Monday, July 23, 2007

Cyborgs in Tinseltown

kw: book reviews, science fiction, hollywood

Hmm, there are three terms I didn't ever expect to find together. Actually, Rude Mechanicals isn't the first SciFi to be written with Hollywood as the backdrop, but it is more intimately worked into Hollywood's Golden Age milieu than any other.

In Kage Baker's "Company" stories a variable number of immortal cyborgs, a few tens of thousands of years old, do the bidding of Zeus, Inc., a 25th Century corporation that has time travel and other advanced skills, but no direct market for them; it is presumably the cost. I dunno, though. Now that billionaires pay US$20 million or so to spend a week in orbit, you'd think time travel would be a thrill worth paying for by somebody.

Anyway, it seems the history of the Hope Diamond was faked a couple hundred years ago, and the real precursor stone is hidden under a tree near the Hollywood Bowl. It is 1934. One of the immortals is Max Reinhart's right-hand man (The Company wants his manuscripts when his boffo production of "Midsummer Night's Dream" is over). Another cadges a job on the stage crew so he can get at the hidden diamond.

Of course, things go wrong (so there'll be the story), and any number of people, each thinking the big (90+ carats) lavender stone is stage jewelry, lead our cyborgs a fanciful chase until it is retrieved.

The beauty of the book is in re-creating the atmosphere of Reinhart's creation of a mystical wood in Hollywood Bowl for his production.

This is a short novel, and I read it almost at a sitting, in about two hours.

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