2016 Jim Baen Memorial Award Winner
Author Aimee Ogden takes Jim Baen Memorial Award with short story, “Dear Ammi.”
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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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In Sarah Hoyt’s Through Fire, science fiction meets fairy tale when Zen Sienna finds herself transformed from a spaceship mechanic into a princess straight out of Hans Christian Andersen. Which got us thinking: what SF/Fairy Tale mashup would you most like to see? Let us know for your chance to win a handful of magic beans—er, we mean a copy of Through Fire, signed by Sarah Hoyt. (And no fair asking the genie of the lamp for help!)
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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 Drake was attending Duke University Law School when he was drafted. He served the next two years in the Army, spending 1970 as an enlisted interrogator with the 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam and Cambodia. Upon return he completed his law degree at Duke and was for eight years Assistant Town Attorney for Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He has been a full-time freelance writer since 1981. His books include the genre-defining and best-selling Hammer’s Slammers series, the nationally bestselling RCN series (within which this story is set) including In the Stormy Red Sky, The Road of Danger, The Sea without a Shore, and latest entry Death’s Bright Day.
Pennyroyal knew that Cadet Leary was supposed to have remained aboard the Swiftsure until 1700 hours with the rest of the Starboard Watch. That said, she'd gotten to know Daniel Leary pretty well during their three years at the Academy. When she couldn't locate him in their accommodation block or the cable tier where he was supposed to be on duty until 1630, she suspected that Leary had managed to slip ashore with the Port Watch.
It was more out of whim than from any real expectation of finding the other cadet that Pennyroyal went out on the hull through a forward airlock. The Dorsal A antenna was raised while the Swiftsure was docked in Broceliande Harbor. Daniel was sliding down a forestay, his rigging gauntlets sparking against the steel wire. A bosun's mate named Janofsky was following him down.
"You're supposed to be inspecting cable, Leary," Pennyroyal called, amazed and a little exasperated at what her friend got up to. "If an officer catches you fooling around in the sunshine, you'll lose your liberty. At least your liberty."
Daniel Leary wasn't any more interested in astrogation theory than Pennyroyal herself was, but he had an obvious gift for astrogation. He could be a valuable officer of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy—if he weren't booted out of the Academy before he graduated. Leary treated discipline the way he did religion: it was all very well for others, if they really wanted to go in for it.
This story also appears in the Ring of Fire IV short story collection, edited by Eric Flint. David Brin is a scientist, speaker, technical consultant and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. Find out more about the worlds of David Brin at his web site here.
As deeply roiled and troubled as we all have been, ever since the Ring of Fire brought disruption to our time, sending all fixed notions a-tumble, how seldom have we pondered the greater picture—the “context” of it all, as up-timers so concisely put it?
I refer to the event itself, the very act of carving a town out of twentieth-century America and dropping it into the Germanies, three hundred and sixty-nine years earlier. Engrossed as we have been, in the consequential aftermath, we have tended to wave away the act itself! We beg the question, calling it simply an Act of God.
Indeed, as a Lutheran layman, I am inclined to accept that basic explanation. The event’s sheer magnitude can only have had divine originating power. Take that as given.
As to the purpose of it all? That, too, remains opaque. And yet, one aspect by now seems clear to most down-timers. By winning an unbroken chain of successive victories, the Americans and their allies have at minimum forced a burden of proof upon those potentates who condemn up-timers as satanic beings. To many deeply religious folk, there is a rising sense of vindication, even blessing about them.
Bob Kruger is the president of ElectricStory.com, a software-development and ebook-publishing company. He's worked as a writer and editor on tabletop and computer games for several companies, including Wizards of the Coast and Microsoft. Bob has written more on Dungeons and Dragons for Baen.com here. A large selection of Electricstory.com ebooks are available from Baen Ebooks here.
Do Dungeon Masters Roll Magic Dice?
Willful Self-Deception on the Campaign Trail
A couple of years ago, I wrote an essay for Baen called “Dungeons & Dragons: The 40-Year Quest for a Game that Breaks All the Rules.” I covered a lot of ground, from the history of the game through its acquisition and revision by Wizards of the Coast, and explored the psychological hooks that may explain its popularity. One thing I touched on a couple of times was the DM’s angsty role as both judge and participant. I wanted to explore that some more, but I was already three times over my suggested word count, and, frankly, I had more thinking to do.
The DM role is both the core oddity and strength of D&D or any tabletop roleplaying game. Dungeons & Dragons cocreator Dave Arneson hit on the concept when he assumed the role of all the monsters in a tabletop miniatures game while serving as judge. Being both player and judge represents a clear conflict of interest in most games, but here the goal changed from beating the other players, to facilitating their good time. The way it works is that the DM tells a story and presents hazards for the players to confront. The players tell the DM what their characters attempt to do, and the DM objectively determines the outcomes, using dice to resolve uncertainties.
“Objectively determines the outcomes”? What a trick that would be! How can a Dungeon Master objectively determine the actions of creatures that don’t even exist, like dragons or orcs? How can the dice model any kind of reality? Dungeons & Dragons is an exercise in suspending disbelief. To collaborate on the story, everyone, even the Dungeon Master, provisionally accepts the DM’s bogus objectivity. This is pretty clear, but I think it goes even further in a superior game. The DM doesn’t just pretend he’s objective. At some level, to make the game work, he needs actually to believe it.
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