Book: Mother Aegypt and Other Stories by Kage Baker

Thirteen stories, mostly quite good

Kage Baker
Mother Aegypt and Other Stories
Night Shade Books, 2004
ISBN: 1-892389-75-4
249 pages

Kage Baker can be relied on for imaginative premises and entertaining narratives, and those are what she delivers in Mother Aegypt and Other Stories.

In "Leaving His Cares Behind" and "Desolation Rose" we again meet Lord Ermenwyr, the dissolute demi-god who also appears in Ms Baker's The Anvil of the World. He's particularly funny in the first story. "Miss Yahoo Has Her Say" is an ironic take on an episode in Gulliver's Travels. "What the Tyger Told Her" is set at a country estate in what appears to be turn-of-the-19th-century England. There's a tiger in the estate's zoo and he chats with the youngest in the family. He turns out to be a very Machiavellian tiger. In "Two Old Men", Markie Souza is a young boy who ends up being a go-between in negotiations between two very unusual men. The book's title story is about a carny who's on the run in what appears to be turn-of-the-20th-century central Europe. He ends up traveling with a fortune-teller who, naturally, is more than she appears to be.

On the weaker side, "How They Tried to Talk Indian Tony Down" is narrated beautifully but the premise isn't particularly imaginative. The same is true of "Merry Christmas from Navarro Lodge, 1928" which has a plot rather reminiscent of a "Twilight Zone" episode. The narratives of both are good enough that I liked them anyhow.

Here, even more than in her other books that I've read, Ms Baker's fondness for small California towns and rural scenery is apparent. The descriptions in "Two Old Men", "Merry Christmas from Navarro Lodge, 1928", and "Pueblo, Colorado Has the Answers" are routinely beautiful and Ms Baker manages to give a feel for the places she describes that's remarkably compelling.

I can't call any of the stories here great. But then, I think it's very hard for a short story to have enough in it that it's great; I'm having trouble thinking of any at the moment. And more than a few of the stories here are very good.

Posted: Sun - September 26, 2004 at 08:13   Main   Category: