Watching The Lights

Kage  Baker was as likely as anyone else to go boneless and lazy on a suddenly-warm summer evening.

She loved sitting in the living room with no lights lit but candles and lava lamps, idly brainstorming. We would watch the restaurant lights stream across the waves a block away, or time the rotating spotlight at the Nipomo airport as it passed over and over in the dark.

Sometimes the light would dim, or miss a cycle. We always told one another it might be an alien craft; they were known to cruise around out there, mutilating strawberries or cows, knocking out the electricity when they broke the glass insulators off by skimming the power poles. There were reports of fires out there all the time, telephone poles going up like tiki torches amid shards of melted glass and charred metal.

However, there was also fog rolling in and out all the time: often no more than a story or two high. And we knew what the airport was like, we’d driven out to see. It was the approximate size of an AM/PM. When the night-shift crop dusters took off, they had to either block the light on our side, or hit the tower. So it wasn’t all that likely it was flying saucers.

Kage cherished the idea of space aliens out in the dunes, though. God knows, there was a lot of legitimately weird stuff and people out there. But even Kage admitted that not even vegetable rustlers, born-again Celtic hermits and the pot farmers of the Temple of the People guaranteed that space aliens were bopping around out there as well.

But she did love the idea, so much so that she wrote several stories about the exceedingly weird little town of Pismo Beach, and the truly odd things and folks that dwelt there. The Company ended up doing lots of work out in the dunes, with bits of real Egyptian temples buried with the old movie sets of same. Her little stupid guys flew their saucers there. Cthonic gods were worshipped by sailor-suited buskers in old cocktail bars. And she put a strange but charming Irish hermit out there to commemorate the Gaelic Renaissance of the 1930’s.

It was all enormous fun, and good memories.

I was going to post a little excuse for not writing an actual Kage and writing blog tonight, but then I was distracted by the memories of strange lights out our living room window, and the glowing waves on Pismo Beach … and, BTW, the Temple of the People (which is quite real) still stands in vaguely saucer-shaped splendour on a dirt road amid the broccoli fields in the tiny town of Halcyon.  The Post Office across the street sells wonderful incense and diverse crystals, and imported chocolate bars …

Here’s a picture of it for you, Dear Readers. Have fun watching your own lights tonight.










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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2 Responses to Watching The Lights

  1. Allison Hansen says:

    Gorgeous old building, especially this photograph of it at night. Was intrigued by your post and looked up the Temple of the People. There is a blueprint that shows it shaped like a guitar pick, which made me think of string theory and little Temples of the People all over the multi-verse.
    You (and Kage) are a blast to the imagination of wonder.


    • Kate says:

      Thanks, Allison – wonder blasted Kage and me all the time. I love passing along the BOOM! To others. Kage was fascinated by the Temple of the People. We.tracked down the gravesite of the founder Priestess – her tombstone has an inset blue star, hidden in a tiny local cemetary..


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