Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Why am I covered in tally marks?

On July 9th, 2355, at 11 AM California time, the last broadcast from Dr. Zeus Inc is broadcast across the temporal advisory channel to all agents of a certain security. "We still do not know..." This marks the end of the Temporal Concordance and the end of known time as near as Dr. Zeus's operatives in the past know of it. Known as The Silence, it's been foreshadowed since early on in The Garden of Iden, and every book in Kage Baker's The Company has inexorably lead up to the arrival of the end of time. Which is finally covered in the penultimate book, The Sons of Heaven.

As a quick recap, we have at least 4 known cyborg factions going into the Silence. We have Aegeus and Labienus, the two Executive Facilitators who want the Cyborgs to rule the world after taking down Dr. Zeus, but differ on how humanity should be dealt with after that; we have the Enforcer Bupu, who wants to kill off the human behind Dr. Zeus humanity alone, and we have Executive Facilitator Suleymen, who wants the silence to end without cyborgs particularly killing anyone.

We have the Homo sapiens umbratilis running around, with one hybrid (Bugleg) working for Dr. Zeus, and Bugleg's cousin Ratlin, who figured out how to disable Literature Preserver Lewis in the underhill. Ratlin is adding nanobots to chocolate in attempt to disable the cyborgs. In the mantime, Tiara, one of the female Umbralites, has managed to escape from Quean Barbie and found her own lair, which conveniently houses the remain of Lewis. Whom she rehabilitates.

The Humans who actually work for Dr. Zeus are paranoid that the silence will be like the game Cyborg Conquest, which sort of resembles The Terminator on speed. They become convinced that ALL of cyborg kind will rise up in The Silence and overrun them. To that end, they create an AI to house all of Dr. Zeus, and use a Hellenic statue as its avatar.

And somewhere out of time, we have Mendoza, who has Nicholas Harpole and Alec Checkerfield locked in her head someplace, as Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax managed to remove both Alex and Nicholas from Alec's body and lock them up in Mendoza's head at the end of the last book. He'll release them, but only if given immortality and only if Alec's AI program helps Edward and Mendoza have twin boys who will house the consciousnesses of Nicholas and Alec. While Edward has his own designs on ruling the world, most of his plans change after having children. Some of this is due to figuring out how to free himself and Mendoza (and the AI Captain) from linear time, and some of this is from having to raise children of his own. However, the children have to be raised in linear time, so...

There's a lot going on throughout the book, and given that time does not particularly follow linear progression throughout, one is forced to read with the assumption that everyone will arrive where they are supposed to WHEN the are supposed to. Particularly when Suleymen goes back to Alpha-Omega (back at the beginning of time-ish) the night before the Silence to get all of Dr. Zeus's store genetic information. (which Alec et al raided in the last book for his own genome.)

While the book takes some time to get moving, and having to make a few detours to show where in the end times events in previous books got their start, by the time we reach July 8th, it becomes a masterwork.

On Catalina Island, Aegeus and Labienus gather the night before the Silence with their entourages, sitting in the same room for the first time since probably early Egyptian civilization. Both presume Victor, the plague bringer, is working for them. And dinner is superb, with all the courses the same as what were served to the First Class passengers on the Titanic. We see the two argue over their ideals while Gotterdamerung and requiems play accompaniment. And as the last course comes around, The Commandant from Don Giovanni comes to dinner. And the cyborgs become reflections of Don Juan, the statue, and the demons. It's beautifully rendered.

And towards the end, as the Silence descends, and all the characters wind up where they need to be for the end, Joseph finally reaches some kind of peace with his "daughter" Mendoza, and the world as was recorded ends. While I won't spoil the world to come, I was very amazed at how well Baker managed to reconcile so many disparate plot lines and give this series a satisfying ending. We've come a long way from the frightened girl rescued from the Inquisition, turned into an immortal cyborg, and then heartbroken as her first love, an English Lutheran/Calvinist is burned at the stake during the brief reign of Mary.

While I will admit concern as to how and indeed if the series would end, given that Baker died in 2010 and Wikipedia lists the last book in the series as being publish in 2012... However, a quick look at Amazon reveals that the books following this one are either set in the same setting, but not directly related to the main story arc, or are prequels.

Really, I wish more of my friends would read this series, since I'd love to have a big book club discussion on the series as a whole.