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 humans, Cybs, whose integration of technology and cybernetics have changed them, and whose motivations nobody knows and everyone has reason to fear.
Adiamante takes a very hard look at the loss of constraint on many levels. L.E. Modesitt Jr., as in many of his books, wants to make some very strong points about the ecological impact we are having on the planet, on the idea that a society functions best when individual accountability is enforced (even to biological hardcoding) and to show that technology is not an answer to all moral challenges.
The confrontation between the Demis and the Cybs is interesting because there are aspects of both cultures that can be readily transposed into modern society: the idea of more and more interactions between people becoming virtual instead of physical, and the ideology that greater power and ability should be harnessed to the benefit of the society as a whole. Modesitt does a good job of explaining, through his fictional history, the reasons that some of this happens. The reader can profoundly relate to the story, because individuals being confronted by a reality they refuse to see is something that many of us have experienced.
Adiamante is short in length, but packed full of details, ideas and a main character whose grief and frustration become tangible as you immerse yourself in the story. This is arguably my favorite science fiction novel by L.E. Modesitt Jr., and after re-reading it I am reminded that even if I don’t agree with some of the socially progressive ideas that are presented, they work within the context of this wonderful story.