RogerBW's Blog

Gods and Pawns, Kage Baker 01 March 2019

2007 science fiction, seven short stories in The Company series (five of them previously published 2001-2004).

  • To the Land Beyond the Sunset has Lewis and Mendoza going on a field trip to Bolivia to track down the source of terra preta (Amazonian Dark Earth). Like most of the short stories, it tells us a great deal about the protagonists as well as about the historical mystery.

  • The Catch shows Security Technical Porfirio at work, and yet another way in which the early attempts at the immortality process could go wrong.

  • The Angel in the Darkness has Porfirio's family in 1991, and how they become briefly involved in the greater game. And how the factions of immortals are even more complex than one had suspected.

  • Standing In His Light shows Van Drouten at work, getting Vermeer to paint extra works to be hidden away and "discovered" in the future. But her commissions are for the tastes of the future, which are rather disconnected from what Vermeer wants to paint…

  • A Night on the Barbary Coast has Joseph and Mendoza tracking down a prospector who's discovered something unique; it's a romp through San Francisco of 1850, and would have made a welcome prequel to Mendoza in Hollywood.

  • Welcome to Olympus, Mr. Hearst has Joseph and Lewis delivering a bribe to William Randolph Hearst – and Hearst's unexpectedly unusual background. (That comes up in the final novel of the main sequence, The Sons of Heaven, and it's worth reading this first.)

  • Hellfire at Twilight is a charming piece showing Lewis sent to High Wycombe, to investigate rumours and retrieve a scroll from Baron leDespencer, also known as Sir Francis Dashwood. It's 1774, and the glory days of the Hellfire Club are over, but perhaps its reasons for existing weren't quite as purely self-interested as its enemies claimed.

This is a fine collection, which has little to do with the major plot (it would all fit in the first half of the series), but affords one the opportunity to spend more time with fascinating people.

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