The Octagonal Raven

The Octagonal Raven

4.5 4
by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

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Someone is trying to kill Daryn Alwyn. Born to privilege, with pre-selected genetic advantages and the best nanotech augmentation his father's fabulous money can buy, Daryn spurned the lucrative family Media Network to seek his own path, a crafty raven among soaring eagles. After serving with distinction as a space pilot in the military, he enjoys success as a


Someone is trying to kill Daryn Alwyn. Born to privilege, with pre-selected genetic advantages and the best nanotech augmentation his father's fabulous money can buy, Daryn spurned the lucrative family Media Network to seek his own path, a crafty raven among soaring eagles. After serving with distinction as a space pilot in the military, he enjoys success as a media consultant. But when he finds himself the target of sophisticated murder attempts, his world is turned upside down. It seems unlikely his success outside the family business could have inspired such expensive assassination attempts, and his father and brother and sister would be more obvious targets within the family. Then his sister is killed, and Daryn is her heir--suddenly one of the richest and most powerful men in the world. Modesitt's new SF thriller lays bare the prejudices of the powerful in a fascinating future society, and reads like an express train.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“As usual, Modesitt does an exceptional job of painting an environmentally informed society, plotting an exciting yarn, assembling an interesting cast, and leading it all in an interesting direction. I recommend this one heartily.” —Analog on The Octagonal Raven
The Barnes & Noble Review
L. E. Modesitt is loved and admired for his science fiction and fantasy novels, which include the Recluce series, the Spellsong Cycle, and the Ecolitan thrillers, among others. The Octagonal Raven is a cinematic SF suspense novel that asks hard questions about our own society, while providing all the thrills a science fiction reader could wish for -- plenty of fascinating tech, a surprising twist on what aliens are really visiting us for, exciting chase scenes and pyrotechnics, a blossoming romance, and a truly satisfying conclusion.

Daryn Alwyn is a likable guy, younger son of the Alwyn dynasty that controls UniComm, the largest media network of the year 458 N.E. Wanting to go his own way, he served the Federal Union as a pilot for nearly 20 years, then made his living as a "methodizing" analyst and editorial columnist for various net systems. Daryn never wanted to join the family firm. He thinks of himself as a modest raven among the high-flying eagles.

So why is someone trying to kill him? Does it have something to do with the alien artifact he helped discover as a pilot? Is it because he is a member of the wealthy elite, those with "pre-selected" genetic advantages and nanotech augmentation? Have his "edart" pieces about society angered someone? Or does he know something -- or somebody -- making him dangerous to those in the high seats of power?

He must learn why, and soon, because several highly sophisticated murder attempts have Daryn on the run. As Daryn and his friend, the lovely, intelligent Majora, pursue clues about his would-be assassins, he learns of a conspiracy that for centuries has been manipulating economics, education, and genetic evolution, as well as habits of thought and value systems. Traveling through the neighborhoods of normal, unaugmented humanity, he must come to grips with the anger felt by the "norms" toward people like him. Through Daryn's eyes, we realize the variety of radical social changes that biotechnology and reliance on the Internet may bring about in the future.

Modesitt has written a brilliantly plotted critique of human history and the unexamined assumptions of science fiction itself in The Octagonal Raven. As Daryn flails about in a mesh of fear and bewilderment, he grows more determined to find the conspirators who seek to keep people -- norms and pre-selects alike -- in the dark about the power structure that controls where they go, what they buy, even how they think.

More dangerously, he decides that he will strike back at the conspiracy with the most powerful weapon available to him -- the truth. Remember the Raven when planning your vote for the 2003 Hugo. (--Fiona Kelleghan)

Fiona Kelleghan is a librarian at the University of Miami. Book reviews editor for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, she has written reviews and articles for Science-Fiction Studies; Extrapolation; The New York Review of Science Fiction; Science Fiction Research Association Review; Nova Express; St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers; Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature; Neil Barron's Fantasy and Horror: A Critical and Historical Guide; Contemporary Novelists, 7th Edition; and American Women Writers. Her book Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work was published by Alexander Books in 2000.

Library Journal
Born to privilege and wealth, former space pilot Daryn Alwyn enjoys life as a media consultant until he becomes the target for an assassin and finds himself on the run from hidden and powerful enemies. The author of the "Recluce" series demonstrates his talent for near future techno-thrillers in this standalone tale of intrigue and adventure. Modesitt's careful examination of his characters' motivations and perceptions creates a sense of immediacy that lends credibility to his story. A good choice for sf collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
New science fiction from the author of the Recluce series, the Spellsong Cycle, Gravity Dreams (1999), etc. In the future, genetic enhancements and nanotechnology augmentations ("nanites") are available to anyone with the means to pay. Young"pre-selected" Daryn Alwyn, rejecting UniComm, the giant media/communications concern run by his father and brother, joins the Federal Service. Despite the fierce competition, he qualifies as a starship pilot. Later, leaving the FS, he works as a methodizer (consultant) and edartist (purveyor of infotainment). At a party he meets the mysterious and tantalizing Elysa, who tries to kill him by overloading his system with peculiar octagonal nanites. After he recovers and attempts to investigate, Daryn can find no trace of Elysa, nor discover why anyone would want to kill him; like all his contemporaries, he's oblivious to the anger and resentment that normals feel toward the preselected who, by chance or design, have built a self-selecting power structure. Daryn survives several other assassination attempts, but his sister Elora (she also rejected UniComm and built her own business) dies in an"accident." Finally, Daryn—he thinks of himself as a raven among eagles—learns of a shadowy conspiracy by the rival OneCys to take over UniComm and rule the world—just before several crucial murders place him firmly at the focus of events. Dry and didactic, with frankly uninteresting characters: only the most patient, determined readers will follow through.

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.74(w) x 4.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Earth Orbit, 375 N.E.

Had the orbital watch alert satellite contained a human being, or even a sophisticated duoclone, that being might have scanned the data and reported something like, Object classified as cometoid…spherical-octagonal, diameter forty-three meters, density two point five, composition approximately eight-two point four percent water…carbides and carbonates approximately fifteen percent…iron and sulfides, silicates and oxides below detection levels…orbital…trajectory at variance with origin in either Oort Cloud or Kuiper Belt…

Instead, the AI merely squirted its data analysis to the Long Watch Asteroid Collision Center satellite inhabiting the L5 point above the water planet below. In turn, the AI calculated orbital mechanics, trajectory, and mass composition and, after ensuring the object did not trigger any action parameters, stored the data for later retrieval.

In time, the comet-like object intersected the thin upper atmosphere on the planet's night side, creating a long and brilliant trail that flashed across the high latitudes and lasted but for a few long seconds before vanishing.

The thousands of particle-sized contaminants also eventually slowed and began to drift through the atmosphere toward the oceans and landmasses below.

The central AI in the Long Watch Asteroid Collision Center satellite received the report of the ice-meteorite's dissolution and added the data to the records of others of that class.

Eventually, a human methodizer reviewed the date, frowned at the octagonal dimensions, checked it again, and then shrugged.

Copyright © 2001 by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

Meet the Author

L. E. Modesitt, Jr., is the bestselling author of the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce, Corean Chronicles, and the Imager Portfolio. His science fiction includes Adiamante, the Ecolitan novels, the Forever Hero Trilogy, and Archform: Beauty. Besides a writer, Modesitt has been a U.S. Navy pilot, a director of research for a political campaign, legislative assistant and staff director for a U.S. Congressman, Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues, and a college lecturer. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.

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Octagonal Raven 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Because of his family¿s wealth, Daryn Alwyn has been the recipient of genetic enhancements and nanotech augmentations. Still, Daryn prefers to succeed on his own, rejecting the opportunity to join in the giant media firm, UniComm, run by his family. Instead, he becomes federal starship pilot and ultimately serves as a media consultant.

However, Daryn¿s perfect world is knocked off its axle when a woman tries to kill him at a party. After recovering from 'poison', Daryn can not find the elusive culprit. His world spins further out of orbit when his sister dies in a suspicious looking accident. More attempts on his own life and other selected murders have Daryn, a raven among eagles, investigating who will benefit from the deaths of his family ands other key UniComm officials.

THE OCTAGAON RAVEN is a well written, but somewhat slow science fiction thriller. The story line is fabulous when it concentrates on the social issues of the haves vs. the have nots which involve ¿modern¿ medical techniques such as the genetic enhancements that give an added edge to the rich. When the plot focuses on a conspiracy, it teeters a bit as if L.E. Modesitt, Jr. was undecided between a social statement and a futuristic take over the world thriller. Science fiction fans will want more of the latter as that type of tale provides quite an impact when well written and Mr. Modesitt, Jr. can tell a terrific tale.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dk3dknight More than 1 year ago
This masterpiece is one that in my mind questions the position of media in this world, while taking place in the far future its easily in most cases either going to happen, or already is reality, except exploding clones... Its a chilling piece that reveals really just how much control the media have on the people, and in my mind the pursuit of truth or the medias construed observation of the truth. The story centers around the son of a major media network, who instead of following the family business decided he want to work as a space freighter pilot, when he returns a chain of events that were planed, perhaps the greatest revolution and a control of information. He doesn't realize it but hes in the middle of it as multiple attempts on his life are assured as he attempts to solve the mystery to discover why all this is happening, and then try to prove it... A excelent masterpiece provided to us by the Master WordSmith L. Modesitt, Jr.