Gravity Dreams: Some interesting themes but not much else

Gravity Dreams by L.E. Modesitt JrGravity Dreams by L.E. Modesitt Jr science fiction book reviewsGravity Dreams by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Tyndel is a religious leader in his society. Any use of nanotechnology is forbidden and those who change their bodies with nanotech are considered “demons.” When someone purposely infects Tyndel with the forbidden “mites,” Tyndel must flee his country before he’s arrested and killed. When he gets rescued by the “evil” empire that allows technological body enhancements, his faith is challenged.

Gravity Dreams (1999) is very similar to The Parafaith War, the last Modesitt book I read. Both stories involve two societies, one whose religion teaches that the other is evil because it uses technology to upgrade sensory processing and increase lifespans. The heroes of both books are likeable male spaceship pilots who are rising up the ranks and undergoing intensive training regimens at some institution (this is a common plot for Modesitt). Both books have smart and competent female characters who do the same jobs that men do (thank you Mr. Modesitt!).Gravity Dreams by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Gravity Dreams’ little flaws are also the same as those in The Parafaith War and other Modesitt stories. Way too much time is spent watching the protagonist get trained to do his job, and watching him eat meals and drink tea (or whatever that book’s version of a stimulating drink is) during his time off. I find this really boring, especially when the training has absolutely no relation to anything real (i.e., I‘m not learning anything useful). Finally the “interesting” part of the plot begins during the last 15% of the book, and it’s not very interesting either.

If I’m trying to be generous (which I am), there are some themes in Gravity Dreams which readers may enjoy. They have to do with the nature of religion, personal responsibility, contributions to society, and the need for human companionship. These can be stimulating things to think about, but I didn’t find their treatment here to be stimulating enough to make up for the time I wasted reading Gravity Dreams.

Tantor Audio’s recent edition of Gravity Dreams (August 2018) is nicely narrated by Eric Michael Summerer. If I felt like I could recommend this book, I’d encourage you to purchase this version.

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.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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6 comments

  1. Those are interesting themes, and there are many books out there right now exploring them.

  2. Stuart W /

    Modesitt is one of the those strange authors that people either love or hate, but even within the ‘love’ group, there also seems to be a disparity between those that enjoy his Sci Fi novels versus the Recluse or Imager series. Fans will like one or the other, but rarely both.

    Personally, I have tried a number of his science fiction books, and have found them all universally boring beyond belief. however, I always look forward to the next Recluse novel coming out ….

    • That is an interesting observation, Stuart.

      I’ve read 13 of his books now (though not Imager or Recluse) and I didn’t like any of them. I keep trying because I keep thinking that I will. I like HIM, so I keep thinking I’ll like his books…. I think I’m going to have to give up.

      • I’ve that experience with a couple of writers. Kat, after 13, you really don’t have to read any more!

        • Stuart W /

          I have stopped trying any of his Science Fiction, as it clearly doesn’t appeal to me. But, as I noted earlier, I still enjoy his Recluse novels in particular. However, they are a bit of an acquired taste, and his writing style definitely does not appear to everyone.

          I would also note that I read the physical versions of the Recluse novels – the narrator of the audio books just doesn’t hit the mark for me.

          • When I read the description of The Magic of Recluse, it sounds very similar to the SF books. Someone is living in a society that has some specific rules and beliefs, then moves to another and has to adjust.

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