Signs of Continuing Life

Kage Baker‘s entire Company series has been nominated to NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy Titles. Now the voting has begun. If you would like to express an opinion, please go to:

Cast a vote! Be heard! Kage’s work is listed as “Novels of the Company”, and it’s in the lower part of the list. And along the way you might find something else you like, or have never heard and should.

Oh, and if you are feeling down, check this out:

Mars watchers (ranging from utter amateurs like me to the real scientists at NASA and JPL) have long hoped that there was relict water preserved as permafrost under the Martian soil. In the last 20 years, we have gotten increasing reason to actually expect to find the water – and we’ve already found the permafrost, and verified that is is, yes, actual water ice and not some exotic ice delivered to the ground via comet. (Though that too would be interesting.)

Now we have found what are very likely flow marks from melting ice, coursing down the side of a dune in Newton Crater. The Mars Orbital Reconaissance mission found them, and they look just the way they do on Earth – melt water, rising to the surface in a warm season and flowing down the sands. Probably salty water (and we rather hope it’s good old sodium chloride, too, and not some wicked cyanide salt inimical to life.)

What’s this mean? There’s ice under the sand. It’s close enough to the surface to melt in warm seasons and flow on the surface of Mars. It might be salty. It is the perfect place – maybe the only place in the current Martian ecosphere – to harbour life. And even if it doesn’t, or doesn’t anymore – it will nuture us when we get there.

Damned good news. And precisely what Kage Baker counted on when she envisioned her version of Mars. With luck and patience, we can be the canal builders and guide this seasonal melt water to real life.

Good stuff, Maynard.

And other than this PSA, we are temporarily down while I do housework and computer maintenance.

Thanks to Tom Westlake, the Lord of Misrule, who was the first one to send me the link to the NPR poll. Whoopee!

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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8 Responses to Signs of Continuing Life

  1. catharine says:

    The stop-motion-esque thing of the flows on Mars gave me goosebumps. Thanks for sharing.

    Where does the phrase “good stuff Maynard” come from? I say it occasionally too, but don’t have a clue where I picked it up. Maybe it’s a Faire thing? Or Pogo?

    • Kate says:

      “Good stuff. Maynard” comes from a Mal-o-meal commercial, if memory serves me correctly. A small boy – cruelly named Maynard by his parents – is being urged to eat his Malt-o-meal with that observation.

      I hated Malt-o-meal – the only hot cereal I like is good old-fashioned oatmeal. But Kage liked the stuff, and the commercials were memorable.

      So there you are!


  2. catharine says:

    I never cared for Malt O Meal either. Thanks for the explanation.

  3. Put Kage’s Company novels in my Top Ten (where they belong). Thanks for the tip!

  4. MaggiRos says:

    There are way more than 10 all-time sci fi couldn’t do without them titles on that list! But I did my best.

    Malt-o-meal was super-sweet nasty. I still shudder to think about eating it, whjich I did, I believe, once. Cream of Wheat was slimy and tasted like library paste. I’m with you on oatmeal. I’m a milk and sugar girl, myself. I know there are many combinations, but that’s mine.

  5. Kate says:

    Maggie – mmm-mmm, milk and sugar with my oatmeal: and a little butter, too. Or Mullah mush, with who knows what (including straw) in it to start your day right.

    Kage, hardy lady that she was, ate it with salt and butter ONLY, and sneered at my soft insistence on sweetening. But then, I really quite like Quaker Rolled Oats, while Kage preferred Silver Palette Thick and Rough Steel Cut … we called it her Rough Trade Oatmeal.

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