"Perhaps the science fiction tale of the year"
Four hundred years or so into the future, technology and
climate has changed the world, as we readers know it. The
North American east coast mostly resides under the sea so
that the capital of NorAm has moved to the center of the
nation Denv. No one lacks sustenance, as there is an
abundance for everyone. However, problems remain mostly
with self-actualization since people do not need to
accomplish much to insure a full belly and a roof.
In Denv, police lieutenant Eugene Chiang studies crime
statistics seeking patterns when he observes an apparent
link between seemingly unrelated events including suicide
among the under twenty-five crowd. Music professor Laura
Cornett struggles with today's popular music that makes her
style antiquated and unacceptable with the fad being
resonant amplification of the emotional impact causing
behavioral conditioning that would shock Skinner. Senator
Elden Cannon adheres to his values trying to do the right
thing, but his re-election is in trouble due to unknown
forces wanting the do-gooder out of the way. Media expert
Jude Parsfal learns some questionable things about the
Martian Republic. Businessman Chris Kemal deals on
anything to make for money for his family's business.
These five people will clash in a dangerous convergence.
As highly regarded L. E. Modesitt, Jr. is for his
speculative fictions, ARCHFORM: BEAUTY is his best work to
date and perhaps the science fiction tale of the year.
Satirizing the art vs. science war, the author provides a
powerful insight into society through his five narrators.
His ability to provide distinct lucid voices for each
members of the quintet makes the action-packed story work.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted June 22, 2002
Most readers recognize L. E. Modesitt, Jr., as the author
of a favorite fantasy series, be it The Magic of Recluce or
The Spellsong Cycle. It's always a special treat when he
turns his hand again to SF and Archform: Beauty is no
Four centuries in the future, the world is rich--
nanomachines watch the health of the wealthy and
manufacture food and gadgets for everybody--but no Utopia,
as we see in the lives of five very different people. A
singing teacher suffers for her music and fights
bureaucracy and apathy. A news researcher delivers the
essential background details but can't help looking deeper
and wondering about the real story behind the grim
incidents that make the headlines. A police investigator,
assigned to study trends, begins to see a truly sinister
pattern behind a series of seemingly unrelated crimes and
deaths. A politician aids his constituents, fights the good
fight, and tries to get reelected without compromising his
principles. A ruthless businessman strives to make his
family powerful, wealthy, and independent.
Theirs is a society where technology takes care of
everyone's basic needs but leaves most people struggling to
extract a meaningful life from a world crowded with wonders
but empty of commitment and human connection. Alternating
the voices and experiences of these five characters in a
tour de force of imaginative creation, Modesitt overlaps,
combines, and builds their disparate stories into a
brilliant tale of future crime and investigation, esthetic
challenge and personal triumph. In the same way that he has
built fantasy landscapes of surpassing fascination,
Modesitt creates a believable future, one imbued with a
deep understanding of the way politics works and how people
act and react when their sense of themselves, of justice
and truth, is exploited by others for power and control.
When there's nothing left to need or want, will beauty live
on in people's lives or disappear forever? L. E. Modesitt,
Jr. asks difficult questions, sets himself unlikely
challenges, and once again delivers an absorbing tale that
enlightens, entertains, and uplifts all at once.