RogerBW's Blog

The Machine's Child, Kage Baker 16 February 2019

2006 science fiction, seventh of The Company series. Alec Checkerfield forges ahead with his plan to rescue the Botanist Mendoza and take on the might of Dr Zeus and the Company. But he's not entirely himself, because his two past lives are sharing residence of his mind and body…

It's difficult to say much about this book, because it depends entirely on the revelations in previous volumes, and I encourage the reader to discover these in their proper time and order. But for me this is a bit of a rough spot in the series; it has some excellent comedic moments, like a supermarket shopping expedition and the Most Gruesome Beer Fridge Ever, but all of the characters are written very differently from the way they have been before. Some of that is explained by amnesia, but the ones who aren't amnesiac are very much less sympathetic than they've been before.

"I have been disputing with myself," he said, "since I have awakened into this unnatural life of horrible marvels, on the nature of Almighty God."

"And how doth that make thee feel, lad?" inquired the Captain.

It's a shame, because they're still written very competently; the time-travelling adventures to set up various lurking horrors that will attack the Company in 2355, when the Silence hits and nobody knows what happens afterwards, could be and often are fascinating, but I'd rather they had happened with the characters as I've grown to enjoy them over the course of the series, rather than these broken versions of them. Well, Suleyman's just about holding things together.

There's also nothing about Labienus, Nennius, Victor, Lewis, Nan and Kalugin… lots of people are missing, and I found myself impatient to hear from them.

This is very much a bridging book, getting people where (geographically, temporally and mentally) they're going to need to be for the final volume, but like middle volumes of trilogies that doesn't mean it shouldn't have its own story too; and it really doesn't. And Mendoza in particular is far too passive here to be really interesting.

Weakest of the series, alas. Followed by The Sons of Heaven.

Previous in series: The Children of the Company | Series: The Company | Next in series: Gods and Pawns

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