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In the Garden of Iden (The Company #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,959 Ratings  ·  418 Reviews
This is the first novel in what has become one of the most popular series in contemporary SF, now back in print from Tor. In the 24th century, the Company preserves works of art and extinct forms of life (for profit of course). It recruits orphans from the past, renders them all but immortal, and trains them to serve the Company, Dr. Zeus. One of these is Mendoza the botan ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 1997)
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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells11/22/63 by Stephen KingTimeline by Michael Crichton
Best Time Travel Fiction
59th out of 1,175 books — 3,818 voters
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodFrankenstein by Mary ShelleyA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Science Fiction Books by Female Authors
68th out of 1,199 books — 1,108 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
hello there, little romance. i see you! you are trying to hide, aren't you? well you picked some good camouflage, i must say. you've concealed yourself within a fairly operatic setting: the tale of an immortal teenage cyborg employed by a secretive and futuristic Company, sent on missions in our far-flung past to save extinct plants, waiting for the day that your future finally catches up with your employer's apparently golden present. it is quite a setting, i almost didn't see you there! you ar ...more
David Sven
As far as Scifi goes, this made for a good Historical Romance/Period Drama. Sure it uses words like "cyborg" and "nanotech" and even "symbiote" and has the big scifi staple, "time travel" - it just didn't have any actual science.

An organisation from the future AKA "Dr Zeus" or "The Company" sends back operatives in time and injects poor unfortunates with stuff that turns them into cyborgs and makes them immortal. And it's really really good stuff that gives them superhuman speed and other power
Here's a book where I love the concept of the book a lot more than than execution.

The concept of using time travel to go back, create a new race of immortal human beings who will then preserve certain aspects and artifacts from history is an intriguing one. The opening segments of "In the Garden of Iden" that set up this concept and idea are intriguing, fascinating and had me hoping something brilliant would happen in the novel.

Unfortunately, that never really materializes--at least not in this
Lisa Vegan
This is the first book in "The Company” series and it has a wonderful premise. I love the ingenious use of time travel in the plot. The writer is an engaging storyteller and there are so many funny parts. The characters are very interesting. I love the way some real history is made part of what is largely a speculative fiction book. I appreciated the originality of Mendoza’s voice. I felt extremely fond of the goat, a very minor character; there was a lot of humor and pathos around the goat’s si ...more
Sep 24, 2013 Jon added it
Recommended to Jon by: Beyond Reality SF Selection June 2011
Mar 26, 2014 Lee rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Well now that was something different. A starter of SciFi, with a main course of historical fiction, followed by a dessert of botany. A bit of all three but none dominating.
There is certainly a great story line there. A company going back in time to collect items to save and invest in things to make them massively wealthy, messing around with immortality, save the whales or in this case a Roman Holly bush, but you need to build the story around the idea and not just have it as a couple of lines
Kat  Hooper
Apr 20, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Rescued from the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition, feisty little Mendoza is enrolled in a special school and becomes a cyborg agent of The Company, a group of immortal merchants and scientists who travel backwards in time in order to make money for The Company and to benefit mankind in various ways.

Mendoza is educated and trained as a botanist and, for her first mission, she’s sent back to 16th century Europe to document and study samples from the famou
Tom Mathews
Jan 18, 2016 Tom Mathews rated it liked it
Recommends it for: time travel diehards
I enjoyed this first book in the time travel series featuring The Company but it didn't knock my socks off. It features Mendoza, a Spanish girl rescued as a child from almost certain death in the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition (didn't expect that, did you?), who had surgery performed on her to make her immortal and then trained as a botanist to travel through time rescuing extinct species of plants to bring back to the future.

As her first assignment, Mendoza, now a teenager, is sent to Engl
There’s a lot of stuff going on here I won’t summarize since the book infodumps it way better than I can. Let’s shorthand to girl rescued from dungeons of Inquisition and made immortal time agent of twenty-fourth century corporation, except all the action occurs on an isolated British country estate in 1557.

Lots of little things I like – historical scifi, a dryly hilarious narration, a goat – that somehow didn’t add up into one big thing I like. Dunno. There’s a lot of stuff going on here about
My first encounter with Kage Baker was a short story in the anthology Wizards: Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy. Her contribution was the highlight of that collection for me, a brightly polished gem of a story small in scope and warmly, wonderfully knowing. On the strength of that story alone I decided I would love the author.

This was my first novel by Baker and her first novel as well, and if it was not quite as brightly polished as the short story (which was, after all, written a decad
Jul 08, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, historical
A really incredible book, possibly the best book in the Company series. Mendoza is saved from the dungeons of the Inquisition to become an immortal cyborg working for Dr.Zeus, a company that has harnassed both immortality and timetravel. For her first trip to "the field", she travels to Tudor England to rescue rare plants from extinction. Unfortunately for her, she falls utterly in love with a remarkable mortal man--who is devoutly Protestant when Queen Mary takes the throne. Mendoza observes th ...more
I was so excited to read this book: girl turned into a cyborg begins to work for "The Company" who sends her on missions (sounds so spy-like!) where she ends up in the time of the Spanish Inquisition and Bloody Mary and finally she falls in love with a mortal. What fun!

What went wrong? I didn't like her writing style. She wrote very casual . I felt like she was writing for a child. Sometimes she described things as if they were being seen for the first time by the main character who was on her
I very much enjoyed this little time travel story, which is set mostly in England during the bloody reign of Mary Tudor. It's quite funny in places, but it's narrated as a melancholy flashback and never disguises the fact that it's heading towards an inevitably sad ending.

This is a neat twist on the usual time travel story: our protagonists aren't exactly time travelers themselves. Rather, they were rescued from certain death as children and given enhanced, immortal bodies. They spend eternity a
2.5 stars. The premise of this book (and the whole series) is really original and clever and I thought the introduction of the main character was very well done. That said, the story after that dragged on and we didn't get to learn enough about "the Company." I will certainly read the next book and have high hopes that the inner workings of the Company will play a much bigger role.

Nominee: Locus Award for Best First Novel (1999)
I'm of two minds about this book. On one hand, the premise is interesting: physically enhanced, immortal operatives travelling through time in order to collect animals and plants otherwise bound for extinction, employed by the Company which has used time travel to take control of everything. I'm not tremendously convinced by the book's time travel theory, which is that history cannot be changed, but that that rule only applies to recorded history; that doesn't make a lot of sense to me (what's s ...more
I've been hearing about the Company novels for years. When this got nominated for the Beyond Reality reading group, I finally got around to reading it.

It's a really good book.

The story centers around member of the Company, people who have been transformed into cyborgs who help gather information and items from the past. This story is about Mendoza, a young woman who joins the Company, trains as a bontanist and travels to England under Mary Tudor.

Mendoza makes the book for she is a totally reals
Apr 04, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
My mother has been telling me to read this book for years, and of course she was right. It's a good concept, made better by the character the author chose to tell the story. A nice balance of time-travel SF and historical fiction, vividly described.
Elijah Spector
Oct 06, 2011 Elijah Spector rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Do you like science fiction that tackles issues like what is or isn't humanity, free will, and time travel paradoxes, but also want historical fiction wherein British people run around in doublets killing, fucking, arguing God and philosophy, and eating really nasty food? This book is very much both of those things. But it's mostly about the weird, dumb shit we do when we're teenagers, and how final and all-important everything feels when your hormones are all hopped up, even if you are an immor ...more
In the Garden of Iden is more of a romance hidden inside a historical fiction in a spec-fic coating. I'm sure people keep telling me that the rest of the series is different; there's nothing particularly wrong with this, but it wasn't really what I'd hoped for.

Really, I'd hoped for some overarching plot that would really tie it all together, love story and all, but that didn't really happen to my satisfaction, with the result that it felt like set up for all the wonderful things Mendoza (the ma
Sep 28, 2011 faeriemyst rated it it was ok
I cry mercy. Love the concept, and the first third or thereabouts was good, but everything after: the barely there plot, the romance, manor life in the English country, pretty much everything, was all dull, dull, dull. I was disappointed in the lack of sci-fi and the history that was only spoken about and never lived through, so it didn't deliver on either account. Sure, the author can string a sentence together, there were a couple of amusing lines, and the Elizabethan English seemed well-done ...more
May 04, 2009 Ubik rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started out great, but fell flat in the middle. I was really hoping for more exploration into the time travel element and the "scavenger-hunting" that I was originally interested in reading for in the first place. It just turns into a doomed love story from about a third of the way through and never does anything else. Every other aspect takes a back seat to the romance.
Ben Babcock
Time travel poses a host of complications, no matter which set of rules one follows. Plus, I mean, as cool as it might be to pop back to ancient Egypt or Rome or Tudor England for afternoon tea, I wouldn’t want to live there. Hello, indoor plumbing much? Flush toilets and high speed Internet? I like my “modern” conveniences, and I can understand why the first employees of the Company didn’t enjoy their duties much. And the Company happened to have a formula for immortality lying around. So, you ...more
Feb 04, 2010 Acacia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who love history, people with ill-founded prejudices against SF
another EDIT: Re-reading this again. Great authors never truly die but it is still pretty shitty when they leave their earthly bodies.
EDIT: Adding a star. Re-reading this, and discussing it with my sister, I realize that it is truly one of my favorite books. Especially for the opening chapters, when Mendoza narrates her introduction to The Company; they are like the written equivalent of a one-hour rally in volleyball. Just tight, whip-smart prose, and a delightfully precocious, feisty young
Jul 23, 2011 Ron rated it really liked it
Excellent. Despite the huge data dump at the beginning, Baker inserts us into her world smoothly and believably. Good characters and a good use of actual history to build her alternate reality. Even though pre-9-11, captures the malaise of post-9-11.

Hard to believe so much slicing and dicing is involved in longevity enhancements two centuries in the future, not to mention the blinking lights.

Better tome travel machanism than Connie Willis, but not quite so engaging that I'll be tempted to read m
Alexis Hall
I am still very sad Kage Baker died.

Brought to you via Reading Project 2015.

(aka why the hell did I ever read so much fantasy).

I think this is generally considered the weakest of the Company series, but people always say that about first books. While I see the flaws here, slowish pacing, some implausibilities of plot, I actually really enjoyed the heck out of this.

The Company itself is a 24th century corporation who have figured out both time travel and immortality, although both come with limi
Jan 01, 2015 Carly rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi

Book Reaction (not a full review)

When I discovered Kage Baker about a decade ago, I devoured her Anvil of the World series in less than a fortnight. But my library's collection of her Company series was far less complete. I think the only book it had was Mendoza in Hollywood. I've always meant to go back and read about the origins of the company, but I find the idea of immortality so gut-wrenchingly depressing that I never quite got around to it.

But as I was searching around aimlessly durin
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Quick read, entertaining, I'd consider reading #2. As far as time travel goes though, I enjoyed Connie Willis more. This is the first in a series so it might delve more deeply into the ramifications of time travel, but I found it a little unbelievable that this company could go back in time just to make a profit out of collecting endangered species.

And, yeah. Friar John.

"For God's sake, it's crazy! These people are giving up their civil rights! It's a step back into the Middle Ages!"
"Funny thin
Jun 10, 2011 Sandra rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
I really don't know how many stars to give this book. On the one hand, I loved the humor and the sarcasm and the light breezy way Baker's characters talk about tragic matters, the insanities of human behavior and human history and the whole idea of becoming immortal and traveling in time. On the other hand, it went from science fiction to a love story that we knew had to end badly. And badly it did end. A real downer, and yet, I remain strangely untouched by it. Kage Baker, in her description of ...more
Mar 24, 2012 Punk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Science Fiction. The Company. A secret organization of unknown scope, it creates time-travelling (sort of) cyborg agents and employs them as collectors. They procure rare plants, lost art, endangered animals, and children considered dead in the eyes of history. In 16th century Spain, an agent rescues a four-year-old girl from the Inquisition and turns her over to the Company, where she is trained, enhanced, and made immortal.

This is similar to Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, but more i
Jun 03, 2011 Brenda rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This book has been on my TBR list for quite some time, so I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. The writing was in a very easy to read style, and I got through it pretty quickly.

I loved the time travel idea, and I think I was hoping for a little more of it. Instead, we got one time travel to gloomy England, and there we stayed. And then it turned mostly into a love story with a typical obsessed heroine. There was more romance than science fiction in this story, it seemed.

With that said, I
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Born June 10, 1952, in Hollywood, California, and grew up there and in Pismo Beach, present home. Spent 12 years in assorted navy blue uniforms obtaining a good parochial school education and numerous emotional scars. Rapier wit developed as defense mechanism to deflect rage of larger and more powerful children who took offense at abrasive, condescending and arrogant personality in a sickly eight- ...more
More about Kage Baker...

Other Books in the Series

The Company (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Sky Coyote (The Company, #2)
  • Mendoza in Hollywood (The Company, #3)
  • The Graveyard Game (The Company, #4)
  • The Life of the World to Come (The Company, #5)
  • The Children of the Company (The Company, #6)
  • The Machine's Child (The Company, #7)
  • The Sons of Heaven (The Company, #8)
  • The Empress of Mars
  • Not Less Than Gods
  • In the Company of Thieves

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“The leaf that spreads in the light is the only holiness there is. I haven't found holiness in the faiths of mortals, or in their music, not in their dreams: it's out in the open field, with the green rows looking at the sky. I don't know what it is, this holiness: but it's there, and it looks at the sky.
Probably though this is some conditioning the Company installed to ensure I'd be a good botanist. Well, I grew up into a good one. Damned good.”
“It wasn't all that different from any particularly demanding boarding school, except that of course nobody ever went home for the holidays and we had a lot of brain surgery.” 5 likes
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