The Saga of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt
The underlying repetitive theme of the Modesitt works is personal accountability and the triumph of an enlightened, empowered individual over the self-serving machinations of the opposition. That may be simplifying things to a great degree, but that is what I get out of it.
My personal experience with Modesitt began with The Magic of Recluce many years ago. At the time I was just beginning to refine my taste for fantasy and Modesitt was something different.
In the Saga of Recluce, the basic pattern of each installment is that the story follows a main character who is out of place in his/her society and who is gifted to a greater or lesser degree to manipulate the energies of the world he/she lives in. What the hero can do with those energies also rests in large part with their pe... Read More
L.E. Modesitt(1943- )
After spending years writing poetry, political speeches and analyses, as well as economic and technical reports on extraordinarily detailed and often boring subjects, L.E. Modesitt Jr. finally got around to writing his first short story, which was published in 1973. He kept submitting and occasionally having published stories until an editor indicated he’d refuse to buy any more until he wrote a novel, which he’s been doing since 1982.L.E. Modesitt Jr lives in Cedar City, Utah. He keeps a blog and answers readers’ questions at his website.
The Saga of Recluce — (1991-2014) Publisher: An epic adventure world that has so far spanned fifteen novels and has run for twenty years was launched in The Magic of Recluce, a triumph of fantasy. Young Lerris is dissatisfied with his life and trade, and yearns to find a place in the world better suited to his skills and temperament. But in Recluce a change in circumstances means taking one of two options: permanent exile from Recluce or the dangergeld, a complex, rule-laden wanderjahr in the lands beyond Recluce, with the aim of learning how the world works and what his place in it might be. Many do not survive. Lerris chooses dangergeld. When Lerris is sent into intensive training for his quest, it soon becomes clear that he has a natural talent for magic. And he will need magic in the lands beyond, where the power of the Chaos Wizards reigns unchecked. Though it goes against all of his instincts, Lerris must learn to use his powers in an orderly way before his wanderjahr, or fall prey to Chaos.
The Saga of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt
The Magic of Recluce (Special 20th Anniversary Edition) by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
I first read The Magic of Recluce over 15 years ago, and I still have my original paperback copy. This year two special editions are being released by Tor and Subterranean Press. Rereading this story again, after having covered so much ground in epic fantasy, was both interesting and very comforting — comforting because it was nice to realize that a good story is still a good story even after all these years.
The Magic of Recluce chronicles the life of Lerris, a young man growing up on the island of Recluce. Recluce is a very normal, almost boring, place to grow up, and things are super orderly and clean. In my mind I imagine some of the extremely well-maintained villages that I have been through in Germany: so well organized, and it feels like there is a place for everything and everything is in its p... Read More
Ordermaster by L.E. Modesitt Jr
If Ordermaster and its prequel Wellspring of Chaos had come out as the first two books in the Recluce series, I'd have given them a slightly stronger review. Ordermaster is decently paced, has a good strong main character, some interestingly complex politics as its background, and is overall pretty well-written. But after reading a dozen Recluce books before these, one has to wonder how many times can Modesitt tell this same story. The problem in Ordermaster, besides the fact that we've seen this story so many times before, is that the plot begins to feel repetitive even within the book itself, a problem that has already affected his shorter series, The Corean... Read More
Natural Ordermage by L.E. Modesitt Jr
L.E. Modesitt’s Recluce fantasy series is something that has become so predictable that you read it as much because you know what to expect as for any actual update in the story. If you like it, that's not a bad thing as long as you understand what you are getting into.
Natural Ordermage represents yet another branch in the story that tells other sides of things that have happened in the past. In this case we get a glimpse into the Empire of Hamor and, as with the other branches, this opens our eyes to the possibility of them being something better than we might have thought before. It's good filler material.
The real problem with the Recluce series at this point is that it's pretty much novel-by-number. The Main Character will be some sort of powerful mage who ... Read More
Natural Ordermage by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
I admit to picking up Natural Ordermage with some trepidation. My last review of a Modesitt book was pretty harsh, relegating his recent work to the shampoo-rinse-repeat bin of been-writing-that-series-too-long where the author starts telling the same story with the same character again and again and again. But for some reason, foolish optimism perhaps, I decided to give him another shot when I saw his new Recluce novel (while I thought these too had gotten stale, my fiercest criticism dealt with his Corean series).
I’ll have to say I was pleasantly surprised, though too many of his tendencies/tics or whatever you’d like to call them still were noticeable. The book is certainly a fast and enjoyable read, if not a particularly thrilling or thought-provoking one... Read More
Mage-Guard of Hamor by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Mage-Guard of Hamor is the 15th book in the Saga of Recluce series by L.E. Modesitt Jr. If you’ve gotten to this point in the series, then odds are you know what you are getting in to, and perhaps you don’t mind the comfortable repetition. But, unfortunately, this installment only left me bored.
Mage-Guard of Hamor continues the story we were following in Natural Ordermage. The main character, Rahl, is one of the less likeable protagonists in the series, but the story of the country of Hamor is interesting, so I was hoping for some lively reading.
Things were going pretty well until Rahl was sent to war. Five hundred pages later, after a slow trudge from hamlet to town to city to hamlet... Read More
Arms-Commander by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Arms-Commander is a return to historical Candar and the SAGA OF RECLUCE by L.E. Modesitt Jr. This book follows in the wake of Chaos Balance and Fall of Angels as continued explanation of how the female-run and empowered part of the continent of Candar came to be. For long term fans of the series, this is really interesting stuff to fill in some of the blanks.
Saryn, a decidedly cardboard character from the earlier series, is the main character and heroine of Arms-Commander. L.E. Modesitt Jr. would probably have us refer to her as a hero in a gender-neutral tone that is more in keeping with the story. She's talented in the magic that is the basis of the much of the story, but she doesn't suffer from the chronic side-effects of killing pe... Read More
Cyador’s Heirs by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Cyador’s Heirs, the seventeenth book in the SAGA OF RECLUCE, takes place after the fall of the great nation of Cyador. It tells the story of Lerial, the younger son of the current Duke of Cigoerne, the heir to the Malachite Throne of fallen Cyador. L.E. Modesitt Jr. follows Lerial as he comes of age and is shaped by people and events around him.
Lerial is an intelligent, angry, slightly jealous younger son of the nobility. He is talented, insightful, and sick of his older brother getting preferential treatment and acting superior to him. Lerial is not a bad guy; he’s just struggling to figure out who he is. His father, Kiedron, is a diligent ruler who has been well trained by his mother, the former Empress of Cyador, on what it takes to grow and develop a country in real prosperity. Those lessons are not always easy for Lerial to... Read More
Heritage of Cyador by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Heritage of Cyador is the eighteenth book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s SAGA OF RECLUCE and is the immediate sequel to Cyador's Heirs. It continues the story of Lerial, the second son of the Duke of Cigoerne. This is a typical Modesitt novel, which means it follows the pattern of having different political parties wrangling back and forth with each other until a hero is forced to use his magical skills in some unique and unexpected way to save the day. It's formulaic to be sure, but if you happen to like this pattern, you will enjoy the story.
The continent of Hamor is comprised of competing nation-states. The different rulers are often misled into equating their own ego and lust for power with what is best for their nation. The result is a constant state of at least minor warfare with countries probing each other back and forth l... Read More
The Corean Chronicles — (2003-2011) Publisher: Millennia ago, a magical disaster caused the fall of a great civilization that spanned a continent, and ended a golden age. Corus today is a world of contending countries, of struggling humans, strange animals and elusive supernatural creatures. Though much has been forgotten, it is still a place of magical powers, and of a few people who are Talented enough to use them. Even as a child, Alucius showed very strong Talent. He was warned never to reveal it, lest others seek to exploit it. But as he grows to young manhood, Alucius must serve in the Militia like his father before him. When his country is invaded by the slave armies of the Matrial, immortal ruler of a nearby land, Alucius is captured and magically enslaved. A time of changes has come upon all of the world of Corus. If the evil surrounding the Matrial is not ended, those changes will not be happy ones. Alucius and his Talent have a central role to play.
Legacies by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Alucius lives in the land of Corus which used to be ruled by a great civilization until some sort of cataclysm occurred. Now the continent is divided into several countries that are on the verge of war. Alucius, who we see grow from a young boy to a young man, just wants to get married to a nice girl and live as a peaceful herder on his family’s stead. But war comes and Alucius is drafted into the army where he rises rapidly in the ranks.
As a herder, Alucius has inherited the “Talent” which allows him to sense the presence of others and underlies some of his uncanny battle skills. But he must hide the Talent and try to make his successes seem natural because most people who aren’t herders either fear or would like to exploit him. This becomes especially true when he gets captured by the army of the Matrial, an evil woman who rules over an empire that enslaves men. Alucius knows he must escape ... Read More
Darknesses by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Note: We're rebooting this review, which was originally published in 2008, to include information about the just-released audio version.
First off, though this does stand as in independent story in what is called THE COREAN CHRONICLES, it will make a lot more sense to you and you'll be a lot more invested in the characters if you read the first book ahead of time. Darknesses returns to the same main character, Alucius, who remains as in the first a reluctant soldier caught up in battles and politics he'd rather not wage, preferring to set down his sword and his strange Talent and return home to be a herder with his new wife. This book roams further afield than the first book as Alucius is sent to various locales (helps to periodically check the map to keep all his travels and the stratagems behind them straigh... Read More
Scepters by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Scepters, the third book of The Corean Chronicles, isn't a bad book in its own right. If it could be read on its own (one really needs to have read the two previous books to follow this one), it would have been a decent if not great or even really good read. But coming as it does after the first two, my largest reaction was: haven't we seen all this before?
By now the pattern of plot and character has become pretty rote. Alucius, the main character of all three, is reluctantly forced to once again take up arms to protect his ability to remain a herder and have a normal life. Once again, he protests that he has no desire to leave his home, that he only does "what needs to be done", that he wishes no further honors, awards, etc. Once again, he is placed in "impossible" situations (made impossible due to overwhelming forces array... Read More
Alector's Choice by L.E. Modesitt Jr
There's no longer any doubt — Modesitt has fallen into the "shampoo" mode of series writing: rinse-shampoo-repeat. Alector's Choice, while not a bad book if read on its own (which it can be), is, for fans or former fans of Modesitt's other work, merely a rehash of the same old same old. Same old plot. Same old characters. Same old conflicts. Same old resolutions. Only the names have been changed to protect the profits (and a possible plagiarism suit if one could sue oneself).
Reading the above criticism, those who've followed the Corean series can predict what's coming here. A good character of middling military rank is placed under an incompetent superior and given multiple impossible tasks. Employing his still-developing "talent" and his tendency toward original and independent thought, the charact... Read More
Alector’s Choice by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Despite believing what Bill said about the “shampoo-rinse-repeat” nature of Modesitt’s COREAN CHRONICLES, I gave Alector’s Choice, the fourth book in the series, a try since it has just been released in audiobook format by Tantor Audio and they sent me a review copy.
If you’re interested in reading Alector’s Choice, you should know that you don’t need to read books 1-3 first. Alector’s Choice begins a trilogy that’s a prequel to the rest of the series. In fact, if you haven’t read the other books in the series, you are likely to enjoy this book a lot more than I did since my main complaint is that it’s too similar to the previous novels.
The story follows two protagonists. The first is Mykel... Read More
The Imager Portfolio — (2009-2015) Publisher: Imager is the beginning of a whole new fantasy in a whole new magical world from the bestselling creator of Recluce. Although Rhennthyl is the son of a leading wool merchant in L’Excelsis, the capital of Solidar, the most powerful nation on Terahnar, he has spent years becoming a journeyman artist and is skilled and diligent enough to be considered for the status of master artisan — in another two years. Then, in a single moment, his entire life is transformed when his master patron is killed in a flash fire, and Rhenn discovers he is an imager — one of the few in the entire world of Terahnar who can visualize things and make them real. He must leave his family and join the Collegium of Imagisle. Imagers live separately from the rest of society because of their abilities (they can do accidental magic even while asleep), and because they are both feared and vulnerable. In this new life, Rhenn discovers that all too many of the “truths” he knew were nothing of the sort. Every day brings a new threat to his life. He makes a powerful enemy while righting a wrong, and begins to learn to do magic in secret. Imager is the innovative and enchanting opening of an involving new fantasy story.
Imager by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Imager is the beginning of the new Imager Portfolio series by L.E. Modesitt Jr. Set in a different world than The Saga of Recluce, one still feels the same vibe. In fact, there are several parallels to the Recluce books, and if you’re a Modesitt fan, that’s not a bad thing.
Rhennthyl is an aspiring artist who grew up in a merchant family. He is intelligent, motivated, and well-read, but feels unsuited for following in the footsteps of his father, so we see him transformed from talented painter to gifted wielder of the magic of Imaging. Imaging is the ability to use mental powers to copy or modify physical things — creating refined metal from raw ore, for example. Most of the novel's plot concerns Rhenn’s move into the Imager guild a... Read More
Imager by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Imager is the first book in the IMAGER PORTFOLIO, the newest fantasy series by the incredibly prolific L. E. Modesitt Jr. I usually enjoy the author's work very much, and Imager was no exception, despite the fact that it's so recognizably L. E. Modesitt Jr.'s work that it verges on the predictable. I'm actually sure that some Modesitt fans could predict the early part of this novel's plot just by looking at the included map: hmmm... looks like a city with a bunch of artist studio's, and in the center there's something called "Imager's Isle"... so maybe we have yet another artisan (see:The Magic of Recluce) who discovers he has some strange power and ends up in a magical training organization of some sort? Bingo: Rhenntyl, a typically cerebral and driven Modesitt protagonist, is a struggling journeyman port... Read More
Imager's Challenge by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Imager's Challengeis the second book in the IMAGER PORTFOLIO, the latest fantasy series by L.E. Modesitt Jr. The author is probably best known for his ongoing SAGA OF RECLUCE, but for readers who may be daunted by the length of that series, the IMAGER PORTFOLIO is a great way to try the work of this talented and prolific writer.
Imager's Challenge picks up right where Imager left off. Rhenntyl, now a master imager at the Collegium Imago, has succeeded in foiling the plot of the Ferran envoy, but because the resulting explosion and deaths have made him more visible (and so less appropriate as a covert operative), he has received a new assignment: he will be the imager liaison to the l'Excelsis city patrol. In the course of this task Rhenntyl learns much more about the less we... Read More
Imager's Challenge by L.E. Modesitt Jr
I really looked forward to L.E. Modesitt's return to the Imager series. The first book, Imager, was typical Modesitt fare, but it felt like he was trying out some new stuff. In Imager's Challenge, I felt like we went right back to where we were before Imager.
After the events of Imager, Rhennthyl, the main character, had been through the typical Modesitt transition. He had become a powerful, organized, highly methodical, politically correct male hero. For readers familiar with Modesitt’s earlier work, this is exactly the same hero we have been reading about forever. Modesitt's main characters are decidedly politically correct and Modesitt spends a lot of time promoting gender equality. That's not necessarily a bad th... Read More
Imager’s Intrigue by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
L.E. Modesittreturns to great storytelling in Imager’s Intrigue, the powerful third book of The Imager Portfolio series. Imager’s Intrigue follows closely on the heels of Imager’s Challenge as Rhennthyl, the main character, continues his rise in power as an Imager and a catalyst for change.
Rhennthyl, now married to his fiancée Seliora and father of a young daughter, continues in his role as Patrol Captain and Imager. Modesitt has fast-forwarded a few years and created a good transition between where we left off and how things now are.
Rhenn, working with his in-laws, has done some innovative jobs creation in his area of the city. His unique style and almost overbearing honesty make him a continued target for the establishment. It’s really interesting t... Read More
Imager’s Intrigue by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Imager’s Intrigue, the third novel in L.E. Modesitt’s IMAGER PORTFOLIO fantasy series, starts a few years after the events of Imager’s Challenge. The young master imager Rhenntyl is now a successful Captain in the Civic Patrol, which makes this new novel initially feel very similar to the previous book in the series. He’s also happily married to Seliora and has a 3-year-old daughter, which is a refreshing touch, because how many fantasy heroes are ever shown with a young family like this?
The first third of Imager’s Intrigue is extremely exciting and possibly the most enjoyable part of the series so far. By now, Rhenn has become a fascinating, well-rounded character, and his adventures in the city of L’Excelsis, dealing with an increase in drug overdoses due to a suspic... Read More
Scholar by L.E. Modesitt Jr
In a pattern that’s by now familiar for L.E. Modesitt Jr., Scholar marks a new beginning in the IMAGER PORTFOLIO series. The book is set several hundred years before the events portrayed in the three “Rhentyll” novels Imager, Imager’s Challenge, and Imager’s Intrigue. Because of this, Scholar shares no characters with the earlier novels in the series and can be read separately. However, if you haven’t read the Rhentyll novels yet and are in the mood for some good, thoughtful fantasy, I still recommend reading them first, just so you can see the events of the new novel in the broader historical context L.E. Modesitt Jr. likes to build for his fantasy worlds.
Scholar is set in a time when S... Read More
Scholar by L.E. Modesitt Jr
The IMAGER PORTFOLIOso far has followed one character, Rhennthyl, in one city, L’Excelsis. In Scholar, L.E. Modesitt Jr. takes us back to an earlier time period in the IMAGER universe. But while we follow a new character this time, Scholar is classic Modesitt writing, detailing the protagonist’s personal life and career progression set against a backdrop of political and/or military difficulty.
Quaeryt is a Scholar of modest means. A Scholar, in this world, is a professional researcher/educator/adviser and the prestige of this career varies greatly from town to town. Scholars, for the most part, live in communal buildings reminiscent of monasteries, but they are worldly enough that the comparison isn’t a perfect fit. Quaeryt is an orphan who was raised by Scholars and then went t... Read More
Princeps by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Princepsis a direct follow-up to Scholar and continues the story of Quaeryt, the Scholar/Imager. In Scholar, Quaeryt grew greatly both as a person and as an Imager through his service to Lord Bhayar in investigating the reason for heavy military requirements in the province on Tilbor. Quaeryt’s resounding success in figuring out the underlying issue and protecting Lord Bhayar’s interests is rewarded by an appointment as Princeps of Tilbor and marriage to Bhayar’s sister, Vaelora.
As Princeps of Tilbor, Quaeryt has a lot of his plate while managing the administrative and financial aspects of the province. Quaeryt is responsible for working out the details when merchants or tradesmen seek concessions or to negotiate with the government. This is a great teaching and learning experience for a well educated Scholar, and prepares him for the next pha... Read More
Imager’s Battalion by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
THE IMAGER PORTFOLIO has covered two eras and two separate characters and tied them together with a theme of great power and great responsibility. L.E. Modesitt Jr. has taken the time to show the evolution of magic (imaging) in a low-tech world and has given us some pretty amazing world-building. The challenge for readers, however, is that it has been at times dreadfully boring, endlessly repetitive and so heavy-handed in its statements about the social conditions and the inherent prejudices that exist in that world that even the most stalwart fan gets… tired.
Imager’s Battalion covers the war between Telaryn, the more moderate, socially progressive nation, and Bovaria, the more conservative, aggressive and socially repressive nation. Quaeryt, recently recovered from the typical almost deadly over-exertion of a Modesitt hero, is called back to lead his formation of Ima... Read More
Antiagon Fire by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Antiagon Fire is the fourth book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s IMAGER PORTFOLIO series about Quaeryt the scholar (it's the seventh book in the entire series). The twists and turns of Quaeryt’s life have been momentous as befits a fantasy epic, but have often dealt with very mundane aspects of life. In this installment, Modesitt really reaches deep into the realm of political motivations and asks us to consider whether and when might really does make right.
After the traumatic conclusion to the war with Bovaria and the near death of Quaeryt, there was really no way of knowing what would come next. The continent of Lydar has consisted of many different nations for a long time and might have remained that way if not for the war. Quaeryt’s brother-in-law Bhayar has seized the opportunity to unify two nations under his rule and that leaves only two other nations with which to contend. Read More
Rex Regis by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Regis Regis is the eighth book of the IMAGER PORTFOLIO and the fifth book following Quaeryt. After literally years of hard work, war, and nothing less than miraculous events, the curtain begins to close on this part of Solidar's history.
The fall of Antiago had been particularly painful for Quaeryt because of the loss of his child when his wife was injured. The reality of the constant threat of power-hungry competitors to influence the future of the continent of Lydar leaves Quaeryt with very little time to heal or mourn. In spite of his incredible success, Quaeryt knows that he must race back to report to Bhayar, now ruler of almost all of Lydar.
As in the previous four books, Quaeryt spends a great deal of time interacting with recalcitrant High Holders. These men enjoyed great power under the previous ruler of Bovaria, but are now very slow to adapt ... Read More
Adiamante by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Suppose that the world had gone through an apocalypse based on a conflict between two groups of super-technologically-advanced people with fundamentally different beliefs on how technology should be applied. One group wanted the logic of technology to replace human thought, and the other wanted technology to merely enhance human perception. Could this difference provide the footing for outright war?
Ecktor is a Demi, a human who has been enhanced with physical and mental abilities hard-coded into his DNA. His wife has died; her memories are everywhere and permeate the very home he lives in. Ecktor’s life goes on with the mundane tasks of exercise, cooking and the work that keeps his credit-balance at a reasonable level. His grief would be overwhelming, however, except for the appearance of a fleet of high-technology warships inbound to earth. A leader is required to manage the pending contact with a group of hu... Read More
Haze by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Major Keir Roget, an agent for the Chinese-dominated Federation government, is sent to investigate a mysterious world — mysterious because it is entirely enveloped by a "haze" of shielding particles. When he arrives on Haze, he finds a friendly and seemingly very advanced civilization of humans who give him such complete access to their society that it almost seems as if his perceptions or thoughts are somehow being controlled.
Roget's story is told in alternating chapters, going back and forth from the Haze mission to the events leading up to it, including an earlier mission among the "Saint" (read: Mormon) culture on Earth that reveals many things about the Federation. This way, the reader slowly gets an idea of what shaped Roget's opinions and character while reading the main story set on Haze. L.E. Modesitt Jr. really shows off his writing skills here, keeping both story threads sep... Read More
Empress of Eternity by L.E. Modesitt Jr
It’s hard not to get excited whenever L.E. Modesitt Jr. releases a new standalone sci-fi novel. Despite being better known for his various fantasy series than his science fiction, some of his best work can be found in the latter genre. Novels like The Parafaith War, Archform: Beauty, Adiamante and Haze (just to name a few) are wonderful examples of this amazingly prolific author’s talent when it comes to science fiction. The newest addition to this list, Empress of Eternity, is no exception. Despite being a bit dry and inaccessible, its scope and ambition are stunning.
The novel follows three separate story lines, set in far-future Earth societies that are separated by tens of thousands of years. In each of these, scientists are investigating ... Read More
The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, With Winds and Accompaniment by L.E. Modesitt Jr
I am a big fan of Modesitt’s science fiction work, even when he gets on his political soap box for gender, socially progressive politics, and environmental issues. The One-Eyed Man is a solo novel that encompasses all of these topics, but this time there is almost a feeling of cynicism that I really enjoyed.
Paulo Verano is an idealistic Environmental Analyst who has just been taken to the cleaners. In a scene that is familiar to many, his ex-spouse has left him for another person and has financially devastated him. His daughter is estranged from him and his business, while viable, is a means for his ex to continue to reap financial support. It’s a bleak picture.
Stittara is a distant world from the major planets of the Unity of the Cyelesian Arm. It produces a naturally occurring substance that essentially doubles the human li... Read More
Speculative Horizons edited by Patrick St. Denis
Speculative Horizons is a lovely little anthology edited by book blogger Patrick St. Denis (of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist fame). When the good people at Subterranean Press asked him whether he’d be interested in editing a short story collection, he understandably jumped on the idea (who wouldn’t?!), but asked that a portion of the proceeds be donated to breast cancer research. Not only is this an absolutely wonderful initiative, but it also means that you now have an excellent chance to buy a book and actually feel good about it.
This 128 page anthology contains five short stories by authors whose names many people who are interested in speculative fiction will instantly recognize: Read More
The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams
The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is the latest themed anthology edited by John Joseph Adams — and it’s another good one. This time, Adams has collected a set of short stories featuring the hero’s (or often superhero’s) traditional antagonist: the mad genius, the super-villain, the brilliant sociopath who wants to remold the world in his own image — or occasionally, maybe, just be left alone in his secret lair to conduct spine-tingling experiments that, as an unfortunate side-effect, may cause drastically rearranged geography, rampant mutation, or major extinction events.
Under the editorial direction of John Joseph Adams, this anthology offers an impressively varied view on this archetypical character. Some stories refer back to mad geniuses you’ll be familiar wi... Read More
Timegods’ World — (1982-1992) The Timegod is an expansion from Modesitt’s first novel, The Fires of Paratime. Publisher: Lovi, a young timediver, becomes a full-fledged member of the Temporal Guard of the planet Query, but he soon rebels against the parasitic culture in which he lives. TIMEGOD’S WORLD is reminiscent of the Change War stories of Fritz Lieber, and although they are SF, they contain intriguing connections to the fantasy universe of Modesitt’s Recluce novels. This is SF adventure in time and space, full of action and big ideas.
The Ecolitan Matter — (1986-1997) Publisher: Four hundred years after winning Secession from the Terran Empire, the star system Accord wants to sign a simple trade treaty on microchip export tariffs. But if the agreement is so minor, why is Professor Nathaniel Whaler — top economist at the Ecolitan Institute, and his world’s top commando killer — chosen Accord’s Envoy? Because the Imperial capital is a maddening bureaucracy of sniveling diplomats, high profile figureheads, powers behind the throne, and spies — everywhere, spies…. Because the Envoy has to face red tape, politics, prejudice — and a gauntlet of kidnappers, assassins, snipers, and bombs… Because some Ministry — but which? — doesn’t want the treaty. Because some in the Empire still blame Accord for Earth’s poisoning and the defection of fifty star systems after the war between Imperial nuclear might and Ecolitan bio-ecological weaponry. A hidden cabal wants to fight the war again — even if, this time, the entire galaxy dies. And only Nathaniel Whaler, the Ecologic Envoy, has the power to stop the catastrophe.
Forever Hero — (1986-1988) Publisher: L. E. Modesitt, Jr’s first major work was The Forever Hero trilogy of SF adventure novels published as paperback originals in the 1980s, of which Dawn for a Distant Earth was the first title in the series. Thousands of years in the future, Earth is a desolate ruin. The first human ship to return in millennia discovers an abandoned wasteland inhabited only by a few degenerate or mutated human outcasts. But among them is a boy of immense native intelligence and determination who is captured, taken in, and educated, and disappears — to grow up to become the force behind a plan to make Earth flower again. He is, if not immortal, at least very long-lived, and he plans to build an independent power base out in the galaxy and force the galactic empire to devote centuries and immense resources to the restoration of the ecology of Earth.
The Ghost Trilogy (Johan Eschbach) — (1994-2001) Publisher: Johan Eschbach, Professor of Environmental Science and semi-retired secret agent, and his lovely wife the world-renowned singer Llysette, return for another adventure, this time in Russia, during the long ‘white nights’ of summer. Their world is an intriguing alternate present in which many things are changed. What we know as the eastern U.S. is the nation of Columbia, and Russia is still ruled by the Czars. Llysette is being sent by the Columbian government on a cultural exchange mission to St. Petersburg. Johan will, of course, accompany her, allowing him to work behind the scenes on the oil concession in Russian Alaska that Columbia so desperately needs. But even the oil shortage will fade to insignificance when Johan discovers what new weapons technology the Russians are developing, a threat even more fearsome than the atomic bombs of Austro-Hungary. This is the concluding novel of the of alternate history adventure trilogy that Modesitt began with Of Tangible Ghosts and The Ghost of the Revelator.
The Spellsong Cycle — (1998-2003) Publisher: When Anna Marshall is transported from her boring and frustrating life in Ames, Iowa, to the very different world of Erde, she’s angry and confused, but soon finds out that for the first time in her life she’s uniquely powerful. In Iowa Anna was a music instructor and small-time opera singer, but on Erde her musical ability makes her a big-time sorceress — potentially. First she must figure out how to use her ability before the big-time rulers who’ve noticed her arrival kill her just because she’s an unpredictable new power… Those rulers may wish they hadn’t waited as long as they did.
Parafaith — (1996-2003) Publisher: Some bad ideas go back a long way and this one goes all the way back to the original home planet: Someone’s god told them they had a right to more territory — so they figure they can take what they want by divine right. In the far future among the colonized worlds of the galaxy there’s a war going on between the majority of civilized worlds and a colonial theocracy. Trystin Desoll grows up fighting against religious fanatics and becomes a hero, a first-class pilot, then, amazingly, a spy. What do you do if you’re a relatively humane soldier fighting millions of suicidal volunteers on the other side who know that they are utterly right and you are utterly wrong, with no middle ground? Trystin Desoll has an idea.
Archform: Beauty — (2002-2004) Publisher: Most readers recognize L. E. Modesitt, Jr., as the author of a favorite fantasy series, be it The Magic of Recluce or The Spellsong Cycle. It’s always a special treat when he turns his hand again to SF and Archform: Beauty is no exception. Four centuries in the future, the world is rich — nanomachines watch the health of the wealthy and manufacture food and gadgets for everybody — but no Utopia, as we see in the lives of five very different people. A singing teacher suffers for her music and fights bureaucracy and apathy. A news researcher delivers the essential background details but can’t help looking deeper and wondering about the real story behind the grim incidents that make the headlines. A police investigator, assigned to study trends, begins to see a truly sinister pattern behind a series of seemingly unrelated crimes and deaths. A politician aids his constituents, fights the good fight, and tries to get reelected without compromising his principles. A ruthless businessman strives to make his family powerful, wealthy, and independent. Theirs is a society where technology takes care of everyone’s basic needs but leaves most people struggling to extract a meaningful life from a world crowded with wonders but empty of commitment and human connection. Alternating the voices and experiences of these five characters in a tour de force of imaginative creation, Modesitt overlaps, combines, and builds their disparate stories into a brilliant tale of future crime and investigation, esthetic challenge and personal triumph. In the same way that he has built fantasy landscapes of surpassing fascination, Modesitt creates a believable future, one imbued with a deep understanding of the way politics works and how people act and react when their sense of themselves, of justice and truth, is exploited by others for power and control. When there’s nothing left to need or want, will beauty live on in people’s lives or disappear forever? L. E. Modesitt, Jr. asks difficult questions, sets himself unlikely challenges, and once again delivers an absorbing tale that enlightens, entertains, and uplifts all at once.
Hammer of Darkness — (1985) Publisher: Martin Martel is an exile in trouble with the gods in this SF novel by the bestselling writer L. E, Modesitt, Jr, now back in a new trade papeback edition from Tor. After finding out that he has unusual powers, he is banished from the planet Karnak. Martin is thrust into the tranquil world of Aurore, vacation paradise for the galaxy. There he finds that the reality of Aurore is much different from its serene veneer. The gods are wantonly cruel and indifferent to the chaos they cause: are they really gods or just men and woman with larger-than-life powers? Whatever the answer Martin Martel must challenge their supremacy to defend his life, love, and the fate of all mankind.
Gravity Dreams — (1999) Publisher: In Earth’s distant future, Tyndel is both teacher and mentor, a staunch devotee to his conservative and rigidly structured religious culture. Then a rogue infection of nanotechnology transforms him into a “demon”, something more than human, and he is forced into exile, fleeing to the more technologically advanced space-faring civilization that lies to the north, one that his own righteous people consider evil. Although shaken by his transformation, he has the rare talent required to become a space pilot. What no one, least of all Tyndel, expects, is his deep-space encounter with a vastly superior being — perhaps with God.
The Octagonal Raven — (2001) Publisher: Someone is trying to kill Daryn Alwyn. Born to privilege, with pre-selected genetic advantages and the best nanotech augmentation his father’s fabulous money can buy, Daryn spurned the lucrative family Media Network to seek his own path, a crafty raven among soaring eagles. After serving with distinction as a space pilot in the military, he enjoys success as a media consultant. But when he finds himself the target of sophisticated murder attempts, his world is turned upside down. It seems unlikely his success outside the family business could have inspired such expensive assassination attempts, and his father and brother and sister would be more obvious targets within the family. Then his sister is killed, and Daryn is her heir — suddenly one of the richest and most powerful men in the world. Modesitt’s new SF thriller lays bare the prejudices of the powerful in a fascinating future society, and reads like an express train.
The Eternity Artifact — (2005) Publisher: Five thousand years in the future, humankind has spread across the galaxy and more than a dozen different planetary and system governments exist in an uneasy truce. Human beings have found no signs of other life anywhere approaching human intelligence. Until scientists discover a sunless planet they name Danann. Moving at unnaturally high speed, Danann travels the void just beyond the edge of the galaxy. Its continents and oceans have been sculpted and shaped and there is but a single, almost perfectly-preserved megaplex upon the surface — with tens of thousands of near-identical metallic-silver-blue towers set along curved canals. Yet, Danann has been abandoned for so long that even the atmosphere has frozen solid. Orbital shuttle pilot Jiendra Chang, artist Chendor Barna, and history professor Liam Fitzhugh are recruited by the Comity government and its Deep Space Service as part of an unprecedented and unique expedition to unravel Danann’s secrets. And there are forces that will stop at nothing to prevent them, even if it means interstellar war.
The Elysium Commission — (2007) Publisher: L.E. Modesitt returns to SF with a whole new future world on the brink of destruction. A brilliant scientist on the planet Devanta has created a small universe contiguous to ours — and a utopian city on one of the planets. The question becomes, though, an utopia for whom? And why is a shady entertainment mogul subsidizing the scientist? More critical than that, does this new universe require the destruction of a portion — or all — of our universe in order to grow and stabilize? Blaine Donne is a retired military special operative now devoted to problem-solving for hire. He investigates a series of seemingly unrelated mysteries that arise with the arrival of a woman with unlimited resources who has neither a present nor a past. The more he investigates, the more questions arise, including the role of the two heiresses who are more — and less — than they seem, and the more Donne is pushed inexorably toward an explosive solution and a regional interstellar war.
Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories — (2008) Publisher: This is the first story collection ever from bestselling fantasy and science fiction writer L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Modesitt began publishing short fiction in the SF magazines in the 1970s, and this collection includes a selection of stories from the whole of his career. Some of the early stories are kernels for his early SF novels, others display the wide range of his talents and interests, from satire to military adventure. This book also contains three new stories that have never been published before: “Black Ordermage,” set in Modesitt’s bestselling Recluce series; “Beyond the Obvious Wind,” set in his Corean Chronicles universe; and “Always Outside the Lines,” which is related to the Ghost of Columbia books. Viewpoints Critical is an excellent introduction to the work of one of the major SF and fantasy writers publishing today.
Some of your favorite authors take some time to answer our questions:
Got any news to share with us?
Laura Bickle / Alayna Williams: My first YA novel, The Hallowed Ones, will be released by HMH Graphia on September 25. Pitched as Witness meets 28 Days Later, The Hallowed Ones is a paranormal thriller in which Amish girl must protect her family from a violent contagion, even as fear and denial threaten to erode her community from within.
Mark Lawrence: Why yes I have! My daughter (age 8 and severely disabled) wrote a book that's out-selling my own in the US! It's a picture book and she used a head-switch and communication device to guide the pl... Read More
Some of your favorite authors take some time to answer our questions:
Got any news to share?
Stephen Deas: The Black Mausoleum came out in August and The King's Assassin will hit the shelves in a couple of days.
Bradley Beaulieu: I'm headed to the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto, Canada at the end of this month. I'll be doing a reading there, and there's also the mass autograph signing, so if anyone happens to be there, please stop by and say hello. I'd love to see you.
Laura Bickle: My first YA novel, The Hallowed Ones, was r... Read More
Some of your favorite authors take some time to answer our questions:
Got any personal news you'd like to share?
L.E. Modesitt Jr.: I've just turned in the last novel about Quaeryt (Rex Regis) in that subseries of THE IMAGER PORTFOLIO, which will make five books about him -- Scholar, Princeps, Imager's Battalion (release date of January 22nd), Antiagon Fire (release scheduled for July 2013), and, of course, Rex Regis (not yet scheduled). Also, I've got a stand-alone SF novel -- The One-Eyed Man -- coming out a year from now.
Danielle Ackley-McPhail: For the... Read More