My roommate Dave just wrote a snarky little rant about the quality of Baen’s main authors. There are some points I disagree with, but at the same time I have to agree with the overall assessment.

The main thing I disagree with is the general place of style and quality of prose. Of course, I’m closer to the ‘engineer’ camp, where plot is the primary thing of importance in a story. On the other hand, I don’t disdain better prose. Better is better, it’s just that once you reach a certain level of competence in prose, I’m more interested in seeing a better plot and more vibrant characters than glowing prose.

Bujold and Webber are the only two of the five I’ve read (other than some Drake long ago), and I think the main problem with Webber is that he’s too satisfied with where he is. I have not seen his writing grow, despite the fact that there’s more-than-occasional hints that he could be so much better.

I’ve been reading Bujold since about the time her third novel came out. Her skills have grown. Her prose keeps getting more deft, her characters more nuanced, and her plots tighter and more elegant.

All this means that I don’t really disagree with the submission guideline’s statement on style as the source of the problem, per se. As evidenced by too many of Baen Books’ covers, Jim Baen’s artistic taste seems to all be in his mouth, and that may very well go for his taste in the written word as well.