The Company Continued
April 14, 2017 11:02 AM   Subscribe

You may remember science fiction author Kage Baker (previously), who wrote reams of words about time-travelling immortal cyborgs. Since her untimely death five years ago, her sister Kathleen Bartholomew has been editing and releasing some of Baker's remaining work and blogging regularly about the process, about Baker's life and their relationship.

Some highlights: reflections on the anniversary of her death, her sister's theory of everything, the working grind, the importance of voting.

Here is an interview with Kathleen about her post-mortem collaboration. Tor did a re-read of The Company, to which she contributed.
posted by bq (12 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Another one of those series that I've been ignoring and put off and need to pick up. Thank you for this post and this reminder. So many authors, so little time. Damnit.
posted by Fizz at 11:20 AM on April 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I deeply love these books and short stories. They are not, I suppose, perfect - I have a few plotty quibbles - but I keep them close to me. The first book is one I reread very often. Thanks for this.
posted by PussKillian at 12:13 PM on April 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I looked her up after reading Anvil of the World, which is one of my very favorite books of all time, and I was so devastated to find out that she had died. I've read books by non-living authors before, of course, but the idea that we'd never get any more work from her was unbearable to me, especially considering all of the life she breathed into her characters. The Anvil series isn't as popular as the Company, to my regret, but I highly recommend picking it up, even if you didn't like the Company; I find the narrator a lot more sympathetic than Mendoza, who is often very cold.

Thanks for the post. Seems like it's time for a reread.
posted by possibilityleft at 12:16 PM on April 14, 2017

I enjoy the Anvil series as well, and you'll find some stories from that world in the collection 'The Best of Kage Baker'.
posted by bq at 2:07 PM on April 14, 2017

... wait, there are more Anvil stories? I only read the one, and then I heard she died, so I never looked for any more. I shall have to track them down!
posted by suelac at 3:23 PM on April 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Kage Baker is the last great SF author I found through the magazines. I fell in love with her stories (thanks to her character Vasilii Kalugin, the morose but lovable operative who always has to go down with the ship) in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, then followed her to novels. She has an incredible ability to make you like her characters, even when they didn't do anything very likable, or even memorable. Quite often her plots aren't loaded with incident, but they have vivid descriptions and a sort of meandering quality that brings the characters and settings to life. She puts you inside their heads and makes you live their lives and it's... amazing. Kind of like taking a vacation as someone else. Not many modern authors can do this without boring the reader (imo), but she could do it consistently.

Baker is equally great at creating settings that feel real, although her talents run more toward doing scrupulous research and recreating the past, rather than speculating about the future. When I think of Elizabethan England now it's a world influenced by her creations in the Garden Of Iden. Likewise for 19th century Los Angeles and especially Catalina Island. No way can that place be as weird and amazing as she described it, but in the absence of counter evidence I'm going to imagine that it is.

I encountered her once online, on the Asimovs message board after she'd published a novella set on Mars that she was particularly proud of. She was very nice and polite with everybody that talked to her, even though we were a bunch of fawning and (ahem) overenthusiastic fans that kept asking the same questions over and over. The moment that sticks in my memory is when I asked her if she was familiar with the different ways time travel tends to be used in the genre, and she said that she hadn't read a lot of time travel stories. So I started enthusiastically listing all the different ways it's used in SF (with examples from classic novels) ... when I realized I was saying this to an author who made her career doing time travel stories. So I started to apologize for getting carried away, saying I know she's an expert at this sort of thing and I didn't realize how it would sound, and so on... And her response was "No, I'm really having fun with this. Taking notes!" She was joking, but it was such a gracious thing to say it stuck with me after all these years.

She's one of the great ones.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:04 PM on April 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

I loved those stories, and was quite sad we won't get any more. They were a series but were different enough from each other not to be boringly consistent. Great stuff; RIP, Ms. Baker, and thank you, Other Ms. Baker!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:50 PM on April 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had always meant to go back to the Company books and finish them, but my life got busy and I did not know until reading this post that Kage Baker had died. So sad right now, but also glad to learn about her sister's project.
posted by seasparrow at 8:36 PM on April 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I adore Kage Baker - always have, always will. Her work is so nuanced, and completely brilliant. Every time I re-read it, I get something new out of it.

(I'm also thrilled her sister found Mendoza exasperating, because so did I! I liked Joseph, Victor, Latif, Kalugin, Suleiman, especially Lewis (dear Lewis!), Nan, Van Drouten, and just about all of her other characters better. "Son, Observe the Time" was utter genius).
posted by dancing_angel at 10:48 PM on April 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I like Mendoza for her odd love life, but I concur she's a cranky character (and kinda sadly drops out of the plot once she's overshadowed by the guys, particularly Edward. Then again, Edward is Magnificent Bastard personified).

Someday I want to go to Catalina Island and snoop around for you-know-whats around there.

I've really been enjoying Kathleen's blog. And the Nell Gwynne she did.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:58 PM on April 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just started reading the second "Company" book, Sky Coyote, and now I am jonesing for Theobromos.
posted by puddledork at 8:23 AM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wait until book 4, puddledork. There's one scene in there that's really bender-y.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:11 AM on April 15, 2017

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