Another installment in Baker’s incomparable multi-volume time-travel saga (The Life of the World to Come, 2004, etc.), a seamless “fix-up” of six previously published stories.
The “company” of the title is called Dr. Zeus; having discovered time travel, it set about rearranging the past to suit its own obscure ends and ensure its own existence. In the 24th century, childlike mortal geniuses run Dr. Zeus for fun and profit. To that end, Dr. Zeus created a race of immortal cyborgs who loot the past to enrich their masters (they grab anything valuable that historians say was lost or destroyed). Unknown to their mortal masters, however, the cyborg Executive Facilitators are plotting to take over Dr. Zeus in 2355, the year beyond which no time travelers can penetrate. Devious, expert manipulator Labienus seeks to outfox his rival Aegeus by suborning Victor, Aegeus’s innocent, trusting assistant Facilitator. Unwittingly serving Labienus’s purposes, Victor deactivates cyborg Lewis when Lewis has come upon too much of the truth, confronts the ancient Neanderthal Enforcer, Budu, Labienus’s former teacher, now a rival for power, and duly spreads a plague that selectively kills thousands of mortals. Labienus, you see, loathes and despises the humans he supposedly serves, because their swarming, unchecked masses pollute the pure Earth he once cherished as the cruel Sumerian god Enlil.
Funny, heart-rending, terrifying, pellucid, Baker’s magnificent series grows in stature with every installment.