- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (October 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765314649
- ISBN-13: 978-0765314642
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,605,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Eternity Artifact Hardcover – September 29, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
The prolific Modesitt (Flash) employs four different narrative perspectives in this slow-moving tale of far-future intergalactic human civilizations, with often compelling if sometimes repetitive results. The enlightened, progressive government of the Comity persuades artist Chendor Barna, cultural historian Liam Fitzhugh, shuttle pilot Jiendra Chang and assassin Goodman/Bond to join an exploratory space voyage to a mysterious, uninhabited terraformed world named Danann. At a site on Danann so old that the atmosphere is solid ice, the four discover a marvelous artifact that allows them to speculate on its implications for the technological level of the unknown aliens who created it and the changing nature of the universe. This revolutionary discovery, however, leads to conflict between the Comity and the worlds of the Zionist Covenant and Muslim Sunnis, who want to prevent access to advanced technologies and suppress knowledge of ancient alien life-forms. Readers who like both hard science and realistic sociology will be rewarded. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the far future, humans occupy thousands of worlds and get along as well as we do on one but have found no signs of other intelligent life. Then a new world--an abandoned, near--frozen place containing a megaplex of towers--is discovered. In a few years, that planet's path will take it into an area in which exploration is impossible. The Comity government's Deep Space Service hastily assembles an explorer ship and a selection of experts, including pilot Jiendra Chang, artist Chendor Barna, and history professor Liam Fitzhugh, to investigate. Enemies of the Comity are, however, assembling experts, too, though their fortes are sabotage and assassination. The enemies are determined that whatever knowledge or wealth may be gained from the mysterious planet won't accrue solely to the Comity. Modesitt's storytelling and characterization are as good as ever, and his use of four first-person viewpoints is quite effective. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The main characters we see are: Goodman/Bond, who is a Covenanter spy on a mission to put together a beacon and send it to the surface so the Covenanter fleet can come to stop the Comity from gaining access to the Morning Star (hammer of Lucifer) or Spear of Iblis, as they believe this is what is on Danann; Liam Fitzhugh, a professor of applied history and former Special Forces operative (keep your dictionary handy -you WILL learn new vocabulary when you read his sections); Chendor Barna, an artist with great vision who can understand patterns; and Jiendra Chang, a pilot whose beauty is matched by her acerbic personality, which caused her to lose her master's certification despite her skill.
Watching these four interact with each other and the other members of the crew as they deal with attacks, sabotage and the hostile environment of the planet itself - which has no atmosphere and a higher gravity well than anyone is accustomed to - is fascinating and at times rather heart-breaking.
One thing I noticed - and I probably wouldn't have if I hadn't so recently read "Counterfeit Unrealities," is that Modesitt appears to have been somewhat influenced by Phillip K. Dick - some similar measurements, it seems. I don't recall exactly what it was now that I noted, I believe it had to do with time measurements.
There were, of course, some editing errors - it wasn't spelling errors in this case, it was incorrect words placed in; for instance, "man" placed instead of "than," etc. But I can't deduct a star even for that, because this is the best Modesitt book I've read since - oh, the last one I praised lavishly :-) Definitely a don't miss on this one for fans of Modesitt, science fiction or a well-written space adventure.
As to this book, no spoilers! It's good. Just buy it, read it, and you won't be disappointed.
Millennia after humankind has colonized other star systems, its religious wars are now interstellar. The Comity is the largest interstellar government, if not especially well-organized, and unlike its rival polities is secular. The Comity is secretly organizing an expedition to a newly-discovered world that has ancient, abandoned alien constructions beyond any technology humankind has. Among the experts recruited to this expedition, and the points of view the reader follows, are
- Fitzhugh, a history professor who hides behind a wall of words, and who may be more than he knows.
- Chandra, a shuttle and needleship pilot, who is far too honest and far too good a pilot for her own good.
- Barna, an artist who cannot resist the chance to bring his skills and perceptions to the first alien culture found.
- Goodman, spy and assassin for the religious Covenant worlds, who infiltrates that Comity mission.
The secret doesn't stay a secret long, and Modesitt skillfully mixes these four viewpoints, and provides some fine plot twists and surprises along the way.
The issues of religiosity and its impact on a secular society are a theme here, in the same way they inform "The Parafaith War" and its sequel, "The Ethos Effect." The novel is about the reactions of the various secular and religious-based cultures to the evidence of an advanced alien culture and the effect of those reactions on the four protagonists. For a man who lives in Utah, home of the LDS church, his judgments of religion and religious culture are harsh.
The four protagonists are especially well-drawn. They have distinctive voices and their distinct personalities emerge effectively. True, Modesitt remains purely incapable of writing a love scene. And he can't seem to decide if he likes or loathes his assassin. But these are minor issues in a thoughtful story, well-told. It's superior to anything he has written lately. Recommended.