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Kage Baker

Kage Baker fantasy author(1952-2010)
Kage Baker wrote the popular science fiction epic The Company. She has received several awards for her writing and has been nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula award (among others). The name Kage is a melding of the names of her grandmothers: Kate and Genevieve. Kage Baker died of cancer on January 31, 2010. Here’s the SFWA obituary.

In the Garden of Iden: Historical science fiction romance

In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker

Rescued from the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition, feisty little Mendoza is enrolled in a special school and becomes a cyborg agent of The Company, a group of immortal merchants and scientists who travel backwards in time in order to make money for The Company and to benefit mankind in various ways.

Mendoza is educated and trained as a botanist and, for her first mission, she’s sent back to 16th century Europe to document and study samples from the famous Garden of Iden in England. She’s hoping to discover some extinct or rare species that she can analyze for medical use by future scientists.

Undercover as a Spaniard, at first Mendoza is afraid of the people she meets and despises them for their ignorance, brutishness, and lack of hygiene. But soon she discovers that some of them are not so bad, and then she even makes the mistake of falling in love with a mortal — an Read More

Not Less Than Gods: Rollicking and adventurous steampunk

Not Less Than Gods by Kage Baker

Your reaction to the announcement of Not Less Than Gods by consistently excellent SF and fantasy author Kage Baker will probably depend to a large extent on how familiar you are with her The Company series. If you haven't read any of the Company novels or collections, the story of the Gentlemen's Speculative Society (GSS) and one of its operatives, Edward Alton Fairfax-Bell, sounds like an interesting and entertaining steampunk novel. However, if you're familiar with the Company series, your reaction to a novel about "Edward's creation and recruitment by the GSS, his training, and his first mission" will probably be more of the "I want it and I want it NOW!" variety, with the num... Read More

Rude Mechanicals: Free audio version at SubPress

Rude Mechanicals by Kage Baker

I love pretty much everything that Kage Baker wrote — her concise to-the-point style, the ironic way she looks at the world, and her wry subtle sense of humor suits me perfectly, more so than any other author I know save Jack Vance. I’m sure that if I’d ever met Ms. Baker while she was living that she would have been one of my favorite people on Earth. I say this because I feel the need to warn anyone reading this review that I’m unlikely to ever think any of Kage Baker’s stories are bad... So do with that what you will.

Rude Mechanicals is a novella set in Baker’s well-known futuristic COMPANY world. The Company is a group of cyborg time-travelers who work for Dr. Zeus. He sends travelers back in time to fetch or hide objects that will be valuable when they’re “found” and sold by the Company in the future... Read More

The Women of Nell Gwynne’s

The Women of Nell Gwynne's by Kage Baker

Crack open the pages of The Women of Nell Gwynne's and you will find action, mystery, and beautiful women. This novella by Kage Baker is everything a SF/F fan wishes the works of Charles Dickens had been.

The Women of Nell Gwynne's is about an elite brothel in Victorian London. Though these ladies of the night provide pleasure to the notables of the city, that is not the primary reason for their existence; They serve as a front and spy-center for a certain Gentlemen's Speculative Society, an entity which has appeared in other Baker works. Lady Beatrice, newly arrived for work at Nell Gwynne's, is promptly swept up into an adventure requiring all the skills she can muster. The ladies must find a man that the Gentlemen's Speculative Society has lost and learn what secrets his former employer, Lord Arthur Rawdon, is ... Read More

Nell Gwynne’s On Land and At Sea: Kage Baker’s last story

Nell Gwynne’s On Land and At Sea by Kage Baker

The “ladies” of Nell Gwynne’s work hard for their money, providing elite custom “services” to the important men who run England. These men think Nell Gwynne’s girls are very good at what they do, but they have no idea what’s really going on inside those pretty little heads. In actuality, all of Nell Gwynne’s ladies are thoroughly educated and quite accomplished because their “real” job is to spy for the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society (the predecessor of Kage Baker’s The Company).

Their work is exhausting, so each year Nell Gwynne’s takes a holiday — without men, of course! This year they’ve gone to Torquay where they plan to spend a month resting, sunbathing, swimming, shopping, reading, and pursuing some of their personal hobbies (such as archaeological excavation). But when they get to the seaside town, they run into a loud and boisterous American man who may be... Read More

The Anvil of the World: Uneven, funny, promising

The Anvil of the World by Kage Baker

The first thing that should be noted about Kage Baker's The Anvil of the World is that though it focuses on a very small group of characters and one main character throughout and follows them chronologically, this isn't really a novel. Unless it's one with some major transition problems. Rather, it's three novellas with some large gaps of time between the three different adventures. Like any collection of stories, then, The Anvil of the World tends to be a bit uneven.

The first story, which has the unenviable task of filling in the backstory—who are these people, why are they behaving as they do, what world is this and how does it function, tends to be the slowest-moving one and the weakest, though it isn't without its strong points. It's funny in places, suspenseful in others, and mostly holds your attention. If you find i... Read More

Mother Aegypt and Other Stories: Kage Baker had a true gift for storytelling

Mother Aegypt and Other Stories by Kage Baker

When Kage Baker died from cancer earlier this year, I was regretful that I had never gotten around to reading any of her work. I had always heard good things about her writing, both from friends and from other writers, and had seen she had been nominated for a number of writing awards I value. I always intended to get around to it, but we all know what our reading piles are like and I never did. Wanting to read her work, I ordered Mother Aegypt from Night Shade, as I am a firm believer in starting with an author’s short stories if possible, prescribing to that old adage that if you can’t tell a good story in ten pages, you can’t tell a good one in two hundred.

So the collection is made up of twelve short stories, all reprinted from other publications, and one original novella loosely tied to her  Read More

The House of the Stag: Kage Baker was such a brilliant writer

The House of the Stag by Kage Baker

Kage Baker’s The House of the Stag is a stand-alone novel set in the same world as The Anvil of the World and The Bird of the River. In this story, the pacifist Yendri tribe has been enslaved by cruel invaders, and the half-demon foundling named Gard is the only one who will fight back. When he’s exiled from the tribe, Gard is captured by mages who live underground and set to work with their bound demon slaves. With some advice from his fellow slaves, he remakes his own image and ends up styling himself as “The Dark Lord.” Meanwhile, back in the tribe, a prophet arises who promises the coming of a Saint who will lead the Yendri to a promised land. The separate plotlines are eventually united when The Saint meets The Dark Lord.

My summary of The House of the Stag doesn’t do justice to... Read More

The Hotel Under the Sand: You’re not too grown up for this

The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker

Kage Baker left us on January 31, 2010, at the much-too-young age of 57. Those of us who read and loved her Company novels and short stories, beginning with In the Garden of Iden, will miss her more than we can collectively say — though many of us tried, in those last few weeks, to tell her what her work had meant to us.

Nominated for the 2009 Andre Norton Award for Young Science Fiction and Fantasy, The Hotel Under the Sand is the kind of book that you resolve to send to your nieces and nephews even before you have finished the first page. Any book that starts, “Cleverness and bravery are absolutely necessary for good adventures,” is a book you know those budding book lovers in your family are going to enjoy, and maybe even the non-readers who are usuall... Read More

The Bird of the River: Kage Baker’s last novel

The Bird of the River by Kage Baker

Eliss is a teenage girl living an itinerant life with her drug-addicted mother and young brother. Her mother, formerly a successful diver, now has trouble keeping a job because her drug habit has damaged her lungs, but she’s given a chance on the Bird of the River, a huge raft-like boat that travels and trades up and down the river on year-long journeys. Eliss shows some talent as a look-out, spotting blockages and snags upriver, and even her young brother Alder, who is half Yendri and has experienced discrimination before, feels at home with the more open-minded crew of the Bird of the River, so life finally seems to settle down... but everything changes when Eliss spots a snag that, upon further examination, proves to be a nobleman’s sunken pleasure ship — containing, among other things, the nobleman’s headless corpse.

The Bird of the River is the last novel b... Read More

The Best of Kage Baker: Please don’t ask me if you can borrow it

The Best of Kage Baker by Kage Baker

The more I read Kage Baker, the more I love Kage Baker. Of the hundreds of speculative fiction authors I’ve read, I rank Kage Baker in the top ten. Maybe top five. She’s that amazing. I love her clever imagination and her style which is unembellished, straightforward, and full of wit and charm. Which is why I was jumping up and down when the nearly 500-page story collection called The Best of Kage Baker showed up on my doorstep.

This collection, published by Subterranean Press, contains 20 excellent stories; nine have been published in five previous collections and eleven are uncollected. Several are set in the world of Baker’s most famous creation: THE COMPANY. Here are the stories you’ll find in The Best of Kage Baker:

1. “Noble Mold” — (1997, Asimov's Science Fiction) Mendoza, ... Read More

SHORTS: Baker, Pinsker, McCarry

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 

The Bohemian Astrobleme by Kage Baker (2010, free at Subterranean Press, also included in Nell Gwynne’s Scarlet Spy)

The Bohemian Astrobleme is an entertaining Victorian steampunk novella about an adventure in the history of a rather underhanded and co... Read More

SHORTS: Baker, Chatham, Watts, Fawver, Liu

Sharing our finds in free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet.

“The Likely Lad” by Kage Baker (2002, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Starship Sofa podcast #23)

Kage Baker is one of my favorite authors. I love her sense of humor and sardonic voice. She’s at it again in “The Likely Lad,” a funny novelette that you can find in print in Asimov’s Volume 26(9) or free in audio format from Starship Sofa’s podcast #23 (which I listened to and recommend). Read More

SHORTS: Kayembe, Johnson, Baker, Swirsky, Walker

Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we've read that we wanted you to know about. 

“The Faerie Tree” by Kathleen Kayembe (Nov. 2017, free at Lightspeed, $3.99 Kindle magazine issue)

Marianne’s family is in turmoil. Her sister, who always had such plans for her life, has come back from boarding school pregnant, moving back home with her husband. The real problem is that Marianne can see there’s something hugely amiss: Sister, who was so lively, now spends most of the time sitting like a china doll, staring at her hands in ... Read More

Fast Ships, Black Sails: Pirates and adventure!

Fast Ships, Black Sails edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer

I was never a big fan of pirates (ninjas, on the other hand...) but nonetheless, the very word evokes adventure and the high seas. Fast Ships, Black Sails doesn't really stray far from that expectation and delivers eighteen stories marked with action, treachery, and a sense of wonder.

A good chunk of the stories revolve around traditional concepts of a pirate, with only a few exceptions, such as "Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette, which takes place in space. The rest take place on stormy waters with sea-worthy vessels manned by rascally crews. Surprisingly, many of the stories are ... Read More

Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance

Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance is the best anthology I’ve ever read. These stories will be enjoyed by any SFF reader, but they’ll be ten times more fun if you’ve read Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, because they are all written in honor of that fantastic work. Each tale is written in the style of Vance, which is quite amusing in itself, and each takes place on the Dying Earth, that far-future wasteland in which natural selection means survival of the cleverest, nastiest, sneakiest, and most self-serving.

Songs of the Dying Earth was written by “many high-echelon, top-drawer writers” (as Mr.... Read More

The Book of Dreams: A small but satisfying collection

The Book of Dreams edited by Nick Gevers

The Book of Dreams is a small but satisfying collection of short stories that are thematically, albeit loosely, connected by the theme of "dreams." The book features original stories by Robert Silverberg, Lucius Shepard, Jay Lake, Kage Baker and Jeffrey Ford, and was edited by Nick Gevers for Subterranea... Read More

Sympathy for the Devil: A collection of bedtime stories

Sympathy for the Devil edited by Tim Pratt

Please allow me to introduce Sympathy for the Devil, a fine new anthology filled entirely with short stories about the devil... who is, as we all know, a man of style and taste. However, you won’t just find the smooth-talking stealer of souls here. In addition to that famous version of His Grand Infernal Majesty, you’ll also find funny devils, monstrous devils, abstract devils and strangely realistic ones. Devils scary and not-so-scary, devils who are after children’s souls and others going after old men. Devils with a surprising amount of business acumen, and devils who try to get what they want, no matter the cost. There’s even one who engages in a competitive eating contest — the prize is, of course, someone’s soul.

Sympathy for the Devil, edited by Tim Pratt, offers up 35 very diverse short stories (and o... Read More

The Nebula Awards Showcase 2011: Sample the best SFF

The Nebula Awards Showcase 2011 edited by Kevin J. Anderson

The Nebula Awards are one of the great institutions in science fiction and fantasy. Each year since 1965, the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have voted for the Best Novel, Novella (40,000-17,500 words), Novelette (17,500-7,500 words), and Short Story (less than 7,500 words) in SF and fantasy. Compiling a list of the nominees and winners for all those years would get you an excellent reading list and a comprehensive cross-view of the best that can be found in the genres. To make this task easier, every Nebu... Read More

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction: Packed full of excellent SF stories

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction is packed full of excellent science fiction stories. I've been reading anthologies lately, partly to improve my own short story writing, and this is the best I've found so far. It contains stories by authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow, Catherynne M. ValenteJohn Scalzi, Jo Walton, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear... Read More

Kage Baker 1952-2010

We're sad to announce the death of Kage Baker who died of cancer this morning. Ms. Baker is a favorite at FanLit (read some of our reviews of her fantasy and science fiction novels here).
Here's the the SFWA obituary. Read More

More by Kage Baker

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsWhere the Golden Apples Grow — (2013) Publisher: Growing up anywhere is hard, but it may be hardest of all on Mars. Bill is twelve Earth years old. He was the third boy born on the red planet. Ford is six Mars years old. He was the second. Alternate ways of tracking time are just one of the differences between their family lives. Bill lives with his dad in the cab of a Hauler, making endless runs between the colonies at Olympus Mons and the polar ice caps, bringing back desperately needed water. Ford spends his days mucking out stalls on his family’s farm allotment beneath the tented red sky. Though they’ve never met, the boys envy each other’s lives. Bill longs for stability. Ford wants adventure. Neither gets exactly what they’re looking for when an unexpected turn of events finds Ford taking refuge with Bill and his dad on one of their long-distance trips. When tragedy strikes, the boys must find a way to work together, thousands of miles from help and challenged by faulty equipment, savage storms, and untrustworthy adults. Even if they survive, they still have the biggest challenge of all ahead of them: the future. This novella from the pen of the late Nebula-award winning, master storyteller Kage Baker, author of the beloved Company series, offers a rousing and poignant exploration of work and family. Where the Golden Apples Grow creates a futuristic backdrop impossible not to believe in.

Collections and novellas:

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