[Book Review] ‘The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade’ by Baen Books

When I first saw this book and its title I thought it was going to be a documentary on the history of Jim Baen and Baen Books, it seemed like it would be pretty dry reading. I had never heard of the Jim Baen Memorial Award, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to reading it. I was in for a pleasant surprise.

The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award is a yearly writing contest for short stories of 8,000 words or less, that shows the near future of manned space exploration. These stories portray the best of what man is capable of achieving while depicting Moon bases, Mars colonies, orbital habitats, space elevators, asteroid mining, artificial intelligence, nano-technology, realistic spacecraft, heroics, sacrifice and adventure.

The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award: The First Decade is a compilation of the best short stories from the first ten years of the The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Awards.

“Each tale is set in a plausible, near-future setting, and yet the variations are as limitless as the imaginations of the array of authors represented. Stories that ask, “What if?” Stories that dare to say, “Why not?” Stories that continue the grand science fiction tradition, looking to the future with a positive outlook on humanity’s place in the universe.”

This is a compilation of sixteen great science fiction shorts, with no fluff. You won’t find cutesy aliens, adorable pets or murderous computers. Navigation, discovery, politics, retirement, life, birth, and death are what you will find as you journey with each character. These are everyday people struggling with choices as they move through life in a near future.

Some stories are reminiscent of Asimov’s writing style, while others are purely modern, yet all of them give you the feeling of great sci-fi. A few of them are sure to become sci-fi classics. All of the stories are well-written, several of them give you a different perspective of what could be.

A few of the stories are not my normal reading style, but I still enjoyed them. There was only one story I did not enjoy, but as they say, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Overall it is a good read and great for those that don’t have time to invest in a whole novel. It’s great science-fiction in bite-size chunks. My favorite three short stories would be “Cylinders” by Ronald D. Ferguson, “A Better Sense of Direction” by Mjke Wood and “To Lose the Stars” by Jennifer Brozek.

  • “Introduction” copyright 2017 by William Ledbetter.
  • “A Better Sense of Direction” copyright 2007 by Mjke Wood. First appeared Jim Baen’s Universe, October 2007.
  • “Letting Go” copyright 2008 by David Walton. First appeared in Jim Baen’s Universe, August 2008.
  • “Cathedral” copyright 2009 by Michael Barretta. First appeared in Jim Baen’s Universe, August 2009.
  • “Space Hero” copyright 2010 by Patrick Lundrigan. First appeared in Baen.com, 2010.
  • “That Undiscovered Country” copyright 2011 by Nancy Fulda. First appeared in Baen.com, 2011.
  • “Taking the High Road” copyright 2012 by R.P.L. Johnson. First appeared in Baen.com, 2012.
  • “The Lamplighter Legacy” copyright 2013 by Patrick O’Sullivan. First appeared in Baen.com, 2013.
  • “Low Arc” copyright 2014 by Sean Monaghan. First appeared in Baen.com, 2014.
  • “We Fly” copyright 2015 by K.B. Rylander. First appeared in Baen.com, 2015.
  • “Dear Ammi” copyright 2016 by Aimee Ogden. First appeared in Baen.com, 2016.
  • “Citizen-Astronaut” copyright 2011 by David D. Levine. First appeared in Analog, June 2011.
  • “Gemini XVII” copyright 2013 by Brad R. Torgersen. First appeared in Lights in the Deep, August 2013.
  • “Scramble” copyright 2015 by Martin L. Shoemaker. First appeared in Digital Science Fiction, September 2015.
  • “Balance” copyright 2014 by Little Lost Stories. First appeared in Baen.com, June 2014.
  • “To Lose the Stars” copyright 2017 by Jennifer Brozek.
  • “Cylinders” copyright 2017 by Ronald D. Ferguson.

PopCultHQ Rating

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