In the Company of Thieves by Kage Baker

In the Company of Thieves is a book containing six short stories written by Kage Baker (the final story being completed by Kage’s sister, Kathleen Bartholomew, using notes).

I’ve only read one book of KB’s – The Anvil of the World  – which is a brilliant story, imaginative and full of quirky humour which I really enjoyed so I was looking forward to this collection of stories very much and they certainly don’t disappoint.

Apparently the Company, or Dr Zeus Inc as it is sometimes known, is a series of time travelling science fiction stories involving a company whose employees, as well as being immortal can travel back into time – although they are not, apparently, permitted to change the course of history.  The stories in this particular book include:

  • The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park
  • The Unfortunate Gytt
  • The Women of Nell Gwynne’s
  • Mother Aegypt
  • Rude Mechanicals
  • Hollywood Ikons

I haven’t read any of the other Company series but having now been introduced I’m definitely interested in making a start – I just need to find the best starting place!

Without question my favourite of the stories was The Women of Nell Gwynne’s.  I loved the character Lady Beatrice and her story was fascinating to read.  Nell’s house of prostitution isn’t all that it at first seems – Nell’s place is used by The Company to gather information from some of it’s more distinguished visitors whilst they’re in the throes of passion.  Run by Nell – a blind woman – who can see now see everything thanks to one of the inventions that she enjoys courtesy of the Company.  This particular story involves the girls wangling themselves an invitation to a mansion where a lucrative deal is about to be made with some high rollers bidding for a piece of equipment of great significance.  The stakes are high and there’s definitely plenty of danger!  This is just a great story.  I mean, what happened to Lady Bea is no bundle of laughs but the way she turns her world around is such a treat to read.  In my opinion this book is worth reading for this story alone – it’s fantastic.  I loved it and I want so much to return to this world.

Mother Aegypt is also a cracking little story that I found really compelling – the main character being a con man called Golesco who becomes involved with an immortal.  This is a strange, dark and funny story – with giant chickens!  Try to pretend you’re not fascinated if you can.

Rude Mechanicals – involving a great team – Joseph and Lewis.  Apparently these are Company story favourite characters and this particular story is a big mash up involving a theatre production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream by a famous theatre producer.  The scene Italy – the actual location – Hollywood, the props – virtually a full forest, uprooted and replanted!  This staging of Shakespeare’s play has become a Company mission – at the same time however another Company employee is out on another mission involving a rather special treasure.  The two missions will of course cross with quite hilarious results.  The brilliant part of this story is that it reads like a madcap caper.  Things go from one crazy situation to another and it has this totally black-and-white-movie-slapstick-feel – which is quite fitting given it’s set in the 1930’s and Harold Lloyd puts in an appearance.  Another great addition to the collection.

Okay.  That’s it.  I’m not reviewing all the stories here – I need to leave something for you to go and discover yourselves.  Take my word for it – they’re good.  They’re all different.  The writing is ace.  There’s humour.  There’s sadness.  There’s steampunk gadgets and, did I mention, the giant chickens.  Go and read them for yourself.

This book was loaned to me by somebody rather lovely – I will return it – I promise!!

I’m submitting this as part of my sci fi reading experience at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Check it out here.

I was also approved a copy by Netgalley.