COMPANY MAN #2
When I last talked books, I was planning on reading Gregory Frost's Lord Tophet, the sequel to the fantastic Shadowbridge. I decided I couldn't hold off on reading more of Kage Baker's Company series (here are my thoughts on the first 4 books) and so I've read the next 4 books in the last 19 days.
Black Projects, White Knights is the first story collection of the series and contains many of the stories I first read in Asimov's and that got me interested in Baker in the first place. We have stories about Mendoza and Joseph and Lewis among others but even more interestingly, we have a series of stories about Alec Checkerfield, who is born in the years leading up to 2355 (when the Silence descends for the operatives of the Company). The stories are interesting in their own right but once we start to realize who Alec is and his relationship with others, both mortal and immortal, who we've seen through the series...you know he is going to play a prominent role in the rest of the overall story.
The next book, The Life of the World to Come, opens with Mendoza stuck Back Way Back until a time shuttle crashlands and reveals Alec Checkerfield, who happens to look like her former lovers Nicholas Harpole and Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax. They spend the night together and learn from each other before he leaves, promising to return. Unfortunately, he won't return before she is taken by Company operatives to Options Research, a far greater punishment than Back Way Back. Meanwhile, we meet three men who work for the Company and watch them as they design a new kind of Enforcer. Eventually, Alec (along with Nicholas and Edward) meet up with those men and the story takes it up another notch.
We step away from Alec in The Children of the Company and instead learn more about Labienus, one of the Company's Executive Facilitators and not a nice immortal at all. We see his ploys to position himself in power once the Silence arrives and how he tries to undermine his rival, Aegeus. These are seen in a series of case files and several more short stories are incorporated here, including "Son Observe the Time," which relates what happened to Budu during the San Fransicso earthquake of 1906. We also see the full story of Lewis's initial encounter with an alternate branch of humanity (which played a role in the events of The Graveyard Game). Schemes and schemes...
The Machine's Child brings us back to Alec's story, along with that of Nicholas and Edward (who know coinhabit Alec's body). They manage to rescue Mendoza from Options Research and with the help of Captain Henry Morgan, a powerful AI dedicated to Alec's survival, they nurse her back to health albeit with some gaps in her memory. They struggle against the Company of the three souls struggle against each other throughout the book, with a shocking ending. Meanwhile, we also catch up with Joseph and his ongoing restoration of Budu and the stories dovetail. In addition, we see what other operatives are facing as time creeps ever closer to the Silence.
As the series grows more complex and new elements are added to the mix, I've found myself wanting to rush through the rest of the books to see how it all turns out. I only have 2 left to go - the second story collection, Gods and Pawns, and the series finale, The Sons of Heaven. I'm going to do what I can to get them read in the near future.