Joe Buckley

If you’re a science fiction reader, you may know about Joe Buckley. If not, he dies. A lot.

My understanding is that this started with John Ringo, who is known to plug real people into his novels. The version I heard is that one Joe Buckley asked Ringo in a forum (Baen Bar?) to use his name. Ringo accommodated him by introducing and killing the character. (Another version I’ve heard is that said Buckley left a really bad review of one of Ringo’s books, and the author retaliated by killing him off. I think the first version sounds more like Ringo.)

Anyway, other Baen authors picked up on this, and kill Buckley off in their own works. To date, poor Joe has been shot, stabbed, blown up, killed by a werewolf, turned into a zombie werewolf and fed into a giant snowblower, immersed in superheated molten metal and blown into space…

You get the idea. He’s died so many times that Baen actually put out a book about him, The Many Deaths of Joe Buckley. Joe has probably died more times than all the Star Trek red shirts combined.

So the other day, I decided to re-read a novel I hadn’t read in years, Ryk E. Spoor’s Boundary. It’d had been so long, in fact, that I’d forgotten many plot elements. Much of the book was new to me all over. The last time I’d read the book was before I was even aware of the Joe Buckley phenomenon. So when a character named Joe Buckley appeared my immediate thought was, “Darned if recall how Spoor killed him. Let’s keep reading.”

SPOILER ALERT
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Spoor has Joe fall off a mountain (heard of, not seen), blown up in a lab explosion, two — count ’em two — spacecraft crashes, and a Martian cave-in.

You may have noticed that Spoor did all of these (and maybe I’m forgetting one or two) to the same character in a single novel. Punch line?

Joe Buckley lives. All the way to the end of the book, with a happy — nonlethal — ending. He’s a main character. And lives. Of course, the running joke with the other characters in the book is that they’re a little nervous about sitting next to the unlucky chap, much less sharing a shuttle flight.

I suppose there’s some backstory as to why Spoor made a point of almost killing Joe, but I don’t know it. Anyone?

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Bear

2A advocate, writer, firearms policy & law analyst, general observer of pre-apocalyptic American life.

3 thoughts on “Joe Buckley”

  1. According to Ryk in the book “The Many Deaths of Joe Buckley” he and Eri Flint were quite aware of the tradition of killing Joe in even more inventive ways by Baen authors.

    “Eric and I essentially simultaneously decided that we were not going to kill Joe. We were going to hurt Joe. After all, once he dies, how can we have more fun with him…?”

  2. As well as each author commenting, that book (Many Deaths) also has Joe’s version of the reason for his, repeated, demise. Fun rereading the various incidents.

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