Tag Archives: Baen Books

A Look at Poul Anderson’s “To Outlive Eternity”

anderson-to-outlive-eternityTo Outlive Eternity
Poul Anderson
mass market paperback $7.99
ebook $6.99

This post isn’t about the entire collection, but the title story.  “To Outlive Eternity” was serialized in Galaxy in 1967.  An expanded version was published in 1970 as the novel Tau Zero.  I read the novel approximately 25 years ago.  Today being Anderson’s birthday, I wanted to read something of his that was longer than a short story, but not too long.  “To Outlive Eternity” was perfect.

Anderson was a master at many forms of science fiction and fantasy.  He had a degree in physics; not surprisingly, much of his hard science stories revolve around physics and astronomy concepts, one of the many reasons I like his work.  “To Outlive Eternity” falls into this category. Continue reading

Alex Stewart Shoots the Rift

shooting-the-rift-9781476781181_hrShooting the Rift
Alex Stewart
Baen Books
Trade Paper $16.00
Ebook $8.99

It’s spring, when a middle-aged man’s thoughts lightly turn to…space opera!

Alex Stewart has been writing the Caiphas Cain novels and stories under the name Sandy Mitchell for the Warhammer 40,000 franchise.

Now he’s branched out and writing another series.  This is grand old space opera in the grand old tradition.  Or to put it another way, it’s a heckuva lot of fun. Continue reading

Unforgettable is, Well, Unforgettable

Eric James Stone
Baen Books
trade paper $15
ebook $7.55

So here’s an interesting little novel (by “little” I mean a reasonable length, not a doorstopper, IOW, a compliment) that plays with some scientific ideas in a new way.

Nat Morgan is literally forgettable.  One minute after you leave his presence, you will completely forget having met him.  No computer has any record of him.  He doesn’t show up on camera.  The only way he can leave a permanent record is by writing something down.  That’s the only method he has of being recalled.

So naturally, he works for the CIA.  There’s an entire prototcol he uses to get his handler to accept that what he says is true.  There’s also a file in his handler’s desk with enough information about Nat that the guy will trust him.

Nat is on an assignment to steal a quantum chip prototype when he and a beautiful Russian spy  (Are there any other kinds?  Only a few.) who is also trying to steal the chip are captured.  Things get interesting when she remembers him after they part ways. Continue reading

Keeping Her Brother

Her brothers keeperHer Brother’s Keeper
Mike Kupari
Baen Books
trade paper $16
ebook $8.99

If you like good, old-fashioned space adventure, then you’ll want to check out Mike Kupari’s first solo novel (he’s previously collaborated with Larry Correia) is a strong debut that based on the ending will be the first volume in a series.  At least if sales are good (such is the way of publishing). So go out and buy a copy, because I want to know the secret of that derelict starship they find.

Oh, you want more than that to go on before you buy it, do you? Continue reading

Robert Buettner’s Overkill is a Top-Notch Adventure

Robert Buettner
Baen Books
Mass market paperback $7.99
ebook $6.99

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Baen title, and I’d forgotten how much fun they could be.  Baen has a large number of series books, and I wanted to start with a series that didn’t have a dozen or more novels in it.  So I chose Overkill, not realizing that it’s the first volume in a new series that’s a sequel to another series from a different publisher.  (Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do.)

Jazen Parker has been hired to help a wealthy businessman hunt a creature called the grezzen that’s reputed to be the most dangerous animal in the universe.  He’s got a gorgeous guide to help, which is about the only plus to the situation.

Parker comes from a world where his very existence is illegal, since his birth wasn’t authorized.  Simply existing is a capital crime.  He’s been hiding from bounty hunters since the day he was born.  He knows nothing about his parents.  In order to keep him alive the midwife who raised him enlists him in the Legion, a group of government sanctioned mercenaries.

When a person’s term of service in the Legion is up, they have one year of amnesty before they can be pursued for any crimes they’ve committed.  Parker’s year is almost up.  He’s only got a few weeks to establish a new identity.  If he doesn’t, he’s bounty hunter bait.  He needs the paycheck from this job to pay for that kind of fresh start.  Until he gets paid and establishes his new identity, he’s got to keep his secret.

But Parker isn’t the only one with a secret.  His employer has one.  The guide his employer hired has one.  And the grezzen may have the biggest one of all. Continue reading

Celebrating “The Season of Forgiveness”

9781451638622“The Season of Forgiveness”
Poul Anderson
A Cosmic Christmas
Hank Davis, ed.
Baen Books
paper $12.00
ebook $8.99 Baen  Kindle Nook Kobo

Poul Anderson has always been one of my favorite writers. I’m going to be starting a project involving a number of his works next month, so watch for a formal announcement soon.

I first read “The Season of Forgiveness” when I was in high school or the first year or so of college. It’s part of Anderson’s epic future history. This story takes place fairly early in the series, during the first major series-within-a-series, that of the Polesotechnic League. (The other major sub-series is that of Dominic Flandry.)

The story concerns Juan Hernandez, an apprentice at a trading post on a planet orbiting a red dwarf near the Pleiades. A plant that produces a valuable substance has been discovered on the planet, negotiations with the indigenous aliens are underway, and a ship carrying a contingent of new workers and their families is due to arrive soon. In fact, it should land just before Christmas.

The post commander isn’t thrilled with the thought of having children underfoot, so when Juan requests permission to set up a Christmas display to make the kids feel more at home, he reluctantly grants it. During the preparations, hostilities break out among rival factions of the indigenous people.

Juan is out gathering crystals for the final touch of the Christmas decorations when he finds himself surrounded by a group of natives, and they aren’t friendly. He manages to escape, and in the process he has the opportunity to kill the natives. Instead he flees back to his skimmer, literally closing the door on a volley of spears.

When the natives ask why he didn’t kill them, he explains that in his culture, it is the season of forgiveness. That opens a dialogue with leads to a resolution of the conflict between the two groups of natives.

The resolution to the problem is a little simplistic, but this story was first published in Boy’s Life, the magazine of the Boy Scouts of America.  As such, it’s appropriate for its audience.

It’s popular in some circles to rant about how science fiction has always been about white men. Usually those doing the ranting haven’t read as much science fiction as they like to pretend.  The protagonist isn’t white; he’s Hispanic.  There are several other apprentices in the story.  They’re not white either.  And while there are no female characters, this story was written for a boy’s magazine, so I don’t see much of a problem there, {although I’m sure someone would).

I was reminded when reading “The Season of Forgiveness” of what it was I liked about Poul Anderson’s work, and what especially drew me to this particular future history.  In addition to using science to make the story work (length of planetary day, spectral classification of star, type of creatures adapted to that environment), he was able to communicate the vastness of space in just a few lines.

This isn’t one of Anderson’s major works, but it’s a solid piece of Christmas themed science fiction that works for its intended audience.  Check it out.

A Cosmic Christmas is a mix of fantasy and science fiction, all with a Christmas theme.  One of my favorite stories is included.  That would be Seabury Quinn’s “Roads”.  I looked at it in depth a few years ago.  Here’s the link to that post.

A Review of The Chaplain’s War

Chaplain's WarThe Chaplain’s War
Brad R. Torgersen
Baen Books
Trade Paper, $15.00
ebook $8.99

I’m a little confused about this one. Baen’s site says the book is due to be out sometime this month (October). When I checked Amazon earlier today to find the exact release date, the book was listed as having been released on September 15. I suspect that might actually be October 15 and a slight slip-up on Amazon’s part.

None of which is really important. What is important is that Brad Torgersen’s first novel is soon to be available, and if you like military sf with a bit of depth, you should read it.

The Chaplain’s War is what is sometimes called a fix-up novel, meaning that it was originally published in parts and the parts have been fixed up to make a novel.  There is nothing wrong with this approach.

I read the first two stories that make up the novel in Torgersen’s first collection, Lights in the Deep, which I reviewed at Amazing Stories.  And while I enjoyed “The Chaplain’s Assistant” and “The Chaplain’s Legacy”, to be honest, I liked some of the other stories in the book better.

Still, I jumped at a chance to read the novel and would like to thank Baen Books for the eARC.  I discovered something.  Even though I knew what to expect for the first part of the book, I found I enjoyed the story more the second time around.

There’s a lot of military sf out there, and while I’ve not read a great deal of it in recent years, I think it’s safe to say that Torgersen’s approach is a little different.

The story concerns Harrison Barlow, a young man who is a POW on a harsh planet.  Humanity has encountered a race of hostile and very advanced aliens bent on being the only sentient race in the galaxy.  The aliens resemble preying mantises and are called mantes by the humans.  Barlow was the chaplain’s assistant.  He made a promise to the chaplain as the man lay dying that he would build a chapel for the survivors.  When the story opens, a mante scholar arrives at the chapel seeking to learn about humanity’s God.  The aliens practice no religion, and the concept of spirituality is one that is difficult for them to understand.

Through his growing friendship with the alien, Barlow is able influence the course of the war so that humanity isn’t eradicated.  A fragile peace forms, but it doesn’t last.  Barlow finds himself in the position to trying to broker a more lasting peace if he can survive.

“The Chaplain’s Assistant” is reprinted pretty much as it appeared, but Torgersen inserts a number of new chapters into “The Chaplain’s Legacy” showing Barlow’s time in basic training.  This will come to have an impact on the ending of the novel.  The military aspects feel real because Torgersen is in the reserves.

The thing I liked best about this book was that Torgersen treated the concept of faith with respect.  Not surprising since Torgersen has made no secret of his religious beliefs.  What made things really interesting is Barlow is a nonbeliever when the book opens and does his best to remain so throughout.

Before you think the author is going to beat the reader over the head with his religious beliefs or that the book is one long sermon, it isn’t.  Torgersen mixes the spiritual aspects of the book with subtlety, integrating questions about God and faith into the story organically.  The result is thought provoking questions arising as part of an entertaining story.

And the story is entertaining.  Torgersen doesn’t shy away from conflict, violence, or space battles.  Barlow is a complex character, one with his own frustrations and internal conflicts.  This is very much a military sf book, one that shows aspects of military life not always seen in other works in this subgenre.  And a book I thoroughly enjoyed.  I’m looking forward to reading more of this author’s work.