Friday, June 06, 2008

The Life of the World to Come, by Kage Baker

This is the first time I have truly been disappointed with one of Kage Baker’s Company novels. At first I thought my disappointment had to do with the fact that the novel opens with Mendoza in exile 150,000 years in the past and after that opening she only shows up once for a short chapter. I am a fan of Mendoza. But, then I realized that what I liked about Sky Coyote had little to do with Mendoza, and The Graveyard Game was entirely absent of Mendoza. While I would have appreciated more of Mendoza in The Life of the World to Come, her appearance in the novel is not required.

What was it, then?

Alec Checkerfield.

I pretty much can’t stand the character of Alec Checkerfield. His first appearance in the novel is a chapter titled “Smart Alec”, which was a story in Baker’s Black Project, White Knights collection (my other Company disappointment). The Life of the World to Come seems to alternate chapters with some Company operatives a few years before The Silence, and with Checkerfield. Unfortunately, we get Alec Checkerfield chapters dealing with Alec at various ages. Yeah, it gives the reader a full and complete background of Checkerfield, but I’ve got to tell you – it sucked. Unfortunately, Checkerfield is the spitting image of both Edward and Nicholas, the two previous loves of Mendoza, and this means Checkerfield is about to become integral to the remainder of the series.

God help me. I love this series, but have a borderline literary hate for Alec Checkerfield.

The one real plus to this novel, besides the couple of brief Mendoza interludes, was the Company scientist chapters when we got a glimpse of them manipulating things in history and when we discover the whys and hows of Alec / Edward / Nicholas.

And then things get just stupid when we get the 23rd Century Alec pulling multiple personalities with both Edward and Nicholas.

I’m reading a series with immortal cyborgs who love twentieth century movies, time travel, and a company that snatches artifacts from the past for future profit. I can buy into a whole lot of stuff. But that multiple personality thing...Baker damn near lost me there.

I sincerely hope that The Children of the Company is better and that Alec is somehow less obnoxious a character, because The Life of the World to Come was rough going.

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