The Elysium Commission

The Elysium Commission

by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

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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.

Other Series by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Saga of Recluce
The Imager Portfolio
The Corean Chronicles
The Spellsong Cycle
The Ghost Books
The Ecolitan Matter
The Forever Hero
Timegod's World

Other Books
The Green Progression
Hammer of Darkness
The Parafaith War
Adiamante
Gravity Dreams
The Octagonal Raven
Archform: Beauty
The Ethos Effect
Flash
The Eternity Artifact
The Elysium Commission
Viewpoints Critical
Haze
Empress of Eternity
The One-Eyed Man
Solar Express

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

With a well-realized world, an original plot twist, and a cliff-hanger ending—space opera by a first-class librettist.” —Booklist

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

“Modesitt delivers a more action oriented and less philosophically based novel than some of his other works. Readers can enjoy The Elysium Commission on many levels.” —SFRevu.com

“Modesitt's fascinating and highly readable science fiction novel has more than a dash of detective-story whimsy. Blane Donne is a wonderful narrator.” —Romantic Times BOOKreviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765356543
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 03/04/2008
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 4.12(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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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