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The Machine's Child (The Company Series #7)

The Machine's Child (The Company Series #7)

3.8 7
by Kage Baker

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Kage Baker's trademark series of SF adventure continues now in a direct sequel to The Life of the World to Come.

Mendoza was banished long ago, to a prison lost in time where rebellious immortals are "dealt with." Now her past lovers: Alec, Nicholas, and Bell-Fairfax, are determined to rescue her, but first they must learn how to live together,


Kage Baker's trademark series of SF adventure continues now in a direct sequel to The Life of the World to Come.

Mendoza was banished long ago, to a prison lost in time where rebellious immortals are "dealt with." Now her past lovers: Alec, Nicholas, and Bell-Fairfax, are determined to rescue her, but first they must learn how to live together, because all three happen to be sharing Alec's body. What they find when they discover Mendoza is even worse than what they could imagined, and enough for them to decide to finally fight back against the Company.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The latest novel in Baker's Company series begins a new phase of temporal warfare that stretches from 300,000 years in the past to the distant future. Genuinely appealing characters and an inspired approach to the mechanics of time travel make this a solid work of sf adventure.” —Library Journa

“With this novel [Baker] brings her saga another step closer to its much-anticipated resolution. There is a multitude of characters and plot details of which to keep track, but Baker marshals them all with wit, economy and flair.” —The San Francisco Chronicle

“A lovely addition to the Company saga.” —Booklist

“Baker invests the book with plenty of inventive energy and absurdity.” —Publishers Weekly

“Baker does it again in the latest Company novel. There's more than enough action, adventure and compelling character interaction to keep even a casual reader of the series riveted to the further adventures of hapless cyborg Mendoza and her three-fold lover, Alec Checkerfield.” —Romantic Times BookReviews

The Machine's Child is exciting and moving--a great weight of storytelling lies behind it, a dam poised to burst, and tension can only build, the characters only gain in heroic consequence and comic energy.” —Locus

Publishers Weekly
In Baker's fast-paced new Company novel, the sequel to The Life of the World to Come (2004), Alec Checkerfield shares his cyborg body uncomfortably with the Recombinant personalities of 19th-century spy Edward Bell-Fairfax and 16th-century scholar Nicholas Harpole. Each man, in his own time, worked for-and was betrayed by-Dr. Zeus Inc. (aka the Company), which uses time travel to recover and hoard important historical artifacts. In their quest to destroy the Company, Checkerfield and his unlikely partners must rescue Mendoza, an immortal female cyborg and Company botanist each fell in love with in his own time, from a Company torture facility. Though Mendoza herself is more plot device than character, Baker invests the book with plenty of inventive energy and absurdity. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
AGERANGE: Ages 15 to adult.

The latest in the Company series, The Machine’s Child follows the interrelationships of cyborg Alec and his two alter egos: Renaissance Nicholas and Industrial Age Edward. A mix of spirit and physicality, these distinct personalities must learn how to live with each other, particularly since they are virtually immortal. One woman motivates them to work together: botanist Mendoza. All of these men were her lovers at some point, and now they have to rescue her from Operation Research. Her father is also searching for her, and wants to destroy Alec and company. Reviewer: Dr. Lesley Farmer
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Library Journal
Three men, clones from three different historical periods and former time-traveling agents of the Company, band together in one body to rescue their lover, the botanist Mendoza, an immortal cyborg whose body was destroyed and whose memory was nearly wiped clean. Since immortals cannot die, Mendoza's body is regrown, and her memories slowly return along with the realization that she and her lovers have a chance to strike out against the organization that has so callously used them throughout the ages. The latest novel in Baker's "Company" series begins a new phase of temporal warfare that stretches from 300,000 years in the past to the distant future. Genuinely appealing characters and an inspired approach to the mechanics of time travel make this a solid work of sf adventure. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Company Series , #7
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
4.26(w) x 6.79(h) x 0.97(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

One Evening in 300,000 BCE

It was an undiscovered island in a shallow unnamed ocean, uncrossed yet by longitude or latitude. It was not large, no more than a few miles square. It had no topographical features of note, neither mountains nor cliffs. Its beach simply rose gradually from the water and, after a space of level rock and sand, sloped gradually down to the opposite shore.

There was a building on the island, long, low, and windowless, like a warehouse. It had one door, and beside the door was an old couch, and on the couch sat an immortal, watching the sunset thoughtfully.

If this has given the impression that the place was silent and still, nothing could be further from the truth.

He sat motionless in the midst of a flurry of wildly moving things, the immortal did, and have I mentioned yet that he was very, very large? Massively mighty, with great thick hands and feet, a nose so big it was nearly comical-looking, big pale eyes under a vast cliff of a brow. Not much else of his features could be discerned, hidden as they were by an enormous tow-colored beard. You wouldn’t be looking at him anyway, if you were there, to wonder what his face might be like. You’d be looking at the things he’d made, the things that were moving without cease.

The things all seemed to be part of a perpetual motion machine, belts, wheels, and pulleys driving and charging a generator that was hooked up to a refrigeration unit. There were other, smaller systems going, too, that seemed to be powering other machines somewhere inside the building. The motive power for all of them was supplied by human limbs.

Legs mounted on a wheel ran frantically round, feet pounding endlessly on a treadmill. Arms thrashed and beat like hammers, their galvanic pumping harnessed to drive a complex geared mechanism. Flexible tubes supplied the parts with fluids to keep them from deteriorating. Creak, creak, thump, thump, round and round, and in the slanting light of evening, shadows circled like the shadows of birds across the old giant’s face.

Presently he moved, too, reaching from the couch to open the door of the refrigeration unit. He brought out a beer, twisted its neck off, and settled into near-immobility again, now and then lifting the beer for a sip. The sun got lower and redder. It lit the emblem on the front of his coveralls: a clock face without hands. The immortal sat and thought.

Then, abruptly, his eyes brightened. He’d had an idea. He lifted and drained the beer; then flung the empty bottle away. It struck a nearby mountain of other such bottles, clattering and rolling down. He ignored it. Lithe as a big cat he was on his feet, stalking through the door into the building that resembled a warehouse. He pulled a chain and dim illumination began to fill the place, increasing steadily as the desperate limbs quickened their pace outside.

By the light of their effort was revealed an open work area, a steel table surrounded by unpleasant-looking machines, and by racks of gleaming tools and instruments. Against one wall, furniture had been arranged in a square to define living space: chair, table, bed, dresser, personal items, a place to prepare meals. Against another was a steel filing cabinet.

The work and living spaces occupied only the front quarter of the warehouse. All the rest was rows and tiers of shelves, stretching away into impenetrable shadows. As far as the eye could see, there were metal boxes stacked. They varied in size and shape, but none were larger than a coffin; none smaller, than, say, a hatbox.

The immortal (his name, by the way, was Marco) went straight across to the nearest row of shelves. Here he paused, cocking his head to listen.

You couldn’t have heard the sound, if you’d been there. Perhaps you ought to get down on your knees now and give thanks that you couldn’t, and weren’t. Marco could hear it, however. He looked keenly along the shelf and went at last to a certain box. He pulled it down, as easily as though it weighed nothing, and carried it out to the steel table.

Here Marco punched in a combination of figures on a lockpad on the box’s lid. With a hiss and a sigh the lid rose slowly, folded back slightly on itself. Marco looked into the box at its occupant, grinning. In his light pleasant voice he said:

“Hey, Grigorii Efimovitch, I’ve had an idea.”

What had been an immortal named Grigorii Efimovitch could no longer see, but knew Marco was looking at him. The mouth was already open in a silent scream, the eyes wide and staring as eggs.

It might help you at this point to know that Grigorii Efimovitch was there because he deserved to be, or at least had felt he deserved it when he had gone voluntarily to this time, this island, this warehouse. He had willingly submitted to entering the metal box. Of course, he might have changed his mind since. Far too much time had passed for his fate to be altered now, however, even if he had been able to tell Marco.

Marco busied himself with arranging the table just as he wanted for what he had planned. He set out instruments, jars of chemicals; lifted Grigorii Efimovitch out to sprawl, trailing, on the steel surface. He pulled on a black rubberized raincoat, or something that looked a lot like one, and carefully worked transparent gloves on over his massive hands. He stepped out into the fast-fallen darkness and got himself another beer.

He drank, belched gently, and selected an instrument from the table. Grigorii Efimovitch had begun to twitch uncontrollably. Marco waved the beer at him in a consoling gesture.

“Well, you never know. We just might do it, Grigorii Efimovitch. Wouldn’t that be great?”

Grigorii Efimovitch’s eyelids fluttered. If this was an attempt to communicate it was lost on Marco, who breathed deeply and stood straight, setting down the beer. A gleam came into his eyes, a sparkling and terrifying joy.

“Father of battles, Judge of the dead,” he said, “grant that your servant may find at last the means to send your suffering children to perfect and irrevocable oblivion. Be merciful, Death.”

He leaned down then over the table, raising the instrument he had chosen.

“It’s showtime,” he said.

Copyright © 2006 by Kage Baker

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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Machine's Child (The Company Series #7) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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PhoenixFalls More than 1 year ago
Well, this was the one I was waiting for, but I'm rather sorry it is. . . Plenty of plot happened, characters that had been sidelined got reactivated and moved into position, and there was actually enough time travel that I no longer feel guilty calling this a time travel series. (Though what happened to time travel being horrendously expensive? I guess only making the machines is expensive, because using them certainly didn't seem to be.) Unfortunately, I absolutely hated Baker's rendition of the major characters. Mendoza as an amnesiac was fine, though without her memory she also lost the passionate ferocity that made her so winning. But in this book Alec became a caricature, nothing but the squeamish child of the future that he struggled so hard to rebel against in The Life of the World to Come; Nicholas Harpole's faith was broken and, while that's understandable, Baker's treatment of it wasn't particularly gripping; and Edward, who at the start of the book was the only man of the three worthy of Mendoza, maintaining both his adulthood and his faith in Reason, quickly degenerated into a single-minded fanatic. While I agreed with Joseph's assessment of Nicholas' type in Sky Coyote, I could understand Mendoza's love for him because he did cut a wonderfully romantic ideal -- but that ideal is totally lost in this book, and I was left wanting to consign all three of them to Options Research. The worst tragedy for me, however, was that Joseph returned to the scene, and he got worked over far worse than Mendoza's loves did. He's been rogue since the end of The Graveyard Game, working on repairing Budu, and that time alone under Mount Tamalpais has apparently driven him insane. (How did his sanity hold up under 20,000 years of humanity's most horrifying acts, then break after only a couple of decades under the California coast?) The Joseph of The Machine's Child is a snivelling, whiny, twerp whose fixation on Mendoza is a bit creepy, and his father Budu doesn't seem like much of a prize either. I wanted to throw the book across the room every time a section from Joseph's perspective appeared. In fact, many things made me want to throw this book across the room. There was a great deal of cheap conflict arising from characters not taking two seconds to talk to one another; Joseph appears to have completely forgotten about Lewis, who I thought was his friend; the Mars Two thing still just doesn't feel real enough for so many characters to harp on it (though to be fair, that's a problem with The Life of the World to Come, not this volume). It wasn't all bad -- I did giggle at Mendoza and Alec/Edward/Nicholas shopping in the supermarket, and in a couple other places -- but overall this was worst book in the series so far, and if it had come earlier on I don't know if I would have continued. But I have invested a lot of time in this series and these characters, and there's only one book left, so I just hope that the conclusion puts right the things that went horrible wrong here.
harstan More than 1 year ago
After recovering from a nervous breakdown caused by downloading the personalities of his two clones into his brain, Alec, Edward and Nicholas agree they must rescue the immortal botanist Mendoza. All three loved her in different time periods and with the help of Alec¿s AI Morgan, they find what is left of her in the chamber of horrors known as Options Research in 300,000 BCE. They defeat Merco who is in charge there, and take Mendoza to the ship where she gets the proper medical treatment.--------------- When she recovers, she doesn¿t remember Edward, the Elizabethan spy or Nicholas the sixteenth scholar who was murdered as a heretic. She does remember Alec whose body contains all three personalities and the four agree that Dr. Zeus, a cabal of scientists and investors, should be taken down for what the company did to her. They hip hop through time planting seeds that will bear fruit in the future by ending the company if their plan is a success.-------------- Finally field operatives know how evil Dr. Zeus is and the four protagonists and the AI, and at least one other group based in the future realize the company must be dismantled. There are some very funny scenes as the personalities in one body argue and bicker with each other as they try to be the personality in control. There is plenty of action in this superb work of speculative fiction leading readers to eagerly awaiting the next installment in this popular and intelligently crafted series.-------------------- Harriet Klausner