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Golden Reflections in the Maelstrom
Robert E. Vardeman

The world is in the throes of change as we shift into the Digital Age from technology that has changed little since Gutenberg. This is no less profound than when the Industrial Revolution forever gave societies new ways to prosper. The Internet is scarcely fifty years old, and the World Wide Web only twenty, so the full impact of what it means to have all information-and entertainment -available through a handheld device is still murky.

The publishing industry is caught up in this maelstrom and still not sure which way to turn. One word pops to the surface of any conversation about print vs. e-books, libraries vs. online wikis, newspapers vs. blogs-and that word is content. No matter the medium, print or digital, content is king. If the reader doesn't want to see it, what's the use?

Fred Saberhagen began his career in print and immediately delivered exciting content through his wild, weird, innovative stories of Berserkers and Empires of the East and Swords and Greek gods and falling veils and, as this volume celebrates, Mask of the Sun. Most science fiction time travel stories are rooted in the same Eurocentric milieu, but Fred ventured out and posited an unexpected future, a different reason for a time war, with antagonists that should have been familiar but were not. Those struggling

for timeline supremacy are the Aztecs and the Incas, masters of the twenty-third century and would-be masters of all time.

This shift from European to Mesoamerican protagonists was not enough for him. Thrown into the time war was a more mysterious artifact. The Mask. Look through it and see . . . what? Your own destiny? What you desired most or what the Mask somehow wanted to happen? Who created it and for what purpose? The intricacies of time travel allow for one Mask to be in multiple timelines and eras. Does the Mask follow rules or does it make them?

As Joan Saberhagen has pointed out in her introduction, the possibilities suggested by this time war, those fighting it and their methods, and the Mask itself, became endless. David Weber and Jane Lindskold bubbled with ideas as different as the American Revolution is from the Pueblo Revolt. When we cast outward for other authors, their responses were similarly enthusiastic. But simply doing an anthology-strictly a print anthology-was not all that Fred would have considered. Where was the innovation? He would have sought out the different to elevate the work above the herd.

The usual approach would have been to invite twenty or so writers to contribute 5,000 word stories. But novelette and novella lengths are the ginger-haired orphans of the field and deserve better than they get. Joan and I decided to limit the number of authors but allow them more room to roam through the timeworlds of the Mask. We have six novelettes and a novella in this volume to allow top-of-the-field authors ample room to explore their ideas and alternate histories. And they have.

But still, an anthology of longer works cried out for something more. Why not reprint the novel that sparked all the enthusiasm, as well? For those readers unfamiliar with one of the finest time-travel novels in the field, Mask of the Sun is part of the volume. Seven substantial new stories and their inspiration? Only in Golden Reflections.

Baen Books is a pioneer in moving beyond the print medium and is sure to do well with online electronic sampling from this print volume. It seems only fitting that Fred Saberhagen's work will be part of the forefront of a change in presentation of solid entertainment-with content that transcends its medium of presentation.

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