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The Sons of Heaven    by Kage Baker order for
Sons of Heaven
by Kage Baker
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is a novel that many SF fans have long awaited, the conclusion to the long-running, satirical, time traveling Company novels. But, whatever you do, don't jump into the timestream without having absorbed most of the prior books. I did read and enjoy the earliest ones but missed a few, and had trouble picking up all the threads of this convoluted plot. Essentially, the Company, Dr. Zeus Incorporated plucked people out of time and transformed them into immortal cyborgs to do its bidding - it 'manipulated nations and events in order to guarantee profits, with a complete disregard for the human suffering it might cause.'

Readers are updated on what's happened to a multiplicity of immortal time traveling cyborgs, AIs, Company executives, and small pale folk who live underground. It seems that everyone is jockeying for power in the warmup to Armageddon, the long feared date, July 8, 2355, of the Silence - when all future contact will be cut off, though no one knows the cause. Series characters - including Labienus, Victor, Aegeus, William Randolph Hearst, Joseph, Enforcer Budu and Suleyman - execute plots and counterplots, with all parties involved in surveillance on each other's meetings - many revolving around a poisoned chocolates fiasco that most parties quickly uncover. And we watch the emergence of an omnipotent AI, embodying the Dr. Zeus Company, whose mortal Board members are desperate to downsize their cyborg resources.

In parallel with all this scheming, we meet series lead Mendoza again, back in 500,000 BCE, tended by a powerful pirate AI. There, her husband Edward Bell-Fairfax impregnates her with cyborg twins, who happen to be her ex-lovers (from different time periods) Alec Checkerfield and Nicholas Harpole - electromagnetic recordings of their personalities were hidden in Mendoza's mind by Edward after he took over their shared body. Kage Baker has great fun harrassing her leads, in particular Edward, with the challenges of raising young cyborgs - she tells us that 'no one knows what helplessness is, until they have children.' They start off living (outside of time) on shipboard, then settle on an idyllic South Seas island.

We're also reacquainted with Literature Specialist Lewis who's found blind, immobile and helpless in a burrow by elf-like Tiara. He recovers very slowly, as she brings him nutrients to feed his biomechanicals. With her usual aplomb - and plenty of humorous touches - Kage Baker ties all these plot threads together. Judgement Day finally arrives, the Apocalypse (but not the tax audit) is cancelled and - after all their trials and tribulations, deaths and resurrections - the good guys prevail, making their own paradise. Company fans will revel in The Sons of Heaven.

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