Story Seeds

Kage Baker was fascinated by Australia.

Many people are. It’s an astonishing place from just about any angle of contemplation. Initially settled by a unique band of people, who chose a lifestyle quite unlike any other representatives of Homo sapiens. Home to thousands of animal and plant species found nowhere else in the world; possibly with the largest proportion of poisonous lifeforms in the world, including the only known poisonous monotreme. Edged by the largest construct ever raised by living beings; centered on the largest single stone in the world.  Rich in  minerals that are valuable, rare and/or radioactive.

Australia, yeah – it’s a hell of a place. Kage got a lot of lovely letters from the inhabitants, too, who appreciated her having Mendoza raised there. Kage admitted that she chose Australia because it was empty of nosy Europeans for a long, long time, and killed most people before it was finally, sort of, settled … plenty of time and room and Outback wherein to hide a Company Base and a constant tide of baby Operatives.

She always meant to write some stories about life at the Australia Base; she figured it had to be wild and wooly, if only because raising little super-intelligent cyborgs has to be a job that will turn even an immortal’s hair grey … I have various notes, not only from brain-storming sessions:  from her and from me, as well. It’s impossible to resist a fascination with Australia and its environs, especially in regard to its wild array of peculiar mammals and birds. I did lots of research for Kage. She took everything we found, ran it through the Rube Goldberg machine in her head (which science fiction writers rent as a franchise …), and produced Notes On Life In The Immortals’ Boarding School for me to read.

In Australia, the Company must have been able to keep and raise endangered animals on ranches – enormous, isolated ranches, where nowadays the Aussies raise sheep and cattle and horses. Many species were probably naturalized and simply turned loose – who’s to say why so many parrots live there, or how they got there, or why they didn’t survive anywhere else? Ditto for giant lizards – among them being the goanna, a giant monitor lizard that is technically extinct, but is still reportedly sighted from time to time. Surviving giant monitor lizards would also include the ones the Company eventually re-settled on Komodo, which is only about 820 miles from Casuarina (a nice beach city), in the Northern Territory.

From our notes on Casuarina … it’s named for the native casaurine trees, a species of not-quite conifers that grow fast, have good, hard wood, lower soil Ph, fix nitrogen, and produce a rosin that is edible to humans and turnip moths …  They’re a ferociously invasive plant elsewhere, as they exude compounds that can kill other plants (of course)  that don’t enjoy an acidic soil.  And that straight-line distance to Komodo Island? It also intersects one edge of Flores Island – home of the little hominins knows as Hobbits.

Those Hobbits are actually Homo floresiensis, a dwarf species of the Homo genus. There is evidence they are descended from Homo erectus, along a path none of the rest of us took. Interestingly enough, although it’s fairly well known when the Australian Aboriginals arrived in Australia – and when the British felons did, too – remains have been found of what appear to be quite another species. None other than Homo erectus – full sized ones. Kage thought they might have journeyed on from Flores, retaining their stature and eventually colonizing Australia: at least until the ancestors of the Homo sapiens Aboriginals got there.  Although the Aboriginal peoples seem to be very nice folks, the initial entry of Homo sapiens into a neighborhood always raises problems and lowers property values …

And of course, both groups would have donated kids to the Company. Kage really wanted to write about a Hobbit Operative, too.

There’s more in this particular vein. It’s coalesced from my restless wanderings through old notes and general weirdness lately; I’ve found amazing old stories, uncanny reports and weird ideas, and had a few more of my own. I think I’ll be speculating on this more tomorrow, Dear Readers – if anyone is at all interested?

Think about it.

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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9 Responses to Story Seeds

  1. Neassa says:

    What a silly question! Do tell.

    Like

  2. johnbrownson says:

    Are you kidding? I want more! Reading your “speculations”, I found myself happily settling into “tell me a story” time. Tell us a story about the poisonous marsupials, and rodents of unusual size!
    And, as for “lowering property values”, the arrival of our forebears was always the beginning of the end for any slow, stupid, good to eat species that had been doing just fine until the two-legs showed up. As Elizabeth Kolbert says, in “The Sixth Extinction”, we are the meteor, this time.

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    • Kate says:

      My mind is swimming and swarming with ideas on this, suddenly – I’ll decant some over the next few days, so my brain doesn’t blow up. Maybe that what’s been making me sneeze – all those pesky little pieces of ideas rolling around in the cavities of my skull.

      “The Sixth Extinction” is a wonderful, horrifying book. It should be required reading at the high school level, as we attempt to produce a generation of mature, sentient adults. And in Congress, where we have to deal with the examples of the failed …

      On the other hand, a new owl has been discovered in Israel – check out my timeline, and Thank You, Mark Shanks, for the link! A new owl is always cause for rejoicing.

      Like

      • johnbrownson says:

        Isn’t that a sign of the End Times? Or, am I thinking of something else?

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      • Kate says:

        Is a new owl a sign of the End Times? I had no idea. I thought it was lionesses having kittens in the subway, or something Julius Caesar-ish like that … of course, these days, people claim everything is a sign of the End Times. Kage said that the World did indeed End, all the time: but it revived almost exactly the same every time it happened, and so no one ever noticed.

        Except Kage, sometimes. She’d look around and announce that we were in a new world, or a temporary world; or, a few times, the wrong world – and we’d go driving until she was sure she’d found the way back. At least, she said we found the way back. Everyone we knew was always there … though the McRib did drift in and out of reality.

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  3. Tom says:

    Do you really have to ask if anyone is interested? Do you truly have any doubt? Do we need to raise funds to send you back to Carmel for a week?

    Like

  4. Kara says:

    “the initial entry of Homo sapiens into a neighborhood always raises problems and lowers property values …”

    Sounds like a line a Marvel character would grumble in the opening credits. (Someone like Magneto or Loki – or maybe the Collector (although he would say it in a gleeful “when’s there’s blood on the streets, buy real-estate” kind of way)

    And a Homo floresiensis Operative? Yes, yes, yes! I would put that pre-order in now on Amazon if I could!

    And on the subject of Australia – have you seen Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries? I love watching the Roaring 20’s, Aussie style. I love how beautiful the fashions of those times were – but also something you could actually walk in, since those ladies happily threw out their grandmothers steel corsets.

    Like

  5. Lynn says:

    YES, YES, YES, PLEASE YES.

    Like

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