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
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.
The Company — (1997-2013) Black Projects, White Knights and Gods and Pawns are story collections. Rude Mechanicals and The Women of Nell Gwynne’s are novellas. Publisher: The first novel of Kage Baker’s critically acclaimed, much-loved series, ‘The Company’, introduces us to a world where the future of commerce is the past. In the twenty-fourth century, the Company preserves works of art and extinct forms of life (for profit of course). It recruits orphans from the past, renders them all but immortal, and trains them to serve the Company, Dr. Zeus. One of these is Mendoza, the botanist. She is sent to Elizabethan England to collect samples from the garden of Sir Walter Iden. But while there, she meets Nicholas Harpole, with whom she falls in love. And that love sounds great bells of change that will echo down the centuries, and through the succeeding novels of The Company. Breathtakingly detailed and written with great aplomb, In the Garden of Iden is a contemporary classic of the science-fiction genre.
In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker
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 number of exclamation points determined by how enthusiastic you are abo... Read More
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 form... Read More
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 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 ... Read More
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 Company Read More
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 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 usually busy playing sports inste... Read More
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 Bird of the River by Kage Baker
It’s hard to separate feelings of personal sadness at Kage Baker’s too-early death in January 2010 from one’s feelings reading her posthumously published novel The Bird of the River, emphasizing the book’s own bittersweetness. And it’s impossible, once done, not to mourn, in addition to the person, the loss of such talent. Bird of the River is in many ways a fitting final (or first final) book for the author.
The main character is a young girl, Ellis, who forced to be mature beyond her years in order to take care of both her mother, who is addicted to an intoxicating weed, and her younger brother Alder. (Alder is himself burdened by light of being a “greenie,” a half-breed human/Yendri). Ellis gets her mother a diving job on the huge river barge Bird but things soon go tragically awry, leaving Ellis and Alder alone. How they slowl... Read More
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
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 ar... Read More
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. Vance says in the preface):... Read More
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 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 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