Books: Kage Baker's "Company" books

Splendid fun

Kage Baker has written several Science Fiction books that share a premise: In the 24th century, immortality and time travel have been invented. But neither is as good as one might hope. Immortality involves becoming a cyborg and the process can only be used on children. And time travel works in only one direction, backwards. So what do they do with the combination? A shadowy corporation called Dr Zeus (often called "the Company") sends people back to the beginning of the human species to create some immortals who will get to the 24th century the long way, by living through all of human history. They recruit more immortals along the way by applying the same process to promising children who would otherwise die. Recorded history can't be changed, but the immortals can make small changes, such as saving art or species that would otherwise be lost and secreting them somewhere that Dr Zeus will know to look for them in the 24th century.

I'm not entirely convinced that there are no internal inconsistencies in how things are worked out in the books, but that's not terribly important since they're lots of fun. The premise allows Ms Baker to have fun with any period of human history. We see Spain under the Inquisition, sixteenth-century England, nineteenth-century California, early twentieth-century Egypt, and so on. Ms Baker uses her broad scope to good effect. Her deft storytelling makes each place and time fascinating.

The stories don't have a lot of drama to them: the immortals are programmed too well to fight among themselves and it's not as though they're likely to lose to monkeys like us. Still, dramatic tension isn't a requirement for a good book and these books are excellent entertainment.

I've read the novels In The Garden of Iden and Sky Coyote, and the story collection The Company Dossiers: Black Projects, White Knights. I fully intend to read the rest and whatever else Ms Baker writes.

Posted: Mon - February 9, 2004 at 09:09   Main   Category: