An Opportune Moment to Note a Thing re: Baen Books

Oh, look: A stack of new Baen books arrived at the Scalzi Compound, not 45 minutes ago. Here they all are (not shown: the nice Balance Point mug that was also in the package). This makes it a lovely time to address something that people have been asking me privately, which is whether my recent critique of the Baen publisher’s post on fandom means that I have somehow declared battle with an entire publishing house and all its authors, etc.

Short answer: No. Longer answer: Really, no. And here’s why:

1. I think Ms. Weisskopf’s posting was ill-advised for a number of reasons, which I don’t need to address again here. But we all show our ass on the Internet; indeed, future historians may come to define the Internet as “a global electronic communications network, tuned for the showing of ass.” It’s a thing that happens. I’ve done it myself. More than once! I may critique her words when I find fault in them (obviously), but I’m not going to decide this one critique means we are bitter enemies forever, personally or professionally. That seems a bit much. I’m certainly not going to hold it against the books and authors Baen publishes.

2. I like promoting authors and their work, and especially science fiction and fantasy authors and their work. Baen authors write good stuff; a lot of my readers will like the books and authors Baen publishes. If those books and authors do well, it’s a signal that the interest in the field is healthy. That’s good for what I do. So for my readers’ sake and my own as a writer, it makes sense to call attention to what Baen publishes, and I’m fortunate to be in a position to call attention to it.

3. I like many Baen authors and their work, either as people or as writers (and sometimes, both). I’m happy to promote their work because I like sharing what I like. Moreover, I know and like people who work at Baen itself. I’m happy to do my part to keep them employed. Sometimes these folks may have views significantly different than my own. I may still like them as people (or may still like their work) anyway.

4. There are writers and others at Baen whose opinions may differ from (or flat-out oppose) my own, and I may find those opinions anything from silly to dangerous. But, as it happens, there are writers and others at Tor, my own publisher, whose opinions may differ (or flat-out oppose) my own, too. I’m not going to stop reading and promoting Tor books; I’m not sure why I would treat Baen books any differently.

5. Likewise: There are authors and others all around who think what I do/say is silly or stupid or obnoxious or otherwise ill-advised. If on that basis they decide to have nothing to do with me, well, that’s fine. I would be sad if they decided that because of me, they would have nothing to do with any writer at Tor. Again, that seems a bit much.

6. But, you may say, Ms. Weisskopf is the publisher, and that’s different. Okay, but: You all know that I recently signed to do a TV series with FX, correct? That’s owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same fellow who is responsible for Fox News. He’s also responsible, if that’s the correct way to note it, for The Simpsons, Firefly and the new Cosmos series. It’s possible to have issues with a company, its C-suite and things it does and still find reasons to do business with them and/or support some of the things it does (please watch Redshirts when it comes out, on FX. Thank you).

7. At the end of the day, as a writer, what I want people to judge me by is my writing, and not so much who puts out the book. Clearly I think that should apply to other writers as well. As an example, the current Nebula slate has a Baen book on it: Fire With Fire, by Charles Gannon. If people voting for the Nebs hold the publisher against the book, that’s foolish. There’s also a self-published novel on the ballot: The Red: First Light, by Linda Nagata. If people hold the fact that it’s self-published against the book, that’s foolish too. In both cases (and indeed in every case), what matters are the words on the page. With any book from anywhere, ask: Is it a good book? Does it deserve note? Do I like it? If the answers to each are “yes,” then enjoy it and share it. Simple enough.

So that’s where I am with Baen, its authors and their books.

Also: Any books up there that seem interesting to you?

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