A Night on the Barbary Coast by Kage Baker
Section: Reactionaries and Revolutionares
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 3/5 Rating
Another short-story in the Company series!
About the author:
Kage Barker was an American writer who wrote both serious and funny stories and novels, with a fantastical or science fiction slant. She was a finalist for the Hugo Award and winner of the Theodore Stugreon Memorial Award and the Nebula Award. “A Night on the Barbary Coast” was the winner of the first of the Emperor Norton awards for San Francisco based speculative fiction in 2003. It was originally published in The Silver Gryphon anthology. You can find another Company story, “Noble Mold,” elsewhere in this anthology.
After reading Kage Baker’s short-story, Nobel Mind (my review), a few weeks ago, I wised that I would be able to read more of the short-stories from that short-story series, The Company – well, my wish was granted! I did not like story as much as the earlier – there were a few character action and revealing that didn’t make much sense to meet, and the plot wasn’t a good – but I still did enjoy and still want to continue reading this series.
Joseph has been assigned by The Company to new job which will take him to San Francisco, in 1850. For this job, he is required to get the assistance of a field botanist, so calls on Mendoza again, his daughter.
The job The Company is sending Joseph on has something to do with gold, and finding a jeweler who is selling the gold in particular he wants, was very simple. It is tracking down the miner who sold the Jeweler the gold in question, that things becomes dangerous and difficult for Joseph and Mendoza.
Did you catch that key part in my synopsis about Joseph and Mendoza? If you didn’t I’ll say it again: they are father and daughter! I don’t have a problem with that, but what I have a problem with is how out of place it felt. I am 100% that was not mentioned in Noble Mold, and the way Joseph acted in Noble Mold to Mendoza appearance, it more of aggravation, and in way what-so-ever, did I get a feeling of family; they felt associates, not even friends. Until the end of this story, they being family still didn’t feel right. In Joseph narration, he never refers to Mendoza as “daughter” but always as “Mendoza”, and when he talks to her is always “Mendoza” – which gives me that official/business-like feeling – or as “baby” or some cut name like that, which I don’t recall him calling her that at all in the last story.
I don’t know if this was a direct sequel to Nobel Mold, but it seems like it with Joseph saying that is still undercover as a priest, so these sudden characters changes and new arcs, felt extremely off to me.
The other things that felt off was Joseph character. Mendoza still felt the same, but last time I thought Joseph was always this calm, in control, serious fellow – not here. He comes running to Mendoza, yelling will exclaim and excitement… this is Joseph?
What I did like was we learned more about The Company and the immortals. Apparently the guy who runs The Company is someone who goes by the name of “Dr. Zeus,” and they are some sort of private business. Then with the immortals, we a bit more about how the are immortal and one thing about their physical limits.
The reason why it took until the end of the story for me to accept that Joseph and Mendoza are related, was because it wasn’t until the end of the story that we a brief hint about their background together which explains why they do not always get along.
Spolierific Speculations: (Highlight to read)
If your comments contains a spoiler, please type “SPOILER:” at the start of your comment to alert fellow readers and comments. Thanks!
My enjoyment of the story wasn’t as great as before, and the plot is literally just them running around tracking this minor down – but I’m still intrigued to hear the rest of the Joseph’s story. Maybe I’ll luck out and there will be another Kage Baker story in the anthology? 🙂
Also, I’d recommend reading Noble Mind, before reading this. Although, it’d be interesting to see how that story goes, knowing ahead of time that they were famile…
Be sure to check out my fellow time-travelers’ reviews!
Follow along on Twitter with #TimeTravelThursday
To see a full list of The Time Traveler’s Almanac reviews and reading schedule, visit The Time Traveler’s Almanac Page
Feel free to join in any join time! Just leave a comment down below 🙂
See you next Thursday for This Tragic Glass by Elizabeth Bear