The Elysium Commission

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Overview

L.E. Modesitt returns to SF with a whole new future world on the brink of destruction.

A brilliant scientist on the planet Devanta has created a small universe contiguous to ours —and a utopian city on one of the planets. The question becomes, though, an utopia for whom? And why is a shady entertainment mogul subsidizing the scientist? More critical than that, does this new universe require the destruction of a portion —or all — of our universe in order to grow and stabilize? ...

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The Elysium Commission

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Overview

L.E. Modesitt returns to SF with a whole new future world on the brink of destruction.

A brilliant scientist on the planet Devanta has created a small universe contiguous to ours —and a utopian city on one of the planets. The question becomes, though, an utopia for whom? And why is a shady entertainment mogul subsidizing the scientist? More critical than that, does this new universe require the destruction of a portion —or all — of our universe in order to grow and stabilize? Blaine Donne is a retired military special operative now devoted to problem-solving for hire. He investigates a series of seemingly unrelated mysteries that arise with the arrival of a woman with unlimited resources who has neither a present nor a past.

The more he investigates, the more questions arise, including the role of the two heiresses who are more — and less — than they seem, and the more Donne is pushed inexorably toward an explosive solution and a regional interstellar war.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Eternity Artifact

"A glorious space opera ." —Chronicle

"Captivating far-future tale of life in space, from the author of Flash. . . .Modesitt's prose is lively. . . .A must-read for Modesitt fans, as well as those of Jack McDevitt and Arthur C. Clarke." -Kirkus, starred review

"Shines with engrossing characters, terrific plotting, and realistic world-building . . . .rip-roaring space adventure . . . .a must-read for fans of interstellar fiction." -Romantic Times Bookclub

"A powerful novel on a sweeping, mysterious stage."—Dave Drake

"L. E. Modesitt is one of those special authors who brings a great deal to his work: a love of words, an understanding of people and cultures, and an interest in great stories and ideas. It shows in every line of his tale."-David Farland on The Eternity Artifact

"Superior science-fiction adventure writing. The plot moves compellingly, the characters are distinct and idenitifiable." -Science Fiction Weekly on The Eternity Artifact

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 fianc , 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 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Marsha Valance
Modesitt blends mystery and suspense with hard science fiction to produce a serviceable but not outstanding adventure. Blaine Donne, a private investigator on the planet Devanta, is a medically retired Special Forces operative who keeps in shape by acting as an anonymous vigilante, The Shadow Knight, after dark. Over a few days, he receives six assignments: A powerful noblewoman wants her great-granddaughter's betrothed vetted; a virtual client wants to assure the well-being of a former lover; another client is searching for a missing heiress; two clients allege copyright infringement (one of a logo, the other of a process); and a mysterious beauty asks to uncover any connections among a wealthy pimp, a reclusive city planner, and the word "Elysium." Devanta is a world of advanced gene manipulation and complex communications, where almost nothing virtual is trustworthy. Much like a pulp PI, Blaine relies on human sources and footwork in his investigations, which begin to dovetail and to point ominously toward a planned planetary destruction. Even as the pace builds toward a world-smashing denouement, however, the reader remains detached. Modesitt, as always, offers a multifaceted story, whose motivating question is how to determine truth in a highly developed society, but his characters fail to engage the reader. The book is recommended for purchase only for those teen collections where the author has a following of thoughtful readers who appreciate his layered approach.
Library Journal
When former military special operative Blaine Donne takes up private investigation on the planet Devanta, he encounters a series of mysteries involving a woman with no past or present. Discovery of the creation of a contiguous universe by a brilliant scientist backed by funds from an unknown source draw Donne into a dangerous conflict that threatens to erupt into an interstellar war. Prolific sf author Modesitt (the "Spellsong Cycle") creates a far-future tale of intrigue and mystery featuring a tough but admirable sleuth. In all likelihood, future installments will follow this sturdy addition to most sf collections. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Far-future Mr. Fix-it gets into hot water-a familiar Modesitt (The Eternity Artifact, 2005, etc.) scenario here given a trudging workout. By day, ex-military special operative and narrator Blaine Donne solves business problems and earns large fees; by night, he stalks the back streets of Thurene on planet Devanta, righting small wrongs for free. Suddenly, commissions arrive in a bunch. A wealthy widow wants Donne to investigate her granddaughter's betrothed, a research doctor she suspects of being a closeted gay. A beautiful lady with no apparent identity wants him to uncover connections between creepy entrepreneur Legaar Eloi, obsessive city planner Judeon Maraniss-another, less frequent narrator-and "Elysium," whatever that may be. Another client wishes to locate an elusive missing heiress. A case of copyright infringement crops up. Seemingly, the cases are unrelated. However, Eloi and Maraniss operate from a country estate that possesses a huge, hidden power source-but to what end? Donne solicits help from his high-powered elder sister Krij, a corporate-compliance expert. Eloi and Maraniss may be conspiring with a foreign power to overthrow Devanta's benevolent oligarchy, the Civitas Sorores. Donne resolves the wealthy widow case (he isn't gay, she is; neither cares) but learns nothing of Elysium except to suspect that his mysterious respondent is a Sorores agent. Finally, the Sorores lose patience with Donne and make their requirements explicit: It seems that he must come out of retirement. Some brisk action closes the proceedings, but otherwise, mediocre problems and solutions-our hero has little idea how to Google for information and spends most of his time asking his friends forgossip.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765317209
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 2/20/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.61 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

L.E. MODESITT, JR. lives in Cedar City, Utah.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

All cities have their shadows, as do all souls.

Under the stars of the Arm, murmurs drifted up from the promenade overlooking the Nouvelle Seine. The red tinge of the full second moon - Bergerac - lent a smokiness to the night. Voltaire had already set. The gray stone walk that bordered Les Jardins des Sorores was a favorite for poor lovers, those young and not so young. The sweet scent of honey lilies filled the late-evening air. It gave the South Bank a grace it lacked in the light of day.

At night, in my grays, I often stroll the streets of Thurene in the shadows. Call it a habit. Call it repentance. Call it penance. Call it what you will. Being who I am, I find it necessary.

Some might call it slumming, but the South Bank isn't that low, not unless you're Princesse Odilia. Or one of the Sorores. Or an aristo of commerce.

I didn't lurk in the shadows of the hedges and topiary. That wasn't necessary. In my grays, few could see me unless they concentrated, and those enjoying the promenade were not inclined to look beyond their companions. They felt they did not need to look elsewhere. The Garda's hidden monitors made certain that no malefactor escaped. That did not deter all malefaction, not where the perfume of hearts and jealousy mingled.

Beneath a yew trimmed into a fleur-de-coueur -not that most would notice- two lovers embraced. They clung so tightly that even I could not tell sex or attributes.

With a smile, I stepped through the stone gates that marked the east end of the gardens and followed Oisin Lane. Ahead were the bistros and the patisseries that remained open into the early morning.

The first bistro was Kemala's. The scent of true garlic enshrouded it. I passed by. My business lay not in the bistros, but beyond. Two women stood outside Memnos. They held hands and studied the posted bill of fare. They appeared young. All women in Thurene-even the poorest-were young in body. The healthy ones, that is.

The Lane was safe enough. Memnos might not be. It is on the South Bank, and the Garda only monitors the public areas of Thurene. All the South Bank bistros serve nanite-adjusted wine. The process makes decent plonk, but plonk without character.

Voices, more than murmurs, issued from the side lane ahead and to my left. They were not the sounds of lovers. I edged into the darker area against the closer wall. There I paused in the shadows, listening.

". . . I can't, Jaered . . . I just can't." In the cool breeze of early autumn, the woman shivered. It was not because of the chill.

"He doesn't care for you the way I do." The man put his hands on her shoulders. They were squared-off, nondescript hands. They belonged neither to a crafter nor an aristo.

"He doesn't excite me, but he cares deeply . . . and . . ."

"I do care!"

I could sense the explosiveness within him. Civility was a breaker unequal to matching his green rage.

So I coughed and stepped forward. I was still in the shadows.

He turned. His eyes darted from side to side, trying to focus. They widened, and he lunged at me. I slipped aside and let him stumble into the solidity of the brick wall in the comparative darkness. Comparative only. The streets of Thurene are never fully dark, and the scanners of the Garda are everywhere.

"You!" He turned and lifted a poignard. "Shadows cannot save you." He charged me.

I disarmed him and cut his feet from under him with a side kick. While he struggled to rise, I snapped the blade of his dagger with my bootheel. "Despite legend, poignards carry no special virtue."

When I stepped away, the woman had vanished.

I slipped down the lane toward Benedict's, leaving him cursing. I heard a Garda flitter humming toward him. They might find me. They might not, but I had not permanently harmed him, and that wasn't worth their trouble.

Not this time.?

Chapter Two

Proud City of Eternal Light, Our hold against the endless night . . .

The Aurelian Way was crowded, as always, in late evening on Sabaten, crowded being a relative term, because, on any of the Worlds of the Assembly, unlike Elysium, the scattered handfuls of individuals strolling down the stone paths flanking the Fountains of Fascination would scarcely have been considered a crowd, but more likely a relief. Yet all of them were happy to be on Elysium. How could it have been otherwise?

Lifting the crystal goblet that caught the illumination from the sparklelights floating around the balcony, I smiled across the pale green linen of the balcony table at Magdalena, conveying effortlessly an interest intellectual, but not without some sensuality.

She met my gaze with eyes as black and deep as night. "Brains or beauty this evening, Judeon?"

"Anything of depth requires both, and it's been a shallow week."

"You dislike shallowness, and you always have. That is delightfully predictable about you." Her words caressed the soft air, and her smile was both beguiling and gentle, as it should have been, for we were in Elysium. Like those below us on the Aurelian Way, she was far better off than she could have been on Devanta, and for that she was grateful, and that also was how it had to be, for was not Elysium the city of light and beauty?

She sipped from her goblet.

Below us, the couples strolled the Aurelian Way, enjoying the perfumed air of yet another Sabaten evening in the city that I, from the intricate image in my mind, had forged in man's materials, in white stone and without death birds on enamel.

In time, I stood and took her hand, gloved, as always, in black velvet, as she rose from the table like that ancient pagan goddess had from the shell upon the foam, when men had but dreamed of Elysium, unable to create such a city, unable to ensure that those who inhabited it appreciated it and worshipped it.

Copyright © 2007 by Harold Coyle and Barrett Tillman. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2007

    Awful

    First let me say that I'm a dyed in the wool Modessitt fan. I've read almost every word the man has published. Having said that, I felt that the premise was tired. I'm sick of every protagonist of Modessitt's being an ex-special ops member doing private work. The plot was thin and confusing. He used more acronyms than Tom Clancy at his worst 'most of these were unintelligible'. And his use of cute little hidden references to other authors 'C.S. Lewis, Phillip Pullman and strangely Bob Dylan' had the feel of being an inside narcissistic joke, to see if the reader was smart enough to pick them up. Over all I got the feeling that this thin volume was poorly written and probably was only published to fill some sort of contractual obligation. Despite my disappointment, I pushed through the book in hopes that in the end it would all come together and make sense¿it didn¿t. I truly hope his next effort is back to the level of writing that I¿ve come to expect.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    complex science fiction detective tale

    On the planet Devanta former military special operative turned private investigator Blaine Donne suddenly finds he has too many clients when before he had none. He is hired to find a missing heiress look into a scientist¿s patent infringement case, uncover the links between entrepreneur Eloi, city planner Maraniss, and the 'Elysium' and finally conduct a background search of Dr. Dyorr, the fiancé of wealthy Marie Antoinette Tozzi. As he starts on each Blaine assumes his cases have nothing in common. He soon reassesses his thoughts as the scientist who originally hired him is dead and the project he worked on appears to being used for some nefarious purpose by Eloi and Maraniss like perhaps a coup d¿etat. He wonders about how the fiancé fit, perhaps via a scientific connection, and why the woman who originally hired him to look into Elysium has no history at least on record. Soon the cases intertwine even further though Blaine begins to think after consulting with his sister and others that he is forcing connections as the Dr. Dyorr inquiry begins to look clean while the rest look like a cat and mouse encounter between the Civitas Sorores oligopoly and the Eloi and Maraniss squad with the sleuth being the cheese. --- THE ELYSIUM COMMISSION is a complex science fiction detective tale starring a fascinating individual struggling with his cases. The story line is action-packed as the audience for the most part follows the sleuth as people try to kill him or assist him with information (sort of mindful of Robb¿s Eve Dallas mid twenty-first century police procedurals). Readers will enjoy this puzzler as the four investigations seem separate, and then appear to tie together, only to have Blaine¿s theory unravel. L. E. Modesitt, Jr. provides a fun futuristic mystery. --- Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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