The Best of Kage Baker (eBook)
Dust jacket and interior illustrations by J. K. Potter
Kage Baker’s death in 2010 silenced one of the most distinctive, consistently engaging voices in contemporary fiction. A late starter, Baker published her first short stories in 1997, at the age of forty-five. From then until the end of her life, she wrote prolifically and well, leaving an astonishing body of work behind.
The Best of Kage Baker is a treasure trove that gathers together twenty stories and novellas, eleven of which have never been collected anywhere. The volume is bookended by a pair of tales from her best known and best loved creation: The Company, with its vivid cast of time traveling immortals. In “Noble Mold,” Mendoza the botanist and Joseph, the ancient “facilitator,” find themselves in 19th century California, where a straightforward acquisition grows unexpectedly complex, requiring, in the end, a carefully engineered “miracle.” In “The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park,” an autistic Company operative named Ezra encounters a lost soul named Kristy Ann, and finds a way to give her back the world that she has lost.
Among the volume’s many other highlights are a pair of brilliant Company novellas: the Hugo Award-nominated “Son, Observe the Time” and “Welcome to Olympos, Mr. Hearst,” a tour de force set in the Hollywood of the 1930s and featuring an encounter with legendary newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. There is also a generous assortment of equally brilliant standalone tales, including “Calamari Curls,” the account of a faded resort town that takes a surprising turn into Lovecraftian terrain, and the World Fantasy Award-nominated “Caverns of Mystery,” in which ancient stories play themselves out repeatedly, shaping and altering the world around them.
These are only a few of the pleasures waiting within this book. The Best of Kage Baker is exactly what the title proclaims: the best short work of a gifted and irreplaceable writer. Anyone with an interest in first-rate imaginative fiction – anyone with an interest in lovingly crafted fiction of any kind – needs to read this book.
Table of Contents
From Black Projects, White Knights
- Noble Mold
- Old Flat Top
From Children of the Company
- Son, Observe the Time
From Gods and Pawns
- Welcome to Olympos, Mr. Hearst
- The Catch
From Mother Aegypt
- Leaving All His Cares Behind
- What the Tyger Told Her
From Dark Mondays
- Calamari Curls
- Speed, Speed the Cable
- Caverns of Mystery
- Are You Afflicted With Dragons?
- I Begyn as I Meane to Go On
- The Ruby Incomparable
- Plotters and Shooters
- The Faithful
- The Leaping Lover
- Bad Machine
- The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park
From Library Journal:
“Baker's many fans should appreciate these encounters with the mind of one of the genre's most creative and consistent writers.”
From Gardner Dozois:
“There's no way I can be even remotely objective about the collection The Best of Kage Baker. Back when I was the editor of Asimov's in 1997, I bought Kage Baker's very first story, 'Noble Mold', and subsequently bought more than 35 other stories from her for the magazine, as well as reprinting lots of her stuff in my Best of the Year anthology series; even after I left Asimov's, I continued to buy stories from her for anthologies such as Wizards and The Dragon Book. So it's safe to say that I'm a Baker partisan, and you can discount my opinion here if you wish, but for me this is one of the best collections of the year, and will most certainly end up in my top five. The selection is not the same as the one I would have made, and there are a few minor Baker stories here, but the overall quality is quite high, and even the minor stories are absorbing; she was perhaps the best natural storyteller to enter the field since Poul Anderson. Baker almost never wrote a story that wasn't at the very least worth reading. For my money, the best stories here are the novellas—Baker was at her best at novella length—'Son, Observe the Time' and 'Welcome to Olympos, Mr Hearst', but there are other good Baker stories here, such as the aforementioned 'Noble Mold', 'Bad Machine', 'The Catch', 'Are You Afflicted With Dragons?', 'The Ruby Incomparable', 'Maelstrom', and others. If you haven't read Baker, you don't know what you're missing, and this is a good place to start.”
“The final story in the collection, 'The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park', is nothing less than heartbreaking. It's hard not to read this and think about all its implications, and all the stories Kage Baker never got to write. Placing this story at the very end of the collection was a brilliant decision and increases the poignancy factor of this book exponentially.”
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