Book Review: L.E. Modesitt,
by Jerry Wright
Author: L.E. Modesitt
Publisher: Tor Books
Length: 480 pages
Modesitt strikes again! A while back I talked about a book called Archform:Beauty, and pontificated a bit about "discrimination". As we are seeing in this "commonocracy"; Common man rules. But not for long. Oh well. In this new book, Flash we return to the world of Archform:Beauty where everyone has all of his basic needs taken care of. Which means that a lot of people are satisfied with a meaningless life. "It's GOOD to be a vegetable!" However, there are those called Ascendents. They strive. They work hard. They desire a meaningful life. But guess what? Even though pollution, disdain for the environment, and for people caused a great Die-Off, people haven't changed much, and the great multi-nationals, the Multis, run the governments or at least certainly that of NorAm.
The protagonist of this books is Jonat deVrai, once a rising star in the Military who resigned with a great deal of notoriety when he saw the atrocities and hypocrisy of his leaders during the "Reclamation of Guyana". Now, he leads a quiet life as a prod-placement consultant. This means he analyzes commercials. Only thanks to filters and "gatekeeper software" no one will stand still for blatant advertising, so products to be advertised must be subtly interpolated into entertainment. And Jonat is the best at figuring out how well such prod-placement works. And so his life runs smoothly except for frequent nightmare/flashbacks to his military life.
Smoothly that is until The Centre for Societal Research hires Jonat to analyze election campaigns of several politicians using his prod-placetne skills. Jonat quickly questions the ethics and perhaps the illegal use of "rez", resonant amplification of music to enhance the candidate's message through emotional manipulation. The simple case turns nasty when supposed security guards try to drive Jonat off the investigation.
The novel is filled with action, interesting speculation of future technologies, AIs, cybernetically controlled androids (aka cydroids) and the fascinating Paula Athene. Thanks to the military enhancements that Jonat kept, he is able to (barely in some cases) survive attacks by shadowy forces who seem to have all the power and political pull on their side.
The law (in the form of the Office of Safety and Safety Officers (aka safos)) can't seem to help him, and so he must take the law into his own hands. But Jonat is far more ethical than the society around him, and so the story, while intense, also has deep philosophical underpinnings. Modesitt wants his readers to think.