The Cabinet of Wonder

Kage Baker kept lists of needy wonders.

Those were things that had supposedly vanished, but that she thought were probably still there – reduced in numbers but grown in canniness, and hiding out from Homo sapiens. There were also the many, many things she was sure had already been collected: thylocenes, the Irish Royal Jewels, Judge Joseph Force Crater.

Of course, any missing library was automatically on the Gotcha List. She liked to imagine Operatives browsing through the stacks of the Library of Ashurbanipal, seeking references to lost societies and animals, or maybe for papers they were writing. She wrote a few hilarious scenes of people enjoying erotic stories from the Library of Ugarit, or going through Persian standup comedy routines in the Academy of Gondishapur.

Museums were treated much the same as libraries; because humans have a habit of compiling great hoards of tchotchkes from the well-born. They also have a tendency of then losing these collections, leaving the goodies begging for more responsible curation. The Company was always happy to oblige, of course. And as the Operatives are not so very different from mortal humans, Kage had lots of lovely things quietly pilfered by venal Facilitators. She established several specialty museums, too. My favourite was the Museum of the Chronology of Tableware.

Animals need museums, too; they’re just called zoos. Kage decided that the Company would need lots of them, and not only to breed endangered animals until they could be re-released. She figured every saved population of beasts would have a few species samples kept safe and on display for the Company to study. Of course, the Company covers an awful lot of time, and what would happen if the captive population and the wild population just happened to speciate? No end of fascinating messes might turn up to add some extra adventure to trying to re-introduce Night Parrots. What if it’s time to put the Ivory Billed woodpecker back into the North American woods – only to find out that they could no longer breed with wild woodpeckers? Ivory-billed woodpecker Night parrot

Heads would roll! After all, Kage always said, they can always stick ’em back on again …

She had a whole series of stories in various degrees of planning, about the Operatives who get to take care of the Saved Beasts until they are used. Most were moderately disastrous for the Operatives. Kage said they would sell, because people looove animals. Personally, Kage regarded a few hundred years of breeding Singing Hamsters or some such would be a hellish assignment. (I don’t agree; in fact, I have completed a couple of these stories and have just began shopping them around.)

Well. I have certainly maundered on tonight, Dear Readers. But I am fond of weird animals, and it’s fun to go on about them. And here I will leave you, with a very peculiar alligator.

Good night unto you all.

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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3 Responses to The Cabinet of Wonder

  1. buggybite says:

    This brought back to me the overarching thought I always had when reading the Company books. Would I really want to live forever, considering I could be redone whenever parts of me got damaged and/or started to age. I truly don’t know. Would it get boring? Would I become calloused at losing everybody who matters to me, over and over again? (Unless they were also immortal …which brings its own set of ‘yikes’ notions.) I honestly don’t know. Fortunately for fence-sitter me, I’m unlikely to have to make up my mind about it any time soon.


  2. Neassa says:

    Hey, Kathleen! Lovely to hear from you again!

    Is that Claude, from the Steinhart Aquarium?


    • Kate says:

      Hiya, Neassa – it’s wonderful to be heard. Or hearable, or some such. Do you mean the amazing white alligator? I don’t know the provenance of the photo, which I have kept for its high aesthetics, but I like the name. Claude he is!


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