Kage Baker was always deeply effected by films. She enjoyed the sensation. After seeing a movie she liked, she would seek out all manner of associated material – the source novel (or novelized script), the soundtrack, all the reviews she could track down on line. She would work with notable determination to expand the ambiance and environment of the film as widely as possible, so she could drown herself in it.
Even if she didn’t like a film, she was affected on a long-term basis. After we saw Time After Time (H. G. Wells pursues Jack the Ripper to 20th century San Francisco in his time machine; much better than it sounds), Kage was terrified. She seriously considered buying a hand gun, before finally admitting that she herself would have to wield it – me being half blind and with a rotten aim – and that our owning a gun would be more dangerous than having the Ripper for our gardener. In the meantime, Kage read all the H. G Wells she had ignored over the years – because, though she was totally freaked by the movie, she loved the atmosphere.
When a movie had action toys, she had to have her favourite characters; especially Disney films, of course: a hulking miniature of Shan Yu from Mulan. Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast. Poseiden from The Little Mermaid. The cyborg John Silver from Treasure Planet. They all lived on her desk for years. And the 18-inch-high, motion-activated Captain Jack Sparrow on her dresser unnerved guests to her bedroom for ages.
Sound tracks were so important to her that we often stopped and got the CD (or whatever format was current that year) on the way home from the movie. Then Kage could just sink into a pool of movie-ness, and bliss out. When she could also surf associated sites on the Interwebs, she was as happy as if she were plugged into the Library of Alexandria.
She was never really willing to have a movie she liked end, you see. It’s the same response that led her to write more of her most beloved books when she was a child. Kage hated to let a story stop. Ultimately, she learned that telling her own was more fun that riffing off someone else’s. But even then, there was more to every book she wrote than was actually published. Most of them are half again as long, with scenes deleted or written afterward; the literary equivalent of gag reels and blooper films. Do other author’s write fanfic of their own works? I have no idea, but Kage did. Ruthless demented satires, usually, that left me howling with laughter.
A bit of that survives in Lewis’ ghastly science fiction novel. Kage came up with most of it while drinking many, many margaritas with blue plastic dolphins in them holding maraschino cherries. On Catalina Island. While wearing a crown made of balloons … ah, the insane memories.
Me, I just got back from seeing Contagion. Good, scary, grim flick. As the credits rolled away, Kimberly turned to me and said solemnly, “We’ve got to lay in more disaster supplies at home.”
I feel grateful that all Kimberly wants is a few more cans of Spam. Kage would have been agitating for hazmat suits.