02 April 2010

Kage Baker - The Children of The Company

I was absolutely thrilled to get book six of the company series and sat up all night to read it.  It was well worth the sore eyes, oversleeping and lateness the next day.   This book acts as a roundup of the answers to a bunch of questions left open so far, without actually giving anything more that hints as to what the hell is going on.  Everyone is plotting.  Everyone is being manipulated.  Everyone is crazy, dangerous, and evil.  Everyone is also brilliant, endearing and so thoroughly pathetic you will want to adopt them, wrap them in cotton wool and give them a nice hot chocolate....

There are one or two spoilers after the jump - click with care to

Baker uses the format of interlinked short story chapters with linking overviews from the perspective of Executive Facilitator General Labienus.  It's an effective way of demonstrating the power and control that Labienus has over history and the Company agents, as he reviews supposedly lost or highly secret, in some cases even incriminating, files on operations and operatives to whom dreadful things have happened.

The novel includes expansions or portions of short stories previously published in Asimov's, Amazing Stories and Realms of Fantasy magazines.  The stories are listed here --: (not the penis emoticon silly, the list below!)
  • Son Observe the Time - Victor tells the story of the looting of San Francisco by the Company, and his confrontation with Budu, retired enforcer, under orders from Labienus.
  • The Fourth Branch - the mortal Eogan tells the story of how Lewis was damaged to near death by the mysterious midget humans in the earth mound.  (this is a big reveal from hints in earlier volumes)
  • The Queen in The Hill - another mortal employee tells his story.  More midget people revelations.
  • Black Smoker - now we know what happened to Kalugin, and it is not nice.
  • The Young Master - The young life of Edward.
  • The Applesauce Monster - Victors tale of his mission relating to the first recombinant (genetically engineered) child, and his discovery of Labienus' manipulations.
Once again, I loved every second of reading this book.  I had only read one of the short stories (Son Observe The Time) previously, in one of Gardner Dozois' anthologies, so everything was exciting and new.  I love the way everything is slowly coming together, but none of the revelations give you any further idea of what is going to happen next.  These books are on my To Own List.

Highly Recommended.