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Uller Uprising

H. Beam Piper

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Uller Uprising is a 1952 novel by sci-fi writer H. Beam Piper. It is the story of a confrontation between a human overlord and alien servants. Uller Uprising is modeled after an actual event in human history; in this case the Sepoy Mutiny (a Bengal uprising in British-held India). Piper's attitude to colonialism is quite clear; the hero in this book is Carlos von Schlichten, a proud Argentinian descendant of Nazi war-criminals, and when the native Ullerans rebel, Piper makes no attempt whatsoever to identify with them or even explore the reasons behind their uprising.

Uller Uprising has 15 chapters.

This book has 104 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1952. The book is in the public domain because the copyright wasn't renewed on time.

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Excerpt from 'Uller Uprising'

The big armor-tender vibrated, gently and not unpleasantly, as the contragravity field alternated on and off, occasionally varying its normal rate of five hundred to the second when some thermal updraft lifted the vehicle and the automatic radar-altimeter control acted to alter the frequency and lower it again. Sometimes it rocked slightly, like a boat on the water, and, in the big screen which served in lieu of a window at the front of the control cabin, the dingy-yellow landscape would seem to tilt a little. If unshielded human eyes could have endured the rays of Nu Puppis, Niflheim's primary, the whole scene would have appeared a vivid Saint Patrick's Day green, the effect of the blue-predominant light on the yellow atmosphere. The outside 'visor-pickup, however, was fitted with filters which blocked out the gamma-rays and X-rays and most of the ultra-violet-rays, and added the longer light-waves of red and orange which were absent, so that things looked much as they would have under the light of a G0-type star like Sol. The air was faintly yellow, the sky was yellow with a greenish cast, and the clouds were green-gray.

A thousand feet below, the local equivalent of a forest grew, the trees, topped with huge ragged leaves, looking like hundred-foot stalks of celery. There would be animal life down there, too—little round things, four inches across, like eight-legged crabs, gnawing at the vegetation, and bigger things, two feet long, with articulated shell-armor and sixteen legs, which fed on the smaller herbivores. Beyond, in the middleground, was open grassland, if one could so call a mat of wormlike colorless or pastel-tinted sprouts, and a river meandered through it. On the skyline, fifty miles away, was a range of low dunes and hills, none more than a thousand feet high.

No human had ever set foot on the surface, or breathed the air, of Niflheim. To have done so would have been instant death; the air was a mixture of free fluorine and fluoride gasses, the soil was metallic fluorides, damp with acid rains, and the river was pure hydrofluoric acid. Even the ordinary spacesuit would have been no protection; the glass and rubber and plastic would have disintegrated in a matter of minutes. People came to Niflheim, and worked the mines and uranium refineries and chemical plants, but they did so inside power-driven and contragravity-lifted armor, and they lived on artificial satellites two thousand miles off-planet. This vehicle, for instance, was built and protected as no spaceship ever had to be, completely insulated and entered only through a triple airlock—an outer lock, which would be evacuated outward after it was closed, a middle lock kept evacuated at all times, and an inner lock, evacuated into the interior of the vehicle before the middle lock could be opened. Niflheim was worse than airless, much worse.

The chief engineer sat at his controls, making the minor lateral adjustments in the vehicle's position which were not possible to the automatic controls. One of the radiomen was receiving from the orbital base; the other was saying, over and over, in an exasperatedly patient voice: "Dr. Murillo. Dr. Murillo. Please come in, Dr. Murillo." At his own panel of instruments, a small man with grizzled black hair around a bald crown, and a grizzled beard, chewed nervously at the stump of a dead cigar and listened intently to what was—or for what wasn't—coming in to his headset receiver. A couple of assistants checked dials and refreshed their memories from notebooks and peered anxiously into the big screen. A large, plump-faced, young man in soiled khaki shirt and shorts, with extremely hairy legs, was doodling on his notepad and eating candy out of a bag. And a black-haired girl in a suit of coveralls three sizes too big for her, and, apparently, not much of anything else, lounged with one knee hooked over her chair-arm, staring into the screen at the distant horizon.

"Dr. Murillo. Dr. Mur—" The radioman broke off in mid-syllable and listened for a moment. "I hear you, doctor, go ahead." Then, a moment later "What's your position, now, doctor?"

"I can see them," the girl said, lifting a hand in front of her. "At two o'clock, about one of my hand's-breadths above the horizon."

The man with the grizzled beard put his face into the fur around the eyepiece of the telescopic-'visor and twisted a dial. "You have good eyes, Miss Quinton," he complimented. "Only four personal armors; Ahmed, ask him where the fifth is."

"We only see four of your personal-armors," the radioman said. "Who's missing, and why?" He waited for a moment, then lowered the hand-phone and turned. "The fifth one's inside the handling-machine. One of the Ullerans. Gorkrink."

The larger of the specks that had appeared on the horizon resolved itself into a handling-machine, a thing like an oversized contragravity-tank, with a bulldozer-blade, a stubby derrick-boom instead of a gun, and jointed, claw-tipped arms to the sides. The smaller dots grew into personal armor—egg-shaped things that sprouted arms and grab-hooks and pushers in all directions. The man with the grizzled beard began talking rapidly into his hand-phone, then hung it up. There was a series of bumps, and the armor-tender, weightless on contragravity, shook as the handling-machine came aboard.

Production notes: This edition of Uller Uprising was published by Global Grey ebooks on the 17th January 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'Twilight in the Wilderness' by Frederic Edwin Church.

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