by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

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Return to the future of Archform: Beauty. In the twenty-fourth century, Earth is vastly changed. Ecological and biological catastrophe have raged across the planet, but for the survivors, it is a world of plenty. Even the poorest live in abundance, and the upper class -- the ascendant -- command technological marvels.

Ten years ago, Jonat deVrai was a rising star in the Marines. But he shocked his superiors by walking away from the Corps after witnessing atrocity and hypocrisy during the Reclamation of Guyana. Starting his life over, he established himself as the world's expert on the effectiveness of "prod"-- product placement, the only advertising which viewers will allow through the sophisticated filters they all use against unwanted intrusions on their electronic link networks. Prod, reinforced with sublims and the "res" -- resonant frequencies, a form of sonic branding -- is the wave of the future.

Jonat now advises multinational corporations on their prod campaigns, his busy life only occasionally disturbed by vivid flashbacks to his military years. Then his comfortable world is upset when the Centre for Societal Research approaches him to study the effects of res and prod on political campaigns.

After a res-heavy political rally for Laborite Republican Senatorial candidate Juan Carlismo, armed thugs jump deVrai in a parking garage. A day later, a sniper ambushes him. What looked like a safe, lucrative contract has suddenly turned dangerous. The stakes raise further when deVrai foils a remote-controlled cydroid assassination attempt on a Popular Democrat candidate. Cydroids built from deVrai's stolen DNA are turning up dead throughout NorAm.

Suspicion and conspiracy race around Jonat. Who wants him dead? Candidate Juan Carlismo's use of prod is skirting the limits of legality. The Centre has its own obscure agenda and may want deVrai as a martyr. The terrorist group PAMD is targeting ascendents in deVrai's family. And one of his clients is known for holding legendary grudges - could he have gone over the edge?

With his life on the line, deVrai must sort flash from fact before it's too late.

Flash is a blend of all-out thriller and thoughtful social, political, and technological exploration that that gets into your mind in a way even res and prod could never match.

"A marvelous thriller that plausibly extrapolates from current possibilities in IT, AI, media, and crime, it also constitutes the way for newcomers to get acquainted with Modesitt--at his best."--Booklist

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
Gravity Dreams
The Octagonal Raven
Archform: Beauty
The Ethos Effect
The Eternity Artifact
The Elysium Commission
Viewpoints Critical
Empress of Eternity
The One-Eyed Man
Solar Express

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429913959
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 09/01/2004
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 548,715
File size: 503 KB

About the Author

L. E. MODESITT JR., is the bestselling author of the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. His science fiction includes Adiamante, the Ecolitan novels, and Archform: Beauty. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.

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


By L. E. Modesitt Jr., David G. Hartwell

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2004 L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-1395-9



"Down!" Down! At the sound of the ancient slug-thrower, I dropped flat onto the squashed soyl plants at the edge of the field. The illegal crops — soyl and caak — were mostly shielded by the taller overgrowth of what had once been part of a rain forest. My three companies were spread along nearly a kay from north to south so that the illegals didn't get past. CI wanted a bunch for interrogation. Somewhere to the west of us was the Berbice River, but that didn't matter. Everything around us was wet. Nothing ever dried out, not even the tropical uniforms that were supposed to wick away moisture while providing impact protection. They did neither all that well, and certainly didn't do anything to stop the sweating.

Someone might have said that the pattering sound of slugs shredding the taller soyl plants to the east of where I lay sounded almost like rain. It didn't.

Air, Bravo two. Nothing. The uplink was dead.

I clicked the implant to alt ... static-filled, but there. Not supposed to have static on satellite-combat links. Right. Air, Bravo two.

You're breaking up, two. Try main.

Idiots! Would I have been on alt if main worked? Negative. Main dead. Need CAS. Coordinates follow.

Say again coordinates ...

It took three attempts to get the coordinates clear.

Meanwhile, I could hear the deeper sound of an antique heavy machine gun to the south. I could also sense telltales going off.

Bravo two ... Bravo two. Negative on CAS.

No time to question that one. I'd already lost half a platoon on the south end, all because CI wanted troops on the ground, and I had a mixed force, some commandos and some straight Marines, on a search and capture mission without the firepower necessary. I'd rather have just taken my own commandos, but I hadn't been given that choice.

Bravo two ... three-one here ... delta caught in cross fire ... quicksand stuff and deep paddies or something ... couple of ...

The implant transmission flared red and vanished. I'd lost another officer, and without air support, delta units were going to get shredded worse, and with century-old weapons at that. Long-range stunners and lasers didn't work in rain forests. Neither did HV rifles, not well. That was why I had my own antique, a design more than fifty years old, a stun-grenade launcher, but it wasn't that accurate at more than a hundred meters. Gulsan had one, too. He was flanking me.

Charlie one ... Charlie one, sweeping southeast, vee on me ... After my orders, and before long we were scuttling to the southeast, with more of the slugs shredding the taller soyl plants. Implant positioning showed that fire was coming from a knoll of sorts two hundred meters to the southeast. Some sort of crude revetment, but crude or not, it was good enough to stop lasers and hand weapons.

More telltales flicked red and gone.

At eighty meters from the revetment, with a narrow clear line before us, and slugs coming in at less than a meter above my head, mowing down the tops of the soyl plants, and even the shorter and bushier caak planted between the rows of soyl, I called a halt. Hold. Launchers centered.



After the first stun-grenade dropped into the revetment, someone tried to swing the old machine gun. They didn't get far.

A handful of illegals vaulted over the revetment and began to run. At that range, even in the fields on the edge of the rain forest, the HVs were effective. One hundred percent effective in the open.

In less than ten minutes, the field and the revetment were ours, but I had the men play it safe, and it was more like a half hour before I climbed over the edge of the makeshift revetment and surveyed what lay there.

The heavy fire had come from more than a dozen locals. Bodies were four men, six women, and two children. That didn't count the others that delta company had taken down when they'd bolted the makeshift revetment. The ones who had stayed inside had been crouching behind rotten logs, plastered with dried mud and covered with vegetation. I could see their ribs. One of the women was ten years older than my mother. She looked that old, maybe wasn't, but one side of her chest was blown away. That was what happened when grenades designed to stun troops in nanite-boosted uniforms went off too close to unprotected flesh. The old woman's teeth were black stubs.

CI, Bravo two. Site secured. This time the uplink was clear. Ready for documentation.

That's a negative, Bravo two. Torch and return. Torch and return. Op concluded. Torch and return.

Interrogative, torch and return?

That's affirm. Torch and return. Notify when you reach pickup area.


We were "helping" the Guyanan president. The world knew that. But we weren't supposed to be engaging in operations. The only problem was that the Guyanan army couldn't find its way across a plowed field without tripping, and the multis were screaming to the Legislature and the Executory.

Bravo force. Deploy torches. Deploy torches.

A half hour later, we were trudging westward, patrols out.

I glanced back at the heavy black smoke that rose into the sullen sky. Even with the fields a quarter kay behind us, the odor permeated everything, a combination of burning rubber and rancid cooking oil.

"Why're we here, Colonel? Really?" That was Lieutenant Verglen, fresh-faced and right out of the Academy.

"CI says that a third of the caak coming into NorAm starts in this valley."

"So we've got to pay so that AVia doesn't lose creds on somatin?"

"We're just here to make sure that the Guyanan people stay under the liberated rule of President Amao. That's the official line." That was the official line, and I was a light colonel. I didn't mention what else we all knew — that MultiCor frowned on freelance production of soyl hydrocarbons that might compete with the MultiCor energy consortium.

"And we have to follow the official line, sir, don't we?"

ZZZZZZZZzzzzzz ...

A dull, off-key buzzing rolled through the sky — and the damp of the rain forest was gone. I was still sweating as I sat up and hit the alarm button.

Guyana ... more than ten years ago.

I still had dreams — except they were too real. Flashbacks. Reexperienced reality.

Reexperienced in far too real a fashion.

I lurched up from the bed and staggered toward the exercise clothes on the rack. Food and tea and exercise would help. They always did.


The screen showed a body on the stasis slab. Short dark brown hair topped an oval face — square-jawed and clean-shaven — a face a trace too long to be perfectly proportioned. Dark half-circles lay under open un-seeing eyes and thick eyebrows. No lines crossed the smooth forehead, and none radiated from the corners of the eyes. A sheet covered the lower part of the body, but it could not conceal that the area below the chest had been crushed.

"Almost looks flash," observed Yenci, blade-slender in the dark grays of a safety officer. "Too perfect. No history. Just a pretty face. Except pretty faces don't look so pretty when they're dead."

Silence followed the safo's words.

"Do we have an ID on this one?" Yenci finally asked.

"No ID."

"GIL check?" pursued the safo, the edge in her voice muted.

"No match."

"Not in the whole friggin' world? No trace to an existing clone pattern, no commercial cydroids, nothing? We've got three ... three clone/cydroids, all different, and there's not a trace to anyone?" Yenci's blue eyes hardened, although they were never softer than agate at most times, even when registering through scanners. "Your banks and systems can't find anything?"

"There is no match to DNA within acceptable parameters."

"What the frig does that mean?"

"The vast majority of human DNA is shared. Ninety-nine percent is close to identical to certain other primate species —"

"Enough. Heard that before." Yenci paused. "Captain won't like this. He won't. Lieutenant won't either."

"Do you want a facial comparison?"

"Low priority — only on low-level. Office can't afford any priority."

"That will take between eight and ten weeks at current data-flow levels."

"Takes what it takes," Yenci replied. She turned and left the stasis chamber.

No response was required.

Whether the captain liked it or not, the body was there — dead. Life takes people where it will, not where they will. That's what Bagram Wills said more than a century ago. Analysis of history and records would indicate that it is as true now as it was then. People can control what they do and how they act, but they do not control the effects of what they do. The effects spill onward and outward, like ripples in a pond, if they're fortunate, or like the nearly unseen wave of a tsunami, if they're not. For all that, life is not a river, nor a wide ocean.

The universe is infinite and endless. Life is not, even though it cannot be described accurately in any analytical fashion. People employ comparisons or analogies or metaphors. They fail as well. They use analytical systems and logical tools. Such systems can replicate thought, and some few reach awareness, but neither the rational and aware nor the irrational and unaware can describe life. People have always searched for meaning, and all too many grasp at beliefs that will allow them to deny that life, however extended, modified, and preserved, remains most finite. "A flickering candle against the span of the universe," according to Wills.

So are systems, even the most intelligent, even those fully self-aware.


I'd just come out of the fresher, clean with the feeling that you only get after a hot, hot shower following good, sweat-producing exercise — like my morning run through the Boulder greenbelt. Tuesday was the day I went for speed. After the flashback I'd had, that speed helped, but the extra exertion left me panting by the time I went into the weight room, both for the weights, and for other exercises. Once I'd finished, as usual, I dressed in dark green and black, black trousers and waistcoat, with a long-sleeved, wide-collared green shirt. Cravats were back, Aliora had told me several weeks ago, offering her sisterly fashion advice, but I only wore a cravat and jacket when I met clients in person.

Before I sat down and got to work, I took a long sip of the Grey tea from the mug I'd carried into the office, then walked to the wide windows on the north side. From there, the Flatirons rose to the northwest — red, angled-rock cliffs — in turn overlooking Boulder and the university. I almost could ignore the closer roofs and the trees. That view was one of the beauties of being an independent consultant. House and office were in the same place, and the location was acceptable. Truly acceptable would have been somewhere like Cedacity, also a university town, but for my work, the Denv area was a necessity. There's always some data clients refuse to send by link, and most of them want to meet in person at regular intervals. It's almost as if you're not real if they can't occasionally see you up close. Understandable enough, since anything on the worldlink can be, and has been, counterfeited.

After a last look at early September sunlight falling on the red rocks, I called up the holo projection for the Relaxo project. I tried not to think too hard about the work I didn't have after I finished the current round. Consulting's like that. No matter how good you are, you're never sure that it will continue.

Abruptly, silver flooded between me and the projection.

"Most honored sir?" The houri wore just enough, and no more, to get my involuntary attention. At a hundred and sixty centimeters, she exhibited both too much and too little. "Are you looking for the —"

A signal to the system commpro, and with a flash of light, the too-perfect figure vanished.

"Frigged filter!" Disruptions like that I didn't need. My office system was supposed to be proof against emwhores. But nothing was proof against anything, not these days.

I settled into the ergochair, setting down the mug, and taking in the shelves on the east wall. In addition to my collection of old-style, leather-backed books, I'd also bound some of the studies I'd done with particular meaning to me. Aliora teased me about my vanity in binding them, but electronic files just didn't carry the visual impact.

Was that because I needed a physical reminder of who I was? According to Shioban, my insecurity about who I was had been one of the many reasons she'd decided to move on. She hadn't mentioned the flashbacks, but those hadn't helped, either.

But you can't live in the past, no matter what happened.

I turned to the Relaxo sales figures on the holo projection. First, the ones on the left, then to the central column, the one that held the demographic breakdown of Hotters viewers, and then to the last two columns, one with projected Relaxo sales by demographics, compared to actual sales. As I'd suspected, there was only a normalized adjusted variance of 10 percent, just about standard for home fitness and relaxation products. I called up the next set of figures.

Reya Decostas, incoming. The commsys linked to my implant, another relic of the past that I'd kept ... and shouldn't have, not legally.

Reya would keep link-pushing until I gave in, and, if I didn't, I'd hear about it three times before she forwarded my fees. I blanked the Relaxo data. Accept.

Reya's holo image flashed up before me — a dark-haired woman with pale skin and classical features, clad in a not-quite formfitting adaptation of a toga, fashioned of a shimmering translucent cream fabric. After almost a year, I could finally ignore that classic figure, a distraction that she loved to use to her advantage — as I'd discovered early on, when I hadn't heard one of her conditions on a study, and it had cost me over a thousand creds.

"Reya ... what can I do for you?"

"Besides the PowerSwift results, Jonat dear? It's not what you can do for me, but for one of my ... acquaintances. You're the best of the prodplacement analysts ..."

Flattery meant she was about to ask a favor I couldn't refuse or to offer a job at a rate that wouldn't cover costs. I waited.

"It's noncommerce, but they'll pay your full rate."

"Who or what? And why?"

"It's real, not flash. Nonprof outfit. The Centre for Societal Research. Your contact is Tan Uy-Smythe. Executive director. He's expecting to hear from you ... soon. You'll find the codes in my latest link." Reya smiled. "Now ... what about the correlations on PowerSwift? I know you didn't promise them until Thursday, but do you have any preliminary results?"

"So long as you recall they're preliminary." The display came up, low and to the left, so that I could see the figures as I looked at Reya's projected image — and at the linkcam that relayed my image back to her. I'd never bothered with synch-simmies that would let me work on something else and still theoretically project competence and interest. Perceptive clients can tell the difference. "You're still running at forty percent. That's high for discretionary home products."

Reya frowned. "We'd hoped for more, with the sublim and rez enhancement."

"Right now, except in certain demographic spots, rez can lose you as much as it gains. We don't know the causal linkages. Resonance tech is still more art than science."

"I believe you mentioned that before." The PowerSwift director's voice turned dry. "The creative types don't like hard facts."

I offered an exaggerated shrug, the kind that the linkcam would catch. A shrug was far better than any words, since no words would address her statement.

"You do know when silence is golden, Jonat. That's another thing I appreciate about you." Reya paused. "What else?"

"Your tie-ins with the Infomatic line are low, only in the ten percent range. That's unadjusted ..." I went on to explain, without committing more than the facts indicated. In the end, I promised, again, to have the complete analysis to her by Thursday, and to contact Tan UySmythe immediately.

Once Reya's image vanished, before I linked Uy-Smythe, I spent a moment to call up the ErrorOne results from the analysis program. I ran through the numbers quickly. With my luck, Methroy would link and want a quick read. The PPI product line director was always stuffing bandwidth ... and then forgetting and linking again.

I retrieved the access codes Reya had sent and made the link for Uy-Smythe. A simple seal appeared on the projected holo, circular, a white rose and a red one crossing over a stylized version of the restored Parthenon.

Centre for Societal Research Jonat deVrai, for Tan Uy-Smythe. One moment, sir.

Without further comment, the seal was replaced by a man seated in an office library, one filled with old-style leatherbound books. At least, the wall behind him showed the books. Tan Uy-Smythe was slender, almost angular, with dark brown hair, and a golden complexion. "Mr. deVrai. How far from the truth?"

"Not far at all. More like 'of the truth.'"


Excerpted from Flash by L. E. Modesitt Jr., David G. Hartwell. Copyright © 2004 L. E. Modesitt, Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Flash 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
felius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A pulp sci-fi thriller set 400 years into the future. An ex-marine turned marketing consultant finds himself the pawn in a large-scale political struggle for power. The authorities won't help, so he uses his military skills to take out the people who are threatening him (ruthlessly), all while keeping up his consulting business and looking after the two kids of his sister and brother-in-law.For a book about espionage and military action, this spends an astonishing amount of time talking about the day-to-day life of an independent marketing consultant - as well as what he's making for dinner every day. It's not great, but I enjoyed it more than I feel I should have. A guilty pleasure.
bzedan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Omigod the first half of this book dragged it's ass. And, like, I didn't know it was future-time thank you for info-dumping so many damn newspeak words to me¿I wouldn't have figured it out otherwise.Possibly unsurprisingly, the pace gets a little better and the story interesting once the female characters are developed and introduced more thoroughly, and the overall arc isn't bad, really, just how it's portrayed is a little, y'know. I understand the desire to make characters fully real by letting us know that sometime after picking a cup up they must return it to the counter, or whatever, but it gets a little (lot) much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1 suggeston; rarity + spike. Se.x.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fluttershy moaned loadly as the stallion plunged into her. "Like it?" He growled. She nodded helplessly. "Good." He continued to thrust into her. Finally, he removed himself. Fluttershy glanced at him, confused. He grinned as he settled himself, his mouth right behind her sl it. He growled superiorly as his tongue grazed her cl it. Fluttershy shuddered. He started carressing her roughly, hitting her g - spot. Then, he sat up. "No! Don't go!" She protested. "You want me to make more love with you?" She nodded. "But if l spend all your love now, you won't have any more for later," the stallion grinned. "But one more thing before l spend another pony's love," he growled menacinglly. He tied her up, her pink sl it wide open and available. "Have fun with the next stallion," he laughed cruelly. He left, leaving Fluttershy, who felt public and humiliated. Suddenly, another stallion, a black one, barged in through the open door. "Ah, what have we here?" He grinned widely. "What's your name, se xy?" "Flu-Fluttershy," she stammered. "Well, l'm Caman. And you're my next stop. And your pus.sy is my di.ck's next stop," he grinned wickedly. He sniffed her sore flower. All the while Fluttershy sniffiling. "This won't do at all," he stated. He pulled out a vial filled with an unknown concoction. "Drink up," Caman ordered. "B-but, l don't want to," she argued. He put his face in hers, so close Fluttershy could smell his breath. "If you don't, l will show you no mercy, and l can't promise to leave your safety intact," Caman hissed. "Let's try that again. Drink up." This time, Fluttershy obeyed. "Good. Now just wait for it to take effect." A minute later, she got dizzy. She realized she was drugged. "You're so drugged that you will think l'm showing you mercy, but such is not the case. And that cordial also dims your senses a lot. So you can't fight back," Caman laughed cruelly. Fluttershy wondered what would become of her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thunderstrikw is chained up at res 6 she is very new to this and doesnt have an rp place so go on and fu<_>ck her.
JScottGa More than 1 year ago
I've read Flash twice. Better than Archform: Beauty, and not related at all by characters or plot. Both books, however, had the same interesting take on impact of global warming &amp; the end of cheap oil/gas.  A good story. Many of Modesitt's heros are described as caring, but it is never really shown how that affects their actions. deVrai was a more realized character, in what is basically a SF suspense story. it. 
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I just read this book about two days ago, and I have to admit it's far better then most of his work. I never enjoyed the Chaos and Order sagas very much, and this is far more in my taste. The book flashes between the man DeVrai working on his consulting business and his fighting life (which comes from flashbacks and current problems). Although some of the terms used such as NorAm (standing for North America) seem a little confusing at first. I found his knowledge of the Denver and Colorado region to be quite acurate. Although this isnt a romance, DeVrai's relationship with an AI and Paula are quite entertaining. Most likely one of the better books I've read so far this year.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the twenty-fourth century, observing his government lie and condone atrocities, former Marine officer Jonat deVrai resigned his military commission; he became an expert on product advertising. The Centre for Societal Research hires Jonat to analyze the election campaign of Juan Carlisimo to become a Senator. Jonat quickly questions the ethics and perhaps the illegal use of ¿rez', resonant amplification of music to enhance the candidate¿s message through emotional manipulation. The simple case turns nasty when thugs try to drive Jonat off the investigation.......................... At the same time Abraham Vorhees, whose services were exposed as a sham by Jonat threatens to kill his adversary. Jonat also becomes involved in a dastardly plot to smuggle illicit weapons onto Mars to smother a revolt. So when four illegal cydroids attempt to kill Jonat; he has no idea who is behind the assault that has led to the homicide of his sister and her husband. No one even his clients is trustworthy, but he must rely on someone for help so he turns to cydroid law enforcement officer Paula Athene in hopes of staying alive to raise his deceased sibling¿s children........................ Though all over the place, science fiction fans will full enjoy this wild futuristic crime thriller which condemns big government and big business as being an incestuous team interested in the furthering of their own personal needs at the cost of the masses. The story line is exciting with non-stop action as the ethical Jonat keeps landing in one deadly scene after another. Fans will appreciate this law-enforcement thriller peopled with terrific characters (A.I. included) while seeking the author¿s fabulous ARCHFORM: BEAUTY (same time, same place, same terrific writing).............................