cover image Sky Coyote

Sky Coyote

Kage Baker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $23 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-15-100354-9

Cunningly blending a pre-Columbian past with a 24th century extrapolated from every adult's nightmare about the younger generation, Baker's second installment in her Company series proves a witty match to In the Garden of Iden. Fresh from a cushy R&R after a supervisory stint in the Inquisition, time-hopping cyborg Facilitator Joseph jaunts to 16th-century Alta California. There, cybernetically outfitted with fur and paws, he apotheosizes to the cannily entrepreneurial Chumash Indian tribe so he can collect them and their entire biosystem for Company studies in the remote future. Joseph's Company is Baker's deliciously wicked platform for satirizing past, present and all-too-likely future human frailties. From sure-handed sendups of 24th-century Cinema Standard speech patterns and a dismayingly suggestive portrait of the Chumash Medical Association--staring eyes, knotted hair and an air of too frequent consumption of alkaloids--to the Company's sacred Greater Mission Statement, Baker nails her 20th-century targets: societal, religious and oh-so-personal hypocrisy. (Feb.)