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Black Projects, White Knights: The Company Dossiers Hardcover – September 1, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This excellent collection brings together 14 of Baker's short stories about "The Company," three of them unpublished. Select humans have been plucked from various epochs and turned into enhanced, immortal, time-traveling cyborgs, programmed to do the shadowy bidding of the profit-loving Company. Unable to fight their own programming, the best of them try to fulfill the Company's directives while being kind to the mortal "sheep" they live among ("Noble Mold" and "Studio Dick Drowns Near Malibu"). Their jobs and lives are complicated by warring Company factions ("Old Flat Top"), which certain mortals see as heavenly battles ("The Hotel at Harlan's Landing"). Also included are the first four tales about the mysterious, genetically enhanced Alec Checkerfield ("Smart Alec," "The Dust Enclosed Here," "Monster Story" and "The Likely Lad"), as well as two other stories ("The Literary Agent" and "The Wreck of the Gladstone") that obliquely pertain to his origins and influences. Baker shows greater range with these stories than she does in her novels (In the Garden of Eden, etc.), and has more fun with her characters, letting them play at being pirates, dig up mummies or interact with Shakespeare and Robert Louis Stevenson. Though the collection brings up troubling ethical questions about the nature of the author's future history (since Alec is referred to as Adonai, does that mean he is God?), Baker masterfully handles characters and plots. These stories rank among the finest recent work in the field.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

What could be better than a new novel of the Company? A collection of the Company's mysterious, powerful operatives' highly entertaining adventures--that's what. Plucked from their lives in times ranging from neolithic California to the twenty-fourth century, those cybernetically enhanced agents are dispatched to later eras to discover (i.e., steal) rare plants, art treasures, and literary masterpieces. In "Old Flat Top," an enterprising Cro-Magnon boy finds the hermit atop a mountain much older and less peaceful than anyone suspected. In "The Literary Agent," casually hip Joseph negotiates with feverish Robert Louis Stevenson to develop an adventure flick to be produced hundreds of years later. Particularly appealing in several stories is young Alex, born, or at least delivered, to wealthy, dissolute parents in the highly regimented twenty-fourth century. His brain isn't quite like other children's, and his gift for rewiring computer systems is astonishing. His liberating encounter with the dispirited hologram of Shakespeare in "The Dust Enclosed Here" will satisfy every lover of the bard. Funny, poignant, thought-provoking, altogether excellent stories. Roberta Johnson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Golden Gryphon Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930846118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930846111
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,719,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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See all 19 customer reviews
As interesting as Kage Baker's "Company" is I liked the Alex Checkerfield stories the best.
TammyJo Eckhart
These are splendid stories although it is imperative that one is first acquainted with the preceding novels to which they allude.
Avid Reader
Maybe it is true that the short story - as opposed to the novel, poem, saga, chant or song - is the real American art form.
Avid Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Carl Malmstrom on September 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've been following Kage Baker's "Company" series of novels for a few years now, but it was only with the publication of this book that I discovered just how many "Company" short stories she has written as well. According to her own notes, she has written more than twenty. Fifteen of them are showcased here.
For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it tracks the lives of a number of immortal cyborgs working for a company from the twenty-fourth century that has found the solutions to both immortality and time travel and uses them to send agents through time to collect bits of history. The catch to this, though, is that recorded history cannot be changed, so the operatives must work in the shadows of history - collecting artifacts after ships are sunk, graves are sealed, etc. This introductory story is actually an excellent introduction to the plot and the dramatis personae of the series.
For those of you that are familiar with the "Company" series, the fifteen short stories in here cover most major characters we've seen so far - including Joseph, Lewis, Mendoza and her very mysterious lover - and manages to dig around in their stories enough to shed greater illumination on all the characters without making the collection necessary reading for those that are sticking only to the novels. It also details the childhood of Alec Checkerfield, a young mortal from the mid-24th Century who is undoubtedly another aspect of Nicholas/Edward, in four separate stories. Each is excellent, if slightly surreal, but they serve to raise more questions than they answer about him.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on April 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Fans of Kage Baker's "Company" novels may not realize that the series actually was first published in short story form. As she states in her introduction to "Noble Mold," this story was published in Asimov's magazine while In the Garden of Iden was still looking for a publisher. After The Graveyard Game was published, she decided to collect a bunch of Company short stories from Asimov's (and they always appeared in Asimov's) into a book. The result, along with three new stories and a new introduction, is Black Projects, White Knights. These stories range from the mundane to the bizarre, but all have that distinctive Baker touch that makes them readable.
We are first introduced to all of the characters that will be featured in the coming stories, under the cover of a spy into the Company's records bringing up dossiers on all of the major players in the series (and the stories as well). "The Hounds of Zeus" will eventually tie into the series itself (Baker has hinted as such), but for now it is a suitable summary of who everybody is. We then get into the stories, and the wild ride begins. As in most short story collections, there are some standouts and some weaker stories. Surprisingly, I found the stories starring Mendoza to be among the lesser works, though they were still interesting. She features in three of them ("Noble Mold," "Lemuria Will Rise!", and "Hanuman"), but none of them spring off the page. While the potential of these stories is surely there, I found the writing of the first two stories to be lacking (especially "Noble Mold, but it was her first story so it's excusable).
As usual, Joseph stars in the best stories, with "The Literary Agent" being the best of the bunch.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on July 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What a surprise!! I was expecting little vignettes of Company life with the same roster of characters but the depth and variety of characters, settings and plots was simply stunning. Maybe it is true that the short story - as opposed to the novel, poem, saga, chant or song - is the real American art form. If so, then Ms. Baker has accepted that challenge with gusto.
The author is said to be a fan of the X-Files and in that show, one quickly grew tired of monsters and weirdos, yearning instead for the ever-changing, ever-evolving mythology which girded the series. The Zeus books follow a similar pattern. If "The Garden of Iden" is almost childlike - you might say innocent - the following tales evolved into philosophical treatises on the nature, reason and ultimate fate of time travel and, more than anything, the mysterious Chronos Corporation and its hidden agenda.
These are splendid stories although it is imperative that one is first acquainted with the preceding novels to which they allude. The sequence seems random but one discovers a serial-like order of presentation. The young lad with the extraordinary powers shows up several times and the attentive reader will discern both the hows and whys of his origin. Some of these stories sound boring in the extreme until the first paragraph. Suddenly you are caught in the web spun by the author and the only escape is finishing the tale.
Some are tongue-in-cheek (Lemuria), some are explanatory (Search for the Delacroix), others are reflective of the author's great interest in English history (Shakespeare). All possess that unique "Baker" quality that permeates her works - the excellent turn of phrase, the fidelity to the character and the times, the occasional surprise and the relentless movement of the logic to its conclusions, tragic, maudlin or triumphant. Many of these could easily be developed into novels, a task I hope the author will undertake in the future
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