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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.”
“I really enjoyed Kage Baker’s, The Life of the World to Come, which reads like a novel from the future. Consistently surprising, Kage Baker mixes past, present, and imagination into a compelling novel. What 21st century writing should be like.”—R. García y Robertson
“Baker’s strong world-building and clever plotting make this an addictive read.”
—Romantic Times Book Club
“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 February 23, 2010
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To the story. The Graveyard Game felt unfocused, like nothing more than a transition; The Life of the World to Come does not have that problem. It's still told from the third-person, and does jump around in time, but it is entirely the story of Alec Checkerfield. Like In the Garden of Iden, it is a coming-of-age novel in the classic sense -- we see Alec from his very generation through to a major trial-by-fire and a falling in love. The one major issue I have with this novel, however, is the world Baker created for Alec to come of age in.
The future she has envisioned is pretty dire. It has been through several apocalypses of various sorts, and the few people that are left have emerged incredibly privileged, with advanced technology and all the resources of the planet at their disposal. As we got a glimpse of in Sky Coyote and The Graveyard Game, they have taken the supposedly moral high road on so many issues that they have completely whitewashed their own existence -- no real food (all stimulants and animal products are banned), no real sex, an abhorrence of violence of any kind, and all that extends so far that they can't even read books about such things, so they also have none of the cultural awareness that would at least come with education through literature. This means that they are perennial children, and Alec, as a product of that culture (though he naturally rebels against it) remains a child throughout as well.
Mendoza's previous two lovers were men with great strength of character, as noted in the description; Alec seems so weak compared to them that I highly doubt Mendoza would love him if he weren't genetically identical to her other loves. (Baker does provide a neat little explanation of why Mendoza fell so quickly for all three of the men, however, so maybe I'm wrong about that.) This makes the novel much less involving on an emotional level than the previous four, because all of the previous ones (yes, even the transitional The Graveyard Game) were imbued with passion -- in the two from Mendoza's perspective, passion for Harpole and Fairfax; in the other two Joseph's and Lewis' passion for Mendoza. The Life of the World to Come was more abstract. It moved the plot forward immensely, and I giggled at all the right places, but there were no moments that sank into my chest and made me feel. Even Alec's trial-by-fire seemed somewhat academic -- Alec himself simply wasn't mature enough to grow as I would expect from it.
But I would still strongly recommend this series, and I would still say that The Life of the World to Come is stronger than The Graveyard Game. Baker's prose is consistently good, the story moves along quickly, the ideas are fun to play with, and (best of all) each novel is a complete story arc that nonetheless moves forward the larger series story arc. This novel introduces some new players to the game (and I loved the Captain -- if more had been from his perspective I think Baker would have captured the passion of the earlier books in his love for his boy Alec) and gets us much closer to finding out what happens in 2355. I am still looking forward to each book, which is pretty darned good for a series of this length, I think.
Posted December 9, 2008
In the twenty-fourth century, Dr. Zeus, Incorporated discovered time travel. However, rather than benefiting humanity, the firm plundered history taking valuable artifacts so the shareholders became wealthy. One of the top agents the botanist Mendoza fell in love with an apparent sixteenth century English native only to watch him die at the fiery stake; next Mendzoa fell in love with his doppelganger in nineteenth century Hollywood only to see him murdered. This time the cyborg killed the culprits. Threatening to expose Dr. Zeus while grieving, the firm exiles her to 150,000 BCE (¿More or Less¿)........................ The millenniums pass as Mendoza waits for rescue until the arrival of a time-shuttle piloted by the twenty-fourth century, one of the wealthiest people in the world Alec Checkerfield. He is a triplet to her deceased beloveds and wants to destroy Dr. Zeus. Mendoza wants to believe him as he is identical to her two loves, but has doubts about his sincerity and questions three men born in different centuries over a millennium looking like identical triplets. Dr. Zeus must be involved but how?......................................... Each book adds to the complexities of the previous novels yet keeps the underlying theme and principles, and Mendoza consistent as no series (at least that this reviewer can think of) has previously accomplished by book five. THE LIFE OF THE WORLD TO COME is an excellent entry that can stand alone yet enhances the story lines from the previous tales making them and this entry even more enjoyable and multifaceted. If a reader was stranded in 150,000 BCE with one series of novels to accompany them, Kage Baker¿s masterpiece would be on most sci fi fans¿ short lists........................... Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.