Friday, February 19, 2010

Kage Baker Redux

As a follow-up to my earlier tribute to author Kage Baker, her family has posted Kage's parting words to her readers on her website:

"I want you to tell all these people that I wanted more time to spend with them. Tell them I meant to, tell them I wanted to hear what they said and tell them what was on my mind."

Kage's family promises to maintain the website and to continue posting news about her work. [To which I say, Thank you!]

And lastly, Stephanie Klose, Senior Editor/Reviews Coordinator for
RT Book Reviews1, emailed me on February 4 with the following request: "RT is putting together a short tribute to Kage for our April issue. Would you be willing to contribute a few sentences about her impact on the genre and/or on you as a reader? Our senior sci fi [sic] reviewer, Natalie Luhrs, sent me your blog post and I'd love to include some of your thoughts about Kage."

The email was time stamped 3:01 P.M. and my deadline was noon the following day, so I spent the remainder of that afternoon pulling together some additional thoughts about Kage. Today, however, I received this follow-up email from Stephanie: "I ended up not having room to use your tribute to Kage, but thanks again for sending it along -- it was a pleasure to read."

Therefore, I am going to take this opportunity to share with readers of this blog my "thoughts about Kage" that were originally intended for RT.

* * * * *

When I worked with Kage Baker, as her editor, on her short story collection Black Projects, White Knights (Golden Gryphon Press, 2002), I often had questions about unfamiliar words, or historical events and people. In the story "Lemuria Will Rise!" Mendoza finds a sprig of Oenothera hookeri ssp. sclatera. I was unable to find anything online about "ssp. sclatera," so I asked Kage about this (and others), specifically was it a real or made-up species. On November 4, 2001, she responded:

All are made up. There's a joke buried in the word "sclatera": the word Lemuria was originally coined by a nineteenth-century zoologist named Sclater as a term to describe a hypothetical land bridge that once existed in the Pacific region, possibly being the method by which lemurs had spread through the different ranges they inhabit. Mystically inclined people seized on the idea of the long-vanished land bridge and interpreted it as a sunken continent in the Pacific, complete with a civilization to rival that of Atlantis. Eventually someone pointed out to them that Sclater had invented the word Lemuria, after which they began calling it Mu... but there are still old editions of Rosicrucian books in the San Luis Obispo library, and they go into great detail about the amazing ancient Lemurians...

For me, it was such a joy to work with Kage; she had a vast knowledge and could twist that knowledge into ways unimaginable in her stories, as evidenced above. And she was quick to share that knowledge as well. Editing each story with Kage was a history lesson in and of itself. She is sorely missed.

Marty Halpern


1 Just goes to show you how up-to-date I am: When did Romantic Times change its name to just RT -- and why? I notice that the domain name is still ""

No comments:

Post a Comment