cover image The Company Man

The Company Man

Robert Jackson Bennett. Orbit, $13.99 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-0-316-05470-6

The genius of a single 19th-century visionary financier transforms the early 20th century into a grimy, corrupt setting in Bennett's (Mr. Shivers) latest. In a world dominated by California's powerful and secretive McNaughton Corporation, the aspirations of the rising working class conflict with the desire of the moneyed class (specifically the %C3%BCber-powerful McNaughtons) to remain firmly in control. Investigators Hayes and Samantha Fairbanks find themselves caught up in the oddly subdued conflict between unions and management while investigating a violent mass murder, inextricably entangled with McNaughton's hidden past and the future looming for everyone else. Bennett's unusual steampunk setting feels out of place in this gloomy, pessimistic novel. The prose is competent, but the tale it tells is a bit dull. Furthermore, the final despairing revelation, despite messianic overtones, reflects on the general malaise in American Science Fiction without building on it. (Apr.)