This post contains BOOK-DESTROYING SPOILERS for Kage Baker’s The Machine’s Child. Here’s the non-spoiler post.
My principal reaction to this book is:
Mendoza needs agency!
Since all the way back in book 3, she’s been effectively offscreen—her appearances in book 5 mostly just set her up as a Woman in a Refrigerator. Quite a lot of men have motivations with her as an object to be rescued, or used, or loved. But now that she’s out of her box (literally), she’s so damaged and in the power of others that it’s painful to watch. (Especially since she is the only main female character.)
And the Earth-goddess thing she seems to have going on is bothersome too. I mean, yes, I’d noticed that the ongoing parental relationships in the series were all father-child (Joseph-Mendoza, Budu-Joseph, Suleyman-Latif, and of course Dr. Zeus-the Company), while the mother-child relationships had passed (van Drouten-Latif and Sarah-Alec). But rebalancing that through making Mendoza the mythic archetype of Motherhood . . . ? That’s a lot for one character to bear.
Other things: the stuff with Alec, Edward, and Nicholas is rather peculiar and Id-Vortex-ish (I’d say literally but I’m not sure how to map the three of them onto id, ego, and superego), but I’m willing to roll with it because I believe Edward would go off like that and it adds an interesting dimension to the conflicts. (Is it really very plausible, though, that the Company couldn’t do artifical wombs if it wanted? I suppose the actual answer is that it doesn’t want, it doesn’t see the problem with using mortal women as incubators—the misogyny of the New Inklings was not lost on me. Also the fact that all the Company higher-ups we’ve seen, mortal and immortal, have been men.)
Joseph being that completely off the rails (see, again, Mendoza as object) was a bit of a surprise, though I guess it was partly a necessary delaying tactic to get us up to the Silence. Also, I’d like more Suleyman, Latif, and Nan, please.