Good. Evil. Bratwurst.


Posted on by arlen

Sometime back I read the words:

So perhaps we should mute our cries of doom and speak, if not in tones of triumph then at least of hope—and courage. For those of you who have the urge to create still another fully realized world steeped in misery and horror resulting from 20th century stupidity—please try another market. I firmly believe the readers are as bored with it as this editor.

There, in my room in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, I stood up and cheered.

The year was 1975. This wasn’t a polyannish cheer. I was then (and still) concerned with what we’ve been doing to ourselves. But I’d enough of writers who just wanted to wallow in our mistakes, sitting around crying Woe is me! I wante someone to start pointing the way out, someone who could recognize that in the coming struggle lay opportunities for heroism.

And here was an editor who echoed me. Had he been in the room, I’d have kissed him!

So I read this with more than the usual grief. For years his name led me to the stories I wanted to hear, the stories I needed to hear to get me through the morass of the times. First at Galaxy and If, then Ace, then Tor, then on to his own publishing label.

Open source advocates should remember the license he distributed a piece of code under. He had need of something to break through to the protected source of a GW-BASIC (remember that?) program, to fix a prpoblem it was causing him at Galaxy. And he thought others might be in the same boat, so he published the code, with the following copyright statement:

All users are hereby granted all rights to this software, on a nonexclusive basis. In fact, the only reason this is copyrighted at all is to prevent someone else from doing so, and thereby restricting its distribution.

I still use that on some things I release today; I’ve named it in his honor, because he deserves to be remembered.

He was the only editor whose name alone was enough to get me to look at a book. Though I’d barely met the man himself, I still called him friend.

The universe is a little darker today. James Patrick Baen has left us, and we are the poorer for it.

One Response to 1943-2006

  1. Thanks for writing that, Arlen. It was a good obit and remembrance. There is also a very good obit/remembrance here: that you might want to read. Jim Baen was unique and he had an impact on a lot of lives.

    One of the things I tend to think of when someone dies is that we are all unique and have an impact on the lives of the people we come in contact with. Death is a good reminder to pay more attention to our life and our friends. 🙂

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