Kage Baker invented Dr. Zeus Inc., as the lynchpin of her time travel stories.
Dr. Zeus became semi-affectionately known to its Operatives as “The Company”. The Company invented Time Travel, and immortality. The immortality process was an addendum to the Time Travel project, developed when the Company realized that it would take extraordinary people to actually survive travelling through time. Somewhere during the process of justifying these corporate decisions, Dr. Zeus … morphed in Kage’s vision.
Originally, Dr. Zeus was an heroic organization; its cabal of businessmen and scientists were wise, wizardly – you know, white beards and clear eyes, paternally omniscient. By the time she was really into the first story, though, Kage had actually begun to work for a few corporations. That changed her viewpoint pretty quickly.
The idea behind Dr. Zeus remained one of high ideals and human compassion, but the agents of those sterling qualities became the individual Operatives. As they themselves morphed from clockwork (she did so love gears … ) into cyborgs, the Operatives also were endowed with all the human virtues Kage realized could never be embodied by a corporate entity. Her vision of the Operatives worked on her conviction that long life would enhance – not diminish – human-ness.
And conversely, she saw that no amount of legislation, clever names or even artistically designed mascots would turn a corporation into a Real Boy. She had Dr. Zeus finally embodied by a desperate madman, as a bronze automaton with no soul and the self-protective instincts of a shark. Kind of prescient of Kage, eh?
In the meantime, though, it amused her enormously to be occasionally identified with the fictitious Doctor herself. When she registered new software, she put “Dr. Zeus” on the line asking for company. Ditto for mailing labels and packing slips. It’s a silly but enjoyable game that I have continued since the mantle of being the Company’s amenuensis fell on me. I get advertising addressed to “Dr. Zeus, Inc.”, often with cunning samples of tiny flashlights and emery boards and pens and plastic magnifying bookmarks marked Dr. Zeus attached. Levenger’s, that delicious candy-store of professional leather goods, sent me a passport holder embossed DZ in one corner.
Of course, there is the occasional drawback. Dr. Zeus may decide to shut me up and collect me one of these days; not that I would mind too much being incarcerated on some version of Catalina Island. However, I did not enjoy the months-long struggle with the City of Los Angeles, proving that I was NOT running an illegal business out of my home … I’d be pretty damned sloppy as a Facilitator to get caught by so purblind an organization as the City of the Angeles. That made it doubly offenseive.
I think I have finally convinced the implacable clerks that Dr. Z. is not operating within the legal limits of the City of the Queen of the Angeles (It is, of course, but not from my sister’s house …) However, unable to resist the ongoing joke, I may have just shot myself in the foot once again. Word Press, my redoubtable hosting platform here, has offered me a personalized domain all my own – and I’ve yielded to the temptation.
Kage always wanted a site called Doctor Zeus. Well, Dear Readers, if you examine the URL of this blog, you will see that goal has finally been accomplished. If you type doctorzeus.co into your address bars, this blog is what you will find – as well as access to all the past blogs, of which there are very nearly a thousand these days … so it certainly took me long enough to get this done, but at last I have.
I hope Kage’s shade is pleased, if she looks up and notices between snogging with God and sipping rum cocktails. I’m gonna giggle every time I see it.
Let’s hope, as well, that the City of Los Angeles doesn’t.
I always thought of Kage as Hera, the Anti_Zeus for warning us about him. When we first discovered the books (and I’m embarassed to say it took me l stupid-long time after they were first written) I looked at the news with a new slant and it frightened me a bit. I’m still sure that the world will end some day because of the ideas of the little stupid people.