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
The Green Progression
Hammer of Darkness
The Parafaith War
The Octagonal Raven
The Ethos Effect
The Eternity Artifact
The Elysium Commission
Empress of Eternity
The One-Eyed Man
|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||4.12(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)|
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
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.?
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
Combining a mystery with sci-fi worked very well. Lot's of suspense. Exciting action. Reads easily. Reminds me a lot of David Weber's stories.
The Elysium Commission is the story of ex-special ops soldier now private eye Blaine Donne as he tried to make a buck and save the world. In addition to being a detective, he spends his evenings as "The Shadow Knight" defending the citizens when the police can't (apparently there are only 3 police officers and a bunch of cameras). The setting borrows heavily from France and french literature, with most of the geography named after areas of Paris and France, and a number of characters named for French authors or characters. Reynard the Fox being the most obvious. Modesitt lets you in on all the others eventually, just to be sure you get all of the literary references.The Elysium Commission is the name for one of several investigation jobs that Blaine has going at one time. Since he makes a point of how the detectives in stories never have more than one investigation going at a time, unlike a real detective with bills to pay, it is inevitable that his various commissions will all turn out to be related. In addition to determining the relationship between Maraniss, Legaar Eloi and "Elysium" he has to find a missing heiress vet a potential husband for a wealthy doctor and trace down a patent infringer.It is hard to tell if the society Modesitt has invented is entirely made up of hedonistic aristocrats, or if that is the only part that Blaine ever interacts with. In any case the story moves along at a reasonably pace. Any element of actual mystery is removed by the periodic jumps to tell the story from Maraniss's point of view rather than Blaine's. Since they are both told in the first person some of the changes are jarring as you try to figure out if you're reading a continuation of the previous scene or an entirely new one. Modesitt also insists on making up new words where none are really needed. For time the characters regularly refer to "hours" interchangeable with "stans". I figured out that a stan was the same as an hour, but it was annoying bit of business, and it wasn't until about 2/3 of the way through that there was a reference to "standard hour" that made clear where stan came from. Even then it still felt unnecessary.If you can get past some of the self-indulgent language The Elysium Commission is a reasonably entertaining light read.
A fun read as all SF books by Modesitt. There are as usual many elements he used before in the book.If you enjoyed reading other SF books by Modesitt you will like this one too.::downs a cup of sustain::
L. E. Modesitt is best known for his fantasy works and has been on my radar for a while now. However given that the various fantasy series he's written (such as the Saga of Reclucce) have a large number of volumes, most of them hefty door-stoppers at that, I wanted to dip my toes in the waters with a stand-alone book first, before starting yet another long fantasy series. The Elysium Commission, a stand-alone science fiction work seemed to fit the bill.The story follows an ex-special forces fellow who is now a private eye named Blaine Donne. The action takes place on the far future world of Devanta and begins with Donne receiving a mysterious commission to investigate the connection between a corporate moghul, a research scientist and the word "elysium" (hence 'The Elysium Commission'). Of course, in true PI fashion, Donne soon finds that the connection is far more convoluted and mysterious and dangerous than he had bargained for.Modesitt's prose is workmanlike but fluid. Its an easy read. The world he creates is an interesting one, with some thought given not only to the technology, the society, but also to wider galactic politics. Beyond the setting though, one gets the feeling that the story itself is a little vanilla. Donne is so hyper-competent and has so many technological gizmos at his service that he seems like more than a match for the villains. This is a PI who hasn't bitten off more than he can chew. The bulk of the book seems to consist of Donne calling up people asking about his various commissions and googling (sorry, "diving into the datastacks"). This is punctuated by the odd failed attempt to kill him. The sense of mystery is further disappointed by inter-spaced chapters where we switch to the main villain's perspective. This does little for the story except informing us of what's going on well before Donne figures things out and also slowing down the pace of the story. Thankfully Modessitt abandons this approach halfway through and the chapters from the villain's perspective become much more infrequent later on. The characters are nothing to write home about. Overall, I would say its a decent read, but not outstanding in any particular way.
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