Another Company collection, bringing together previously-published stories and new ones. Dr. Zeus’s operatives slog away at their eternal duties, minor characters in the tapestry of History. They can’t step far enough from the picture to gain any perspective, but the intelligent reader may do so. Tilt it one way and you’ll see celestial immortals, untouched by mortal care; tilt it another, and you’ll see slaves chained to the sundial, doomed to follow shadows across Time.

The stories:

TO THE LAND BEYOND THE SUNSET.
Previously unpublished, this novella follows Mendoza and Lewis on a field trip in the New World of the seventeenth century, and delves into the mystery of terra preta. More or less literally. Gods, ghosts and guavas figure prominently.

THE CATCH
Concerning the Company’s early efforts to create an immortal being, circa 1951. There are far worse things than growing up…

THE ANGEL IN THE DARKNESS
A novella set in 1990s Los Angeles. In every generation, some luckless family member is stronger than the others. Who else will remember the family history, loan money, babysit the children, wash the dead? Death and time wreck everything, and the caryatid inevitably bends under the weight of her burden… but once in a while, someone unexpected steps from the shadows to lend a shoulder.

STANDING IN HIS LIGHT
The life of the painter Vermeer, as seen from the Company perspective.

A NIGHT ON THE BARBARY COAST
Joseph and Mendoza travel to a grubby little boomtown named San Francisco, in search of a mysterious strain of blue-green algae. Gunfire, gambling and a grizzly bear are featured. But not Ghirardelli’s, alas.

WELCOME TO OLYMPUS, MR. HEARST
The year is 1933, and Joseph and Lewis spend a weekend on a mountaintop in the company of W.R. Hearst and several minor gods and goddesses, as well as a pair of chihuahuas named, respectively, Tcho-Tcho and Conqueror Worm. Oh, and the ghost of Rudolph Valentino.

HELLFIRE AT TWILIGHT
New for this collection. Lewis makes the acquaintance of the infamous Sir Francis Dashwood, Baron LeDespencer, and learns that some devils are not nearly so black as they are painted, especially if they happen to be painted on Grecian urns. The Eleusinian Mysteries are revealed… well, not quite. But close.


Thanks are in order to Gardner Dozois, my favorite titan, especially in this case for his forwarding a fascinating article on Amazonian Dark Earth. Thanks also to Marty Halpern, Gary Turner and J.K. Potter, angels in my darkness more than once. And, profound thanks, of course, to David Hartwell, without whom no one would ever have known how Mendoza’s story ends.


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