A Brief Observation of My Personal Nuclear Winter

Kage Baker was born June 10, 1952. She died January 30, 2010.  That’s nearly 5 years ago. She was a primarily visual person, and always pictured her own moods, thoughts and feelings as landscapes. Then she translated them into words. Usually. Sometimes they stayed as landscapes; some of those became worlds.

She published some of the lovelier ones.

I don’t think in pictures. I think I think in words, but that’s probably an exercise right beside trying to see the back of your own neck. I may be thinking in smells; or undiluted frequencies of light so rarified they don’t show colour except as a notation of angstrom length.  Or in a harmony of two frequencies so far up the hertz scale that I’m listening with my marrow instead of my ears. Maybe I think in grain-based beverages.

This is how I feel today:

burnt ruin

I just found out that there is fan fiction of Kage’s stories, but I’m not brave enough yet to read it. The idea makes me feel like a private garden has been plowed under a storm of ashes. It’s winter in all my bones.

Tomorrow will probably be better.

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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14 Responses to A Brief Observation of My Personal Nuclear Winter

  1. Mark says:

    While I can understand your shock in finding that your private garden isn’t as private as you thought…

    …I’ve always felt that fan-fic fell under the rubric of, “imitation is the sincerest sort of flattery.”
    (….well, after cash….Heinlein was right about *that*…)

    I still remember the late Kevin Brown telling his Faire improv classes that he always tried to steal from the best, and inviting others to do the same. There are a few bits of my own living history gigs that owe their origins to things I saw Kevin, or Linda, or Mark, or a host of other greats do. It’s not the same, but the echo honors the original bard. I find small surprise that others would want to play in the brightly sketched worlds your sister put to page. And while doubtless many will err badly in understanding, intent, or plain old skill…the fact that they want to write in her canon merely shows that Kage touched others with what she crafted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate says:

      I am aware of all those arguments, Mark, and have no intention of interfering with anyone’s fun or devotion. It just hit me hard and at a bad time, along with several other unexpected circumstances. It was sort of the coal-tar-soaked cherry on a mountain of crap-flavoured ice cream today. I’ll manage..


  2. Graznichovna says:

    “The sedge is withered from the lake/And no bird sings…” I hope you’ll arrive at a greener place soon!

    A dear friend persuaded me to check out FanFic for one of my all-time favorite writers, L.M. Montgomery. I did so with trepidation but was (mostly pleasantly) surprised. Some of it developed what were only veiled suggestions in Montgomery’s books and deepened my understanding and appreciation. That being said–there was SO MUCH FanFic I eventually abandoned it altogether. I don’t do well with plethoras. Also, I began to wonder: why aren’t these folks creating original works of their own?


    • Kate says:

      Some writers don’t mind. Some do. Some only mind when the fan-fic is bad, or intrusive, or just a sudden surprise. I fall, at the moment, into the last category. I’d have preferred to have been asked – that was Kage always said, so it’s the line I follow. She cheerfully gave her permission for fan art, for instance.


  3. johnbrownson says:

    As for “stealing from the best”: I always felt that many of us (at least those at Court) were constantly riffing on themes, if not specific scenes, we’d filched from “Elizabeth R”. I know I was deeply influenced by the series and, when in my court duds, seemed to be moving through the world of the BBC’s series, as much as anything else. Just re-watched it recently, and I’m happy to say it stands up marvelously.


  4. buggybite says:

    Can I comment here? I don’t know you or Kage Baker, except by what you’ve written. But I’d say DON’T read that fan-fic. Not ever. Not even if/ you start to feel curious about it. If the writers have done a bad job (which is likely) you will just feel bereft of the real thing all over again and anger that her vision has been hijacked for such banal purpose. And if they’ve done a GOOD job of recreating your sister’s voice and vision? Even worse. I’d say there are times to let sleeping dogs lie, and this is probably one of them.


    • Kate says:

      That is thus far what I am doing. Doubtless, when the depressio9n wears off, it’s what I will continue to do. Why should I make them *and* me unhappy? It’s harmless, mostly.


    • johnbrownson says:

      While acknowledging, and respecting, your feelings, Kathleen, I have a different take on “fan fic”, that I’d like to share. I worked with a person once who became disabled, unable to work outside the home. After a period of hopelessness, this person decided to follow a long-held impulse to write, and what seemed most welcoming was a body of fan fic, relating to the characters of a popular TV show. The first pieces were received with kindness and some encouragement, so more were written, until the person gained enough self confidence to begin writing for “legit” publications. As it now stands, a few pieces have been accepted, and the person has become a full time writer. I guess what I’m saying is, ya gotta start somewhere, and the world of fan fic can be a welcoming launching pad. Disrespectful, it certainly can be, especially when the characters do things that their creator never intended. That bothers me, enough that I don’t read any of the genre- although, I just might be tempted to try some of the “Firefly” tales. I said “might”.


      • Kate says:

        I understand your explanation, Buffalo. And I’m glad to hear your frind found a way out of their troubles; especially by writing – the pen wins again! Please note that I am not attacking any of the folks I found proudly posting fanfic from Kage’s Universe. It just got to me in an unexpectedly painful way yestreday.

        I suspect that most folks who write fanfic don’t give much thought to how the original authors might feel about it. And if they do, they mostly think it’s about the money … but it’s not. Kage didn’t get rich from writing; I doubt I will, either. What leaves one gasping for breath is the unanticipated blow to the heart.

        On another day, it might have had no effect. And on another day, that will doubtless be the case.

        BTW, while I am not a Firefly fan, I bet you could do a bang-up job.


  5. Kate says:

    And I thank you, everyone, for your advice. I had a fairly bad day, and that was just the last strsw – for its unexpectedness, I think. Thanks for listening to my complaints.


    • jenfullmoon says:

      Looks like you wrote this on my personal nuclear winter/anniversary day. You have my sympathies around this time of year (plus well, January sucks anyway).

      She’s still missed–even by folks who could never meet her.


  6. Miz Kizzle says:

    That really sucks. It’s one thing to write something of one’s own based on a story by Lord Dunsany, say, or H.P. Lovecraft but fan fiction is just a form of theft, IMO, and poorly executed theft at that.
    Having read some fan fiction based on two of my favorite TV shows, BBC’s Sherlock and the Fox network’s House, M.D., I found it to be depressingly awful. Usually the two main male characters are made to indulge in the love that dare not speak its name. That wouldn’t bode well for poor Lewis and his pal Joseph.
    No one can write like your sister and no one should try. The copycats’ efforts would be better spent petitioning for a television series based on the Company stories or in thinking up their own damn stories.
    I’m sorry you’re having a bad day.


  7. Suzanne says:

    I hope, for your peace of mind, that you’ll stay away from reading the fanfic and do your best to forget that it exists. This is a good example of why repression serves a purpose on occasion. There is nothing you can do about the existence of it, and reading any of it will make things orders of magnitude worse. I hope the comments here have been of some comfort.


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