Kage Baker wrote science fiction and fantasy. This was her choice; she had ideas too peculiar for ordinary fiction, and didn’t want to file away the edges of her stories to fit a template.
“I could write coming of age stories in the uttermost banal suburbia,” she commented once on a panel, “and they’d get reviewed as fantasy. Because they’d be weird.” And that was true. Kage wrote what she saw of the world, and that was damn strange.
I think I had a pretty odd view of the world myself, before I met Kage. It was certainly odd after that, as I spent most of my life living in her head. That hasn’t faded; and for the life of me, I don’t know whether it’s because I don’t want to live in another, lesser, greyer world – or if my vision has just been permanently altered. I must admit, I’ve made no effort at all to change my Kage-coloured glasses for anything else, so I guess I just like it here in Topsy-Turvey Land. Life is more interesting here where the curvature of the earth was laid out using a tesseract for a model.
Last night, beset with the most mundane of problems – my computer wouldn’t function – I had a brief entertaining time writing out bitchy complaints. I waxed witty at the expense of my microprocessor, and then retired to the living room recliner for a pleasant time with my Kindle and the telly.
But there was nothing on telly, except for the massacre in Las Vegas.
So, for several hours, I just sat there and stared in horror. Information was sparse, and self-contradictory. The footage from video and cell phones was appalling. I managed to connect with a friend who lives a little ways off the Strip, but once she assured me she and her family were safe, she wisely went to bed. Normal people don’t enjoy sitting up watching disasters.
The news agencies were just gibbering, reduced pretty quickly to interviewing one another and hysterical refugees, in the dark and the flashing lights, and the murk of ignorance. I kept watching until the Sheriff in Vegas managed to hold his press conference; he was wearing jeans under his official windbreaker, clearly having been rousted from his living room when the shooting began. Behind him was a blank-faced guy in a bad suit – the local FBI rep, who also knew nothing but was managing to look opaque instead of stunned. Government training, obviously.
The sound was bad, so you couldn’t hear the questions from the press. But the Sheriff’s answers explained it all – No. No. NO. I don’t know what his personal beliefs where. I’ll only say this one more time – we don’t know anything about him! Obviously, what the reporters wanted to know – all they wanted to know – was: Is the shooter a Muslim?
There was no real information.. When I went to bed, well after midnight, they still thought the death toll was 2 and the number of injured in the 40’s. That was different, of course, in the morning. The death toll is still rising.
Somewhere in my surfing and staring and swearing at the telly, I got an invitation to submit a story to an anthology. Its sale is meant to benefit Puerto Rico – which, although the Feds haven’t figured it out yet – has NOT somehow been improved by the horror in Las Vegas. The theme is Surviving a Disaster. I mean to do my best, of course.
But what the hell shall I write?
In self-defense, I think I’m going to seek refuge amid the demons and yendri and the Children of the Sun for my plot. Or in a Company base where the birth rate of the rare howling mice is exceeding the carrying capacity of the hamster cages where they live; not to mention the available supply of Dr. Zeus’ Primo Small Animal Honey Crumble Crunchies …
The real world sucks. Take me away, Ermenwyr. Oh, take me away!
Yeah, I wouldn’t mind a little of that hallucinogenic wine they drink in The Life of the World to Come right about now.