Mapping H. Beam Piper, Part 5: The Dislocation of Nu Puppis

As stated in Part 3, H. Beam Piper’s Nu Puppis – the star around which Niflheim orbits – does not match current understanding of the star’s position. I’m inclined to move Niflheim to a star that’s closer to Earth, matching the Piper-Nu Puppis as much as possible, but there’s also a reasonable argument to just go with the in-fiction-truth.

Let’s look at the math to see what both mean to the Piper universe.

First, we need some numbers. Piper’s Nu Puppis is described as:

The planet named Niflheim is the fourth planet of Nu Puppis, right angle 6:36, declension -43:09; B8 type star, blue-white and hot, 148 light years distant from Earth.

Doing the math this works out to:

Xgal Ygal Zgal Dist
Real Nu Puppis -37,633 -115,478 -45,486 129,7016861219
Piper Nu Puppis -13,182 -40,383 -15,949 45,3748716874

That’s in parsecs, with Real Nu Puppis shown for comparison. Dist is distance from Earth.

Piper’s Uller is described as:

It is the second planet of the star Beta Hydri, right angle 0:23, declension -77:32, G-0 (solar) type star, of approximately the same size as Sol; distance from Earth, 21 light years.

Again, doing the math, we get:

Xgal Ygal Zgal Dist
Real Beta Hydri 3,277 -4,719 -4,783 7,4749588877
Piper Beta Hydri 2,825 -4,062 -4,119 6,4379502305

That’s a parsec off, too, and gives us a new question to ponder: Do we use Real Beta Hydri or Piper Beta Hydri? I guess if we accept Piper Nu Puppis we must also accept Piper Beta Hydri. Of course, my “favorite” Nu Puppis replacement is Epsilon Hydri. It has almost the same spectral class (B9) as Nu Puppis (B8), and both are Giant stars (class III). Epsilon Hydri’s position is:

Xgal Ygal Zgal Dist
Epsilon Hydri 10,489 -30,898 -33,769 46,9575395402

Distances between these stars are these:

Real Nu Pup Piper Nu Pup Real Beta Hy Piper Beta Hy Epsilon Hy
Real Nu Pup N/A 84,318 124,892 125,545 98,015
Piper Nu Pup 84,318 N/A 40,835 41,417 31,111
Real Beta Hy 124,892 40,835 N/A 1,037 39,718
Piper Beta Hy 125,545 41,417 1,037 N/A 40,718
Epsilon Hy 98,015 31,111 39,718 40,718 N/A

Note how beautifully Epsilon Hydri’s distance to Earth and to Beta Hydri match the distances of Piper’s Nu Puppis to Earth and to Beta Hydri. Let’s visualize:

The little gray shadow of Beta Hydri is the Piper Beta Hydri, almost a Parsec closer to Earth than the real Beta Hydri. The numbers attached to stars are their z-Coordinate.

I still think that Epsilon Hydri would provide for a better “outgoing” vector than Piper’s Nu Puppis, but from this simple map it’s clear that Piper’s Nu Puppis is not in an absurd position (which for example the other side of Terra would be).

So where’s your Niflheim at? If you want to stick to the Piper “canon”, it’s clearly where he says it is, at a Nu Puppis that doesn’t really exist. If you want to consolidate Piper’s material with real star data, Epsilon Hydri is the way to go. Since switching Niflheim to Epsilon Hydri only violates the star name mention in Uller Uprising, and fixes more problems than it causes, I will assume that Piper made a mistake in the star name.

In the end, since everything else we know about Piper’s Terran Federation is very, very vague, it won’t affect the final map much in either case.

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