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This story is set in the world of Breaking Silence by Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin, a new entry in the SERRAted Edge series, out in February. Mercedes Lackey is the New York Times best-selling author of the Bardic Voices series and the SERRAted Edge series, the Heralds of Valdemar series, and many more. She's the coauthor of the contemporary metahero SF series The Secret World Chronicle. Among her popular Baen titles are The Fire Rose, The Lark and the Wren, and also The Shadow of the Lion and Burdens of the Dead with Eric Flint and Dave Freer. She lives in Oklahoma.

Cody Martin is a coauthor with Mercedes Lackey of five other books in the metahero saga The Secret World Chronicle, including entries Invasion, World Divided, Revolution, Collision, and Avalanche. He is also the coauthor of the previous entry in The SERRAted Edge series, Silence. Martin is an avid gamer, but spends his extra time chained to a computer, writing. Originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, he currently resides in Florida.


This entire weekend was going to completely suck for Wanda. She felt as if it was a certainty, and the gloomy weather—normally a comfort, especially for a pale specimen like herself—wasn’t helping the way she had hoped it would. She was stuck in Silence, more so than usual, while the rest of the gang was in Wolfe’s Neck State Park enjoying a weekend camping and LARPing event. Even Jake and Riley had come out for it, which had surprised the lot of them. Ever since the events at the Blackthorne Manor, over the course of their junior year, Jake and Riley both had sort of retreated a little bit from the group. They still came to play at the Dungeons and Dragons—or whatever weird tabletop role-playing game Seth had scrounged from Ebay or mail order over the course of the week—but didn’t really hang out much outside of that. I mean, I totally get being weirded out by monsters and elves and monster elves, and having to fight all of them with iron blades and weaponized caffeine. Not exactly the sort of extracurricular activities that the Perfect Couple, or any of us, were at all prepared for.

But being all alone—left out—sucked majorly. She didn’t want to resent the others—not even Jake and Riley, despite their withdrawal after the battle at the Manor—for their fun, but it had grown increasingly hard to stand the loneliness after they all left Thursday night. Even Tim had gone! He’d closed the shop, saying he needed a break, to volunteer as the ride and chaperone for the entire group so everyone could go.

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Ken Roy is an engineer who lives and works amid the relics of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge. He has published technology speculation pieces in such venues as the Journal for the British Planetary Society, and the United States Naval Institute Proceedings. His current interests include terraforming and geoengineering.


We’re learning that planets appear to be plentiful, with most stars having a family of such bodies. As we venture into interstellar space it would be nice to think that we would find countless Earthlike planets having good clean breathable air, plenty of liquid water, a little ice, and be free of allergens, toxins, and bacteria that would harm us. A moderate temperature, a reasonable gravity, low background radiation, kindly neighbors, etc., all would be nice to have as well. With such a world, the colony lands and sets up shop, and lives happily ever after.

We shall consider such a world a habitable planet. Stephen Dole of the Rand Corporation estimated that about 1 in 200 stars has such a world. A more recent analysis by William Pollard of the ORAU Institute for Energy Analysis estimated that this number actually ranges somewhere between 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 10,000,000 stars. With Dole’s estimate, our space-faring descendants, on average, would have to search a spherical volume of space having a radius of 25 light-years to find a single habitable planet. With Pollard’s estimate, that radius would range between 200 and 1000 light-years. Habitable planets are probably not as common as we would like and by definition already possess life. This life may not take kindly to alien invaders (us). Indeed, its ecology could lack some essential amino acids that we require and could even be toxic to humans or even Earth life in general. There is much to be learned from alien life and certainly no reason not to study it, but there are real, practical, and even ethical issues involved in trying to colonize such a planet.

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Over 170 titles from Baen Books to be published as audiobooks over the next three years

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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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J. J. Cragun takes home the top prize for his short story “Treason Properly.”

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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 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