In the Garden of Iden

In the Garden of IdenThis Is The First Novel In What Has Become One Of The Most Popular Series In Contemporary SF, Now Back In Print From Tor In The Th Century, The Company Preserves Works Of Art And Extinct Forms Of Life For Profit Of Course It Recruits Orphans From The Past, Renders Them All But Immortal, And Trains Them To Serve The Company, Dr Zeus One Of These Is Mendoza The Botanist She Is Sent To Elizabethan England To Collect Samples From The Garden Of Sir Walter Iden But While There, She Meets Nicholas Harpole, With Whom She Falls In Love And That Love Sounds Great Bells Of Change That Will Echo Down The Centuries, And Through The Succeeding Novels Of The Company hello there, little romance i see you you are trying to hide, aren t you well you picked some good camouflage, i must say you ve concealed yourself within a fairly operatic setting the tale of an immortal teenage cyborg employed by a secretive and futuristic Company, sent on missions in our far flung past to save extinct plants, waiting for the day that your future finally catches up with your employer s apparently golden present it is quite a setting, i almost didn t see you there you are surrounded by perfectly accomplished elizabethan period detail, some deep themes about religion vs free will, some sophisticated ideas about predestination and predetermination you are written in a clear, careful, unsentimental way but there you are, little romance, romantic as can be, perhaps thinking that you will be overlooked simply because of the grandeur of your surroundings.but now that i ve found you, never fear lay your insecurities to rest you are a fine little romance, touching and subtle and carefully wrought your lovers are wonderful creations and their love feels true there are many good things to be said about a perfectly accomplished romance, so you have nothing to be ashamed of your camouflage, the ongoing story that i am eager to follow it is an absorbing place in which you ve hidden but you are worthy for what you are, little romance stand proud As far as Scifi goes, this made for a good Historical Romance Period Drama Sure it uses words like cyborg and nanotech and even symbiote and has the big scifi staple, time travel it just didn t have any actual science An organisation from the future AKA Dr Zeus or The Company sends back operatives in time and injects poor unfortunates with stuff that turns them into cyborgs and makes them immortal And it s really really good stuff that gives them superhuman speed and other powers and other sciencey stuff of science that science people understand And so enhanced, recruited operatives are assigned to save rare works of art and extinct biological specimens and anything else that doesn t exist in the future so that the Company can unearth these rarities later on for the betterment of humanity and get very rich doing it Butbutisn t that going to mean changing history Won t we risk dire butterfly effects on the very future we are trying to improve No problem Baker has thought of a solution apparently it s possible to change anything in the pastexcept for recorded history Aha Anyway, the book doesn t bother pretending to be hard scif or even soft scifi All that is really just timey wimey hand waving to get us to Sixteenth Century England when Queen Bloody Mary is trying to import the Spanish Inquisition Our main protagonist is Mendoza, a Company Operative who was turned cyborg after being rescued from a Spanish Dungeon Her job save some rare plants that have medicinal properties that could save billions of lives in the future In the process she falls in love with a mortal Protestant man and yada yada yada we have our Historical Romance What a waste of cyborg The writing isn t that bad If you are into Period Drama then you may like this If you are into scifi maybe not so much Not my cup of tea or slice of cake.2 stars. Here s a book where I love the concept of the book a lot than than execution.The concept of using time travel to go back, create a new race of immortal human beings who will then preserve certain aspects and artifacts from history is an intriguing one The opening segments of In the Garden of Iden that set up this concept and idea are intriguing, fascinating and had me hoping something brilliant would happen in the novel.Unfortunately, that never really materializes at least not in this installment Instead, we meet Mendoza, a botanist who is sent back in time to the titular garden to observe it and to collect some samples that were lost to the ravages of time Instead she meets and falls in love with Nicholas Harpole, a man who isn t immortal but shares Mendoza believes could and should be I have a feeling a lot of what plays out in this story is a set up for future installments And that s all fine, but it still leaves Iden feeling like a bit of a disappointment in spots especially after the solid and intriguing beginning.I may read another novel or two in the series to see if things pick up a bit. Well now that was something different A starter of SciFi, with a main course of historical fiction, followed by a dessert of botany A bit of all three but none dominating There is certainly a great story line there A company going back in time to collect items to save and invest in things to make them massively wealthy, messing around with immortality, save the whales or in this case a Roman Holly bush, but you need to build the story around the idea and not just have it as a couple of lines in the story I felt like I was constantly wanting information as to what the company, who they were, what what what..My other issue with this book was that it was a bit of everything but mastered none It shouldn t have a scifi tag to be honest, adding a rocket ship to a story doesn t make it scifi Whilst this has than a rocket ship it doesn t add science fiction believably Historical Fiction aspect, could have been great, I would have loved to have learnt about Bloody Mary and there was a great opportunity to delve into that fascinating short period where the roman church came back, but instead we get one burning at the stake and many pages on a Christmas feast My last beef is with the character interaction by the cyborgs In the beginning they are so anti human, we are monkeys to them and we disgust them Yet they are absolutely no different to us in their mannerisms, the way they bitch and moan with each other At first I thought this was training, taught how to behave when in the company of mortals But when they are alone together.i would expect immortals to interact slightly different Getting all squealy because someone delivers a Chocolate mint slice didn t cut with me Overall, i found the writing style ok, it was easy to read but also easy to put down The story has potential, but I doubt i ll try book two I like the idea of the story, but it needs to be done in a better way.2 stars. This is the first book in The Company series and it has a wonderful premise I love the ingenious use of time travel in the plot The writer is an engaging storyteller and there are so many funny parts The characters are very interesting I love the way some real history is made part of what is largely a speculative fiction book I appreciated the originality of Mendoza s voice I felt extremely fond of the goat, a very minor character there was a lot of humor and pathos around the goat s situation There were some fun surprises about the characters I enjoyed the botany It s a thought provoking book about such subjects as the ramifications of immortality, the powerful and powerless, and various aspects of human nature I m not in any huge hurry to read the rest of the series immediately because I have so many other books I want to read first, but I would like to continue reading this series at some point. ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.Rescued from the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition, feisty little Mendoza is enrolled in a special school and becomes a cyborg agent of The Company, a group of immortal merchants and scientists who travel backwards in time in order to make money for The Company and to benefit mankind in various ways.Mendoza is educated and trained as a botanist and, for her first mission, she s sent back to 16th century Europe to document and study samples from the famous Garden of Iden in England She s hoping to discover some extinct or rare species that she can analyze for medical use by future scientists.Undercover as a Spaniard, at first Mendoza is afraid of the people she meets and despises them for their ignorance, brutishness, and lack of hygiene But soon she discovers that some of them are not so bad, and then she even makes the mistake of falling in love with a mortal an English Protestant mortal.Set both in the 24th and 16th centuries, In the Garden of Iden the first of Kage Baker s The Company novels is a unique historical science fiction romance The metaphysics of time travel and how The Company operates in time are clearly laid out e.g., agents can t bring anything into the future, but they can hide things in the past and recover them later , making the time travel aspect of the story believable Bloody Mary s England makes a great backdrop for a historical novel the Protestant Reformation is fascinating history and allows the exploration of racial, political, and religious conflict It also makes a romance between a Spanish woman and an English man interesting not to mention a romance between a human and a cyborg although I thought Mendoza s relationship developed too fast to be completely believable and satisfying The climactic scene in which the English Protestant defends his faith in the face of persecution, and Mendoza starts to wonder if immortality is really such a blessing, is truly beautiful and moving.What I liked best about In the Garden of Iden was the premise of The Company, which is run by the mysterious Dr Zeus Nobody seems to know who he is Does he even exist What are The Company s plans and goals Do they know what they re doing or how their interference might change the future I can t wait to find out .I listened to Blackstone Audio s production of In the Garden of Iden, which was narrated by Janan Raouf It was a lovely performance, though sometimes I could not be certain whether the cyborg characters were speaking to each other out loud or on their special channel that only cyborgs can hear this is indicated in italics in the book It would have been nice to have some indication of that perhaps a bit of static in the background , but I was able to figure it out I do hope that Blackstone Audio will be producing of Kage Baker s The Company novels. There s a lot of stuff going on here I won t summarize since the book infodumps it way better than I can Let s shorthand to girl rescued from dungeons of Inquisition and made immortal time agent of twenty fourth century corporation, except all the action occurs on an isolated British country estate in 1557.Lots of little things I like historical scifi, a dryly hilarious narration, a goat that somehow didn t add up into one big thing I like Dunno There s a lot of stuff going on here about mortality and free will Some of it is familiar from Michael Flynn s Eifleheim you have your dogmatic historical people moving to the tune of their invisible God, and your dryly observant future people moving to the tune of their invisible corporation Baker gets a clearer shot at it through Mendoza s weary recollection of herself as a young woman than Flynn did, I think, and it s all a little sad and grim But it didn t really get me.I do have one reading suggestion A lot of reviews complain in some confusion about the romance here which is, I should point out, a large chunk of the book And my suggestion is don t read it as a romance Well, okay, don t read it as romantic It s not about being touched, it s about the older and isolated Mendoza looking back on a time of intense naivet , and how she was set on the road from the girl she tells us about to the complicated woman telling us the story It s not a romance, it s a threshing machine. A really incredible book, possibly the best book in the Company series Mendoza is saved from the dungeons of the Inquisition to become an immortal cyborg working for Dr.Zeus, a company that has harnassed both immortality and timetravel For her first trip to the field , she travels to Tudor England to rescue rare plants from extinction Unfortunately for her, she falls utterly in love with a remarkable mortal man who is devoutly Protestant when Queen Mary takes the throne Mendoza observes the mortal world with both a teenager s verve and naivete and a genius immortal s knowledge. My first encounter with Kage Baker was a short story in the anthology Wizards Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy Her contribution was the highlight of that collection for me, a brightly polished gem of a story small in scope and warmly, wonderfully knowing On the strength of that story alone I decided I would love the author.This was my first novel by Baker and her first novel as well, and if it was not quite as brightly polished as the short story which was, after all, written a decade later it still maintained all the wit, warmth and wisdom.The premise has rightfully drawn comparisons to Connie Willis Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog The first chapter, which works as a sort of prologue, introducing The Company and its operatives, is a delight I especially like the idea that time travel was invented as a byproduct of their invention of immortality, to test whether or not the process worked But regular SF readers be warned the first chapter is the only major SF world building that occurs in this novel I suspect there is in later books in the series, but the focus of this novel is much smaller it is a romance and a coming of age story set against the backdrop of Queen Mary s marriage to Prince Philip of Spain and the subsequent Marian Persecutions in England.There is very little to like about the young Company agent Mendoza She is spunky, clearly, but also despises humanity and is supremely self centered She is, in short, a teenager Smartly, the Mendoza that narrates the story is much older and wiser, and even if her wry, sardonic tone isn t groundbreaking, it is still very effective Needless to say, the story Mendoza relates is the story of how she lost that self centeredness and fell in love with one of the despised humans.All of those elements, would fit nicely in a Connie Willis novel, and the story moves with ease between the lighthearted tone of To Say Nothing of the Dog and the darker, richer tone of The Doomsday Book The love interest, Nicholas Harpole, however, would have absolutely no place in a Connie Willis novel he is cast from a mold that reminded me very strongly of Father Ignatius in Louisa May Alcott s A Long Fatal Love Chase Harpole is a martyr, a soldier of god, and he aches to save his beloved s immortal soul little knowing her immortal body has already been bought and paid for by The Company While I share Joseph s evaluation of Harpole far than Mendoza s, the couple s plight delivers excellent narrative tension, matched nicely by the increasingly grim news reports the Company agents listen to on their subvocal radio I spent the entire second half of the novel waiting for the guillotine to fall, and when it did I read breathlessly through to the end.Ultimately, while In the Garden of Iden was not as good as either Connie Willis novel I mentioned, it showed great promise as the start of a series I ll admit that I cheated and looked at the descriptions of the other books, so I know a bit of where the series is going it looks like there will be quite a bit world building in later novels, for instance but I think even if I did not know that, and if I hadn t loved that short story so much, on the strength of this novel Kage Baker would still have made my buy immediately list Absolutely recommended. I enjoyed this first book in the time travel series featuring The Company but it didn t knock my socks off It features Mendoza, a Spanish girl rescued as a child from almost certain death in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition didn t expect that, did you , who had surgery performed on her to make her immortal and then trained as a botanist to travel through time rescuing extinct species of plants to bring back to the future.As her first assignment, Mendoza, now a teenager, is sent to England during the reign of Queen Mary, the Catholic queen now known for lending her nickname to a cure for hangovers There, while living at the manor house of Sir Robert Iden and scavenging through his garden, she learns to her heart s great dismay, that not all mortals are the filthy smelly insane apes she believed them to be In short, the story is part history, part romance, part farcical commentary on English manor life with the time travelers observing it all in a manner reminiscent of what happens in Disneyland behind the Employee Only doors Bottom line I ll probably read the second volume, mainly because I already have it and, as I said, it is somewhat entertaining It does lack the great paradoxical dilemmas that it takes to make time travel stories so intriguing.FYI On a 5 point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements 5 Stars Nothing at all If it ain t broke, don t fix it 4 Stars It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it s pretty good as it is 3 Stars A solid C grade Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable 2 Stars This book needs a lot of work A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending 1 Star The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire.

[Reading] ➿ In the Garden of Iden ➶ Kage Baker –
  • Paperback
  • 336 pages
  • In the Garden of Iden
  • Kage Baker
  • English
  • 19 December 2018
  • 9780765314574