Mendoza in Hollywood

Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 8, 2002

Mendoza in Hollywood by Kage Baker

Eleven people attended this meeting, and one submitted comments by email. Mendoza in Hollywood is the third novel in Baker’s continuing series about the Company. In this book, the immortal botanist Mendoza is sent to collect rare plants in Southern California in the 1800s. In the course of her assignment she absorbs local color, learns about the great movies that will be made soon in this location, gets involved in local politics, and learns unexpected new things about time travel. Everyone at the meeting had read the book and both its predecessors.

This meeting was unusual because our group had discussed all of Baker’s previous books and many of us had read her stories in Asimov’s. We came into the discussion already knowing that the author knows how to write, how to pace, and knows how to do research. Thus many of our comments were at a higher level, dealing with the series as a whole and how Mendoza in Hollywood fits into it.

We liked several things about this book. Mendoza’s immortal colleagues at the Hollywood outpost are interesting, particularly when we realize how different their life paths were than Mendoza’s. We enjoyed reading about the earlier days of the film history, recounted as the immortals visited the sites of famous movies decades before they are to be filmed.

Mendoza in Hollywood introduces several twists into the overall series, ending with a ton of loose ends. One person was disappointed by how little this volume advances the overall story, calling it “a coasting book.”.

We tried to speculate on where the series is headed. Baker is obviously leaving lots of clues. Since the Company is based in the 24th Century and each book advances a couple of hundred years, we feel that a confrontation is due in a couple of books.

Overall we liked this book and would recommend it, but only to those who’d read the earlier books in the series. We feel that Baker’s world is compelling and that this is a fun series to read. After the meeting we ate at Garcia’s.

–A. T. Campbell, III