Rude Mechanicals: Free audio version at SubPress

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsRude Mechanicals by Kage BakerRude Mechanicals by Kage Baker

I love pretty much everything that Kage Baker wrote — her concise to-the-point style, the ironic way she looks at the world, and her wry subtle sense of humor suits me perfectly, more so than any other author I know save Jack Vance. I’m sure that if I’d ever met Ms. Baker while she was living that she would have been one of my favorite people on Earth. I say this because I feel the need to warn anyone reading this review that I’m unlikely to ever think any of Kage Baker’s stories are bad… So do with that what you will.

Rude Mechanicals is a novella set in Baker’s well-known futuristic COMPANY world. The Company is a group of cyborg time-travelers who work for Dr. Zeus. He sends travelers back in time to fetch or hide objects that will be valuable when they’re “found” and sold by the Company in the future. In Rude Mechanicals, two familiar travelers, Joseph and Lewis, are on two separate quests that overlap and eventually converge in Hollywood in 1934.

Lewis, an expert in literature, is acting as assistant to Max Reinhardt who is preparing his famous stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater. Lewis is supposed to secretly replace Reinhardt’s stage notes with a forgery and steal the original notes so they can be sold in the future by the Company. Lewis spends his evenings creating the forgery. Joseph is trying to retrieve the Hope Diamond which he lost on a previous mission. When the diamond ends up in Hollywood in 1934, Joseph’s mission gets tangled up with Lewis’s and chaos ensues as they chase the diamond through Hollywood streets, famous parties, an elementary school, a Shakespearean play, and even a pornographic movie set.

Anyone who loves Kage Baker, Hollywood history, or madcap adventure will enjoy Rude Mechanicals. You don’t need to have read the rest of the COMPANY novels — it can stand-alone. In fact, if you’re new to Kage Baker, it’s a great way to quickly determine whether you might enjoy her work. It’s not her best, but…. it’s Kage Baker.

I listened to the audio version of Rude Mechanicals which was read by author and audiobook narrator Mary Robinette Kowal. You can download a free copy at Subterranean Press’s website. I would have preferred a male narrator for this book since it follows two of Baker’s male characters, but Robinette Kowal gets the tone just right and, hey, it’s hard to beat free.

Release date: April 25, 2007 The year is 1934, the scene is a Wood Near Athens — temporarily relocated to the environs of the Hollywood Bowl, as German theater impresario Max Reinhardt attempts to stage his famous production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Fortunately for Reinhardt, he has immortal assistance in the person of Literature Specialist Lewis, a cyborg working undercover for Dr. Zeus Incorporated, masters of time travel. Lewis is tasked with preserving Reinhardt’s promptbooks for future Company profits at auction. Unfortunately for Reinhardt, there are complications… For Joseph, Lewis’s fellow cyborg, is on the case as well, attempting to salvage a botched mission of his own. It involves the lost treasure of the Cahuenga Pass, a missing diamond, a third-century pope, burglary, disguises, car chases, and a legendary Hollywood party spot. All of which interact, more or less disastrously, with Lewis’s mission and Reinhardt’s Shakespearean extravaganza. Will the show go on?

SFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company 1. In the Garden of Iden 2. Sky Coyote 3. Mendoza in Hollywood aka At the Edge of the West 4. The Graveyard Game 5. The Life of the World to Come 6. The Children of the CompanySFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company 1. In the Garden of Iden 2. Sky Coyote 3. Mendoza in Hollywood aka At the Edge of the West 4. The Graveyard Game 5. The Life of the World to Come 6. The Children of the CompanySFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company 1. In the Garden of Iden 2. Sky Coyote 3. Mendoza in Hollywood aka At the Edge of the West 4. The Graveyard Game 5. The Life of the World to Come 6. The Children of the CompanySFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company 1. In the Garden of Iden 2. Sky Coyote 3. Mendoza in Hollywood aka At the Edge of the West 4. The Graveyard Game 5. The Life of the World to Come 6. The Children of the CompanySFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company 1. In the Garden of Iden 2. Sky Coyote 3. Mendoza in Hollywood aka At the Edge of the West 4. The Graveyard Game 5. The Life of the World to Come 6. The Children of the CompanySFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company 6. The Children of the Company 7. The Machine's Child 8. The Sons of Heaven 9. Not Less Than Gods SFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company 6. The Children of the Company 7. The Machine's Child 8. The Sons of Heaven 9. Not Less Than Gods SFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company 6. The Children of the Company 7. The Machine's Child 8. The Sons of Heaven 9. Not Less Than Gods Kage Baker Not Less Than Gods fantasy book reviewsSFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company The Empress of Mars, Gods and Pawns, Rude MechanicalsSFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company The Empress of Mars, Gods and Pawns, Rude MechanicalsSFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company Black Projects, White Knights: The Company Dossiers SFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company The Empress of Mars, Gods and Pawns, Rude MechanicalsKage Baker In the Company of ThievesThe Women of Nell Gwynne'sSFF book reviews Kage Baker The Company The Empress of Mars, Gods and Pawns, Rude Mechanicalsfantasy and science fiction book reviews

Nell Gwynne’s Scarlet Spy contains the novella The Women of Nell Gwynne and the story “The Bohemian Astrobleme.”  (So you don’t need to buy The Women of Nell Gwynne).


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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