Prince Phillip Makes Landfall

Kage Baker loved shipwrecks.

That sounds perfectly awful, but  it’s not as though she went out on stormy nights with lanterns, and tried to fake lost ships inshore to plunder. She was just fascinated with the flotsam and jetsam that the waves flung up on their own. She put salvaged net floats in the garden as bird scares, and was always on the lookout for shaped bits of wood.

We used to go out after storms and see if anyone’s fishing boat had foundered or slipped its moorings. Nothing got Kage more excited than the tangible proof that a ship had once sailed nearby. If the proof was weathered planks half-buried on the strand – well, that just meant it was now salvage, and that a memento could be honestly borne away by a passing small girl.

Or a passing writer, if one happened to be taking a break from her duties down by the blue Pacific. Kage had several bits and pieces of wrecks cast up on Pismo Beach; the best kind, the highest grade of salvage, was anything that still had paint or brightwork. The best of all would have been a bit with a name on it, but she never got that lucky.

She did come across some fairly long planks, though, when we first moved to Pismo. She incorporated them into her bed – fastened them into the framework to support the mattress. Mind you, the entire bed frame was made of salvage of one sort or another. I cut the wood to her design, and Kage put it together with screws and plates. The thing had a gentle organic tilt to it, but somehow never fell down. And she slept in it for close to 10 years, until she finally broke down and bought a brand new professionally-made frame with royalties.

She kept the old planks, though. She stored them under her bed for dreams of the sea.

Now, something has happened that would have thrilled Kage – a shipwreck has been revealed by the winter storms in San Francisco recently:

Kage would have been ecstatic. We’d be on our way to San Francisco today, I have no doubt, to see what could be seen. With luck, I could have dissuaded her from relieving the wreckage of the odd nail or scrap of plank – after all, it’s not on her beach. But she’d have prowled around it in delight, and wondered at its history, and been amused at the idea that Prince Phillip had made a landing in San Francisco Bay … and then we’d have gone to Cliff House or Swiss Louie’s, and had Irish Coffee and fried oysters and sourdough bread.

I can’t make the pilgrimage, myself, much as I would love to: I have a manuscript to edit. The Women of Nell Gwynn’s II is awaiting my attentions. It has ships in it,  though; and shipwrecks, too. And it was itself very nearly wrecked on the deadly Lee Shore of Mortality. But such an old hand as Kage was would never have lost her vessel so close to homing – she passed the wheel to me, and I have very nearly brought it safely in.

Only a little ways to go, now. So I had better get to it.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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2 Responses to Prince Phillip Makes Landfall

  1. Valerie says:

    And when your ship comes in, we’ll be waiting to greet it…

    Being unusually flush this month, I went on Amazon and ordered two of Kage’s books – new ones. The last time I bought a new fiction book, several years ago, was one of hers, too. (Remembering the uh, people who were boasting to you about stealing books, I decided to boast about buying books!)

  2. Michael Young says:

    Kathleen I am sorry you can’t make the “pilgrimage” but I think its time to go back to the beach. If I find the odd nail or such I will start Lexi on the love of the ocean and history trip.

    I might even have some sourdough bread but I draw the line at fried oysters, the Irish coffee well thats a no brainer. will send you some photos of our exploration. That ‘s if the Prince is still visible and safe to get to.

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