Jim Baen (1943-2006)

Jim Baen, founder and publisher of Baen Books, died on June 28 following a stroke from which he never awoke. He was a major figure in the science fiction field, and one whose influence has been felt in many ways. His death marks another sad milestone in the field.

I knew Jim only slightly. He bought my second short story, “Alien Persuasion,” for Galaxy Magazine, back in—actually, I’m not sure. I think it must have been 1975. My story was published at a time when Galaxy was in financial trouble, and it didn’t last too long beyond the appearance of my story. (That story was my first venture into the star rigger universe, and ultimately became the first part of my second novel, Star Rigger’s Way.) Jim Baen later went on to work with Tom Doherty at Ace Books, then at Tor Books. He finally became publisher of his own company, with Baen Books. My sympathies go out to all those at Baen Books, and his family and friends.

For a more complete and knowledgeable obituary, see David Drake’s web site.

Farewell, Little Sam

posted in: farewells, tributes 0

We said a last good-bye to our elderly beagle, Sam, today. He’d gone blind and mostly deaf, and was failing in other ways. So we took him to the vet to release him from his body. I believe it was the right thing to do, but it’s so hard. Sam had been with us for about eight years. We guessed he was six or seven when we took him in from a family that couldn’t keep him, but they had taken him in as a stray, so nobody knew his real age or his past.

He was a big-hearted little guy, though he was also the most trying dog to live with we’ve ever owned—obsessed with food and prone to accidents in the house. But we loved him anyway. We still remember how he sprang to our cat’s defense when a visiting husky went after her: Sam jumped right into the breach and raised holy hell until we got there to intervene. And when Moonlight (the cat) and Hermione (our boxer) got into a tiff over a fallen piece of cold broccoli on the floor, it was Sam who swooped in and gulped it down before either of them could react. And when our kids were first learning piano, Sam and Hermione formed a wonderful Ahhh-ooohhh! chorus.

Sam’s on the rainbow bridge now, but here he is with his buddies during easier times.

Byron Preiss (1953-2005)

Science fiction publisher/editor/writer/packager/entrepreneur Byron Preiss died in a car accident last Saturday, while driving to his synagogue in New York. He was a significant figure in the SF publishing world (and not only SF—he published in many areas). I learned of his death from my agent, who said, “It is shocking beyond belief and the entire publishing community is stunned. Although Byron was controversial in many ways, he was a friend, and he left a wife and two young children.”

I didn’t really know Byron personally—I think I met him only once or twice. But recently he brought out a new edition of my novel From a Changeling Star under his iBooks imprint, and he was planning to do the same with Down the Stream of Stars. Years earlier, I wrote my novel Roger Zelazny’s Alien Speedway: Clypsis under the aegis of Byron Preiss Visual Productions. It was a quick project that turned out to be great fun in much the way the Battlestar Galactica novel was, and a project that brought me new readers and more fan mail than I’d gotten from all my other books combined. I had had hopes that he would one day reissue it through iBooks.

Byron had a wife and two daughters, just as I do. One of them was 16 years old—the same age as my older daughter, as of two days ago. That’s what hit me the hardest.

There’s a fuller tribute to him at comicon.com.

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