I had read of number of short stories by Kage Baker, and really liked them, so thought I would try her The Company series of novels. I really like Kage Baker. First of all, she is a female sci fi writer. Secondly, she is a female sci fi writer ‘of a certain age’.
The Company is an organization formed in prehistory sometime (I think I’ve got that right) for the purpose of creating immortal cyborgs who will time-travel around, saving flora and fauna which will go extinct. They then replant those species in later centuries.
The cyborgs have great disdain for mortals, because of their awful tendency to kill each other and animals and destroy the environment. Plus, they don’t live long enough to be interesting. Picky, picky, picky.
In this first volume, we meet Mendoza, plucked by a Company recruiter from the nasty hands of the Spanish Inquisition in … where else?….. Spain in the 1500s, at the tender age of 4. Or 5. Born into a very poor family with a whole lotta kids, she does not know her name, having been called only ‘kid’ all her short life, wasn’t very sure of her exact age, and didn’t have a clue as to the family name. She was purchased by a high class woman named Mendoza for the purpose of training her for household tasks and education. The family was delighted to let her go — one less mouth to feed, one less body to cloth, and gee, look at all the money in that purse!
Anything being better than the treatment of the Spanish Inquisition, she agrees to be recruited, was taken to a center in Australia, where all kinds of technology was put into her body, and all kinds of training given. She is trained as a botanist.
At age 18, she is sent on her first assignment to England, in the 1600s during the reign of Queen Mary, to work in an obscure minor landowner’s garden to gather cuttings and seeds of plants that will be going extinct. There she is in the middle of the fight between the Catholics and the reformation protestant folks, falls in love with the landowner’s lanky extremist protestant secretary, and therein falls the twists and turns of an interesting plot of romance, secrecy, cool technology, and some gruesome burnings at the stake. Eeeuuu.
Nice way to learn a slice of the history of the time, the mores and cultural details of daily living (“Don’t eat the meat. It’s been hanging for a week and is filled with crawling bacillus.” ) and the dealings with bureaucracy (“can’t we requisition some new clothes? This dress if full of moth holes.”), bureaucracy being the bane of all existences, and to ponder the notion of boredom and happiness if you are immortal.
Loved this book. Maybe I am just at the right place to read it. Who knows. But am eager to get on with the second in the series and see where Mendoza goes next.