I just finished Kage Baker's 'In The Garden of Iden' and realised two things: 1–That really cool idea I've been rolling around in my head for years? Someone got there first. 2–I need to read a lot more Kage Baker, it's that good.
I think I read one of the 'Mendoza in Hollywood' stories somewhere, but that's it, and it didn't really grab me - I suspect because I didn't have the context of an ongoing, novel-based narrative. But I'm going to track down the short-story collection 'Black Projects and White Knights' (the second novel in the Mendoza series not being republished by Tor until November) and read it while I'm on the plane in a couple of weeks time.
I picked 'Iden' up, by lucky chance, in Voltaire & Rousseau, a second-hand bookshop in the West End; it's one of the new paperbacks being published just now by Tor, and - to be honest, the cover's a bit rough. Or, shall we say, it's a very genre-type cover, showing a busty woman in some kind of futuristic capsule, zooming through ... time, or something. Given the novel is almost entirely set in a late-Medieval period English Country House with occasional excursions into high-tech stuff, it's far, far from representative of what lies within the pages. I thought, why not do something that actually looks good? Like, an illustration of a Shakespeare-period cast (the book is set shortly before his birth) with one small anachronism thrown in. Not this Racing! Through! Time! To High Adventure! bullshit that seems to be the standard modus operandi of so many art departments.
I can't help feeling the book deserves better; a more attractive and less embarrassing cover that might persuade people to pick it up and help it gain the wider audience it really deserves. With writing this good, I wouldn't be surprised to find Ms. Baker has been 'transcending the genre' in the mainstream newspaper review pages. Especially if it gets her classier-looking packaging.