Read The Many Deaths of Joe Buckley Online

Authors: Assorted Baen authors,Barflies

The Many Deaths of Joe Buckley (11 page)

Tedd Roberts:

“Sarah’s Diner” is the gathering place in Baen’s Bar and Facebook for author Sarah Hoyt’s fans and some of the fledgling writers whom she has fostered. We discuss books, story ideas and puns, and even engage in interactive, collaborative round-robins where many participants create stories a few sentences or paragraphs at a time—often with hilarious results. Mostly though, I think
keeps us around to distract and entertain her during those times when her subconscious needs to work out story details and sends her conscious mind out to play. It’s either that or sending in the dancing . . . (ahem) . . . rodents, so we the few, the proud, the Hoyt’s Huns do her bidding and entertain on command.

In November of 2013 it had already turned cold, and Sarah’s mind had stopped working, so about a dozen of the Huns were comparing various Baen writers and their preferences for cold vs. hot writing weather. In the Diner, as with any Baen-associated group, topic drift is a
, not a bug, and the topic soon drifted to the Baen Barflies’ favorite victim, Joe Buckley. Someone mentioned a mental image of a child’s alphabet read-along book . . . and the Joe Buckley Alphabet was born.

The Joe Buckley Alphabet


A is for Ablative, which Joe Buckley is not,

B is for Bazooka, for turning Buckley into snot,

C is for Chewed, for when Buckley forgot,

D is for Dead, for which he is (a lot).

E is for Eviscerate; it turned Joe to goo.

F is for Flattened, which happened to him, too.

G is for Goo (see entry F),

H is for H bomb, not much of Joe left . . .

I is for Icy, for that time Joe died in space,

J is for Jumpy; wouldn’t you be, in his place?

K is for the Kill, of which the author thought;

L is for Lives, of which Joe has a lot.

M is for Messy, like that one time he fried,

N is for Never . . . have the readers cried.

O is for Orbit, a cold, boil-y end,

P is for the Python, which made poor Joe bend.

Q is for Quit, which a Buckley never does,

R is for Red, the color of Buckley’s blood!

S is for Sh*t, which he drowned in once (gag!)

T is for Toasted, should’a zigged, but went zag,

U is for Ugly, for the messes Joe gets in,

V is for Victory, which Joe never lives to win.

W is for Werewolf, but he still ends up dead,

X is the target area, painted on his head.

Y looks like the slingshot, which has not killed him yet;

Z is for Zombies, by which Joe will be e’t.

The Twelve Days of Battle

(Sung to the the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”)

On the Twelfth Day of Battle, my Buckley said to me,

Twelve Bombs are Falling;

It’s Not a Near Miss!!

We’re almost out of ammo!!

I’ve got a bad feeling;

Here’s a list of threats;

Incoming C-Dec;

The Sewage pipes are spraying;

John Ringo, NOOO!!!

Don’t turn me off;

This is gonna hurt!

That snow-blower smarts!

And we’re dead mo-ost def-in-ite-ly!!

Contributors are James Copley (Resoldier), Keith Glass, Tedd SpeakertoLabanimals Roberts, Brad Handley, Bruce Charles Hobbs, Richard Evans, and Sanford Begley.

About “The Anatomy Lesson” Cover


This was a highly collaborative cover. Jim Baen and all the authors were involved in one way or another. It started with Jim, it was his idea, and one for me to resolve. Earlier today I took the time today to read over the voluminous email exchanges.

Using long-distance models would require some careful instructions to my models (authors), and they rallied to help me.

As I remember, I argued that
should be the cadaver, an argument I lost. Jim even suggested he be the corpse but, ultimately, it was decided the body would be Joe Buckley’s. There’s a lot of modeling skill required to be a dead person so this worried me. Could Joe pull it off???  Yes, he
successfully lay still to have his picture taken. He even had slightly different angles taken and that helped me greatly.

The central figure of the doctor doing the dissection was a specific person too, Olga, a friend of Jim’s. I too wanted to be part of this scholarly group so I jammed myself in. Hint, I’m the guy with the paint brushes and palette. Oh, one other fun fact, that’s my wife Andrea on the left.

The Dead Man Speaks


Back in the ’98-’99 timeframe, I wrote a couple of small Visual BASIC applications for my own entertainment—a date converter and an intercept calculator for use with David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. David was nice enough to give me input on how they should work and I gave him copies of the programs. Later, just after I started my website (, when
Ashes of Victory
was in the early days of being snippeted, I got an email from David with the most lovely attachment: a copy of the manuscript for
Ashes of Victory
with the notation that he’d named a character after me. Of course, my character had
lines of dialog, that rat!

I continued collecting the snippets, because I didn’t want anyone to know that I had a copy so early.

It was this first exposure to an early draft which led me to appreciate how a book develops: how scenes and “color” detail get added to more fully realize the story.

As to the whole story about being involved with David in a game or tournament of cutthroat spades, I had nothing to do with that. The
of the unfortunate crew of HMLAC
, now, they were pretty much the target of David’s literary wrath. It seems that David then decided that this was a golden opportunity to add my name to the casualty list! (As I usually tell the story, David killed off the rest of the crew of
just to get at me.)

At about this same time, I was also conversing with Baen’s newest author, John Ringo.

John offered to let me read the manuscripts for
A Hymn Before Battle
and its sequel,
Gust Front
A Hymn Before Battle
was well on its way to publication and
Gust Front
was in the early stages of the publishing pipeline.

What I then did was something that quickly developed into a habit: I would load the stories into my Rocket ebook reader and use its notation ability to point out typoes, continuity errors and general questions about some minor points I noticed.

I don’t recall ever giving him
on how to write something, along the lines of “Gee . . . this scene would work so much better from the younger Billy-Bob’s perspective.” Mainly typoes and continuity errors with a small smattering of “What the heck is
supposed to mean, since you said
several chapters ago?”

John never asked me for it. I just thought it would make life a little bit easier on John and his proofreaders if he could hammer out the small stuff before he turned in the manuscript.

He never told me to
, either.

So it became an automatic action on my part.

Then came John’s collaboration with David Weber on
March Upcountry

The first copy of that I ever saw was under five chapters after a late-night AIM chat on space warfare tactics (in reference to the early loss of the
). We quickly got into the habit of John’s sending me the manuscript after he’d added a few more chapters to it.

I’d read and read and reread the same things from the beginning and do my notation bit. I figure that by the end, I’d read parts of the book close to twenty times.

Sensibly, John was adding new material to the book and not bothering to go back and correct the small-fry issues that I kept pointing out to him.

Now, we have the book getting longer and longer and my list of questions, comments and typoes was getting longer each time.

By the time the story reached just past the point where John and David stopped the book (the first major event in what became
March to the Sea
), my list of uncorrected items was getting long.

It turns out that my Rocket eBook reader’s capacity for notations on a single title was
two hundred notes—I hit that before the end of the book! But I soon discovered that while the number of notes had a fixed limit, the number of items I could simply
seemed to be effectively unlimited.

So the small-fry issues, like typoes, that are pretty obvious once pointed to, would get underlined, saving the limited notes for things that required some sort of questioning or explanation.

That week, John got a
list attached to his email. (To be fair, I trimmed it before sending, so I don’t believe the total of all points was over two hundred.) I heard later that John’s groan could be heard throughout the house. “What’d Joe do
time?” was how I heard the reaction to the groan phrased.

John saw the list. Got annoyed (honestly, we never really talked about it, but I think it was more in amusement, than anger), decided that
Something Must Be Done
and fired up his word processor and changed the name of the character “Peterson” in
Gust Front
(the unnamed “Lefty” in
A Hymn Before Battle
) to “Buckley.”

People took notice of how “Lefty’s Bad Day” in
A Hymn Before Battle
got so much worse in
Gust Front
and decided that I must have done something
horrible to John to deserve that sort of treatment.

People were also greatly amused with the whole concept.

went off the rails with
1634: The Galileo Affair
by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis. I remember Eric dropping broad hints that something was in store for “me” in the story. He was actually rubbing his hands with glee and cackling like some B-movie, moustache-twirling villain as he dropped his hints.

At that point, the meme had taken on a life of its own.

So . . . that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

David Weber did it first. John Ringo

About our charities

All proceeds from this collection will support two charities near and dear to our hearts, both founded, supported, and run by Baen readers: Operation Baen Bulk and ReadAssist.

Welcome to Operation Baen Bulk

Operation Baen Bulk started in the fall of 2009, when one of our founders got a ninety-day layoff notice, and moved into the Layoff Pool. With nothing to keep him busy, he corresponded with a few deployed GIs (who were also members of the Baen’s Bar community) and noticed that while they had individual requests, there were a number of things they mentioned their entire outfit needed or wanted. And he needed a project to keep him sane while looking for a job with the economy going south. And thus was OBB born: a bunch of SF fans, all of whom read the military SF that Baen Books published, pooled our money and resources to insure that a training detachment in Afghanistan could have some personal hygiene products, Christmas trees and good coffee. The project kept our cofounder busy and productive until he found a better job. Along the way, he roped in a good friend and college classmate, who had also been active in sending supply items to the troops. 

Along the way, we’ve provided for the oddball requests and creature comfort needs of several deployed units—snacks, books, flashlights, batteries, unbreakable coffee mugs, socks, sundries and BOOKS! We’ve even had military assistance at getting those supplies sent overseas. As the Afghanistan and Iraq deployments wound down, OBB turned our attention to helping injured troops by purchasing over eighty Kindle eBook readers, and loading them with over five hundred free and donated titles from Baen and other authors. We sent those Kindles to military treatment facilities and recovery centers around the country to provide reading enjoyment to troops recovering from deployment-related injuries.

But we couldn’t have done it without you. We all appreciate your contributions and the assistance of Baen Books. Thank you for your support.

—Rob Hampson and Keith Glass,
cofounders, Operation Baen Bulk.


Information provided by Walt Boyes

Starting in 2000, Baen Barflies who wanted to help a fellow Barfly, Jimmy G., collected money and bought him assistive devices. When Jimmy, who had major physical problems affecting his ability to read,  passed away in 2002, the Barflies decided to keep the organization, now called ReadAssist, and use it to help other science fiction and fantasy fans with reading disabilities.  ReadAssist is a committee of Science Fiction Public Library, a not-for-profit organization founded by Eric Flint. ReadAssist provides funds and assistance for fans with reading disabilities, and administers a program for Baen Books that permits fans with disabilities to receive ebooks from Baen at no charge. ReadAssist can be found at or by email at [email protected]



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