Thursday, January 29, 2009


Kage Baker Goodness Over the Horizon

In an interview with Nick Gevers over on the Subterranean Press site, Kage Baker (about whom I've raved at length) lets slip what is I believe a previously unannounced book in the making.
I just turned in a novel, And We Are Everywhere, to Tor. It’s steampunk and involves the Victorian proto-Company, the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society, as does the story in Extraordinary Engines. The GSS was first introduced in The Graveyard Game, and at the time I’d never heard of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or that British comedy group with a similar name. Now I wish I’d named my group something different, but it can’t be helped…

Anyway, the book deals with a young Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, how he’s recruited and trained, and the first mission he’s given, with two other trainees and an older, more experienced agent. I steeped myself in books on the Crimean War, Russia, and issues of Punch from the years 1846 to 1851. I researched arcane technologies. And, as with the other books, the characters took on lives of their own and did things that surprised me.

It was liberating, in a way, not to be writing about indestructible cyborg operatives. One set of characters appeared fairly briefly in the novel, but have occasioned a novella of their own, coming sometime next year from Subterranean: The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, about a sort of sister affiliate of the GSS, who operate a rather unique brothel in the vicinity of Whitehall.

(Of course, I have only to look at Baker's website and see that it's listed right there, under Forthcoming.)

I've got Extraordinary Engines on my To Read stack, and haven't had a chance to read Baker's contribution yet (I'm sidetracked by WFA reading at the moment, naturally), but the story she did for my Adventure Vol. 1 featured Bell-Fairfax and the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society, and was one of my favorites of the anthology. Steam-punk precursors to the Company? Okay, I'm sold.

I cannot wait to check out And We Are Everywhere and The Women of Nell Gwynne's. (If you haven't read the Company books yet, what are you waiting for?!)

Extraordinary Engines was surprisingly good all the way through, the writers featured really went all out. I have to admit, I am pulling together all of the Company novels for a massive reading, but her short stories I've read just blow me away, the same thrill I get from reading Kim Newman and the like. So yeah, Kage Baker steampunk? I am so there.
Baker's Company novels are a high watermark in recent publishing, I think. Unrelentingly entertaining, compulsively readable, and endlessly clever. Just terrific stuff, really. They'll still be read and enjoyed after a lot of higher profile stuff of recent years is completely forgotten and buried.
As one of your Baker converts, I was bummed to reach the end of the series, but hopeful for more books. I dug both the story in Adventures and the one in Ex Eng, and my take is pretty much anything she writes in this world will rock. Now I'm EAGERLY awaiting these new books!
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