Beowulf Shaeffer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Beowulf "Bey" Shaeffer is a fictional character from Larry Niven’s Known Space series. Shaeffer is a crashlander, a descendent of Earth explorers who colonized the planet We Made It, which orbits the star Procyon. He is the central figure of several stories which revolve around his dealings with Pierson's Puppeteers and human characters in unusual and potentially dangerous activities, which often test his wits and courage to see them through to completion.

Shaeffer’s first appearance is in the short story "Neutron Star" in 1966. Niven wrote six short stories between 1966 and 1993 and added a framing story ("Ghost") which ties them all together in the fix-up collection Crashlander. Shaeffer also appears in the story "Fly-by-Night" and in "Juggler Of Worlds", second book in the "fleet of worlds" series. His known activities span the Timeline of Known Space from 2622, when he became chief pilot of Nakamura Lines, to 2655 when he emigrated to the planet Home with his wife Sharrol and their children.

Character biography[edit]

Physical characteristics[edit]

In the first several Known Space stories featuring him, Shaeffer is described as very tall and thin, and an albino. His height is given in the story "Procrustes" as 6 feet, 11 inches. In the story "Grendel" Jinxian Emil Horne estimated his weight at 160 pounds (about 73 kilograms). Like most albinos Shaeffer’s skin is pale, his hair white and his eyes pink. He uses tannin-secretion pills to protect himself against UV radiation under normal (Earthly or Jinxian) sunlight. Shaeffer's long, thin body is extremely flexible; he has startled both Sigmund Ausfaller and Sharrol Janss at different times with his habit of smoking tabac sticks using his toes.

Nakamura Lines ran its ships at one standard Earth gravity, so Shaeffer had to train hard just to walk around comfortably on his own ship during flights. He also spent four years on Earth after meeting Sharrol Janss, adding muscle along his long bones that isn’t readily apparent from his thin appearance. As a spaceship pilot he considers himself to have a fairly fast reaction time.

After the events of "Procrustes" Shaeffer’s height was given as 5 feet 10 and one-half inches, and his muscles were acclimated to the gravity of Fafnir. The gravity of Fafnir is unknown, but not the same and probably greater than that of Earth. Shaeffer is still an albino because the changes to his body did not alter his genetic makeup.

Personality[edit]

Shaeffer tends to be pragmatic and discretionary in his outlook, activities and affairs, although he has been prodded to acts of unseemly courage by circumstances and, in a few rare cases, personal choice. He has been described as a survivor but lazy, doing what needs to be done but only at the last possible moment. He tends to be a womanizer, having formed the habit while at Nakamura Lines of making the acquaintance of the prettiest female aboard his ships during space voyages. He also considers himself a born tourist, and when traveling to a new location he will find and read up on as much local geography, flora and fauna, and culture and traditions as he can.

Shaeffer is something of a spendthrift, especially in his younger years, and is frequently in need of income. In the short story "Neutron Star" he is deeply in debt when he is approached by the regional president of General Products on We Made It to duplicate the near fly-by of neutron star BVS-1, which had killed researchers Peter and Sonya Laskin. The money he earns duplicating (and surviving) the fly-by, plus the money he blackmails out of the puppeteers, kept him solvent for some time, but the regional president of General Products on Jinx remarked in 2645 that Shaeffer had spent more than a million stars in the previous four years, to which Shaeffer replied, "And loved it."

Shaeffer is gregarious, making friends easily, and is in general a friendly and affable person. He befriends a flatlander called Elephant during a flight from Jinx to Earth, and Emil Horne on the flight from Down to Gummidgy as well as the captain of the Argos, Margo Tellefsen. He is able to talk cordially and easily with most alien races, such as the Outsiders and puppeteers; only a few such as Grogs or Kzinti give him cause for worry.

Shaeffer is not above engaging in illegal activities if there is a need or even profit in it. He intended to steal a puppeteer-provided ship rather than attempt a close fly-by of a neutron star. He considered killing Ander Smittarasheed rather than allowing him to jeopardize the safety of his wife, Sharrol and their children. He witnesses the killing of Sigmund Ausfaller by Smittarasheed and says nothing to the Fafnir authorities, although he did attempt to warn Smittarasheed that the same ARM punchgun that killed Ausfaller was also linked with the death of a human the Fafnir authorities were aware of.

History[edit]

Very little is known of Shaeffer’s early life. It is known he was raised in a large home on We Made It (as related in "Flatlander"), and is presumably from a wealthy family. He is presumably descended from a number of chronologically earlier Shaeffers in the Known Space universe: Charles Martin "Lit" Shaeffer (First Speaker of the Belt Political Section in World of Ptavvs and At the Bottom of a Hole), Marion Shaeffer (a Belter policewoman in The Patchwork Girl) and Brobdig Shaeffer (a Crashlander hyperspace engineer in The Heroic Myth of Lieutenant Nora Argamentine).

If he was made chief pilot for Nakamura Lines in 2622, as sources indicate, and this occurred shortly after graduation from a four-year college education majoring in starship piloting, entered at age 18, Shaeffer would have been born about 2600.

Shaeffer’s interest in flying developed during his childhood in Crashlanding City at Crashlanding Port where he and other youngsters observed spaceships coming and going as well as the people who arrived and departed on them. Of those youths, Bey was the only one who went on to become a pilot. He attended college on We Made It where he presumably took courses in spaceship piloting; he related some aspects of courses he had taken to Elephant while they were exploring the antimatter protostar and planet.

In 2622 he was made chief pilot for Nakamura Lines, a space cruise company on We Made It. He flew for Nakamura Lines until a stock market crash in 2639 forced the company to fold, leaving Shaeffer unemployed on We Made It but with the expectation of back pay, against which he continued to live comfortably for the next two years. However, he never received any back pay from Nakamura Lines or the bankruptcy courts.

In 2641, nearing the limit of his credit, Shaeffer is approached by a Pierson’s Puppeteer, the Regional President of General Products on We Made It, with a proposal for work. In return for paying Shaeffer’s debts and a half-million additional stars, Shaeffer would make a close fly-by of neutron star BVS-1 in an attempt to discover what had killed two humans, Peter and Sonya Laskin, who first attempted the fly-by. GP hulls were known to be effectively invulnerable, and the company was extremely interested in finding out what could get through them. Their interest was largely financial; they were concerned that the low insurance rates their hulls traditionally enjoyed would be increased. Shaeffer agreed to the mission, but planned to steal the ship. This plan was interrupted when an ARM agent, Sigmund Ausfaller, planted a bomb in the ship’s lifesystem in order to ensure Shaeffer completed the mission, in order to maintain human-puppeteer relations. Shaeffer duplicated the Laskins’ experiment and determined they were killed by tidal effects during the close approach, effects that almost killed him as well. Returning to We Made It, Shaeffer learned that puppeteers seemed not to understand tides, implying that their world had no moon. He blackmailed the regional president of We Made It for one million stars.

Four years later, in 2645, Shaeffer is on Jinx when he is again approached by the puppeteers, this time by the Regional President of General Products on Jinx. Puppeteers have developed the Quantum II hyperdrive, capable of traveling one light-year every 1.25 minutes, but the engineering is unwieldy and requires further research to become more useful. The puppeteers hire Shaeffer to travel to the core of the Milky Way galaxy as a publicity stunt in the ship, which Shaeffer names the Long Shot. In doing so, Shaeffer learns that the core of the galaxy has exploded and a wave of hard radiation is spreading outward. In about twenty thousand years it will pass through known space, rendering all the worlds there uninhabitable. When Shaeffer returns to Jinx he discovers that General Products has become defunct and that all puppeteers have disappeared.

Traveling to Earth in that same year, Bey encounters Gregory Pelton, a wealthy flatlander who dislikes being called a flatlander, and they become friends. In an effort to do something really unusual, Pelton meets with an Outsider ship to buy information about the most unusual world in known space. Shaeffer, in gratitude for Pelton’s help in showing him around Earth (and for getting him introduced to Sharrol Janss) offers to pilot the ship for Pelton. They examine the system the Outsiders sold them information on until Pelton’s General Products-hulled ship suddenly disintegrates. Pelton is determined to land anyway but Shaeffer convinces him that unless he can explain what happened to the hull he should return to Jinx to collect the indemnity on the hull. Arriving on Jinx, Shaeffer and Pelton learn that the system they visited was composed of antimatter, which annihilated enough atoms of the General Product’s hull (composed of a single large molecule) to cause the molecule to unravel. Shaeffer returns to Earth with Pelton and he and Sharrol move in together in Nome.

Bey and Sharrol begin to explore options for having children together. As an albino, the Fertility Board of Earth will not grant Bey a parenthood license. Sharrol, who has Flatland Phobia, cannot leave Earth for a planet that will allow her and Shaeffer to have children. Finally, in 2648, they decide to ask one of Sharrol’s friends, Carlos Wu, a registered genius with an unlimited parenthood license because of his intelligence and resistance to disease and injury, to help them have children. Bey leaves Earth for two years, and is traveling from Down to Gummidgy aboard the ship Argos, captained by Margo Tellefsen. Also on board is the Kdatlyno touch-sculptor Lloobee. When Lloobee is kidnapped just outside Gummidgy system, Shaeffer and a fellow passenger, Jinxian Emil Horne, team up to discover who the kidnappers are. They locate Lloobee but are captured; Shaeffer escapes when Lloobee leaps at one of the kidnappers, distracting them while Shaeffer flees. He manages to get to his car and heads back toward the spaceport. Bellamy, leader of the kidnappers, pursues him and Shaeffer rams Bellamy's ship, damaging his own ship and crashing it. Bellamy lands but his ship is unstable due to a landing leg not extending and the ship crashes, killing Bellamy. Later, with Lloobee and Emil rescued, Bey agrees to spend two years with Margo Tellefsen while waiting for Sharrol and Carlos to have two children for Bey and Sharrol to raise on Earth. Tanya is born in 2649 and Louis in 2650.

In 2650, Shaeffer is trying to return to Earth from Jinx but a series of ship disappearances around Earth system is making ship captains wary of returning there. Running into Carlos Wu at the Institute of Knowledge, Bey also learns that Sigmund Ausfaller is attempting to return to Earth and Carlos decides to join him. Bey joins as well, despite his dislike for Ausfaller; it has been too long since he’s seen Sharrol. Just before reaching the hyperdrive breakout point at Sol system the ship’s hyperdrive inexplicably disappears. Carlos theorizes that a high gravity gradient would have caused the motor to take off at a higher level of hyperdrive. They approach a scientist living in cometary halo, Julian Forward, and learn that he has captured a quantum black hole and is using it to make ships disappear. They manage to stop him and Forward is killed by the quantum black hole.

Resuming life on Earth, Shaeffer learns in 2654 that Carlos Wu has an agenda of his own. He and his companion, Feather Filip, ask Bey and Sharrol and their children to secretly emigrate to Fafnir. Feather has been an ARM “schiz” (a paranoid schizophrenic) for 35 years and is about to be retired; she knows the ARM will not let her leave Earth or have children under Earth’s Fertility Laws. Filip finds a ship that will accommodate the group and Carlos’ special autodoc. When they arrive at Fafnir, however, Feather shoots Shaeffer and Carlos escapes with the children. Sharrol kills Feather, feeds her body into Carlos’ autodoc as biomass material, and removes Shaeffer’s head and places it in the intensive care cavity of the ‘doc. The ‘doc rebuilds Shaeffer over a four-month period, but his height is adjusted to match the intensive care cavity and his rebuilt muscles are adapted to Fafnir’s gravity. His new height is 5 feet, 10 and one-half inches. Locating Sharrol, they let Carlos know that they are alive, that Feather is dead, and that they will rejoin him sometime in the future, when they are ready to make the trip.

In 2655, while at a water war game, Shaeffer is found by Ander Smittarasheed, who is gathering information for Sigmund Ausfaller about puppeteers. Shaeffer recounts his adventures over the last fifteen years to Smittarasheed and attempts to sell him the location of Carlos Wu’s autodoc, a valuable prize to the ARM since its technology is based on nanotechnology. He represents Carlos and Sharrol to Ander as dead, killed by Feather, who is presumed still at large. Ausfaller, also on Fafnir, plans to take Shaeffer into custody but is killed by Ander using the same weapon that Feather shot Shaeffer with a year and a half earlier, a punchgun. Shaeffer and Sharrol manage to escape to Home with their daughter Jeena and their unborn child, leaving Ander to take the blame (rightly) for Ausfaller’s death.

Official questioning by Fafnir cops about the fate of Ausfaller result in a boarding delay, allowing Beowulf to travel to Home as an upgraded First Class passenger aboard Odysseus, the same ship that Sharrol and Jeena travel Ice Class (cryogenic suspension). Due to a raid by a Kzinti pirates claiming to be operatives of The Longest War (a kzinti term for evolution, also used for deniable Patriarch operatives), he encounters fellow passengers Fly-By-Night, a latent Kzinti Telepath from the covert joint human-kzinti colony of Sheathclaws, and Fly-By-Night's Jotok slave Paradoxical (Par-Rad-Doc-Sic-Cal). When a cargo module with a one-in-three chance of having Beowulf's wife and child are taken as hostages, he joins Fly-By-Night and Paradoxical as prisoners of the pirates. Working together, they overcome the kzinti pirates, and arrive safely at Home.

Supporting characters[edit]

In addition to Shaeffer himself, several other characters from Niven's short stories are notable for the roles they play in Shaeffer's history.

Sigmund Ausfaller[edit]

Ausfaller, a native of Earth, is a member of the Amalgamated Regional Militia ("ARM"), working in the Bureau of Alien Affairs on Earth. To protect puppeteer (and Earth) interests, in "Neutron Star" Ausfaller plants a bomb in the lifesystem of Shaeffer’s ship, the Skydiver, so that Shaeffer will not attempt to steal it. Years later, in The Borderlands of Sol, when Shaeffer encounters him on Jinx, he offers Shaeffer and Carlos Wu a ride home to Earth on his ship, Hobo Kelly, in hopes of attracting the attention of whoever or whatever was causing ships to disappear when entering or leaving Sol system. Some years later, Ausfaller, having almost caught up with Shaeffer on Fafnir, is killed by Ander Smittarasheed in order to protect Smittarasheed’s interest in the special nanotechnology autodoc developed by Carlos Wu, left on Fafnir when Carlos escaped from Feather Filip as she shot Shaeffer in the chest with an ARM punchgun. He is later "resurrected" by Wu's Autodoc and taken to one of the Puppeteer farming worlds by Nessus.

Ausfaller appears in the Beowulf Shaeffer stories "Neutron Star", The Borderland of Sol, and "Ghost", and is mentioned in the story "Procrustes". He also appears in the non-Shaeffer novel Fleet of Worlds and is the main human character in its sequels Juggler of Worlds and Destroyer of Worlds.

Larchmont Bellamy[edit]

Bellamy (aka "Larch"), a native of Earth, is a wealthy human who owns the ship Drunkard’s Walk. A lean man with a lean face, a sharp-edged nose, prominent cheekbones and dark, deep-set eyes with shaggy black eyebrows, Bellamy is in prime condition. He is 300 years old and takes boosterspice, although he was born before that drug became available; initially, like all humans before boosterspice, he relied on the organ banks to keep him healthy. An outgoing, interesting man, Bellamy talks well; he tells old jokes but does it well, and he has some new ones, too. While not xenophobic, Bellamy tends to not think of aliens as people; Shaeffer remembers that he had said they should wipe out the Kzinti for good and all.

Bellamy is the leader of a hunting party visiting Gummidgy when the Kdatlyno touch-sculptor Lloobee is kidnapped. When Shaeffer discovers that Bellamy is part of the kidnap plot, he and Emil Horne are captured by the kidnappers who intend to stage their deaths as an accident. Lloobee creates a diversion, allowing Shaeffer to escape, and Bellamy pursues him. Shaeffer rams Bellamy’s ship with his aircar, forcing Bellamy to land, but neither Shaeffer nor Bellamy notice that the front landing leg of his ship fails to deploy, leaving the ship balancing with its gyros alone. When Bellamy tries to save his ship, it flips end-for-end, throwing him into the air to his death. Bellamy probably had a romantic relationship with fellow kidnapper Tanya Wilson; Margo Tellefsen told Shaeffer that she might attempt to kill him in revenge for Bellamy's death. Shaeffer characterized Bellamy as a person who could tolerate aliens but who didn't like them much. He also wondered if Bellamy's age was a factor in his decision to kidnap Lloobee; when a person lives for hundreds of years and their politics and morals change over time, Shaeffer wondered, did they become indifferent to the idea of morality?

Bellamy appears in the Beowulf Shaeffer story "Grendel".

Emil Horne[edit]

Horne, a native of Jinx, is a top-flight computer programmer. He meets Shaeffer on a trip from Down to Gummidgy and they struck up a quick friendship. Horne is short and strongly built like most natives of Jinx, a high-gravity world. His ability to ask the right questions when programming complex problems also helps him deduce the probable identities of the kidnappers when the Kdatlyno touch sculptor Lloobee is kidnapped from the Argos as it was about to enter Gummidgy system. Despite Shaeffer’s caution and some misleading comments that led Horne to believe he was wrong about Larchmont Bellamy and his crew being the kidnappers (Horne wasn’t wrong but Shaeffer didn’t want him running in with stun-guns blazing), they are taken prisoner when they attempt to infiltrate the location where Lloobee is being held, a cave created with a Slaver disintegrater tool, which Horne locates by having Shaeffer fly high above the ground to see the dust created by the tool. When he attempts to enter the cave, however, a stun-gun set in the "on" position a facing the door renders Horne unconscious. He is returned along with Lloobee after Shaeffer escapes from the kidnappers with Lloobee’s help.

Emil Horne appears in the Beowulf Shaeffer story "Grendel" and is mentioned in the story The Borderland of Sol.

Sharrol Janss[edit]

Janss, a native of Earth, is Shaeffer’s wife and the mother of their daughter, Jeena and another child, name unknown, whom she was pregnant with when Shaeffer encountered Ander Smittarasheed on Fafnir in 2655. Sharrol first met Beowulf Shaeffer on Earth when she picked his pocket, and was later formally introduced to him by Dianna and Elephant as a fourth for bridge. Sharrol also has two children by Carlos Wu, Tanya and Louis, as part of an arrangement between the three so that Bey and Sharrol could raise children together on Earth. Sharrol suffers from Flatland Phobia, a fear of changes to a person's environment, gravity, etc. which makes them psychologically unable to bear space travel or being away from Earth. She was employed at the time she met Shaeffer as a computer analyst for Donovan's Brains, Inc. She had been previously employed by the Epcot-Atlanta police. During her childhood her father ran a lobster ranch in Boston. She was able to travel to Fafnir asleep inside Carlo Wu's special autodoc and later was frozen for travel to Home when Ander Smittarasheed located Bey on Fafnir.

Sharrol Janss appears in the stories Flatlander, Procrustes and Ghost, and is mentioned in the stories Grendel and The Borderland of Sol.

Gregory Pelton[edit]

Pelton, (aka "Elephant" for a certain anatomical resemblance to a feature of the large Earth land animal), a native of Earth, is probably the richest human alive. His great-to-the-eighth grandmother invented the transfer booth. It is rumored that he actually owns known space, and gets income from renting it out, and that General Products Corporation is actually a front for him.

Pelton lives in a house on the side of a cliff in the Rocky Mountains on Earth, and having spent a lot of time in space resents being called a flatlander. Pelton is of average height but strongly built, looking not so much overweight as solid. Most humans in this period of time on Earth are in excellent health, with autodocs to maintain their bodies and boosterspice to prevent aging; Pelton presumably uses both.

Pelton and Shaeffer's personalities tend to complement each other, and they quickly made friends when Shaeffer first encountered him aboard the Lensman, bound for Earth from Jinx after Shaeffer's fateful trip to the core of the Milky Way galaxy. Pelton can be cordial and pleasant but also very direct and blunt when it suits him. He is patient but his patience has limits, and while he is as cautious as anyone he can sometimes act without thinking, a trait that would have gotten him killed if Shaeffer had not talked him out of landing on the protosun's planet when they visited it in 2645, as the planet, named Cannonball Express by Pelton and Shaeffer, was composed of antimatter, which would have destroyed even Pelton's General Products-hulled ship, the Slower Than Infinity. Indeed, the hull eventually disintegrated due to annihilations by antimatter particles but Pelton and Shaeffer were able to escape and managed to return to Jinx.

After Shaeffer and Pelton returned from Cannonball Express Pelton made plans to return but when government agencies became involved the plan bogged down in details. Ander Smittarasheed told Shaeffer that as of 2655 it was unclear whether Pelton was still involved in the project at all. Shaeffer and Pelton still maintained contact after the trip to Cannonball Express; when Shaeffer secretly emigrated to Fafnir with Sharrol, their children, and Carlos Wu and Feather Filip, Elephant gave him the money he received from General Products Corporation for the indemnity on his General Products hull, destroyed by exposure to antimatter particles from the Fast Protosun's solar wind; the money was deposited on accounts in Fafnir and Home, where the group planned to emigrate to, using assumed identities, after secretly arriving on Fafnir.

Gregory Pelton appears in the Beowulf Shaeffer story Flatlander and was mentioned in the stories Grendel, The Borderland of Sol and Ghost.

In Juggler of Worlds, Pelton is powerful enough to control the SecGen of the fictional UN, and becomes a wanted criminal on the run, the authors' way of explaining why he never returns to the Known Space universe.

Regional President of We Made It[edit]

This Pierson's Puppeteer, a native of the Fleet-of-Worlds working for General Products in Known Space, contracted with Shaeffer to pilot a spaceship in a close fly-by of newly discovered neutron star BVS-1 to discover what killed the first two explorers to make the attempt, Peter and Sonya Laskin. After Shaeffer's return from BVS-1, the puppeteer also agreed to pay Shaeffer one million stars in return for his silence concerning whether the puppeteer homeworld had a moon.

The Regional President of We Made It appears in the Beowulf Shaeffer story Neutron Star.

Regional President of Jinx[edit]

This puppeteer (called "Honey" by an overly tired Shaeffer at one point, due to his female-sounding voice), also worked for General Products. He contracted with Shaeffer to pilot a Quantum II hyperdrive ship (named Long Shot by Shaeffer) to the core of the Milky Way galaxy, where Shaeffer discovers the core explosion.

The Regional President of Jinx appears in the Beowulf Shaeffer story At the Core.

Ander Smittarasheed[edit]

Smittarasheed, a native of Earth, was hired by Shaeffer to ghostwrite his neutron star story and again four years later to write his galactic core story. Athletic and well-built, easily able to have any woman for the asking, Ander tends to dress in wild flatlander style even when offworld. He has a square face, thin blond hair and a solid-looking jaw that Shaeffer compared to a prey turtle’s.

Ander presents himself as cool yet affable, but manages to come off (at least to Shaeffer) as being smug. When Shaeffer advertised for a ghostwriter after his neutron star episode Ander answered and managed to push himself into the situation before Shaeffer’s guard was completely up. He was a very competent writer, which surprised Shaeffer, and the neutron star recording sold well, as did the core piece they did together four years later. That was the last Shaeffer saw of Ander until he appeared on Fafnir ten years later, looking for him.

Smittarasheed is in the employ of Sigmund Ausfaller, an ARM and agent for the Bureau of Alien Affairs. Ander was tasked with finding Shaeffer and questioning him about the threat level of certain alien races, notably the puppeteers. This may have been done to delay Shaeffer until Ausfaller could arrive and take him into custody, but Ander did not have time to contact Ausfaller until after his initial interview with the crashlander. However, when Shaeffer offers to sell Ander the location of Carlos Wu’s nanotech autodoc, Ander understands the impact of such technology (evidenced by Shaeffer's altered appearance) and is interested in spite of himself.

The lure of Carlos Wu’s special autodoc proves too tempting for Smittarasheed. When Ausfaller appears to take Shaeffer into custody, along with local money (probably for bribing local officials; he never intended to give it to Shaeffer), Smittarasheed kills him with the ARM punchgun left in Shaeffer's hotel room by Sharrol and taken by Ander and offers to split the money with Shaeffer for the location of Carlos’s autodoc. Shaeffer agrees but leaves Fafnir without the money, knowing that the Fafnir police can link the punchgun to another crime, a survival jacket with a ragged hole through it, made by the same weapon. With Ander holding the weapon, he would be linked to that death as well as Ausfaller’s. And Smittarasheed did not reckon, Shaeffer knew, on just how many Fafnir police were Kzinti who had elected to stay on that world when it was acquired by Earth in the Fourth Man-Kzin War. Smittarasheed’s final fate is currently unknown.

In Juggler of Worlds, Ander is killed in a firefight with Kzniti Fafner police.

Ander Smittarasheed appears in the framing story Ghost.

Margo Tellefsen[edit]

Tellefsen, a native of Earth, is the captain of the Argos, bound for Gummidgy, when it is boarded and one of its passengers is kidnapped. She is slim and lovely with long, dark hair that she wore in a "free fall" effect. She has green eyes. Shaeffer considered her lovely enough (by flatlander standards) to make a fast fortune on tridee if she wanted to. Shaeffer believes that Margo is in collusion with the kidnappers, which she confirms when Shaeffer confronts this after his escape. Margo revealed that she is Bellamy's mother and therefore well over 300 years old. Shaeffer, intrigued by her request for him to stay with her for two years while Sharrol and Carlos Wu are having children for Bey and Sharrol to raise on Earth, agrees to stay with her during that time.

Margo Tellefsen appears in the Beowulf Shaeffer story Grendel.

Tanya Wilson[edit]

Wilson, a native of Earth, is a companion of Larch Bellamy and one of the four people who kidnapped the Kdatlyno touch sculptor Lloobee from the spaceship Argos. Shaeffer met her when he arrived at Elephant's house during lush-hour one day. She is about 300 years old.

Details on her physical appearance are sparse. She has a voice that is rich and fruity, according to Shaeffer, with a flatlander accent that doesn't ring quite true and is probably displaced in time.

When Emil attempted to storm the cave where Lloobee was being held, he stunned Wilson before being stunned himself. After Shaeffer was captured she returned to the campsite, the cover story for her injury was that she was scratched by one of the native species of Gummidgy. After Bellamy was dead, Margo Tellefsen, who was Bellamy's mother, warned Shaeffer that Tanya Wilson had been in love with her son and would probably try to kill him.

Tanya Wilson appears in the Beowulf Shaeffer story Grendel.

Carlos Wu[edit]

Wu, a native of Earth, is one of only about 120 people with an unlimited parenthood license due to his incredible genius and resistance to disease and injury. His intelligence allowed him to solve the Sealeyham Limits Problem, and to design a new autodoc based on nanotechnology. Along with being a genius mathematician, he is also a playwright and composer. Wu is an easygoing and pleasant fellow, although he broods over feeling trapped by the ARM keeping constant track of his whereabouts and activities. He is reluctant to disclose his thoughts on the cause of ships disappearing near Sol system, even when the hyperdrive in Sigmund Ausfaller’s ship, Hobo Kelly, completely disappears as they approach Earth. Carlos and Bey are returning to Earth; Bey in order to be with his love, Sharrol Janss, and their two children, Tanya and Louis (both of whom were fathered by Carlos). Carlos, perhaps having a resurgence of flatland phobia, has agreed to return there with Ausfaller. Carlos and Bey meet with Dr. Julian Forward and discover that he has found a quantum black hole and is using it to make ships in hyperdrive disappear. Forward takes them hostage and attempts to destroy the Hobo Kelly, but Ausfaller fires on his ships and Shaeffer manages to damage his equipment, temporarily losing control of the quantum black hole, which Forward, sensing defeat, allows himself to be drawn into. Ausfaller rescues Bey and Carlos and they continue on to Earth where Bey rejoins Sharrol and their children and Carlos resumes his own life on Earth.

Carlos and Sharrol Janss had a casual sexual relationship before Sharrol met Shaeffer, although Carlos may have been more interested in her than she in him, since he tried to convince her at one point to leave Earth with him because he felt smothered by the overprotective ARMs who were tasked with protecting his life. When Shaeffer and Janss decided to have children but Shaeffer was denied a parenthood license due to his albinism, they agreed that Carlos would father two children with Sharrol and she and Bey would raise them.

Eventually Wu formed a relationship with Feather Filip, an ARM agent tasked to protect him and he and she created a plan to secretly emigrate from Earth to another planet. To minimize the chance they would be found they planned to bring others along to disguise the size of their group (the ARM would presumably be looking for two people, not a larger group). They brought Bey and Sharrol into the plan. Feather had located a ship that would transport them to Fafnir. From there, they would take the place of a family named Graynor, a group of two men, two women and two children. That family would secretly emigrate to Wunderland, where Feather had set up funding for them, while they would move on to Home. However, after reaching Fafnir, Feather turned on them, shooting Shaeffer in the chest with the punchgun, to show Carlos what she was capable of, so he would stay with her. Instead, Carlos ran with the children, Tanya and Louis, and managed to emigrate to Home without Feather’s help. A year and a half later, when Ander Smittarasheed caught up to Bey and Sharrol on Fafnir, she was frozen for shipment to Home along with their daughter Jeena and their unborn child.

While on Earth Carlos lived underwater at the United Nations-protected Great Barrier Reef on Earth.

Carlos Wu appears in the Beowulf Shaeffer stories The Borderland of Sol and Procrustes, and is mentioned in the stories Grendel and Ghost.

See also[edit]

Juggler of Worlds (by Niven and Edward M. Lerner) is, in part, a reexamination of the Beowulf Shaeffer stories from the perspective of UN intelligence agent Sigmund Ausfaller. Where the Shaeffer stories mostly revolve around problems of speculative physics, the Ausfaller narrative focuses on the geopolitical context that unites these (and other) events in Known Space.

External links[edit]