In On to the Asteroid, a big chunk of outer space is barreling straight for Earth. The intrepid men and women of the burgeoning private space industry are doing what they can to avoid a cataclysm—but it may be too late! Which got us thinking. If an asteroid were heading straight for us, and you weren’t sure if disaster could be avoided, what SF/F series would you read or re-read to pass the time until the (possible) apocalypse and why. Let us know for your chance to win a copy of On to the Asteroid, signed by Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson.
2016 BAEN FANTASY ADVENTURE AWARD WINNERS
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Baen Books is pleased to announce Shawn Snider as the grand prize winner of the 2016 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award for short fiction.
Vote for Year’s Best!
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Riverdale, New York, April 2016—Baen Books announces the June 7th publication of The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF 2015. Along with a collection of the year’s best short stories, the book features an online Reader’s Choice prize that is awarded to the best overall story in the anthology.
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A new reader guide filled with interesting and provocative questions and notes is now available for Lois McMaster Bujold’s latest entry in her legendary Vorkosigan saga, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. It’s a great way to get discussion started for your book club or online reading group. And it’s also wonderful way to deepen the pleasure of . . . did we say there’s a new entry in the Vorkosigan saga!
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David Carrico's writing career began with short stories laid in the 1632 universe published in Grantville Gazette. He is the author with Eric Flint of 1636: The Devil's Opera. Eric Flint and David Carrico are also continuing the Jao Empire series which Flint began with the late K.D. Wentworth. The latest entry in the series is The Span of Empire out in September. Carrico lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Bringer of Fire
Vikram Bannerji sat at table number twelve in The Turf Tavern, one of his favorite hangouts in Oxford, England, nursing a glass of whisky. He had been considering a decision he needed to make for close to forty-eight hours, and he wasn’t any closer to making it now than he had been when he started.
He knew what he wanted to do. No, actually, make that he knew what he needed to do. He knew what the right thing was for his family in Mumbai, for India, for his friends here in Oxford, for England, for the world. He knew what his role in it should be. But it meant turning his life into channels he had never considered for his future. More importantly, it meant turning his life into channels his father had never considered for his future, which was another packet of chips altogether.
The tabletop thunked as a glass landed on it. Vikram felt the vibration as someone else plopped in a chair across the table from him.
"What's up, Vik? You look like your favorite polo pony died."
That was Neil McLeod, a brash young red-haired Scotsman, studying English language and literature at Merton College. His Highland brogue, although tempered by years in British public schools, was still there, and had more than once tripped Vikram up in conversations, especially when the two of them had lifted more than a few mugs of ale, beer, or Neil's favorite potable, Guinness.
Of course, Neil would make the same complaint about Vikram's accent. Truth to tell, there was still a hint of the melodious Indian lilt to Vikram's tenor, although his diction and pronunciation was pure upper-class English. He sounded more Oxonian than most of his classmates, especially the American Rhodes Scholars.
Dr. John Lambshead is a retired senior research scientist in marine biodiversity at the Natural History Museum, London. He is also the Visiting Chair at Southampton University, Oceanography, and Regent’s Lecturer, University of California. He writes military history and designs computer and fantasy games. He is the author of swashbuckling fantasy Lucy’s Blade, contemporary urban fantasy Wolf in Shadow, and coauthor, with best-selling author David Drake, of science fiction adventures Into the Hinterlands and Into the Maelstrom.
A Quantum of Consciousness
Baen Books is proud to present a new epic poem, serialized in ten parts. Written by celebrated poet Frederick Turner, Apocalypse examines the effects of catastrophic climate change—and the men and women who do whatever it takes to save the planet.
Every so often a new development in digital hardware or software is heralded as the beginning of artificial intelligence. And every time, I look at it and see a machine - a machine designed to store and manipulate symbols (data) according to a set of rules - that works a little faster and more efficiently than its predecessors. What I don’t see is intelligence. The desk-top on which I am writing this article can’t do anything that the Apple II I used in the 70s couldn’t do. It just does it a whole lot faster and more effectively.
The problem, I think, is that the word “intelligence” is tossed around without much thought into what it means. Partly that is because we can’t decide what it means. The definition of intelligence includes aspects like the ability to learn, be creative, apply logic, think abstractly, communicate efficiently, remember information, or merely to be educated.
When we talk about human beings, intelligence usually in practice simply means academic ability. When applied more broadly in Zoology, it tends to mean complexity or flexibility of behaviour, particularly in response to novel stimuli. But intelligence also implies something else, something more fundamental, an awareness of self and consciousness. All vertebrates seem to have a well-developed sense of self, other organisms less so, computers never. It may be possible to simulate consciousness using computer software. Equally one can simulate rain—but no one gets wet.
So in summary, there appears to be qualitative differences between vertebrates and complex machines, notably self-awareness and consciousness.
Over the next weeks, a new section of this novel-length work will be posted on the Baen Books main web site, and then collected complete as an ebook that will appear when the serialization is done. So watch every Thursday from now until the end of September 2016 for new installments!
Book 6. Kalodendron
A golden age begins, in which beneficial social, economic, spiritual, and cultural developments emerge one after another on the healing and flourishing planet. The oceans retreat. But who is this angel, who has emerged out of the meeting between the internet and Lucy’s quantum supercomputer? (And who are these people arriving for the wedding?)
But occupied by battle I’ve passed over
The most important moment in our story.
How to describe her? As an avatar?
Her birth some kind of second incarnation?
And how to choose one of the many names
That people gave her, in their own traditions,
To couple with her own word, Kalodendron?
When she first spoke, it was as if the screen
Was a pure ray of green, blazing across
The whole laboratory, modulated
By visual music in its pulse and hue
According to her speech and intonation.
When people named her, she would make an icon
To suit what they proposed. A great green angel,
Female in aspect, spreading topaz wings,
Beside a branching lemon-tree in flower.
Mercury, male, bearing a snake-bound staff
(Both of whose snakes were peeling off the helix),
Lord of the marketplace and all abundance.
The healer Aesculapius. Bright Lugh.
Asha Vahishta the Amesha Spenta,
Kuanyin, the gentle one. Hermod, or Thoth.
Eshu, Ningizzida, or Metatron,
Hermes the messenger, wing-heeled and ready,
Streaming with living strings of quantum code.
One of the bright programmers from the island
Saw him as male, and in the isle’s patois,
Named him "Uhane’oma’o, green spirit,"
And so it stuck among the Polynesians.
For me though she was always feminine.
The Baen Free Radio Hour offers a weekly dose of Baen news, contests, suggestions for developing writers and readers, and, above all, lively discussion with a galaxy of authors, artists, and scientists all around the Baen Books universe. Plus: great audio adaptations of Baen author works, and professional readings of the science fiction and fantasy you love.