Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jim Baen is dead

(No, not Jim Bean, Jim Baen.) He died on June 28, 2006 from a stroke on June 12.

From the notice at

Jim Baen was a founding partner of Baen Books, one of the largest independent publishers of popular fiction. Since its inception in 1984, Baen evolved to be one of the leading publishers of science fiction and fantasy, and in recent years a leader in electronic publishing and the fight against encrypted books.

Jim Baen started his career in publishing in the complaints department of Ace Books. He moved on to Galaxy magazine in 1973, where his editorial acumen turned the magazine into one of the leading short story venues of the day. He returned to Ace under publisher Tom Doherty to run the science fiction line. When Doherty left to found Tor Books, Jim went with him and established its science fiction line, purchasing its first 170 titles. In 1984 a deal with Simon and Schuster/Pocket Books gave Jim a chance to found his own independent company. S&S has distributed Baen Books ever since. Recently, Baen Books has enjoyed a string of New York Times bestsellers by such authors as David Weber, John Ringo and Eric Flint. Jim also personally worked with Jerry Pournelle, David Drake, Larry Niven, Charles Sheffield, Lois McMaster Bujold and many other authors who shaped the field of modern science fiction. In recent years Jim continued to develop a whole new generation of science fiction writers.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Beginning Place

Ursula K. LeGuin

The Beginning Place is, essentially, a modern fairy tale. Hugh, a young man of about 20, finds escape from his dreary, everyday world as a supermarket checker when, one evening, he dashes from his house and finds a secluded, quiet stream where time seems to stop. Meanwhile, Irene, also about 20, who has been coming to the land beyond the stream for many years, discovers that Hugh has been using the spot for a reprieve from his life. Eventually, they must work together to save the land, called Tembreabrezi, from a growing fear that has crippled trade.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. It isn't the best book I've ever read, and it isn't the best of LeGuin's work. But, it has a certain charm that makes it worthwhile. The pace keeps up through the relatively short novel, but it has a dream-like quality to it (or, maybe it's just because I read it entirely on the plane, I dunno). Throughout, I couldn't help but think that it would be a perfect gay novel, trading Irene for another boy. It has just the perfect touch of sweetness and innocence to make it work, I think.

6-Player Cribbage

As played by the Lehr family

Sometimes, you really want to play a certain type of game, but you either have too many or too few players for the game. What do you do? Make up a variation, of course!

This variation is simple to execute, but can lead to different gameplay than usual.

Players: 6 (either three teams of two, two teams of three, or six players [try to find a board for that!])
Deal: Each player is dealt 5 cards, as with four players.
The Crib: Every player, except the dealer and the third player to the dealer's left (generally his partner, but not always) chooses one card from eir hand to put into the crib. The dealer and the 3rd player to his left each discard one card from eir hand.

Play then proceeds as normal with a turn card and the player to the dealer's left beginning play.

The biggest difference in gameplay is that the sixth player in the hand often doesn't have a chance to play in the first round of 31! Also, with three teams of two, you can't set your partner up for play after the next player, as in 4-player; instead, it is much more like three-player.

The City Born Great - How Long 'Til Black Future Month?

The second story in N. K. Jemisin's anthology How Long 'Til Black Future Month? , "The City Born Great," is an exciting ta...