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Matt McHugh, the winner of the 2019 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award for “Burners,” was born in suburban Pennsylvania, attended LaSalle University in Philadelphia, and after a few years as a Manhattanite, now calls New Jersey home. Find his website here. The National Space Society and Baen Books applaud the role that science fiction plays in advancing real science and have teamed up to sponsor this short fiction contest in memory of Jim Baen. The contest occurs annually and looks for stories that demonstrate the positive aspects of space exploration and discovery. Over the years, the contest has developed an international character. In addition to the United States, entrants have hailed from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Algeria, Spain, and Morocco. "Moon bases, Mars colonies, orbital habitats, space elevators, asteroid mining, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, realistic spacecraft, heroics, sacrifice, adventure—that's what we're looking for," says Contest Administrator William Ledbetter. "And once again we believe we've found writers, and an ultimate winner, who deliver just that." Find more information on the JBM here.

Winner of the 2019 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award

Given in Partnership with the National Space Society

"So how'd that happen?"

From the cockpit of her runner, in orbit two-hundred kilometers over a blue-white swizzled Earth, Linda Ballard aimed her exterior cameras downward. She focused on Maureen's runner, drifting just a few meters below. The runner was a single-pilot spacecraft, shaped like a flattened diamond, resembling a kite—or some said a stingray, an image reinforced by the long, trailing tail. The two vehicles were identical, except Maureen's had a seventy-year-old Russian weather satellite the size of a minivan stuck to its nose.

"You know me," came Maureen's voice over Linda's headset. "Sometimes I have trouble letting go of the past."

Linda zoomed in. Runners were designed to push orbiting debris to re-entry burnup over the ocean, and had the equivalent of a bulldozer scoop on the front with manipulator claws to grip and release payloads. Maureen had opened her claws, but the defunct satellite refused to budge.

"Ah," said Linda. "I see your problem. Take a look at my video feed."

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Scientist, author, educator Dr. Robert E. Hampson turns science fiction into science. He advises SF/F writers, game developers and TV writers on neuroscience among many other scientific matters. In his day job, Hampson’s research team developed the first prosthetic for human memory using the brain's native neural codes. Hampson and fellow Baen author and space scientist Les Johnson are the editors of anthology Stellaris: People of the Stars (Baen, Sept. 2019), a look at the physiological, social and technological changes that will be wrought on human beings as we explore and colonize space. He is a member of the futurism think-tank SIGMA, and the Science and Entertainment Exchange, a service of the National Academies of Science. For more information, including links to prior Baen Free Nonfiction, see Hampson’s website here.

The singularity. Many Science Fiction writers and futurists postulate a future when humans have assisted their own evolution with genetic engineering, cybernetics, and prosthetics such that they are no longer human. This definition for human singularity is often (mis)attributed to inventor Ray Kurzweil, a proponent of technological advancement that can—even will—result in fundamental transformation to something so different that those creatures would no longer be recognizable to us mere primates as being human.

An SF convention panel asked the question: "Do you believe in the singularity?" It shocked the panel that a neuroscientist and SF writer, a person who works on developing the means for humans to transcend physical disease and limitations, would answer "No." So perhaps it would be more appropriate to title this essay: "Why I don't believe in the Singularity." There are many answers—the first involves the very definition of singularity from both the biological and the classical physics points of view. From there, the reasons progress from an in-depth understanding of the human brain and body to end up with discussions of what it means to be human. These are discussions that take center stage in both my fiction and nonfiction writing, and I am at heart an optimist (and human-centrist), so I was delighted when Baen Books invited me to take the time to explain my fundamental faith in humans and why I think that humans will inherit the stars.

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Baen Ebooks is proud to announce an agreement to distribute the English translation of Judgment in Moscow by Vladimir Bukovsky on its retail ebook site, as well as offering a selection of other ebooks from Judgment in Moscow publisher, Ninth of November Press.

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Matt McHugh of New Jersey has won the grand prize in the 2019 Jim Baen Memorial Award competition for his short story "Burners."

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Baen Books announces the sixth annual Baen Fantasy Adventure Award contest, a short story contest for best original unpublished fantasy short story of eight thousand words or less.

The awards will be given out at Spikecon in Layton, Utah this July. Visit https://www.baen.com/contest-faa for more information.

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Baen Begins Selling Challenge Coins Through Baen.com

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When in the course of human events, in this case the passage of twelve years, it becomes necessary to change the look and feel of the company website . . . well, we do. We’ve tried to keep things Baenish and familiar to frequent users, and even more intuitive and helpful to new ones.

We’ve combined the ebooks and print books pages, so everyone can find everything they want in one place. (We will still be selling mostly ebooks here, our own Baen Books and those of other distinguished science fiction publishers, but we are also starting to dip our toe into swag merchandising as well! About which more later.) We added several filtering tools to make sorting through and searching for books more slick, and we’ve kept the ever popular “My Books” and “Not My Books” function.

We hope you’ll find the account interface more user friendly, and we’ve added a sidebar to the homepage we also hope you’ll find helpful in accessing the rest of the site.

Of course we’ve kept all the free stuff—the monthly stories and nonfiction, the extensive Teacher’s Guides, and the Baen Free Library. We hope you enjoy it, and we always welcome feedback. Feel free to stop by Toni’s Table at Baen’s Bar or for technical problems Administrivia or simply email us directly at baensupport@principledtechnologies.com.

And finally, a big shout-out to our Barfly beta testers! Love you guys. . . .

Good reading!

Toni Weisskopf
Publisher, Baen Books