Kage Baker’s favourite part of being a writer was the actual writing. She enjoyed the physical process – blank paper and a new pen always inspired her, and she had a vast collection of notebooks bought, filled and stored away. In her late 20’s, she learned how to use a computer and the entire process ascended to new heights of fun. Colours, fonts, italics and bolds and Cyrilic and runic and probably alien alphabets – Kage loved it.
Best of all were the cut and paste functions, and the ability to rewrite as easily as pressing a button. True, Kage would occasionally delete enormous sections by accident, or number her pages in Arabic, or unintentionally underline every word in a document, but the ease in composition more than compensated. And, aside from her initial hysteria, those were easy to repair. Once she became convinced that I yes, really could reverse whatever damn weird thing she’d done, she wasn’t even upset when it happened. Just impatient for me to pull her narrative back into the same dimension that she lived in …
Although it was the writing itself that pleased her most, there were any number of little perks of being a writer that really tickled her. Good reviews – in fact, any favourable mention of her name in the trades and zines and critical sites – filled her with glee. New contracts and royalty checks, too: she’d dance around the living room, chanting triumphant lays while the parrot sang back-up in English-cadenced gibberish. Passes at Conventions, with her name carefully scripted; copies of her books in the Dealer’s Room. Her name and newest title listed in Locus. Gardner Dozois – live forever, gracious lord! – calling to invite her to contribute to a collection, or inform her he’d chosen one of her stories for the Year’s Best. People sending her chocolate.
All those little things that meant she was a REAL, HONEST-TO-GOD, PROFESSIONAL WRITER never, ever lost their lustre for Kage.
They still thrill me. And mentions of Kage continue, largely because Linn and I are always happy to involve Kage’s legacy in new publications. So here’s a more-or-less current report on what’s happening with Kage’s work right now.
In The Company of Thieves now has an official publishing date of November 15th, and is available on both Tachyon’s site and Amazon for pre-order. And there is already a lovely mention of it on Stefan Raets grand review blog, Far Beyond Reality (farbeyondreality.com). Thanks, Stefan!
Nell Gwynne On Land & At Sea is still available on Subterranean and at Amazon – Nell Gwynne I AND II, Best of Kage Baker and Where The Golden Apples Grow are also all now available from Subterranean as e-books.
Nell Gwynne On Land & At Sea has 4 stars on Amazon – which amazed me. I presume it also has at least some good reviews, but I can’t bring myself to look – turns out I don’t have the guts to brave Amazon reviews, any more than Kage did. So, Dear Readers, if there are nastygrams on there for me – please, oh please, don’t tell me!
Jeff and Anne VanderMeer, lovely people that they are, are putting out The Time Traveler’s Almanac sometime in the future – I don’t have a date yet. But it appears that when it prints, it will have 2 of Kage’s stories in it: “Noble Mold” and “A Night On The Barbary Coast”. The VanderMeer’s collections are always works of art, and I’ve no doubt this will be delightful. It will be enormous – 500,000 pages, 100 stories, elephants caparisoned with jewels (maybe) – and will be published by Tor.
I am not the sort of person to dance with glee; I tend to rejoice quietly. But I am dizzy with delight over all this, Dear Readers. Her name is still spoken; her stories are still wanted. It does feel a little – to me, anyway – as if I am a self-important ubasti getting way above herself here. But, you know, Kage doesn’t need her undies washed clean in the Nile much. She does need these stories remembered and reprinted and reborn.
And she needs as many of them as I can manage born for the first time, too.