The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, With Winds and Accompaniment

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The colony world of Stittara is no ordinary planet. For the interstellar Unity of the Ceylesian Arm, Stittara is the primary source of anagathics: drugs that have more than doubled the human life span. But the ecological balance that makes anagathics possible on Stittara is fragile, and the Unity government has a vital interest in making sure the flow of longevity drugs remains uninterrupted, even if it means uprooting the human settlements.

Offered the job ...

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The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, With Winds and Accompaniment

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The colony world of Stittara is no ordinary planet. For the interstellar Unity of the Ceylesian Arm, Stittara is the primary source of anagathics: drugs that have more than doubled the human life span. But the ecological balance that makes anagathics possible on Stittara is fragile, and the Unity government has a vital interest in making sure the flow of longevity drugs remains uninterrupted, even if it means uprooting the human settlements.

Offered the job of assessing the ecological impact of the human presence on Stittara, freelance consultant Dr. Paulo Verano jumps at the chance to escape the ruin of his personal life. He gets far more than he bargained for: Stittara’s atmosphere is populated with skytubes—gigantic, mysterious airborne organisms that drift like clouds above the surface of the planet. Their exact nature has eluded humanity for centuries, but Verano believes his conclusions about Stittara may hinge on understanding the skytubes’ role in the planet’s ecology—if he survives the hurricane winds, distrustful settlers, and secret agendas that impede his investigation at every turn.


The One-Eyed Man is a thrilling new far-future science fiction novel from New York Times bestseller L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This plodding off-world mystery is replete with annoying quirks but devoid of suspense. Paulo Verano is an ecologist sent to survey the far-flung planet of Stittara, the sole source of life-extending “cosmetic and physiological anagathics” and home to the mysterious and possibly intelligent skytubes. The boring Verano hogs the stage; supporting characters strut and fret but leave no impressions. Verano’s investigation spins its wheels without advancing the plot, sprinkled with pointless and distracting “futuristic” spelling (“kalzone” for “calzone,” “duhlars” for “dollars”) and ellipses (“Ah... yes. That. There’s a matter... of timing”). References to real-life politics include Verano’s home world of Bachman, another world called Randtwo, a university and a dessert named after Ronald Reagan, and a totally gratuitous discursion on the virtues of low income taxes and a capital gains regimen favoring homeowners over apartment dwellers. Verano muddles through to a sputtering, unsatisfying ending. Readers may choose to bail out earlier. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
A provocative, enthralling story.”

Booklist on Empress of Eternity

“Modesitt presents three very different civilizations confronted with relevant problems, and interweaves their fate with some seriously challenging and intriguing speculations on the nature of time itself…. [Modesitt] approaches his best when combining practicalities with new ideas.”

Kirkus Reviews on Empress of Eternity

“Action-packed space opera-cum-hard-boiled detective story. Modesitt cleverly weaves together disparate threads of information to form a complete tapestry.”

Publishers Weekly on The Elysium Commission

“This psychological sf thriller by the prolific author of the multivolume "Recluce" fantasy series incorporates carefully delineated characters with believable far-future scenarios. Modesitt's fans as well as readers of hard sf should appreciate this story of imminent interstellar war.”

Library Journal on Haze

“Independent science-fiction consciousness-raiser, from the versatile and dependable Modesitt.”

Kirkus Reviews on Haze

“Superior science-fiction adventure writing. The plot moves compellingly, the characters are distinct and identifiable.”

Science Fiction Weekly on The Eternity Artifact

Library Journal
★ 09/15/2013
For the interstellar Union of the Ceylesian Arm, the colony world of Stittara represents the prime source for anagathics, drugs that extend one's life span. Freelance consultant Paolo Verano, reeling from a shattered personal life, gladly accepts the commission to travel to Stittara to observe the world's fragile ecology and establish how much, if any, impact the human colonists have. It is his determination that will decide the fate of the colony, and the pressure is on him to find a way to make sure that the supply of anagathics continues. In his stand-alone tale of exploration and discovery, Modesitt vividly creates an unusual planet, in which tornadolike tentacles fill the sky and most of the colors fall into the gray spectrum. Verano grows more likable as the story progresses, and the slow revelation of the colony's backstory presents a compelling reason to keep turning the pages. VERDICT The author's ability to weave between fantasy (the Recluce novels) and sf (The Parafaith War; The Eternity Artifact) grants him a rare versatility and ensures the high quality of his novels, whether stand-alone or part of a series (and this reader hopes that there is more to come about Stittara's future).
Kirkus Reviews
Independent science fiction from the prolific, talented and versatile Modesitt (Imager's Battalion, 2013, etc.). Planet Bachman houses many huge corporations that depend on colony world Stittara's production of anagathics, drugs that have powerful life-prolonging and cosmetic effects. Political expediency requires Stittara to be inspected, and consultant ecologist Dr. Paulo Verano is hired. On the interstellar voyage to Stittara, Verano meets his fellow passengers--most of whom are extraordinarily cagey about their jobs and their reasons for visiting Stittara. Due to unpredictable electrical storms that whip up tornado-force winds, the Stittaran population lives underground. In the upper atmosphere drift skytubes, differentiated clumps of microorganisms whose exact nature remains unknown. Disturbingly, Verano finds that many facts are being concealed or deliberately ignored. Why do the local women find him so irresistibly attractive? Can Ilsabet, the sole survivor of a community destroyed in a storm, really be 400 years old? Certainly she speaks in enigmatic rhymes and has some connection with the skytubes and the storms. Why are there no statistics on birth and death rates? Why does the appearance of vast, inexplicable badlands coincide with the extinction of alien colonies millions of years ago? Why do the numerous outland settlements, independent of the company towns and living in harmony with the planet, appear on no official census? Research complex RDAEX has hired a number of high-energy physicists--to do what, exactly?--and admits to having lost planes while investigating the skytubes. And the more Verano resists the political pressures being brought to bear, the clearer it becomes that somebody--perhaps several somebodies--would prefer to see him dead. Intriguing mysteries, subtle plots, vividly drawn female characters and nuggets of hardheaded wisdom are scattered among the narrative strands. One of Modesitt's best, which means, don't miss it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765370419
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 7/29/2014
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 191,966
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

L. E. MODESITT, JR., is the New York Times bestselling author of over sixty novels encompassing two science fiction series and three fantasy series, including the saga of Recluce. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.

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Read an Excerpt


Court procedures on Bachman were old-fashioned, requiring all parties be present. So there I was, after two hours of evidence and testimony, on one side of the courtroom, standing beside my advocate, Jared Hainsun, before the judge’s bench, and on the other side was Chelesina, with her advocate. Chelesina didn’t look in my direction. That didn’t surprise me. For the three years before she left, she’d barely looked at me even when she’d been looking at me. That didn’t bother me so much as the way she’d set me up after she’d split … so that the only option was no fault.
The judge looked at me. I could have sworn that the quick glance she gave me was almost pitying. I didn’t need that. Then she cleared her throat and spoke. “In the proceeding for dissolution of permanent civil union between the party of the first part, Chelesina Fhavour, and the party of the second part, Paulo Verano, the Court of Civil Matters, of the Unity of the Ceylesian Arm, located in the city of Smithsen, world of Bachman, does hereby decree that said civil union is hereby dissolved.”
She barely paused before going on. “In the matter of property allocation, the net worth of the assets of both parties has been assessed at five point eight million duhlars. The settlement to the party of the first part, Chelesina Fhavour, is four point one million duhlars, of which three million has been placed in an irrevocable trust for the daughter of the union, Leysa Fhavour, said trust to be administered by the Bank of Smithsen until Leysa Fhavour reaches legal civil and political maturity…”
At least, Chelesina can’t easily get her hands on that.
“… Civil penalties for breach of union are one point five million duhlars, to be split between you, as mandated under the laws of the Unity. The remainder of all assets is allocated to the party of the second part, Paulo Verano.
“The court will revisit the situation of both partners in one year and reserves the right to make further adjustments in asset placement. That is all.”
I looked at Jared.
He shook his head and murmured, “They let you keep the conapt.”
And two hundred thousand duhlars. “But … she left me.”
“No fault,” he reminded me.
Three million for Leysa, when she hadn’t spoken to me in two years. When she had only a year left at the university? When her boyfriend’s father was the one for whom Chelesina had left me?
So … out of some six million duhlars, I had two hundred thousand left … and a small conapt in Mychela. And a consulting business that the Civil Court could suck duhlars from for another two or possibly three years? All because I went to bed with someone besides Chelesina a year after she’d left me?
Jared must have been reading my mind … or face, because as we turned to leave the courtroom, he said quietly, “Equal no fault doesn’t weigh things.”
“I know that. I do have a problem with most of my assets going to an ungrateful daughter who won’t speak to me even after I’ve paid all the bills for years.”
“That’s Unity policy. Permanent civil unions are supposed to protect the children. If the civil union is dissolved, the Court allocates enough assets to ensure that the child or children are adequately protected and able to continue in roughly the same lifestyle as before the dissolution.”
“Which punishes me for making sure she was educated and raised with all advantages,” I pointed out. “It doesn’t punish Chelesina.”
“It can’t. Her design firm went bankrupt.”
I had my doubts about the honesty of that bankruptcy, but Jared would just have told me what I already knew.
There wasn’t a thing I could do about it.

Copyright © 2013 by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Another exceptional story by Modesitt. Well developed and though

    Another exceptional story by Modesitt. Well developed and thought provoking, I found myself wishing for more.

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  • Posted October 25, 2013

    Unusual perspective on ecology

    Of course, in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man ... . But really can we see thge things around us that affectt oor world. that is is the prtemise as well as climax of this new novel by a person who looks at our world di8fferently

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    Posted January 5, 2014

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    Posted August 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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