Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mendoza, you oaf!

True story. I've been postponing reading The Life of the World to Come by Kage Baker mainly because I've already reviewed 3 books in the series on here already and I wanted to space things out a bit.

And on a side note, This blog is about 13 months old now. Which I really wasn't expecting, since the last time I tried tracking my reading, it fell off after a few months. (Not that I post about everything I read, more than a few titles are either YA lit I picked up on Ebay or comic book collections, etc.)

Anyway, the series so far has alternated narration duties between Mendoza (books 1 and 3) and Joseph (books 2 and 4). Which should mean Mendoza should be narrating this one. And she does for the prologue. Living on Catalina Island in the WAY WAY BACK when animals hadn't yet crawled out of the sea, she chops vegetables for Company resorts to serve to guests. She mentions boredom, and how she sometimes sleeps for several years, based on her internal chronometer. And then a handsome man crashes a time ship in her front yard. Who also quite resembles Nicholas Harpoole, last seen burning at the stake in The Garden of Iden, as well as Edward Alton Bell-Fairfaix, last seen being shot by American agents and dying in Mendoza's arms in Mendoza in Hollywood. Alec Checkerfield comes from about 4 years before The Silence descends. Of course, he and Mendoza go a bit loopy and ravish each other in the primeval. She helps him disable the explosive device on his stolen time machine, and tells him how to avoid being sick from time travel. He promises to return once he has avenged his Captain, whom Dr. Zeus Inc. killed. Not loing after he leaves, Mendoza's journal gets cut off mid sentence. A Latin verse that roughly translates as Strong as death is love, hard as hell is envy. Well, it would if she had completed the sentence. Thankfully, Google found the full phrase and the translation he in 2013.

Anyway, the rest of the book follows two different plots. One follows young Alex, growing up on his father's ship, cruising the world, free from the regulations of the modern world of the 2300's. The other follows three effete men in 2350 who are trying to design better versions of the Enforcers,  who, as we found during The Graveyard Game, kind of went off the radar. Rutherford, Frankie Chatterji, and Foxen Ellsworth-Howard work for Dr. Zeus, tailoring genes to create a better Enforcer, under the codename Adonai. Which is amusing, since one gets the distinct impression they're trying to create a man who can be what it is they most desire but refuse to pursue for whatever reason. (Seriously. They walk outside at one point for what amounts to maybe a few blocks. They wind up with blisters on their feet and sunburns on their bald heads.)

Alex, on the other hand, spends most of his childhood blaming himself for his parents' divorce not long after they moved back to London. Mom leaves, Dad goes back to the sea. His caretakers give him a virtual playmate (to help keep children away from germs), whom Alex manages to reprogram on day 1. The Captain (Alex likes pirates, you see) pretty much loses most of his ethics programming, thanks to Alex, who is quite the savant when it comes to tech.

As Alex grows, he becomes quite rich, not only due to the fortune he inherited from his father, but from the profiteering he does running contraband on his ship, the Captain Morgan. He gets involved with a revolutionary group founded by one of his upper class peers.

In the mean time, results from the first two incarnations of the Adonai project come in and get reviewed. The first winds up burned at the stake. The second gets shot by American agents on Catalina Island. (Sound familiar? Particularly when the 3 creators get annoyed the same Preserver botanist is involved with both deaths.) The third one is being run in contemporaneous time, and you guessed it, is one Alex Checkerfield.

These two plots collide as Alex breaks into Dr. Zeus to steal a time machine to run guns to Mars One before everyone in the colony gets forcibly evicted. (This is a nasty subplot.) He manages to steal the time machine as the Captain gets taken offline by Dr. Zeus's avatar. Alex winds up in the WAY WAY BACK where he meets a beautiful preserver named Mendoza.

To make a long story short, the device Mendoza deactivates in the WAY WAY BACK ends up changing Alex's destiny, which ultimately leads to Alex getting an opportunity most of us don't get in life, that of meeting his maker(s). It also leads to a case of multiple personalities as Alex, Edward, and Nicholas end up inhabiting the same body. We also now have a name of someone who's been manipulating things behind the scenes.

As much as I want storyline resolution on what the heck happened to Mendoza, plus what's going to happen when Joseph wakes up his mentor, or find out what actually happened to Lewis, this book really brought out the themes of the series in a very readable way. I can't wait to find out what comes next.