RogerBW's Blog

The Sons of Heaven, Kage Baker 07 March 2019

2007 science fiction, eighth of The Company series. As 9 July 2355 approaches, all the forces determined to take advantage of the Silence, the point after which no information has flowed back in time, put their pieces on the board and ready their plans.

All right, this is volume 8, even without taking into account the various short stories; it's absolutely not the place to start, because even if you can make sense of what's going on you won't have any emotional connection to the individuals and factions that are involved. And yes, one of those factions is the pathetic 24th-century humanity.

"Everything's happened so fast with this Company," complained Rossum. "One minute it was all just this really good idea and the next minute it was all this awful causality stuff that had already happened without asking us."

Also, the reader knows going in that this is a final volume, and sure enough there's a great deal of time spent on "whatever happened to"… particularly Preserver Lewis, who has quite possibly the worst time of anyone in this series, though there's certainly heavy competition. Everything is resolved, though, in a way that comes back to the grand science fiction conceit that's sometimes felt lost in the daily minutiæ of individual volumes.

What doesn't work quite as well, though, is the grand resolution between Mendoza and Nicholas-Edward-Alec; there's a bad taste of old-fashioned romances here, the sort in which the overbearing man always knows best and the woman is happiest when she goes along with it. The stories of Mendoza and Joseph that make up the main narrative of the first four novels are simply more interesting to read, even when bad things happen, than what sometimes feels like the hijacking narrative of Alec.

Still. This is a story of resolution and redemption and fundamental changes to the way the world works. It's science fiction on the grand scale that nonetheless manages to remember that if a story isn't about people first it's unlikely to work. And Baker always manages to find the right word.

Victor turned from the mirror, smiling. Time for mood music. He activated the sound system and great flatulent waves of Wagner rolled out from speakers all over the Center, selections from Die Götterdämmerung.

This is the last novel in the main story, but there are more novels and short story collections in this setting.

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