Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In the Company of Kage Baker

Update: January 31, 2010: Sadly, I have just learned that Kage Baker passed away this morning. My thoughts are with her sister Kathleen, her niece "Emma Rose," her extended family, friends, and readers. If I may borrow some words from Jeff VanderMeer: "I would like to think that this is not the end, that instead [Kage has] merely been assigned by The Company to some new mission." Regardless, rest in peace, Kage. I am so grateful for the time -- and the projects -- we've shared together.

**********
My friend, author Kage Baker, is extremely ill. I knew last year that Kage was ill, but it wasn't until we spoke together at the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, California, over Halloween weekend -- Kage in a wheelchair while her sister Kathleen looked after her -- that I learned that the evil culprit was cancer. At the con, Kage informed me that she had surgery scheduled, but the prognosis wasn't as dire then as it had become by Christmas eve, when cancer had been found in Kage's brain.

Kage had chosen not to publicly announce her illness and, respecting her wishes, I kept this knowledge to myself. But that silence has now been broken with
this announcement by Kage's caregiver and sister, Kathleen Bartholomew, in which she states: "If we are lucky, the therapies will win [Kage] a few months; if we are incredibly lucky, 6 months to a year. If she gets more than that, it will be a literal miracle...."

But then, isn't that what our genre is all about: miracles, both fictional and real?

Kathleen goes on to say: "[Kage] is not giving up, though, and neither -- obviously! -- am I. I have been her caregiver for 8 months now, and am not going to surrender as long as there is the smallest chance of her living through this."

What Kathleen is asking for is your support: "Please send cards, thoughts, prayers and all the healing energy and love you can!" You can send your prayers and thoughts via email to
materkb@gmail.com and they will be printed and read to Kage immediately. Letters, notes, cards and anything else you can think of can be sent to her home:
Kage Baker
331 Stimson, Apt. B
Pismo Beach CA 93449

Back in 1997 I started hearing rumblings of a new time travel novel that was soon to be published -- a story about a group of immortals who traveled back in time, saving (read: salvaging) artifacts in the past for later "discovery" in the future. Sounds like a good thing, right? Saving pieces of the past so that they are not lost and thus can be appreciated by those in the future? Except that most of the saving was being done for future profit, and many of these immortal cyborgs -- and the masterminds behind them -- were not so virtuous, or, let's just say that things weren't so black and white as they initially appeared. The novel was In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker, and it was first published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton in 1997. I purchased the UK hardcover edition because I didn't want to wait until the following year for the US Harcourt edition.

That group of time traveling immortals -- and the masterminds behind them -- became known as "The Company" -- officially Dr. Zeus Incorporated (or Jovian Integrated Systems, if you are familiar with the Alec Checkerfield stories) and, its Victorian-era precursor, the Gentlemen's Speculative Society. In the Garden of Iden was followed by Sky Coyote in 1999, Mendoza in Hollywood in 2000, and The Graveyard Game in 2001, all from publisher Harcourt.

Though I had read the first two novels, the one story that really made me take notice was novella "Son Observe the Time," originally published in the May 1999 issue of
Asimov's Science Fiction and reprinted in Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction: Seventeenth Annual Collection, which is where I first read the story. The events in this story take place just before the 1909 San Francisco earthquake; living in the San Francisco Bay Area, earthquakes are near and dear to my heart. [We just had a 5-pointer about three weeks ago.] After reading this one story, I then tried to read all the "Company" short stories that I could find. In May 2001, I contacted Kage Baker via email about the possibility of a short story collection; at the time I was acquiring and editing for Golden Gryphon Press. Kage responded the very same day, stating that she was intrigued with my proposal and that she has forwarded my letter to her agent Linn Prentis1; they would get back to me on this soon. On May 9 I received an email from Linn: "We are thrilled that you are interested in doing a Baker Company collection. Kage has put together a list [of stories] and we are checking it for possible conflicts." Linn went on to ask about terms and a possible publication date.

My plan was to publish the collection in time for the 2002 WorldCon, which would take place about six or so miles from my home, in downtown San Jose, August 29 through September 2 [my birthday and my anniversary!
2]. And since Kage resided in Pismo Beach, about 190 or so miles south, this would allow her to hopefully attend the convention as well and help promote the book. That may sound like a lot of time -- May 2001 to August 2002 -- but that was typical for a Golden Gryphon Press book; much of the lead time had to do with scheduling certain aspects of the publication process to coincide with the distributor's (Independent Publishers Group) twice-yearly marketing catalog. Of course, the contents had to be determined, the selected reprint stories formatted and copyedited, the original stories formatted, edited, and copyedited, original cover art commissioned, ancillary material written, and so forth.

I asked Kage if she was open to writing an overall introduction to the collection and a brief introduction to each story. Regarding the story intros, Kage wrote on May 14: "Speaking as a literature consumer, I have to say that I always love collections where the author adds commentary, tells me a bit about each story from his or her own viewpoint. I feel as though I'm getting a little something extra, an added insight into the story that way, almost a conversation with the writer. It would certainly make me more willing to spend money on an anthology of stories of which I might have already read four or five. Throw in stories I had never seen before and some spiffy cover art and I would not only buy it immediately, I'd go without groceries for a couple of days if that meant I could take the book home RIGHT THEN and savor it gleefully." Well, with that response, I knew the book would include individual story introductions. [More on these in a bit.]

Also on May 14 I started tossing out ideas for the book's title: "Tales from the Company Archives" and "The Company Dossier: The Unofficial History" were just two of them. A couple days later Kage emailed: "...at 1:AM last night I came up with 'Black Projects, White Knights.'" [Note: you may recall my comment a few paragraphs above that the actions of these immortals were not necessarily "black and white."] And thus putting our heads together, so to speak, we came up with the final title for the collection: Black Projects, White Knights: The Company Dossiers.

Finally, on May 23, Kage sent me a list of the stories she wanted to include in the collection; thirteen stories -- two of them previously unpublished -- for a total of 106,000 words:

Noble Mold (1997)
Facts Relating to the Arrest of Dr. Kalugin (1997)
Lemuria Will Rise! (1998)
The Literary Agents (1998)
The Wreck of the Gladstone (1998)
Smart Alec (1999)
Studio Dick Drowns Near Malibu (2001)
The Dust Enclosed Here (2001)
Monster Story (2001)
Hanuman (2002)
The Likely Lad (scheduled for publication September 2002)
The Hotel at Harlan's Landing (unpublished)
Old Flat Top (unpublished)

You'll notice that one of my favorite stories, "Son Observe the Time," wasn't included in the above list. About this particular story, Kage wrote: "[This story] isn't on the list, for two reasons: its length, which is considerable, and the fact that, in an expanded version, it forms the centerpiece of the next Company novel." Well, I couldn't argue with that! Far be it for me to impact the next Company novel, which we were all eagerly awaiting. But Kage did add this comment at the end of her email: "It is also possible a third new story may manifest itself before long. I'm going up to Big Sur this weekend, which is always productive." And, in fact, the Big Sur trip was indeed productive; here's an excerpt from Kage's email dated June 11, 2001: "The new story should be done by tomorrow evening, and then I'd like to let it sit and temper for a couple of weeks, after which I'll go over it for rewrites and it should follow pretty quickly. I already had the basic plot and characters floating around, but on the Big Sur trip everything just crystallized. It's going to be good, I think. And funny." And on June 18: "The story is finished and the title is 'The Queen in Yellow.' It's about 9,500 words in length and I'm polishing it now. It's set in Egypt in 1914 and is a comedic piece. At the moment, I'm pretty happy with it." Kage sent the story to me on June 27; it had a final word count of just under 11,000 words.

Okay... we have a title for the book, the list of stories to be included (three of them new to the collection), and Kage has agreed to write an introduction to each story. So, what's left? An introduction to the book itself, and the cover art.

Regarding the overall introduction, on May 27, I sent the following suggestion to Kage: "...I thought you could write an intro that would be like a set of personnel files. This would be a way to introduce the characters, give a bit of history and let readers know what the 'Company' is all about for those who are not familiar with your novels. And for those who are, this could give them additional info on the characters: name, date/place of birth, how they were co-opted into the Company, specialist skills, interests, missions to date...etc." And on May 30 Kage responded: "I think your introduction idea is right on the mark. It did seem to me that there needed to be some kind of introductory section explaining the whole Company mechanism and the ground rules (i.e. time travel backwards only; immortality not a commercial success).... Remember the beginning of the old THE PRISONER series, with No. 6's ID card and file getting shuttled through all those outbaskets and sorting files until it was locked away? Paranoia and dehumanization has never been better evoked."

The intro did, of course, get written. After bandying about some titles, Kage came up with "The Hounds of Zeus." In her email of September 20, she wrote: "The book itself IS the dossiers of the gods, but the intro is a story about what happens to people who attempt to pry into Zeus's secrets." This is not your normal book introduction; it is essentially a work of fiction -- yet another short story included in the collection.
**********

All of this work on the introduction, and tidying up loose ends, occurred while in the background the events of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath, played out. On September 16, Kage sent me a draft of the introduction for my review, and concluded her email: "I don't know about you, but I find that working helps take my mind off the ghastly chapter of History now playing out." The following day I responded: "Yes, the past week has indeed seen a ghastly event, and when I let my mind race, I fear what is yet to come.... and I wonder if in the weeks, and months, and, yes, years ahead will people even want to do such mundane things as reading fiction books and such. Or will books and such become a necessary recreational outlet, even more so? Or will we embark upon a whole new way of life -- and living -- for good or ill?" To which Kage replied that very same day: "I think people are still going to need stories. Perhaps even more so; the harder times are, the more people want to sit around the hearth (electronic or otherwise) and listen to somebody tell about heroes."
**********

Ahh, but back to getting on with our lives, as both President Bush and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said we should, shortly after 9/11.

One of the first questions I asked Kage, once the collection was a "go," was who her favorite artist was -- and she responded "Don Maitz." I wasn't even sure that I could score Maitz for the cover art, but I was very familiar with his work. My library of SF/F art books included First Maitz (Ursus Imprints, 1988) and Dreamquests: The Art of Don Maitz (Underwood-Miller, 1993). However, as much as I appreciated Maitz's cover art -- his work on Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" series is classic! -- I didn't feel that his style was appropriate for a collection of Company stories. There is no single character or scene portrayed in these stories, but rather an ensemble of characters spread across centuries. There are images, and objects -- things -- but no one scene that could be painted with a broad stroke. The artist that did immediately come to mind was
J. K. Potter. Kage was a bit skeptical, having checked out JK's work on the web, the majority of it macabre in nature, but she had faith. Once JK agreed to do the cover art, I sent him a selection of stories, along with a copy of the introduction. Kage, in turn, provided me with some images that I could pass on to JK, images such as "passport photos" and "a clock face, the old-fashioned kind with Roman numerals, but without any hands." At the time JK wasn't an email kinda guy, so we chatted on the telephone a few times about the project.


Jumping forward now to May 7, 2002: I sent Kage a PDF file of the final dust jacket layout for Black Projects, White Knights. Any initial skepticism she may have felt earlier with regards to a J. K. Potter cover were dashed when she opened that file. "This is the first time even I have seen the full wrap-around dust jacket. Ohhhhh, this is so exquisite, so grand, even I didn't expect it to look so wonderful.... This is UNBELIEVABLY spiff. I can't wait to hold it in my hands so I can pore over all the little details. God bless JK Potter."

Well, Kage Baker's Company collection premiered at the San Jose WorldCon on August 29, as did
James Patrick Kelly's collection Strange But Not a Stranger and Alastair Reynolds's limited edition chapbook Turquoise Days, which I previously blogged about. The printer, Maple-Vail, shipped two cases of each of the two hardcover collections directly to my house so that I could schlep them myself directly to the convention facilities, as Golden Gryphon Press had a booth in the dealers room.

Black Projects, White Knights was even more successful than I had anticipated. Publishers Weekly gave the collection a starred review and concluded its review with: "Though the collection brings up troubling ethical questions about the nature of the author's future history (since Alec [Checkerfield] is referred to as Adonai, does that mean he is God?), Baker masterfully handles characters and plots. These stories rank among the finest recent work in the field." The book sold out its first printing of 3,000 copies in only two months; there was a second hardcover printing, and the trade paperback edition was published in October 2004.

I think there was such anticipation of a new Company novel, that Kage's readerbase scooped up this collection as soon as it became available. I don't recall all the details, as it has been a few years since Kage explained the situation to me, but evidently her contract got caught up in the purchase of Harcourt by one of the huge publishing conglomerates. The new owner decided that they only wanted to publish the "big" SF names -- Ursula Le Guin, and one or two others, if my memory serves me -- and all other authors were dropped; the problem was that this didn't happen overnight, but was a couple years in the making. Then, of course, Kage and Linn Prentis had to find a new publisher. The next Company novel, The Life of the World to Come, was finally published by Tor Books in November 2004. And the rest, as they say, is Company history.

The very first Company story was "Noble Mold," which was published in the March 1997 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction. With Kage's most gracious permission, I would like to share with you now the introduction she wrote in 2001 for this story:

This was the first Company story ever to appear in print, while In the Garden of Iden was still in search of a publisher. It is also the only story of mine my mother ever heard.

She was a person of epic personality and style, rather like the late great Jennifer Patterson of Two Fat Ladies fame, outrageous, artistic and endlessly nurturing. Naturally enough, I spent most of my life refusing to be anything she wanted me to be. I never let her read anything I wrote, although she loved science fiction.

Then she was, abruptly, diagnosed with something awful and lasted only a month. Every day after work I would visit her in her hospital room, where of course the truth hit me like a grand piano dropped out a window: I desperately wanted her to read my stuff. And now she couldn't hold a book or even focus her eyes. And the train was pulling out of the station so fast, and I was standing there like an idiot on the platform, with almost no time to say I was sorry.

But, pacing by her bed, I explained the whole Company idea, and made up a short story to illustrate the way it worked, about Mendoza and Joseph trying to steal a rare plant. I acted it out, did all the voices, everything I could think of to hold her attention and get the idea across. She liked it, thank God. I wrote it down after she died.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

If that doesn't bring tears to your eyes, then you best check your immortality at the door....

Kage and I went on to work together on two other projects, both for Golden Gryphon Press, and both published in 2003. As part of the limited edition, signed and numbered chapbook series, Kage contributed a Company story entitled The Angel in the Darkness (long out of print); and for the publisher's twenty-fifth book, an anthology entitled The Silver Gryphon -- co-edited by yours truly -- she contributed yet another Company short story, "A Night on the Barbary Coast." One point of interest: for the cover for Angel, Kage specifically requested J. K. Potter!

Since those days, whenever Kage and I ended up at the same convention, typically
BayCon and SiliCon here in the Bay Area -- Kage always with her sister Kathleen, and me usually with my wife Diane -- we would always get together for either a lunch or dinner. We'd chat about past times, current and forthcoming projects, family, whatever.

We were both scheduled to attend BayCon over Memorial Day weekend this past May, but at the last minute I had to bail: my brother-in-law had become seriously ill and I felt a trip to Southern Cal was much needed. So Kage and I (and clan) were not able to get together that weekend, unfortunately. Thus when I learned that Kage was one of the authors (along with
Madeleine Robins) at the monthly "SF in SF" event on Saturday, July 25, I made it a point to attend. Which isn't an easy thing for me, because I refuse to drive in San Francisco; thus Diane and I drove across the valley to the Fremont BART station, at which point we took BART into the city, and from there met Kage and Kathleen, and others, including the folks from Tachyon Publications, who sponsor the monthly event, for dinner beforehand. Kage, obviously, was not 100%, but the dinner went well, as did her reading and interview at the Variety Preview Room later that evening.

As I mentiond at the start of this post, I next saw Kage and Kathleen at the World Fantasy Convention, specifically the Friday evening, October 30, mass autograph signing. It was my sincere pleasure that evening to introduce author
Chris Roberson and his wife Allison Baker (both of MonkeyBrain Books) to Kage, as they are two of her biggest fans. After learning some of the specifics of Kage's illness, I didn't want to impose upon her about getting together that weekend for lunch or dinner -- and now I fear that that Friday evening may have been my last meeting with Kage.

This blog post was started on January 18; I wrote about a third of it -- though I had a lot more notes written and ideas in mind -- but then my dawdling and procrastination set in: it's difficult writing about someone who is ill, especially when you fear the final outcome -- and eventually I had to return to a deadline project. Kathleen had asked for "cards, thoughts, prayers and all the healing energy and love you can!" -- and instead of sending a card or flowers or whatever, I felt that the best way that I could share my appreciation of Kage Baker and her spirit and humor and the quality of her writing was to write this blog. And now, with the
latest news from Kathleen on Kage's condition, I must get this blog completed before time runs out. Today, Kathleen reported: "Kage's doctor has informed us she has reached the end of useful treatment." The two have been staying in a motel the past week or so as Kage underwent treatment, but now Kage will be back home by this weekend so that "end of life care can take place in more comfortable surroundings."

Ah, Kage, I am so sorry... I expected so many more Company stories from you, so many more lunches and dinners together, and I had especially hoped that you and I would have an opportunity to work together again, at least once more. Are these all selfish of me? Damn straight!

But I have just learned that Subterranean Press has published a new Kage Baker story online:
"The Bohemian Astrobleme." This story takes place in the same "world" as her novella The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, which concerns the Gentleman’s Speculative Society, the precursor to Dr. Zeus Incorporated. And a novel from Sub Press should follow shortly: Not Less Than Gods. By the way, note the J. K. Potter cover!

After all, when all is said and done, we'll always have her written words.


--------------
Notes and Footnotes:

I've included more quoted text here, taken directly from Kage Baker's email correspondence, than I have in previous blog posts about other authors. I do this because, as I just said above, we'll always have her written words. I want to thank Kage for her permission to quote extensively from her emails, and thanks, too, to Kathleen for her friendship as well, and for being there for Kage.

The full wraparound cover for Black Projects, White Knights is copyright © 2002 and is reprinted here with the most kind permission of J. K. Potter. If you are into art books, JK has a couple of the best that showcase his unique photo work: Neurotica: The Darkest Art of J. K. Potter (The Overlook Press, 1996) and Embrace the Mutation (Subterranean Press, 2002).


1Lit agent Linn Prentis was with the Virginia Kidd Agency at the time this collection of Company stories was being put together. Since then she has formed her own agency, Linn Prentis Literary. I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge Linn's efforts in this project. She's real down-to-earth and a pleasure to work with.

2Yes, I got married on my birthday! To all the unmarried males reading this: When the time comes -- assuming at some point you will, in fact, get married -- consider getting married on your birthday. It's the best way to ensure that you never forget your wedding anniversary!

Update:
On February 19, I posted a follow-up blog entry entitled "Kage Baker Redux."



30 comments:

  1. Lovely tribute, Marty. Better than than a blizzard of cards and flowers.

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  2. Thanks for your kind comment, Judy.

    I woke up early this morning and kept thinking about this blog post -- specifically my comment about being selfish, and then I realized that, more than being selfish, I'm really angry. I'm angry because this just shouldn't be happening to Kage...

    - marty

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  3. This is just lovely Marty. Truly befitting of Kage.

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  4. Thanks, John, for your most kind comment as well. I just wish there was more I could have done...

    - marty

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  5. This is a beautiful tribute to a fantastic author.

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  6. Marty - I am in tears over the news of Kage's passing. Thank you so much for sharing your story - giving us a look into some of the behind the scenes (both content and art)of the evolution of those ideas into such lovely productions of her stories. And thank you also for the glimpse into the kind,funny,intelligent and gracoius lady she was. Ah man....

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  7. sienamystic: Thank you, too, for your kind comment.

    Allison: After I wrote the update on Kage's passing at the beginning of this blog post, I realized she will now be able to read all those Company stories to her mother! And yes, she was a kind, funny, intelligent (she knew so much of history, which she conveyed in her stories), and gracious lady!

    - marty

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  8. Condolences to friends, family, readers.

    Leslie W.

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  9. Me too -- angry and sad. It was too soon, and too sudden, even though I know for Kage it was a long and difficult fight.

    I can't get my head around the fact that she's gone, and that the thrill of a "new Kage Baker book!" won't ever be mine again. Yeah, selfish.

    But thanks for this personal and detailed tribute. She was an amazing woman, and you are right that we will have her words always. Thanks for what you've contributed to making more of those words available!

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  10. SonomaLass:

    Yes, Kage was far too young; and it's been just short of 13 years since her first Company story was published in March 1997.

    But Kage has yet to share all of her words with us. As I mentioned above, her novel Not Less Than Gods, about the Gentlemen's Speculative Society, is due from Subterranean Press in February; and fantasy novel The Bird of the River is due from Tor Books in July.

    All best,
    - marty

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  11. Thank you, Marty. Took me a while to read this. But I'm glad you put this all down.

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  12. Hey, Kelly,

    I'm glad you took the time to read the entire blog post; I appreciate that. The most difficult aspect of this post was not writing even more! As I said, in addition to the collection, I also worked with Kage on a limited edition novella chapbook, and a story for The Silver Gryphon anthology. There is so much more to write about!

    - marty

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  13. A beautiful tribute. I was so sad to hear the news she had gone.

    I only "discovered" her in 2007, thanks to a friend's recommendation. I had imagined there would be many more years of stories ahead. It's so sad that won't be true.

    My thoughts go out to her friends and family, who must have such a big hole in their lives with her loss.

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  14. Thank you, Marty. Because you knew her well, many of us will now know better just who it is we have lost.

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  15. Leslie, Kerry, Tom...

    Thank you all for your most kind thoughts and wishes. I've been thinking about Kage all morning...

    - marty

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  16. Thanks for a wonderful tribute to an extraordinary person and superb writer

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  17. Thanks for your kind comment, Marc.
    - marty

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  18. Michael PolmanteerApril 5, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    My first introduction to Kage Baker was only last year and I am not linked in enough to have learned of her death before last weekend. I will always miss the words that she never had a chance to write, but I will always thankful for those that she did.

    Michael Polmanteer

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  19. Hi, Michael,

    It is indeed true that we all will miss the words that Kage will no longer write --

    But you are new to her writing and she has written twenty-plus books, so consider yourself lucky that you will be able to enjoy reading all of these for the very first time!

    Best,
    - marty

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  20. These are wonderful words to celebrate Kage. I just found out today about her death and I am simply blown away. I adored the Company novels, especially The Life of the World to Come. I'm quite fond of Lewis and Alec. She made these characters into my dear friends and I thought her writing was funny and rich. I look forward to my third read of the series and getting to know her other books. I will really miss her!

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  21. Grandekj --

    Glad you found your way to my blog post, and I appreciate your kind comment. Kage Baker was never a best-selling author, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people her writing has affected.

    Cheers,
    - marty

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  22. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I think I will leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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  23. Greetings to Costa Rica!

    I'm pleased to see that you found your way to this blog; that's the beauty of the internet: everyone is simply a keyboard click or two away! And I appreciate your comments as well. Feel free to post a comment at any time.

    Best wishes,
    - marty

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  24. Randy Merz, Vancouver BCAugust 20, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    One day, while cruising aimlessly through the local library, wondering whether to check out a book, or go home and blow my brains out, I saw a copy of "Not Less than Gods" sitting on the new release shelf. Picked it up, thought the cover art had that alternate universe feel, took it home and had my mind blown. I took down the list of The Company novels from the book liner, Sky Coyote, next, though out of sequence, was a hoot. This lady really had a good handle on the nature of humanity. Garden of Iden next, then Mendoza in Hollywood; and now I'm working through the next four. I had to find out more about this "new" author. Hit Wikipedia and got slammed. She died five months before I knew she existed.

    I wish I had some Unobtainium to power up a super-Ouji board and send her a flash traffic message, across the dimension between life and death, saying, "Kage, you did it right. I sure hope things are better where ever you may be."

    I envy you Marty. I envy everyone who had the good fortune to know her as a friend and colleague. In a few weeks I'll be celebrating my 59th birthday, sipping wine in Paris by the Seine. I'll raise a glass to Kage, taking comfort in knowing that I still have more of her books to read. In a world gone mad, in a society deteriorating faster than a leaky condo, sometimes we keep our jaded heads above water, clinging to the straws left to us by the likes of Kage Baker.

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  25. Hi, Randy,

    Your comments were a real joy to read. Thank you. And I envy you, that glass of wine in Paris by the Seine.

    But don't be dismayed. Kage's sister, Kathleen Bartholomew, who was by Kage's side through all that writing, has taken pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and, utilizing Kage's voluminous notes, outlines, spoken stories, and long talks, hopes to continue what Kage has begun. Check out her blog "Kathleen, Kage and the Company."

    Cheers, and all best,
    - marty

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  26. I am so slow on the uptake--I just found out about Kage's death yesterday, after looking at recent book titles on Amazon.com. Whoa. Needless to say, I am stunned and deeply saddened and quite at a loss for words right now....A friend introduced me to Kage's work just 5 years ago, and I have since bought and read everything of hers I can get my hands on--two or three times! I was so looking forward to her future work, and it SUCKS that it's over. Yes, add me to the "angry" list. But I also echo Randy's gratitude for the legacy Kage left us, even as I mourn the dimming of the light caused by the loss of one of the brightest stars in the literary firmament...

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  27. Hi, Carol,

    Well, you've been enjoying Kage's work for five years now, and that's a huge gift. Learning of her passing now, or when it happened at the end of January, doesn't change that gift!

    Kage's sister, Kathleen Bartholomew, has been blogging about her life with Kage; Kathleen is also writing, and continuing the stories that Kage began. You can read more on Kathleen, Kage and the Company.

    Cheers,
    - marty

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  28. I've been an avid short story reader for over a decade or two now, and I've gotten into science fiction short stories in the last 4-5 years. I just finished Kage Baker's "Son Observe the Time" (Year's Best Sci Fi, 17th Edition), the first of her stories that I've read, and it was wonderful! I went out on the web to search for more of her work, and was saddened to learn of her passing, and happy to learn that there's a lot more out there to read!

    Marty, thanks for taking the time to give us a view into Kage's personality!

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  29. Hi, David,

    Thanks for your kind words. I had read Kage's novel-length work prior to "Son Observe the Time," but indeed it was this story's appearance in Dozois's Year's Best SF: Seventh Annual volume that introduced me to her short fiction and made me want to read more. In fact, this novella was the primary motivation for my contacting Kage about a short story collection. Of course, I wanted "Son" in the collection, but Kage had other plans for it, as part of a longer work (The Children of the Company), so she had to disappoint me. This is why the novella was not included in Black Projects, White Knights. And trust me, I really was disappointed!

    Cheers,
    - marty

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