Bewildering Stories

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Book Review:
L.E. Modesitt, The Eternity Artifact

by Jerry Wright

The Eternity Artifact
Author: L.E. Modesitt
Publisher: Tor
Mass Paper: 480 pages
Price: $7.99
L.E. Modesitt has spent to much time among the Mormons. He lives in Cedar City, Utah, and it seems to be affecting him negatively. Two previous books, the excellent Parafaith War and the interesting but more irritating The Ethos Effect are war tales wherein the bad guys are "The Revenants" a faith mirroring much of the "Latter Day Saints". In The Eternity Artifact, there are multiple warring groups of which, one, the Zionist Covenant is very similar to the Revenants.

Oh well... Mankind among the stars has splintered into multiple ethnic and racial divisions, such as the Sunnis, the Middle Kingdom, the Chrysanthemum Worlds, the aforementioned Covenant, and the Comity. The Sunnis and the Covenanters actually have more in common with each other than the rest of the polities, because they are "faith-based". Although, of course they hate and despise each other as well.

The Comity is theoretically enlightened and progressive, and they have discovered, at the far edge of the galaxy, a mysterious, uninhabited terraformed world named Danann. Danann has no sun, and is heading out into interstellar space at a frightening clip. Danann is so old that the atmosphere is solid ice, but poking up through the frozen atmosphere is a marvelous megaplex of towers billions of years old, and the only sign that any extraterrestrial life had ever existed.

Modesitt writes the story through the first person point of view of four very different characters. Beautiful but icy pilot Jiendra Chang, history professor/ex-commando Liam Fitzhugh, artist Chendor Barna, and the Covenanter assassin Goodman (disguised as Tech Bond) are all very different, and all bring a variety of disparate viewpoints which well flesh out the story.

As usual, Modesitt's philisophical ramblings are well done, and Fitzhugh helps us to understand why some societies absolutely hate anything of a moral or scientific nature that might damage the underpinnings of their faith.

The good guys are flawed, and the bad guy is likeable, and the storytelling, while somewhat slow moving in the beginning, is still first rate.

Copyright © 2006 Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories

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