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The Cosmic Computer

H. Beam Piper


The Cosmic Computer is a 1963 science fiction novel by H. Beam Piper based on his short story “Graveyard of Dreams,” which was published in the February 1958 issue of Galaxy Magazine.

The action largely takes place on the planet Poictesme, which is full of abandoned military installations and equipment—hence the novel’s original name, Junkyard Planet. Young Conn Maxwell returns from Earth with long-awaited news about Merlin, a military computer with god-like abilities long rumored to be hidden somewhere on Poictesme. Though convinced that the story is just a myth, Conn and his father use the purported search for Merlin to drive the revitalization of the planet’s economy. In the process, they discover far more than they expected.

As was typical for science fiction novels of the pulp era, there is little character development and women play a minor role, with romance given only a token treatment. The emphasis is on the conflicts over the spoils of the planet and the fiercely competitive search for the titular “cosmic computer.”

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