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This story is set in the world of novel Alternate Routes by Tim Powers, out in August. Other recent Baen books by Powers include Down and Out in Purgatory: The Collected Stories of Tim Powers and Expiration Date. Tim Powers won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare. Declare also received the International Horror Guild Award. His novel On Stranger Tides was optioned to produce Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. His book The Anubis Gates won the Philip K. Dick award and is considered a modern science fiction classic and a progenitor of the Steampunk genre. Powers won the Dick award again for straight science fiction post-apocalypse novel Dinner at Deviant’s Palace. Powers grew up in Southern California and studied English at Cal State Fullerton, where he met frequent collaborators James Blaylock and K. W. Jeter, as well as renowned science fiction author Philip K. Dick, who became a close friend and mentor. Powers is a practicing Catholic who claims “stories are more effective, and more truly represent the writer’s actual convictions, when they manifest themselves without the writer’s conscious assistance. I concern myself with my plots, but I let my subconscious worry about my themes.” Powers still resides in Southern California with his wife, Serena.

“Have you seen Eddie?”

In the dappled sunlight that filtered through the boughs and yellow blossoms of the acacia, the face of the young woman who had spoken was in momentary shadow, and Sebastian Vickery closed the book he had been reading and squinted up at her.

Only a few yards behind her, past the flat gravel shoulder, were the rushing lanes of the Santa Monica freeway—known as Old Man 10 to the few fortune-tellers who still inhabited the overgrown borders and onramp-encircled islands of the Los Angeles freeways—and behind the carob tree at Vickery’s back was a short slope down to the parking lot of a row of apartment buildings.

Eddie might have been one of those freeway-side gypsies, though Vickery couldn’t recall one with that name. There was an Edgy, but Vickery hadn’t run across Edgy since the events of last May. Most of the furtive mediums had lost their livelihoods then, and Vickery himself had been left with what he thought of as an occasional and unwanted vision impairment.

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J.R. Dunn is the author of science fiction novels This Side of Judgment, Days of Cain—widely hailed as one of the most powerful time travel novels to deal with the Holocaust—and Full Tide of Night. Most recently, he’s the coauthor, with Robert Conroy, of alternate history The Day After Gettysburg. He’s also the author of nonfiction book Death by Liberalism, and many nonfiction pieces. Dunn was the long-time associate editor of The International Military Encyclopedia and is now an editor at The American Thinker.

It’s a cliché that generals are always preparing to fight the last war. But that’s also true of writers, both fiction and nonfiction. While there is no lack of speculation about future conflicts, the most likely of these has largely been overlooked. It’s not going to happen in the MidEast, it’s not going to happen in central Europe, and it’s not going to happen in Korea.

“Blue China”

The site of the next major war is the South China Sea, a nearly enclosed section of the Pacific 1.35 million miles in extent, bordered on the north by Southern China and Taiwan, on the east by the Philippines, on the south by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, and on the west by Vietnam.

Within that extent lies two major island chains (if the term can used for such a collection of acre-wide pea-patches) the Spratlys, a not far from the Philippine island of Palawan, and the Paracels a few hundred miles southwest of Hainan Island. Other islands include Scarborough Shoal (known as Huangyan Island to the Chinese), the Pratas Islands, and the Macclesfield Bank, along with hundreds of shoals, reefs, and sand banks, many of them nameless, some of them only intermittently visible above the surface.

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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