Authors: Kage Baker
Tags: #Adult, #Science Fiction, #Historical, #Adventure, #Fantasy, #C429, #Extratorrents, #Kat, #Travel
“Kage Baker is the greatest natural storyteller to enter the field since Poul Anderson.”
“One of the most consistently entertaining series to appear in the late nineties. The novels read like literary pastiches—echoes of Heinlein and Robert Louis Stevenson fill this one—and the narrative pace matches that of most thrillers.”
“Kage Baker has earned praise for her tales of the Company, a future-based outfit that ‘recruits’ throughout time, turns its new troops into immortal cyborgs, and sends them out to fill in the blank spots of history, collect treasure before they are lost, and defend the Company’s interests… . Look for it! Baker does not disappoint!”
“Humorous and inventive … an entertaining tale of time travel and mythic adventure.”
“Baker’s second installment in her Company series proves a witty match to
In the Garden of Iden
… [and a] deliciously wicked platform for satirizing past, present, and all-too-likely future human frailties… . Baker nails her twentieth-century targets: societal, religious, and oh-so-personal hypocrisy.”
non“An agreeably subversive, sometimes hilarious entry… .”
“Sly dialogue and dark secrets … a winner.”
The Anvil of the World
The Children of the Company
Gods and Pawns
The Graveyard Game
In the Garden of Iden
The Life of the World to Come
The Machine’s Child
Mendoza in Hollywood
The Sons of Heaven
A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied so that you can enjoy reading it on your personal devices. This e-book is for your personal use only. You may not print or post this e-book, or make this e-book publicly available in any way. You may not copy, reproduce or upload this e-book, other than to read it on one of your personal devices.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 1999 by Kage Baker
Originally published in 1999 by Harcourt Brace & Company
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book,
or portions thereof, in any form.
Book design by Trina Stahl
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Sky coyote / Kage Baker.—1st trade pbk. ed.
“A Tom Doherty Associates book.”
1. Dr. Zeus Incorporated (Imaginary organization)—Fiction. 2. Immortalism—Fiction. 3. Time travel—Fiction. 4. Chumash Indians—California—Fiction. I. Title.
First Trade Paperback Edition: December 2007
Printed in the United States of America
To George H. Baker,
who once spent a very long afternoon
trying to read
to an impatient four-year-old
so she’d have some sense of his ethnic heritage,
this book is respectfully dedicated.
OU’LL UNDERSTAND THIS STORY BETTER
if I tell you a lie.
Well, a myth, anyway. There was this god once, the Greek god of Time. He was a cruel old bastard and he ate all his children as soon as they were born. Zeus, the youngest son, managed to escape; when he grew up, he came back and ended the rule of Time by killing his father. Then he cut him open and set the older children free. King Time is dead; long live King Zeus.
In the twenty-fourth century, a research and development firm proudly appropriated Zeus as its corporate logo when it developed a method of time travel.
The method didn’t quite pan out, though. Traveling through time is prohibitively expensive, and there are certain crucial limitations. For example, you can’t go into the future, only backward into the past, and forward again to your point of departure in the present. Another problem is that history cannot be changed. Period. It’s the law.
However, this law can only be observed to apply to
So the discovery wasn’t a total loss. The company altered its logo slightly and became
. Zeus. They were able to make a nice profit looting the past by collecting “lost” works of art and arranging long-term investments. They loaded a database with every event in recorded history and found they still had plenty of uncharted past to move around in. They realized that if the past couldn’t be changed, it could at least be manipulated to Company advantage.
But who were they going to get to do the actual manipulating? Traveling back in time is rough, if you do it the cost-effective way without extra buffers. Twenty-fourth-century agents bitch about it constantly, and demand extra pay. Fabulously rich corporations never seem to have enough cash, paradoxically enough; though you may really
to send that man back to deposit a certain sum in a certain bank on a certain day in 1806, you’re reluctant to do it unless you’ve got a guarantee it will pay off in six figures. And how many times do you want to lay out money to send people through? Isn’t there a way to cut costs on this?
Dr. Zeus got its answer reviewing another failed project: immortality.
Technically it’s possible to make an immortal person. It is not commercially practical. It only works on infants or little children, not middle-aged millionaires; and since middle-aged millionaires are the only ones who could afford to pay for the process, it’s sort of a loss as a market item. In addition, the chosen babies must meet certain stringent physical requirements, and endure years of surgical alteration and training. Not even the most determined millionaire parents, once they knew what it entailed, would put their little Gloria or Donald Jr. through such an ordeal.
So, you can’t sell immortality. On the other hand, if you’re
looking for Company agents who will work loyally without health insurance and never, ever retire …
They sent a team back to Lower Paleolithic times. A permanent base was established; equipment was shipped back, too. The original team went about collecting little Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons. These kids were then implanted, augmented, amplified, fortified, hopped up, switched on, tuned in, and thoroughly indoctrinated. They were given the whole harvest of human knowledge and culture from the other end of time; the books, the music, the cinema. They grew up, these
, and when the last nasty mortal tissues had been well and truly excised, the base technicians handed them the keys to the lab and said: You take over. We’re going home.
So, see what was accomplished with just one round trip? You don’t send your agents back and forth through time; you recruit them at the beginning and let them walk forward through time in the ordinary way. Outlay for the project was kept to a minimum, and now Dr. Zeus had immortal operatives working for it, strategically placed at every important event in history. Of course, they were promised a golden future when they finally
to the future. Though that hasn’t happened yet …
And the immortals made more immortals, though not in the usual way, because they had all been very carefully sterilized; suitable infants were selected from the mortal population and processed at remote bases inaccessible to marauding primitives. More bases were built, more secret Company projects were inaugurated, and the fix, as they say, was in.
Dr. Zeus ruled the world. Covertly, of course.
By now you’ve probably got a mental image of these immortals. You’re only mortal yourself, and the idea of a deathless, perfect race makes you uncomfortable—and maybe just a little
hostile—so you imagine them intellectual and emotionless. Stuck up, too. You’re probably thinking they all look like vampires or superheroes, tall and steely-eyed, the men with bulging biceps and the women gorgeous in a chilly sort of way.
Well, you’re wrong. The truth is, they look just like you, and why shouldn’t they? They used to be human beings.