The third book about the immortal cyborgs who live through human history.

Publication year: 2000
Page count: 332
Format: print
Publisher: Tor

The Spanish Inquisition destroyed Mendoza’s family in the sixteenth century. Then employees of Dr. Zeus Incorporated, from the 24th century, made the child an offer to become part of something larger and wonderful. Mendoza didn’t really have a choice and so she was turned into an immortal cyborg who would live through human history and gather various items and see momentous moments. Mendoza is a botanist and she doesn’t really care for the company of people. She loathes mortal men and can barely tolerate fellow cyborgs. She fell in love with one mortal man when she doing her first mission as a cyborg. It was 1555 in England and Mendoza was very young. The man was Nicholas Harpole, a devoted Protestant, and things didn’t go well. Nicholas was burned at the stake and Mendoza is still haunted by his memory.

The book starts with a brief overview of Dr. Zeus and how the time traveling cyborgs can’t change known history but they can apparently interfere with the lives of unknown people and events. The story is told by Mendoza; it’s her statement to three people.

Mendoza has been living away from people for the past 150 years doing her botanical research. It seems that she’s been happy. However, now she’s been assigned to a more populated area: the outskirts of Los Angeles in 1862. She’s staying at a stage couch inn with five other immortals: the Facilitator Porfirio, Anthropologist Oscar, Zoologist Einar, Ornithologist Juan Bautista, and the Anthropologist Imarte. They’re a very entertaining group. Imarte works as a prostitute because that’s a good way to get men talking about their lives. Mendoza met Imarte before and they don’t like each other. Juan Bautista collects animals before he sends them on to Dr. Zeus and he also rescues a baby condor who then refuses to leave him, ever. Juan Bautista is also still a teenager and he loves his animals very much. Oscar is a traveling salesman and he strikes up a bet with Porfirio that he will be able to sell a very expensive pie cabinet. Unfortunately, the people living in the area are too poor to buy it.

In addition to being a zoologist, Einar is a film buff. The movie industry hasn’t yet started so Einar shows Mendoza the places where all sorts of things will happen in the future. He also arranges viewings for various old films. We also get to know how the others became immortal. Oscar even has a mortal family, his baby brother’s family, and he’s trying to keep them safe.

The first two thirds of the book is about Mendoza getting to know these people and getting comfortable with them. She gets nightmares about Nicholas and she’s producing “crome radiation” during them. The plot doesn’t really kick in until late in the book even though there are a few mysterious events before that. These are probably part of the longer storyline.

The book has a lot of showing rather than telling but that didn’t really bother me, except when Mendoza describes nine hours long movie and her companions’ reactions to it. I was seriously thinking of just skipping it. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed it when Oscar told us about his family and Einar told about a strange bar in LA. Maybe it’s because I used to be a Wild West fan in my teens and I’m still somewhat of a history buff.

Mendoza in Hollywood is similar to the previous book, the Sky Coyote, in that there doesn’t seem to be a plot as such, but more like a character study of the various immortals. Luckily, I found that fascinating. In fact, I’ve ordered the rest of the series since the Finnish library system doesn’t have any of Baker’s books.