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Mendoza in Hollywood (The Company Series #3)

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Overview

At Cahuenga Pass, in a stagecoach inn on the road to Los Angeles, Mendoza meets her new cyborg colleagues in this third novel of the Company. In the vein of Grand Hotel, we get to know the lives and stories, both sad and funny, of these operatives from the twenty-fourth century. As bullets fly overhead, we learn that Mendoza is being haunted, in her dreams, by the man she loved and lost three centuries ago and whose ghost is unexpectedly reincarnated by the arrival of a very large, very suave, and very handsome ...
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Mendoza in Hollywood (The Company Series #3)

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Overview

At Cahuenga Pass, in a stagecoach inn on the road to Los Angeles, Mendoza meets her new cyborg colleagues in this third novel of the Company. In the vein of Grand Hotel, we get to know the lives and stories, both sad and funny, of these operatives from the twenty-fourth century. As bullets fly overhead, we learn that Mendoza is being haunted, in her dreams, by the man she loved and lost three centuries ago and whose ghost is unexpectedly reincarnated by the arrival of a very large, very suave, and very handsome British spy, Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax. We watch the immortals' reactions as they screen, for relaxation, D. W. Griffith's Intolerance; we root for Oscar, an anthropologist in the guise of a traveling salesman, as he tries repeatedly to sell the Criterion Patented Brassbound Pie Safe.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Kage Baker's first two novels of the Company, In the Garden of Iden and Sky Coyote, were lively science-fantasies featuring some of the most fanciful and inventive time-traveling frolics in recent memory. In her third outing, Mendoza in Hollywood, Baker returns with yet another distinctive setting to tell the always absorbing tale of a group of immortals who still have a lot to learn about the crafty ways of mankind.

The cyborg Mendoza is "employed" by the Company, also known as Dr. Zeus Inc., a 24th-century time-traveling corporation devoted to garnering wealth by manipulating past events. To accomplish this, the Company sends human operatives into the past in order to turn orphans into immortal cyborgs through drugs and implants. The immortals are then given centuries' worth of missions until they "meet up" with the 24th century, where they are supposed to be rewarded for their efforts with riches untold. Their objectives in the past are varied, including the saving of species, hiding cultural art treasures, making perfect future investments, or reallocating entire pre-industrial villages.

This time out, the cyborg botanist Mendoza is sent to Cahuenga Pass, California, in 1862, an area that will eventually become Hollywood. Her mission is to gather and save several plants bound for extinction that will one day help in the battle of future diseases. However, as usual, it's difficult for Mendoza to serve her distant 24th-century masters amid the immediate dangers of the American West while the Civil War rages on. Even worse, she is continually besieged by dreams of her long-dead lover, who went to the stake three centuries earlier during the Inquisition.

Surrounded by other similar-minded rebellious colleagues, Mendoza is influenced by the likes of Porfirio, a security tech who continues to have contact with his mortal descendants, although it is against every rule of his masters; Einar, a movie buff who constantly quotes from the films that will eventually be made in Hollywood; and Imarte, an anthropologist who lives life as a whore so she can "interact" and study human sexuality. As she continues on her mission, Mendoza seems haunted by the ghost of her lover, who suddenly appears to her in the persona of the handsome Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, a British spy.

Kage Baker's characterizations are well thought-out and true to the circumstances of her protagonists. They're humorous and engaging, with a realistic depth that makes Mendoza and her fellow cyborgs not only independent creations but also crucial cogs in the greater machine of history. Mendoza is at once a slave and master of her own fate, and often the fate of humanity. Even more intriguing is how she finally begins to glean the true motives behind Dr. Zeus's orchestration of its operatives for its own mysterious purposes. To be deceived and beguiled during one's lifetime is bad enough, but to be betrayed through several lifetimes is as harrowing an ordeal as anyone could face.

Mendoza in Hollywood is a fine addition to an already daring and appealing world of historical threads and possibilities in the Company series. Baker's latest novel of wisecracking cyborg mercenaries combines vivid detail and page-turning action with a healthy twist of ironic wit. This is yet another solid entry in a series that is quickly becoming known for its thoughtful and intelligent examination of history and the human will to endeavor.

--Tom Piccirilli

San Francisco Chronicle
"Clever ... an unusual mix of mortals, all-too-fallible immortals, a generous dollop of antic wit ..."
From the Publisher
Praise for Mendoza In Hollywood and Kage Baker:

"A magnificent third entry ... in an intelligent, thoughtful, and absorbing series."

Kirkus Reviews

"Clever ... an unusual mix of mortals, all-too-fallible immortals, a generous dollop of antic wit ..." —San Francisco Chronicle

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The tart-tongued immortal heroine of Sky Coyote returns in Baker's third installment of the Company series. Still reeling from the loss of her lover, the mortal Nicholas Harpole, who burned at the stake in 1555, Mendoza has been reassigned by Dr. Zeus Inc. (a 24th-century corporation) to an outpost disguised as a stagecoach station in Los Angeles's Cahuenga Pass in 1863. Mendoza and her co-workers are a funky bunch of immortals, all specialists in their own fields: finicky Oscar, an anthropologist, poses as a door-to-door salesman; Imarte, an acerbic historian, plays the whore; and Mendoza herself is an expert on extinct plant species. While the narrative unfolds at a languorous pace--the team collects its specimens, the occasional stage rides through--Baker's sinuous prose evokes well California's verdant countryside as it was before being buried under concrete and smog. The dialogue hums with a potent blend of bitchy barbs, humorous asides and pop cultural references. Baker mixes engaging and chilling moments in equal share, but her narrative only shifts into high gear near the end, when Edward Bell-Fairfax, a Victorian-era spy and genetic doppelganger of Mendoza's dead lover, wanders into the station and carries Mendoza off to bed. Although the novel's ending finds her alone again, Mendoza has by then moved from grief to a suitably ironic acceptance of life's troubles. Agent, Virginia Kidd. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Assigned, along with other time-traveling members of the Company, to Cahuenga Pass, CA, in 1862, Mendoza discovers firsthand the dangers and pleasures of living in the American West during the Civil War. Haunted by dreams of a long-lost lover and pursued by his ghost, Mendoza struggles to come to terms with her personal past while fulfilling her duties to the future--with mixed results. Baker's latest tale of the wisecracking cyborg mercenaries from the 24th century combines historical detail and fast-paced action with a good dose of ironic wit and a dollop of bittersweet romance. Most libraries should add this to their sf collections for series fans. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/99.] Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765315304
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 5/2/2006
  • Series: Company Series , #3
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 329,570
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

KAGE BAKER has been an artist, actor, and director at the Living History Centre and has taught Elizabethan English as a Second Language. Born in 1952 in Hollywood, she lives in Pismo Beach, California, the Clam Capital of the World.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Establishing Shot
Cahuenga Pass, 1862

I arrived during a miserable winter. It had rained most amazingly; the locals had never seen such rain. The canyons flooded. The new sewers down at the pueblo were a total loss. Roads washed out, and the stages were late or never arrived at all. There was, I understand, a little mining town up in the San Gabriels that was washed away completely'whole thing wound up down on the plain in scattered soggy bits. Only the rancheros were happy, because of the good grazing there was going to be from the rain. They thought. Little did they know that that was the last rain they were going to see for years. Before it rained again, Señor Drought and Señorita Smallpox and a few shrewd Yankee moneylenders would pretty well end the days of the gentes de razón. Ah, Los Angeles. One disaster after another, always has been.

Those particular disasters were still somewhat in the future on the day I finally walked into HQ. I'd followed the coast down as far as Buenaventura and then swung inland to follow El Camino Real through the hills and along the valley floor, traveling most by night to avoid the mortal population. The rain never let up the whole way, and I was soaked through. I crossed innumerable creeks swollen with white anger, roaring their way out to sea and taking willow snags with them. I saw smooth green hillsides so saturated, their grassy turf slid, like a half-taken scalp or a toupee, and left bare holes that the rain widened.

So much for Sunny California. All I saw of it that dark morning was water, brown water andcreamy mud, and black twigs bobbing along in the hope of someday washing up on a white beach. You can imagine how grateful I was to see a plume of smoke going up between one foothill and the next. I checked my coordinates. Cahuenga Pass HQ? I broadcast tentatively.

Receiving, someone responded.

Botanist Mendoza reporting in.

Okay. You see the smoke? Follow it in.

And in another minute I'd come around the edge of a rockslide, and there it was, back under some oak trees, a long low adobe building and stable thatched with tules. A couple of cowhides had been stitched end to end and strung up in the trees like a tarpaulin, and under this nominal shelter an immortal crouched, attempting to build up a small fire with what looked like fairly damp wood. Arranged on the ground beside him were a blue graniteware coffeepot and a couple of skillets. The idea of grilled beef and frijoles drew me like a magnet.

"Hola." I jumped the last brown torrent and made my way up the sandy bank to the inn.

" 'Morning." The immortal looked up from under the brim of his dripping hat. "Welcome to the Hollywood Canteen."

"This is where Hollywood's going to be, isn't it?" I asked. I dropped my bag and held my hands down to the little fire. "Funny thought."

My informant stretched out an arm to point, trailing the fringe of his serape through dead leaves. "Chinese Theater and Hollywood Bowl right down there. Paramount Studios out in that direction. If you've got eighty years to hang around, we can go for breakfast at the Warner Brothers' commissary."

"I'll settle for what you've got." I eyed the skillets: last night's leftovers, cold and congealed. I looked around for something dry to add to the fire.

"So you're Mendoza?" inquired my host. He was lean and dark, with a thin black mustache and a sad, villainous face villainously scarred. The scars were all appliance makeup, of course, but they gave him the look that sends liquor store owners diving behind counters for their shotguns. I nodded in reply.

"Porfirio." He reached across the fire and shook hands with me. "I'm your case officer, subfacilitator, and security tech. Nice to meet you."

"Thanks. Is it dangerous here?"

"Oh, yeah," he said. He took up an oak log and tried stripping the wet cork layer off. "We don't get much trouble over this way, but you want to be careful when you ride out." He broke the log between his hands and fed it carefully into the coals. "Especially where you'll be working. Your temperate belt passes through some nasty bandit nests." He was referring to the climate anomaly that was my present assignment, a long terrace roughly following the future route of Sunset Boulevard, where an unusual weather pattern had evolved some plants unique to the area, several of which had potentially remarkable commercial properties. Unfortunately they were all scheduled to go extinct in the next big drought, grazed out of existence by starving cattle.

"Bandits?" I was profoundly annoyed. "They told me I was going to be working in Beverly Hills!"

He was really amused by that. "Oh, you will be! It just isn't there yet. What, were you planning on having a cocktail in the Polo Lounge? You've got a while to wait if you want to see the mansions and the swimming pools." The fire blazed up at last, and he edged the skillets in toward its heart. "Come on, little fire, come on, we want some breakfast. Where's your horse, by the way?" He looked up in surprise as it occurred to him that I'd walked in.

"I don't have one."

"You're kidding me! Nobody walks down here. We've got a good stable you can choose from," he said firmly.

"That's okay. I don't care for horses, actually."

"I don't myself, but I ride them here. Trust me. You may need to get out of certain situations in a hurry. This is Los Diablos, after all." He put up a hand to stop my objections. "And don't think you can deal with the situation by just winking out at a speed mortals can't see...

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 27, 2011

    Where is the first book?

    I find it very dissapointing that the first book in the series is not available. I am very anxious to read this series, but i won't start in the middle.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The weakest of the Company novels so far, but certainly still eminently enjoyable.

    This third novel in the Company series reverts to Mendoza's first-person narration, and the transition did not go entirely smoothly. Mendoza is still far more self-centered than Joseph, and that comes through her narration. We saw in Sky Coyote that Joseph wants her that way because he fears for her safety, but after being in the head of a character who is constantly paying attention to those around him and to events at large it's frustrating to come crashing back to Mendoza bitterness, self-pity, and deliberately narrow focus.

    That shift in perspective made the first third of the book relatively rough going for me. Baker's writing style is still a trifly obvious, and there were no perfect moments as there were in Sky Coyote to make up for the downsides. So I spent my time instead wondering at the gender roles that are shaping up in the series and being a little put off. Of the two first-person narrators, obviously Joseph is the more well-rounded, adult character; but if you're going to have a male narrator and a female narrator in a parent-child relationship, obviously one of them has to be more adult and it might not mean anything that Baker chose the male to be the parent. But unfortunately (for me at least), those same character traits are given to another pair of male and female characters in this novel: Porifirio is the sort of operative who deals with being an immortal by watching out for the other immortals in his care and is justifiably wary of the Company while Imarte has retreated from the trauma of living an immortal life among mortals into a ferociously narrow focus on her work.

    However, just as I was beginning to be really annoyed by Baker's female characters, the action picked up a bit and I was reminded of what was so enthralling about Mendoza's narrative in In the Garden of Iden. The few things that Mendoza lets herself care about she cares about passionately, and that gives her narrative more tension than Joseph's ever had in Sky Coyote, because whether it's the wild beauty of unsettled California or her beloved soulmate, both we the readers and Mendoza herself know that she is destined for heartbreak. It took much longer than I expected for Mendoza's Englishman to appear on the scene, but once he did I raced to the conclusion breathlessly, and once the book was finished I wanted to immediately pick up the next one.

    There is just one other thing that bothers me about this installment of the novels of the Company: I'm now three books in and the damned story hasn't started yet! This is why I tend to avoid long series' like the plague. . . delightful though these three books have been, there is still the sense that they are merely the opening act of some great epic, and I am getting rather impatient to get to that epic. Luckily for me, I do believe the action commences in the next book; even luckier I think it returns to Joseph's narration. Needless to say, I will be picking it up as soon as possible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2007

    A reviewer

    I enjoyed the first two books in this series, but this was a turkey. Confusing plot, a lot of early Hollywood trivia of little point and less interest, it's pretty much a book the author seems to have written for her own pleasure and not that of the reader. It turned me off of what had seemed a promising series with an interesting premise.

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    Posted September 30, 2010

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    Posted August 7, 2009

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    Posted March 10, 2011

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    Posted January 21, 2011

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    Posted June 2, 2011

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    Posted February 8, 2010

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