Disaster Is In The Eye of the Beholder

Kage Baker loved it when she got asked to do a story for a themed anthology.

Part of it, of course, was that it is enormously flattering for a writer to be asked to make something new for a project. It’s a potent challenge, and a compliment as well – someone likes what you do AND thinks you can craft something to order. By the end of her life, nearly everything Kage was writing was to order, and she thought that was just dandy.

She could always write something original when she got an idea. But the custom jobs usually came with an idea attached, and so a certain amount of searching and brain-storming and skull sweating was taken care of automatically.

It doesn’t always work out, though. Kage was once invited to submit a story to an anthology about Renaissance Faires: it was rejected because it was not about Court, or courtiers, and the language was hard to follow … she wrote it in the Elizabethan she had studied and taught for 30 years, and the editors found the whole thing just too common for use.It went somewhere else, finally.

And once she was  invited to submit a story to an anthology about Zorro. As a daughter of California, Kage was delighted. She threw herself into the legend of Zorro and the myths of Old California (with a soupcon of the old Disney TV show staring Guy Williams; Kage loved that show). Unfortunately, the editor had a stick up an awkward orifice,  was psychotic about owning the rights to the Johnston McCulley original novel, and would permit no original characterization at all. Kage finally pulled her story in exasperation.

I have no idea to this day what happened to it …

Me, I am trying to select a disaster and a plot for an anthology for the friend of a friend. Something to submit, at least; which is only courteous when you have been asked out loud and everything. It may yet be a bio-disaster with some sort of ROUS. There are several now known in the world. Or it may be how to cope when pockets of methane ice start thawing somewhere inconvenient – like around a subterranean Company Base in Siberia. That leaves amazing holes. Strange rains from space have their charm; so do the troubles of housekeeping when you live near a thin edge between dimensions. So do cicada hatches who lose their sense of time-keeping. And the appeal of sunspots is almost irresistible, especially when harking back to the solar storm of 1859 …

What could surface from, or splash down into, Lake Hollywood? What would be the results? Earthquakes in LA are passe, and anyway – any child of Hollywood knows that the results would  be  lava rains, early morning and late night volcanoes,  and everything else falling down. But what about zombies? What about killer deer? What about a fungus that eats petroleum by-products?

The world is my doomed oyster, really. All I have to do is settle on some flashy alien oyster catcher, and the travails of a plucky fisherman’s wife in the ruins of Morro Bay.

I shall sleep on it, Dear Readers. Maybe something red-eyed and menacing will materialize on my pillow …



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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6 Responses to Disaster Is In The Eye of the Beholder

  1. If ever it could be done, ‘twould be thy doing.


  2. Mark says:

    I’d love to see you write something at the intersection of the Company, Lovecraft, and Old Hollywood… But I’m evil that way 3:)


  3. mizkizzle says:

    When it comes to disasters you can’t beat the Great Boston Molassas Flood of 1919, except possibly for the Screaming Yellow Zonkers Tsunami of 1968.


  4. Gen says:

    Love the Lake Hollywood idea……😺


  5. Pamela Duncan says:

    I’m not sure why, but looking at the picture of the red eyed bird the words “The revenge of the blue footed Boobies” rang in my demented little brain….love your blog Kathleen


  6. Luisa Puig says:

    MizKizzle, thank you for the heads up on the Boston Molassas Flood. I had not heard of it until you mentioned it, and now am sharing that disaster with my family. Egads! I wonder: could Pamela Duncan’s blue footed boobies outrun such a flow? What would Zeus Op Joseph have done? (Or perhas more accurately, what did he *do* just before the flood?)

    The possibilities are endless.

    Whatever disaster you imagine and write, Kathleen, will be a winner in my eyes.
    Can’t wait to read it … eventually. 😉


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