Iron and Irony and Dancing Dragons

Kage Baker was a conniseuse of irony. She firmly believed that Fate kept a close eye on opportunities to flip one off with some little ironic twist, and took advantage of as many as possible.

She knew, in her hearts of hearts, that there were secret sensors in our machines. As soon as one gets a tax refund check, or wins a few bucks at the lottery, or finds a 20 in those jeans you haven’t worn for a year because they inexplicably shrank – why, something breaks in your car! Tax refund checks, royalty checks, advance checks – they, in particular, are magnets for major appliance death.

Our iron machines fail at the prospect of money. That’s irony for you.

Writers (and their families) don’t get paid on a regular basis. But when the money comes in, it tends to do so in nice chunks. I recently received a pleasant sum in advances, royalties, reprint fees, etc. This happens a couple of times a year, when everybody clears their books at the beginnings of the calendar and fiscal years. Kage used to wander around glaring at all our appliances during the run-up to these twice-annual paydays, warning each humming, blinking machine that this was not a signal to fail, and they were not to do so. They would purr and usually cooperate.

They must have been more afraid of Kage than they are of me. They are clearly working up to mass ironic money expenditures; there may even be a master plan, probably organized by the cheeky red cell phone. My printer has developed Frequent Paper Jam Syndrome. I am currently having to negotiate with the monitor port on my CPU to get any visuals when I start up each morning. The garbage disposal has just croaked it, and blocked up its side of the kitchen sink. Even my electric toothbrush is making a funny noise …

(BREAKING NEWS: the toothbrush is fine. I put the new head on at the wrong angle, and after it spun off and flew across the bathroom, all was well.)

The most conspicuous irony, however, is my new Kindle. Not that there is anything wrong with it! No, it’s delightful, and I have no buyer’s remorse at all. It’s light, quick, easy to use and comfortable to read – exactly what I wanted. However, no sooner had I settled in to enjoy it, than suddenly books began arriving in the post.

See, I don’t always know what’s in the incoming pipe, bookwise. I try not to buy books on impulse, because the amount of room in the house is, alas, finite … and I’ve never had the sense to live with other people who do not also read; so not only is space limited, it’s coveted by others. So I only buy books I know will want, books I’m waiting for, books in series or on subjects I know I love. I pre-order them, and then I can relax, and resist those moments when I just have to go buy something. Other women buy shoes or purses for mercantile therapy: I purchase books.

Three books have arrived in the 4 days since I got the Kindle, and more are coming. The one that arrived yestreday is worth 10 of the ordinary kind: it’s George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, Volume 5 in the enormous, glacially complex saga of The Game of Thrones. I think I pre-ordered it 2 years ago … entire new species have arisen while we have all waited for Mr. Martin to produce the various installments of this epic.

But I’m not complaining about that! The author doesn’t operate on the readers’ time schedules, and we have no right to bitch about how long it takes. Mr. Martin always comes through, and each books has been better than the last – I was happily sucked into this from Page 1, and am loving it.

The problem is: it’s huge. It’s Oxford Dictionary-huge. It’s planetary, nebular, galactic;  tall and wide, and freaking heavy. I am an old lady with cocked-up joints, and I was really delighted with the non-weight of the Kindle – I think it uses anti-gravity. And then suddenly, this irresistible behemoth arrives and wants to perch on my arthritic wrists and sit in my diminishing lap … man, that’s irony for you.

On the other hand, it beats the car breaking down. And I know I can un-jam the printer, and rig up something to keep the little black cat out it: her search for a nest being the main cause of its irregularities. And my toothbrush solved itself.

Though we will have to do something about the sink … but while I am waiting for the plumber, I can curl up on the couch and read A Dance With Dragons!

Post Script: the last two days, I was unable to convince WordPress to let me in. More of the local irony-storm, I am sure. Things seem to have returned to normal. Thank you for your patience.

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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3 Responses to Iron and Irony and Dancing Dragons

  1. elaine says:

    Missed you!


  2. Allison says:

    I bought this at the bookstore yesterday to hold/hoist A Dance With Dragons. Quite possibly the best invention for readers ever! (and it’ll do your Kindle too) Use it on your lap, table, desktop. Leaves hands free for chocolate 🙂


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