapons, that he has been writing and selling science-fiction for many years to the leading magazines, and that he is highly rated among readers for his skill and imagination.

His previous appearances in our collection includes a novel written in collaboration with John J. McGuire: A Planet for T

May 18, 2015 Michael4771 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many people think of older science fiction works as they would a star trek episode, ie stupid and uninteresting. However my immersion into the science fiction of the past has confirmed quite the opposite to me. This book is no exception. It is packed with both adventure and intelligence. Sure, H. Beam Piper couldn't have imagined what a computer would look like in the future, but that doesn't stop the reader from enjoying the book. Or it shouldn't, in my opinion.
Amusing, goofy space opera about the search for a massive computer not unlike the systems that would be imagined by Asimov in the Foundation trilogy. I listened to the Librivox edition as read by Mark Nelson.
Mar 31, 2016 Roger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a 1960s sf novel, this reads more like a 1930s space opera, with dozens of 1-dimensional characters but the machinery described more than any of them. It takes place mostly on one planet where colonists are searching abandoned military bases for a legendary super-computer supposedly left there after the war some 40 years ago. The search eventually leads some of them to another planet in the same star system. It wasn't easy to get into; the motivation of the characters wasn't totally convinci ...more
Fantasy Literature
Conn Maxwell is returning to his impoverished backwater home planet, Poictesme (a nod to James Branch Cabell), after years at the university where he studied computer science. The leaders of Poictesme sent him to school so that he could learn about MERLIN, a legendary supercomputer that is thought to be located somewhere near their planet. They believe that if they can find MERLIN, they will have the information and guidance they need to raise the economic power and status of Poictesme back to i ...more
Dec 19, 2007 Tracey rated it it was ok
Shelves: e-text
Action-adventure juvie with socio-politics thrown in for good measure... Heinleinesque, if not quite as entertaining.
This novel is definitely a dated vision of the future. You will have to put yourself in the mindset of 1963 to appreciate what would have seemed 'fantastic' at that time. The story plot is basically: If the inhabitants of Federation planet Poictesme, an impoverished agricultural planet with no prospects, could only find MERLIN, the legendary all knowing super computer that won the Federation's civil war, all its problems would be solved. Considering this novel's vision of futuristic computers do ...more
Dianne Owens
Oct 17, 2014 Dianne Owens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't posted a book review in a while due to studies. In lieu of recently cutting down on my workload, I decided to listen to Mark Nelson's Librivox reading of The Cosmic Computer, the fourth of his readings that I've had the pleasure of listening to. It is also the third H. Beam Piper novel, set in the Terro-Human science fiction universe. This is the same setting as novels such as Little Fuzzy and Four-Day Planet. I ended up listening to the novel during my walks along the ocean.

Kat  Hooper
Mar 22, 2014 Kat Hooper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted with links at Fantasy Literature.

Conn Maxwell is returning to his impoverished backwater home planet, Poictesme (a nod to James Branch Cabell), after years at the university where he studied computer science. The leaders of Poictesme sent him to school so that he could learn about MERLIN, a legendary supercomputer that is thought to be located somewhere near their planet. They believe that if they can find MERLIN, they will have the info
Sep 23, 2012 Ted rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
O, for the future that was!

I grew up reading 50s and early 60s science fiction, and while I don't think I read The Cosmic Computer, it is definitely the future I remember. Let's call it Greatest Generation in Space, all the best of the 20th Century and none of the problems.

Mankind has spread to the stars, bringing along love for industry, exploration and exploitation. (Really, that wasn't a bad word back then, it just meant using something that's waiting to be used.) Many of Piper's characters a
Richard Tongue
Jun 19, 2013 Richard Tongue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of H. Beam Piper, and this, I often think, is his 'second book' after Space Viking, but though this is a good read – a fun romp, really, with the usual depth of setting that you would expect from one of Piper's books, I'm going to have to confess that on some levels, this is a rather disappointing read. For one simple reason – the protagonist, while likeable enough, never fails. He never puts a foot wrong, he never makes a mistake, even his guesses turn out to be right. On the one ...more
Jan 17, 2008 Kirt rated it it was ok
I read The Cosmic Computer and Space Viking.

The first is the better of the two, involving a man who uses a rumor of a super-computer on his home planet, once a planet-wide military base of the galactic Federation, to start a boom of reclaiming military salvage so that he can get a working hyperspace ship together so he can revitalize the planet by shipping luxury goods grown on his planet to Terra. Along the way, of course, he discovers the computer, which he thought was fictional, is real, and
Dec 05, 2012 Melanti rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, sci-fi, audiobook, 2012
It's an overall fun book, but I had serious issues with its premise.

(view spoiler)
Jan 17, 2014 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
An enjoyable read as always. However if there has always been a poblem with H. Beam Piper is unlike Heinlein, a lot of his work is dated in two ways: computer technology and sexism.

Frankly it is jarring to read professional women referred to as girls. Everyone smokes and drinks cocktails in Piper's books and the general sexist tone makes you realize how much this book was written in the "Mad Men" era.

There is also quite a bit of elitism in Piper's works. In him I can see the "great" philosopher
Mar 03, 2016 Irene rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, abandoned
Lo marco como "abandonado" y "leído" a la vez básicamente por haber hecho lectura diagonal tras rebasar el 34% de la novela. No pude con ella; no entendía a los personajes ni las situaciones que propone y me aburrió tremendamente. La temática, cierto es, nunca ha sido de mi agrado. Bueno, quizá la temática sí, pero el contexto en el que se desarrolla no (humanos en varios planetas, una antigua guerra, etc), así que aunque puede que realmente sea un buen libro, no he podido con él.
David C. Mueller
Sep 05, 2010 David C. Mueller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-h-beam-piper
This novel takes place in Piper's Terran Federation universe that has much in common with the "Star Trek" universe. In the Terran Federation universe, humans are the controlling race of an interstellar realm eventually spanning more than a thousand inhabited worlds with about fifteen sentient races. Piper emphasizes the military aspect of his fictional universe but since there are no other races to challenge humanity in it, most of the struggles are among various human groups. The star-faring te ...more
Feb 19, 2015 D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was an interesting read. I liked how there was a lot of intrigue, deception and adventure. It seemed to have a bit of a "ta-da!" ending which left you hanging and a little disappointed. I was surprised by that. They also threw in a lot of characters, planets and other stuff which made you feel a little overwhelmed keeping up, especially for a short book.
Sean Brennan
Feb 25, 2014 Sean Brennan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, sf-challenge
For a relatively small book this has it all. As Piper sees History as cyclic here we have the Fall of Rome,the rise of post war Germany,the search for the Holy Grail and a host of others. We have space pirates,spies,cults,wacky robots,military SF,economics etc. All in one little book,this is a true big boy adventure story. Wonderful.
What was probably most relieving about this book is that I had no idea it was part of a series before I added it to my 'currently listening' section on Goodreads... and that it isn't necessary to read books one and two before it in order to enjoy the story. You can read this book as a stand-alone.

There's plenty of adventure and mystery in this sci-fi tale which makes it fun to listen to, but a lot of the characters (apart from the super computer Merlin) aren't as well-developed and honestly forg
May 06, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fun and entertaining read. Classic science fiction boss are so much more fun to read and this one is in that category.
It's plot is interesting and enjoyable and the way they thought about where technology was going is so much fun to read.
Definitely recommended.
Donald Franck
Dec 03, 2015 Donald Franck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

They search for a super they know does not exist to buy time for their world to recover from a depression. Interesting read!
crazy retro scifi. entertaining, though dated, and has some weird sexist stuff which all but corrects itself by the end.
It suffers a bit from the age it was written in and how technology (specifically computer technology) has so far developed and promises to develop in the future, compared to how it is portrayed in the story. Otherwise it's an enjoyable book
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Henry Beam Piper was an American science fiction author. He wrote many short stories and several novels. He is best known for his extensive Terro-Human Future History series of stories and a shorter series of "Paratime" alternate history tales.
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Federation (1 - 10 of 12 books)
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