This Same Progeny of Evils Comes/ From Our Debate

Kage Baker, were she observing the weather this year, would be prophesying gloomily. “Summer’s all off schedule,” she would say. As was her habit, she’d look to Shakespeare for the right words:  ” The Nine Men’s Morris is all filled up with mud, man,”* she’d say. And she’d shake her head.

She’d be right. The heat is here early; the thunderstorms and lightning are early. California usually doesn’t get even the hint of storms until the Autumn; but right now, we’re fighting “monsoonal moisture” as remnants of equatorial storm gyres float up the coast of Mexico to menace us. There’s probably an El Nino lurking out there in the Pacific, and it’s gearing up to drown us this winter – in the meantime, wet air creeps further up the western edge of the continent than it usually does, and the humidity imitates the Midwest here in the land of yucca and Santa Ana winds.

Though it could be worse. In Arizona, they are having simooms. Or maybe it’s haboobs. It’s great whacking dust storms, is what it is, that come looming over the desert lands like a scene from The Mummy (the 1999 one) to convert Phoenix from the sweatiest city in America to a dessicated phantom. Fires are already burning; Utah, New Mexico, Colorado are all beating California to the punch for conflagrations. We may yet burn here, but it looks like we’ll be small potatoes compared to the neighbors.

And worser yet, even. The Midwest, after surviving a veritable Fimbulwinter, is now dealing with record-breaking tornadoes and floods. Tornadoes are springing up far out of their usual range, eying little towns and trailer parks in the South now. Hurricanes are threatening the entire Eastern seaboard – not just Florida and Louisiana, where they’re kind of expected. At least out here on the Western Edge, our monsoons are still theoretical: they haven’t come ashore in San Diego or Huntington Beach yet. Though I suppose it’s only a matter of time.

I’ve been aware of climate change for years, of course. (She said smugly.) The things Kage and I read, the fields we followed, we had notice of this 20-odd years ago when only scientists and civilians like SF writers were beginning to take it seriously. Also, I have a personal interest in extinction events (Don’t judge, Dear Readers; some people collect shoelaces or sex toys.) and any study of the Permian Extinction  paints a very clear and scary picture of what happens when abnormally fast atmospheric heating happens.

Kage even spent a lot of time calculating just how far up the street the local Pacific was likely to rise, in Pismo Beach – she figured we might end up nearly beach-side if we lived into our 80’s. Of course, by that time we might have had to move into the hills, but she quite liked the idea of being ocean-front property.

After all, we grew up in a vast seaside city. On returning to Los Angeles, I found myself once more living where sea-mist came flooding up as far as the L.A. River; where the Pacific and the Channel Islands can be seen from the Hollywood Hills. Various extrapolations expect that in the next 20 years, L.A. could find itself covered in seawater for as little as 4 miles, and as much as 15 – no matter how it goes, my household will be closer to the beach, but not inundated. So, even here in the Basin, I’ll manage. The towers of Century City may be rising from a new lagoon, but I’ll be enjoying a sea breeze while I watch the tidal bore on the L.A. River …

One should always cling to as much silver lining as one can, Dear Readers. And break out the swizzle sticks and paper umbrellas.



* This is the passage Kage always quoted, regarding climate change. It’s Titania’s saddest speech, I think, from Midsummer Night’s Dream.

And never, since the middle summer’s spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By pavèd fountain, or by rushy brook,
Or in the beachèd margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea
Contagious fogs, which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents.
The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.
The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock.
The nine-men’s-morris is filled up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable.
The human mortals want their winter here.
No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound.
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which.

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 This Same Progeny of Evils Comes/ From Our Debate

  1. johnbrownson says:

    Yes, indeed: Haboobs. I’ve seen them, and it’s like being in the End Times. Phoenix fascinates me. More than any other place I know, even Vegas or San Berdoo, it is just so obviously a place where no sane person would choose to live- in fact, it is a place from which any sane person would flee, as quickly as possible. The water table is nearly exhausted, and (as the haboobs demonstrate) the unforgiving desert is licking its metaphorical chops, waiting to reclaim the land. The average temperatures continue to creep up, but the residents (in ever increasing numbers) merely turn up their AC. What you’ve got there is a total disconnect between humans and environment. Phoenix is full- it must be so- of people who do not believe that “Nature” has anything to do with them. It’s mass denial, and someday soon, the whole thing is going to collapse into sweaty, desperate madness, with people killing each other over a bottle of water. It’ll be like the dinosaur scene in Disney’s “Fantasia”, as the doomed beasts stagger into extinction, to the sounds of “Rite of Spring”. Almost wish I could be there to see it- from my air conditioned view box, of course, chilled beer in hand. Hmmm. There’s an idea.


    • Kate says:

      I would not be at all surprised if some disaster struck Phoenix, and turned it into a haunt of the undead and/or desperate. That place is a nexus of bad chance. The Sky Harbor Airport is built on malignant ley lines or something; it warps dimensionality and send the unwary off into unfriendly alternate universes. Nasty aliens land there, and run around through the terminals putting slugs in the vending machines, Sentient Saguaro cacti live under the bridges that link the runways over the local freeway – they come up in the dark and spike airplane tires and rental cars. The thermal window glass is installed backwards, so it radiates heat *into* the terminal. And the ice cream shop is always closed.


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