Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Valentine to the Memory of Jim Baen
I was happy to see this piece by Hal Colebatch on his association with James Baen, founder of Baen Books, who died in 2006.
My friend Lars Walker is a Baen author with three books published by that house.
His memories seem to be in accord with Mr. Colebatch's, who writes about a man who performed a cultural service as an ex-hippie combatting the suicide of the West through the publication of sci-fi that elevated honor, duty, chivalry, patriotism, and military valor.
Colebatch also includes anecdotes about the personal affection Baen had for authors and illustrators. He was the kind of man who would guarantee future work (wow) to help talent get a mortgage and would give advances larger than those requested!
I once worked for a pharmacist who owned a little neighborhood apothecary. After my half year driving his truck around town and manning the cash register, he gave me a $500 check as a going away bonus. He knew I needed the money for getting set-up at graduate school. When he gave it to me, he said, "This isn't a loan or a gift, it's an obligation. When you see an opportunity to help someone who works for you or with you, then it will be your turn." Jim Baen sounds a lot like my old pharmacist friend and I imagine he's left a lot of obligations out there in the world that his friends will gladly fulfill.