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This story is set in the world of Wm. Mark Simmons’s Halflife Chronicles dealing with the adventures and misadventures of semi-vampire private eye Christopher Cséjthe. The latest entry in that series is April’s A Witch in Time. Before he turned his attention to science fiction, Simmons was winning awards for his writing, first as a newspaper journalist and later as a broadcast copywriter. His first book was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award and made the Locus Magazine Best List in 1991. When he isn't writing, Mark is in front of the camera or microphone, having worked in television and now radio where his is the morning voice for Radio Kansas and can be heard throughout half of the Sunflower State.


I see dead people.

Not like that kid in The Sixth Sense, where the departed are all noncorporeal and invisible to the rest of the living.

No, when I see the dead, they’ve crawled back out of their graves and show up in all of their decomposed, cadaverous glory.

When I say “glory” in this instance, I mean it ironically.

Over the years they’ve crossed—or shambled across—my path so frequently that I’ve practically developed my own sixth sense that alerts me when they’re nearby. And, when I awoke, my Spidey-sense was providing the backbeat to Ezra Furman’s “Restless Year” on my clock radio.

Death!” Furman shouted. “Is my former employer!”

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Michael Z. Williamson is retired military, having served twenty-five years in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force. He was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Desert Fox. Williamson is a state-ranked competitive shooter in combat rifle and combat pistol. He has consulted on military matters, weapons and disaster preparedness for Discovery Channel and Outdoor Channel productions and is Editor-at-Large for Survivalblog, with 300,000 weekly readers. In addition, Williamson tests and reviews firearms and gear for manufacturers. Williamson’s books set in his Freehold Universe include Freehold, The Weapon, Rogue, Better to Beg Forgiveness . . ., Do Unto Others . . ., and When Diplomacy Fails . . .. He is also the author of time travel novel A Long Time Until Now, as well as The Hero—the latter written in collaboration with New York Times best-selling author John Ringo. He’s the editor of Forged in Blood, an anthology set in his Freehold science fiction universe, as well as upcoming anthology Freehold: Resistance. Most recently, Williamson has a novella in the John Ringo and Gary Poole edited Black Tide Rising anthology Voices of the Fall. Williamson was born in England, raised in Liverpool and Toronto, Canada, and now resides near Indianapolis with his wife and children.


As long as human beings have been fighting, and probably even before modern human beings existed, the counterpart to offense was defense—lashing out, holding up arms, standing behind something to soak up the attack, or bringing something with you to use as a shield.

Some of the most "primitive" societies carved sections of wood to use to deflect blows—early shields. And for a long time, the shield was the primary means of defense, first as that carved stick, then as wicker or hide, eventually of metal.

The disadvantage of a shield, of course, is that it leaves you only one hand to fight with.

Parallel with the shield, and eventually displacing it almost entirely, was body armor. Shields still exist for riot control, for example, but not presently for combat usage, and it seems unlikely they'll return.

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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