Haze: An excellent stand-alone SF

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsscience fiction book reviews L.E.Modesitt Jr. HazeHaze 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 separate but slowly building up to a strong climax connecting both tales.

Longtime readers of Modesitt Jr. will quickly recognize several themes and elements that frequently pop up in the author’s works: a cerebral main character, lovingly detailed world-building, focus on environmental issues. There are several direct and indirect references to current political and societal issues, but also hints of a galactic history spanning thousands of years. That Modesitt Jr. can pull all of this off without resorting to endless info-dumps speaks to his considerable skill as a writer. Haze is an excellent standalone SF novel, and one I wouldn’t hesitate recommending both to longtime Modesitt fans and to anyone who isn’t yet familiar with the author.

Haze — (2009) Publisher: What lies beneath the millions of orbiting nanotech satellites that shroud the world called Haze? Major Keir Roget’s mission is to make planetfall in secret, find out, and report back to his superiors in the Federation, the Chinese-dominated government that rules Earth and the colonized planets. For all his effectiveness as a security agent, Roget is troubled by memories of an earlier mission. When he was assigned to covert duty in the Noram backcountry town of St. George, he not only discovered that the long-standing Saint culture was neither as backward nor as harmless as his superiors believed, but he barely emerged with his life and sanity whole. Now, scouting Haze, he finds a culture seemingly familiar, yet frighteningly alien, with hints of a technology far superior to that of the Federation. Yet he is not certain how much of what he sees is real — or how to convey a danger he cannot even prove to his superiors, if he can escape Haze.

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STEFAN RAETS (on FanLit's staff August 2009 — February 2012) reads and reviews science fiction and fantasy whenever he isn’t distracted by less important things like eating and sleeping. In February 2012, he retired from FanLit to focus on his blog Far Beyond Reality.

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