Kage Baker always said that 1) she would never write a series again in her entire life; and 2) that didn’t mean that the stories stopped in any of her Universes.
Growing up in the 1960’s, Kage sort of naturally came to expect large stories to be written in trilogies. She didn’t mean to do that, either, but Mendoza’s story and all its cast was out of control from about halfway through Garden of Iden. All Kage could do was hang on and keep writing. She always knew how it would end – she just never foresaw it taking 8 volumes to do it.
Nonetheless, a lot of activity does go on in smaller venues, as it were; often with people we never see again. She saw no reason why those stories would ever need to stop, as long as ideas kept impacting her brain. Working with all of Time as your playground, you can set play dates whenever you like.
And she never did tell anyone’s whole story in the Anvil Universe. That was deliberate – she was already laboring under the insane weight of the Company, and so she made all the Anvil books related, but stand-alone, novels. And the accompanying stories fit in at any available niche. Believe me, there is an actual over-arching plot: the House of the Stag, the saga of Ermenwyr, the Children of the Sun, the yendri: they all go on in all sorts of directions and ultimately right over a kind of event horizon in the history of their world. But there are other worlds beyond, and those go on, too.
It was in Kage’s specific instructions that the stories not cease. There are two novels yet to go, for instance, for the Empress of Mars cast; maybe more. Several stories with Ermenwyr (that least-controllable of all Kage’s creations!) and others in that world. Stories about the Moon and asteroid mining, even. We shall see.
In the meantime, I really am working on other ideas in the Company Universe. It’s why I still go over the news every day, looking for the strange survivals, re-animations and revenant tools that pop up. And all you, Dear Readers, also frequently send me further goodies, so the fund of potential ideas never gets too sparse.
Something that helps, something that Kage delighted in exploiting, was that she could set a story anywhere in Time. Having more or less the history of hominids as her background meant she could pick up a thread anywhen at all. It took her a few novels to realize that – she was afraid she was writing herself into a tiny little corner – but she ultimately realized that not every story has to be about the HUGE WORLD-CHANGING PLOT POINTS. A lot of them are about tiny events, but can be seen to be an even larger influence on how the world turns out. Little things, small events, ordinary people, all matter a lot more, in the long run, than the enormous striding celebrities; if only because there are so many more of them acting on the fabric of the world.
Also – and this was very important to Kage’s vision – the things that shape the world are not isolated. They do not happen in vacuums. Good things take time, too, but it’s the bad ones that burn underground for years and miles and then burst out like the mouth of hell – because evil hides itself. Bad things and people have usually been chipping away at vital foundations for some time before the floors collapse: it seems like a surprise when the axe falls, but it was falling for a while. It’s just no one looked up …
For example, check out this amazing tidbit from “Not Doomed Yet”, a blog about (mostly) climate change by Robinson Myer, for The Atlantic:
“And polio has broken out in northeastern Nigeria. The disease resurfaced exactly a year before the African continent would have been declared polio-free, a milestone now postponed to at least 2019.”
I recommend this blog, to which I subscribe, on general principles: but also, in this instance, to illustrate that the situations Kage had engineered literarily to come to a head in the 23rd and A Half Century all began Long Ago. Which Long Ago is, in fact, Now. You can get weird perspectives like this with time travel – Kage saw Time as a vertical helix, and she was usually looking across the void in the middle from one side to another …
Kage would have seen this article as proof of the activities of the Plague Club. Likewise, the continuing outbreaks of plague along the India-China border over the entire 20th and 21st centuries. Researchers are still working to identify the source of Ebola – though most reports indicate that it might be unknown bats, from an inaccessible cave in Zaire … which just screams Plague Club, in its mixture of unlikely mystery and malice.
The bottom line here, Dear Readers, is that the stories never end. I may have troubles getting them off the ground (though that’s improving a lot) but they may never end at all. I suspect that’s pretty much what Kage, somehow, had in mind. In her viewpoint, nothing ever had to end.