Not Less Than Gods is one of the last couple of novels Kage Baker finished before her death, and the final novel in her Company series. For anybody familiar with the series, this is the backstory on Edward Bell-Fairfax, and how he grew into a strange fusion of Victorian idealist and sociopath. For anybody else, it’s a 300 page chunk of steampunk espionage that stands perfectly well on its own.
Of course, between a reader coming to a book cold, and one who’s already read the author’s other work, I think the fan is getting a better deal. You often hear of avid readers who find an interesting writer and obsessively track down everything that writer ever wrote. You might assume they’re just after more of the same. Nah–there’s more to it than that.
Most writers–and artists in general; painters, directors, whatever–have styles they prefer, tricks and techniques they reuse, thoughts and questions they return to. A few artists are stylistic chameleons, never the same from work to work. I actually find these artists less interesting! The best thing about having read many of a writer’s books is that you start to see patterns, and then you’re reading with a whole extra set of tools. Reading one book is like standing in a landscape; read more and you catch a glimpse of the map.
So, yeah, Not Less Than Gods is fun. But it holds an extra meta-interest for me because it demonstrates three techniques Kage Baker turned to often, and was very good at.
(Spoiler note: Later in this post, I discuss the ending of Not Less Than Gods. Also, there’s a somewhat vaguer spoiler for her fantasy novel The Anvil of the World.) Continue reading Not Less Than Gods