From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Goodbye to Kage Baker

Fantasy and science fiction writer Kage Baker died of uterine cancer on January 31, 2010. Her final message to her readers appears on her website: “I want you to tell all these people that I wanted more time to spend with them. Tell them I meant to, tell them I wanted to hear what they said and tell them what was on my mind.”

Readers will mourn Baker’s passing. While she is best known for her “The Company” books, a time-travel series detailing the adventures of the agents of Dr. Zeus Incorporated, her writings include “The Empress of Mars”, a novella that won the 2003 Theodore Sturgeon Award, the children’s book The Hotel Under the Sand and fantasy novel Anvil of the World. Publishers Weekly said of her story collection, Black Projects, White Knights, “These stories rank among the finest recent work in the field.”

Her writings about the Company are how I came to know her work: they were smart and well-done and intriguing, full of a humor and depth that marks the sort of book one can return to repeatedly. If you’re unfamiliar with her writing, check out The Bohemian Astrobleme from Subterranean Press. A full list of her works is provided on her site.

Born in Hollywood, California on June 10, 1952, she spent most of her life, including her last years, in Pismo Beach in a career that included not just writing, but teaching Elizabeth English and working in the theater. Jeff VanderMeer interviewed her for Clarkesworld in 2008, an interview in which Baker said:

I never start out to be funny, it just happens… sometimes the most horrific things are also ludicrously funny. My inclination is generally to write serious stuff, but life is absurd, and the more honestly I try to write about the world, the less its essential ridiculousness can be gotten around.

It feels absurd and sad to have her gone. Her insight and wit will be deeply missed.

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