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The Elysium Commission Hardcover – February 20, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Modesitt's action-packed space opera–cum–hard-boiled detective story (after 2006's Soarer's Choice) stars Blaine Donne, retired special operative who solves problems for the wealthy by day and fights crime by night on the planet Devanta. While tracking down missing heiresses, checking on a pal's patent infringement case and doing a background check on a client's granddaughter's unsuitable fiancé, he discovers connections among several commissions. Blaine's pal ends up dead, and Blaine realizes that he's also been hired to look into the project that's illegally using his friend's technology for momentous purposes. Even as several attempts on his life leave him more curious than ever, the political situation on the planet Devanta destabilizes, and he makes full use of his special ops skills in a final caper to save the planet. Modesitt cleverly weaves together disparate threads of information to form a complete tapestry. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A brilliant scientist on the planet Devanta has created a small universe with a utopian city, Elysium, on one of its planets. Why? For whom? And why is an exceedingly dubious entertainment mogul subsidizing him? Special-ops-soldier turned analyst-detective Blaine Donne is hustling along, trying to keep commissions ahead of expenses. A series of apparently unrelated queries he is hired to handle all points to Elysium and the entertainment consortium Eloi Enterprises. Then there's an attack on his life. With a well-realized world, an original plot twist, and a cliff-hanger ending--space opera by a first-class librettist. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Modesitt seems to be trying to make his future worlds as cryptic as possible. These worlds are very well thought out and complete, but in this case, the world being so far into the future, I had trouble figuring out half of the terminology. Context took care of most of it, but until I could get enough context, the lack of understanding left me distracted, trying to understand what was going on.
The other problem I had was that there was too much going on. With the main character, a private detective agent type, handling three jobs at the same time, I had difficulty telling the players apart. Much to my disappointment, the three plots had little if anything to do with each other, leaving me wondering why at least one of them was introduced.
This book took many of the things I loved about "Flash" and took them to extremes. While I love Modesitt's world (and word)-crafting, the plot had too much going on. For all the complexities, the resolution to the main plot left me feeling disappointed in its suddenness.
I'd say this is worth a read if you like far future fiction, but in paperback.
The world he creates is certainly different. Protagonist Blaine Donne lives in what seems to be a terraformed future world based roughly off of Italy and France that is dominated by the rich, ruled by women, and where nanite technology and societal acceptance allows routine enhancements ranging up to sex changes to those who aren't comfortable being themselves.
Unfortunately, that's the only good part. The narrative is both confusing and badly developed. Donne is yet another one of Modesitt's repetitive retired Special Ops types (of course, also a pilot) who has become a private investigator in his medical retirement. Modesitt makes an unusual mistake for a writer of his experience in spending most of the book away from the main plot of what exactly the Elysium project is by investigating Donne's other cases, and then compounds it by throwing in occasional POVs from the nominal villain that make utterly no sense until he finally reveals at the conclusion what the villain had intended all along. Character development is stunted, with Donne's occasional Batman appearance as the "Knight of Shadows" never explained, his familial and client relations barely explored, and Donne's motivations just don't make a lot of sense - if he's doing this for money, why is he willing to effectively spend almost 3 million for 20 grand, let alone where did he get the 3 million to spend in the first place?
Modesitt's typical one-man-conquers-all-and-gains-love-interest formula doesn't get used until almost the end, and while it may be a repetitive one it also normally works more or less as it does here. Unfortunately for Modesitt, the rest of the book doesn't. Modesitt is an unusually good fantasy and science fiction writer, but not in this book.
It was a great read. I have read just about every Book that he has written looking forward to more.
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