I wish I had had the chance to meet him and thank him for my dream.
As I will not, let me say a short farewell.
Jim, you helped revive the written SF genre. You bridged the eras between the Great of Yesterday -- John Campbell -- and where we stand today. You discovered or promoted many of the best and brightest stars of SF, and were a rarity among publishers in that you kept the vision of youth in your own business. Where others feared the Net and piracy, you had faith that people really do want to be honest and fair, and you proved you were right in the only way that matters: you put your business' money where your beliefs were, and it paid off.
I have heard from many people that you were sometimes irascible, arbitrary, and hard to get along with; well, many people in many businesses are, and I doubt there's been a businessman who hasn't made enemies. But even though we never met, I saw a different man. I saw a man who helped people who needed it, and did so in a way that helped keep the dignity of those who were helped (Keith Laumer). I saw a man who worked hard to ensure that the new authors he picked up wouldn't be momentary flashes, but would have the best chance to continue writing.
I saw one of the people who made the dream possible. I saw one of the people who made the dream REAL.
I never met Jim Baen face to face. But he introduced himself to me by his books, and by his authors, and by his actions, and the man I met that way was one hell of a guy. He will be missed.
Farewell, Jim. If there's an afterlife, say hi to Bob Heinlein and John Campbell and Doc Smith for me. If there isn't -- there still is, for you and for them, because you've made sure that you all continue in the memories of millions.
Thanks, from someone whose greatest dream came true with Baen Books.
Ryk E. Spoor
June 29, 2006