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Title: MENDOZA IN HOLLYWOOD
Publisher: Harcourt Brace., NY:
Publication Date: 2000
Edition: 1st edition.
About this title
At Cahuenga Pass, in a stagecoach inn on the road to Los Angeles, Mendoza meets her new cyborg colleagues in this third novel of the Company. In the vein of Grand Hotel, we get to know the lives and stories, both sad and funny, of these operatives from the twenty-fourth century. As bullets fly overhead, we learn that Mendoza is being haunted, in her dreams, by the man she loved and lost three centuries ago and whose ghost is unexpectedly reincarnated by the arrival of a very large, very suave, and very handsome British spy, Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax. We watch the immortals' reactions as they screen, for relaxation, D. W. Griffith's Intolerance; we root for Oscar, an anthropologist in the guise of a traveling salesman, as he tries repeatedly to sell the Criterion Patented Brassbound Pie Safe.
Ah, pity poor Mendoza. She's a botanist stuck in dusty southern California in 1862, with a broken heart, bizarre companions, lousy food (frijoles and steak again, anyone?), and no plants to study. On top of all that, she's immortal--a cyborg created and maintained by Dr. Zeus, also known as the Company. From its 24th-century headquarters, the Company sends orders back in time to Mendoza and her fellow cyborgs, who collect stuff from the past and send it ahead through time machines for inscrutable uses. But things go from bad to worse for our heroine when drought and smallpox decimate the region, leaving her with nothing to do but pine for her three-centuries-lost mortal love, the martyred Nicholas Harpole. But what's this? Along comes a British agent--the spitting image of Nicholas--hell-bent on upsetting the Union in its hour of need. Mendoza must decide whether to help him in his plot to ensure British rule of the Americas, thereby directly disobeying her Company mandates. She finds herself in a weird race against time itself in this story of science fiction adventure, mystery, and comedy, with not a few reverential in-jokes about SoCal culture thrown in for good measure.
Kage Baker's style and wit make her novels among the best reads in science fiction today. Mendoza in Hollywood, the third book in the Company series (10 are planned) is simply delightful, with the focus back on dear, tragic Mendoza, and tantalizing hints of mysterious conspiracies aplenty. Lots of questions remain unanswered, but Baker weaves such a delicious tale, it's a pleasure to be teased. The series began with In the Garden of Iden and Sky Coyote. --Therese Littleton
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