L. E. Modesitt Jr.'s science fiction thriller Archform: Beauty is a refreshing change of pace from his popular fantasy offerings like the Recluse saga and the Spellsong Cycle. Four centuries in the future, technology has both advanced and distorted human society. Although most of the population is psychically connected by implanted links and benefited by nanomeds that can cure almost any ailment, there's a morose emptiness in people's lives. Have technological advances killed artistic creativity -- and appreciation of true beauty?
Seen through the eyes of five unrelated characters, the story unfolds quickly, as their very different lives are linked through a series of mysterious deaths. Eugene Chiang is a police lieutenant who specializes in finding patterns in crime statistics. Chris Kemal is a crime boss posing as a multimillionaire legitimate businessman. Elden Cannon is a senator trying to get reelected without comprising his code of ethics. Jude Parsfal is a media researcher who uncovers some potentially deadly information. And Laura Cornett is a music professor struggling to make ends meet and quickly becoming disillusioned with society's apathy towards the arts. As more and more high-profile people are mysteriously killed, all five characters' lives intersect in a dangerous convergence that could mean disaster for everyone involved.
Comparable to Modesitt's alternate-history Ghosts sequence (Of Tangible Ghosts and Ghost of the Revelator) in both thematic complexity and ultra-stylized futuristic setting, this book is as ambitious as it is thought provoking. In a word: beautiful. Paul Goat Allen