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"Another entry in Baker's superlative series about Dr. Zeus. . . . An astonishing and thoroughly satisfying installment. What's more, Baker's overall concept and rationale, flawlessly sustained through five books, grows ever more spellbinding and impressive."—Kirkus Reviews [starred review]
“Baker’s trademark mix of serious speculation and black humor informs this solid addition to her time-travel series.”—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“One of the most consistently entertaining series to appear in the late nineties. The novels read like literary pastiches—echoes of Heinlein and Robert Louis Stevenson fill this one—and the narrative pace matches that of most thrillers.”
“Returning to her popular series featuring characters from the Company, Baker expertly combines romance, myth, and high adventure.”
“Alec is quite a character, especially for the sedate twenty-fourth century, and in Baker’s skillful hands, his story is well told and engrossing.”
“The strengths of The Life of the World to Come are many. The structure of the novel, moving full circle and back and forth through time, is ingenious and deft, creating a mesmerizing chain of cause and effect, effect and cause, as in the best time-travel fiction….an excellent novel, and absorbing post-historical bildungsroman and an impressive upping of the “Company” sequence’s ante.”
Posted March 2, 2010
There was finally a feel of momentum about the last Company novel (The Life of the World to Come) -- we finally reached the future, and quite a few events came to a head. The cast of characters appeared to be complete with the introduction of Mendoza's third (and final, I believe) lover and his devious Captain; we finally got into the heads of some of those poor short-sighted mortals nominally in charge of the Company, and we came within striking distance of 2355. Unfortunately, this volume squandered all that momentum by jumping far, far backward to fill us in on another event shadow -- the evil machinations of Labienus who, from sometime in prehistory, has been doing his best to undermine the Company's stated mission.
Which actually wouldn't have been terrible (though it was always destined to be frustrating) if Labienus had been rendered as fully as Baker's other viewpoint characters have been. Unfortunately, he remains throughout a caricature of frustrated desires and squeamishness. The implications from his being the only character in this universe to display homosexual urges left me a little queasy.
I don't think that Baker is particularly homophobic (she was in theater, for goodness' sake! in California!) and I believe she could have rendered Labienus a more complex character had she wanted to (though thinking about it, most of her bad guys have been a tad stock) but despite what the dust jacket says, Labienus isn't really the focus of the book. He's little more than a frame; the book literally shows us him going through his secret files for a page or two, then "remembering" a short story set from quite a few other Company operatives' perspectives.
We see Lewis at his best in an Ireland just being converted to Christianity; we see little Latif receive training from a Facilitator in Amsterdam; we see Kalugin's final dive into treachery; and we get Victor's story. Tragedies all, and most quite moving. We also see Budu and the ADONAI project from Labienus' perspective, as Baker maneuvers more of her plot into place. But I must say I resent the evil puppetmaster Labienus has been cast as, because (1) I just find it hard to believe a total sociopath could be produced through the indoctrination the Company uses on its Facilitators, and (2) it seems a rather creaky plot device.
Still, some of the short stories within nearly moved me to tears, and Baker's prose has become more polished -- there were several pieces of description that took my breath away. The series has come far enough from the passionate first-person narration of Mendoza and Joseph that I no longer crave that from it -- at this point, I just want the action to start! But the frustration shows how much Baker has me invested in these characters and this world, so of course I still have to recommend it. But just a warning to the universe at large: the payoff had better be fantastic!
Posted December 9, 2008
Dr. Zeus of the Company has learned the secrets of time travel and how to turn mortals into immortal cyborgs that he sends back in time to hide art, artifacts and anything else that would benefit the Company in a place where the company can recover it. Cyborgs also turn young children into cyborgs as new recruits for the company. Cyborgs have been on the Earth for many millennia, raising man up on two legs and bringing new civilizations into being..................... Executive Facilitatior General Labienus looks at files that span the millennium to learn that the company did not play fair with the cyborgs. He has plans to take over the world and eliminate the company and Dr. Zeus if he can defeat his life long enemy who has discovered a new race of mortals, Homo sapiens umbratilis, mortals who can invent anything and are easy to manipulate. Throughout time Labienus subtly influences history so that when the moment is right he will be in a position to make his move to control the world....................... Kage Baker¿s Company novels are always fun to read but CHILDREN OF THE COMPANY is particularly good because it shows the different eras that the agents operated in from the dawn of time to the San Francisco earthquake to the future when a virus was deliberately let loose on a world so that some scientific research would be lost until Dr. Zeus ¿finds¿ it. This is a stupendous series because one never knows in what direction Mr. Baker will take readers........................ Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 21, 2011
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