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SFF Author: L.E. Modesitt_Jr

L.E. Modesitt Jr fantasy author(1943- )
After spending years writing poetry, political speeches and analyses, as well as economic and technical reports on extraordinarily detailed and often boring subjects, L.E. Modesitt Jr. finally got around to writing his first short story, which was published in 1973. He kept submitting and occasionally having published stories until an editor indicated he’d refuse to buy any more until he wrote a novel, which he’s been doing since 1982.L.E. Modesitt Jr lives in Cedar City, Utah. He keeps a blog and answers readers’ questions at his website.



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The Ecolitan Operation: I’d like to see where this is going

The Ecolitan Operation by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Major Jimjoy Wright is the Empire’s most successful secret agent. That’s because he’s strong, brave, clever, deceptive, ruthless, and totally goal-oriented. Once he accepts a mission from his government, nothing gets in his way. He always gets the job done.

Though JimJoy thinks he’s highly ethical, most people would find his consequentialism to be psychopathic. For example, JimJoy is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people. This doesn’t bother him because if he hadn’t destroyed them, millions of other innocent people probably would have died (it’s like an extreme version of the Trolley Problem).


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The Ecologic Secession: JimJoy takes on the Empire

The Ecologic Secession by L.E. Modesitt Jr

The Ecologic Secession (1990) is the second novel (according to internal chronology) in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s THE ECOLITAN MATTER quartet. In the first book, The Ecolitan Operation (for which there will be a few spoilers in this review), we met Major JimJoy Wright. He used to be the Empire’s best secret agent, but after they tried to assassinate him, he switched sides.

Now, after faking his death and being given a new identity,


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The Ecologic Envoy: A new generation of Ecolitans

The Ecologic Envoy by L.E. Modesitt Jr

The Ecologic Envoy (1986) was the first novel published in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s THE ECOLITAN MATTER quartet but, according to the series’ internal chronology, it comes third, after The Ecolitan Operation (1989) and The Ecologic Secession (1990). You don’t need to read those two novels first because The Ecologic Envoy and its sequel, The Ecolitan Enigma,


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Dawn for a Distant Earth: Has aged well

Dawn for a Distant Earth by L.E. Modesitt Jr

In the far future, after humanity has spread throughout the galaxy, Old Earth is an abandoned ruin. Nuclear waste and bad environmental policies have killed the ecology and changed the climate. Now Earth is a frozen and desolate wasteland with dangerous sheer winds. Only the toughest people manage to survive in such a harsh climate.

Most of Earth’s sparse population huddles behind the walls of dilapidated shambletowns. Those who don’t have friends and family, or who don’t fit in for some other reason,


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The Silent Warrior: This story takes an unexpected turn

The Silent Warrior by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the previous book, Dawn for a Distant Earth.

The Silent Warrior is the second book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s FOREVER HERO trilogy. Published in the late 1980s, this series is about a man named Gerswin who grew up in the harsh environment of the ruined Earth. He was picked up by the galactic empire, educated, and enlisted in their military.


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In Endless Twilight: Timely discussions, then a really weird ending

In Endless Twilight by L.E. Modesitt Jr

In Endless Twilight (1988) is the final installment in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s THE FOREVER HERO trilogy. My review will probably contain spoilers for the first two novels, Dawn for a Distant Earth and The Silent Warrior. You need to read them before opening In Endless Twilight.

During Dawn for a Distant Earth, we saw Gerswin getting the education and skills he needed to be able to fulfill his dream of restoring the ruined Earth.


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The Saga of Recluce: Repetitive but appreciated theme

THE SAGA OF RECLUCE by L.E. Modesitt

The underlying repetitive theme of the Modesitt works is personal accountability and the triumph of an enlightened, empowered individual over the self-serving machinations of the opposition. That may be simplifying things to a great degree, but that is what I get out of it. My personal experience with Modesitt began with The Magic of Recluce many years ago. At the time I was just beginning to refine my taste for fantasy and Modesitt was something different.

In the Saga of Recluce,


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The Magic of Recluce: Still great after all these years

The Magic of Recluce (Special 20th Anniversary Edition) by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

I first read The Magic of Recluce over 15 years ago, and I still have my original paperback copy. This year two special editions are being released by Tor and Subterranean Press. Rereading this story again, after having covered so much ground in epic fantasy, was both interesting and very comforting — comforting because it was nice to realize that a good story is still a good story even after all these years.

The Magic of Recluce chronicles the life of Lerris,


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Magi’i of Cyador: Excellent politics, worldbuilding, and familiar characters

Magi’i of Cyador by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

The nice things about L.E. Modesitt Jr.‘s long-running RECLUCE series is that once you are familiar with the timeline you can reread them in pretty much any order you like. There are never more than two books with the same main character. Mind you, for the first read-through, publication order is still the best order to read them as Modesitt refines his Order/Chaos-based system of magic over time. Once in a while I reread one of these books; I call this my random RECLUCE rereads.


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Scion of Cyador: A well-balanced and politically complex story

Scion of Cyador by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Scion of Cyador is the direct sequel to Magi’i of Cyador and chronologically the earliest book in the series, though it is the eleventh of eighteen books (to date). I read Magi’i of Cyador a while ago and I couldn’t suppress the urge to read the sequel any longer. This book is a little less focused on battles and a bit more on politics, especially the second half. L.E. Modesitt is very good at letting the reader see all the little signs of change and what they add up to.


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Ordermaster: Decent read but same old same old

Ordermaster by L.E. Modesitt Jr

If Ordermaster and its prequel Wellspring of Chaos had come out as the first two books in the Recluce series, I’d have given them a slightly stronger review. Ordermaster is decently paced, has a good strong main character, some interestingly complex politics as its background, and is overall pretty well-written. But after reading a dozen Recluce books before these, one has to wonder how many times can Modesitt tell this same story.


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Natural Ordermage: Par for the course

Natural Ordermage by L.E. Modesitt Jr

L.E. Modesitt’s Recluce fantasy series is something that has become so predictable that you read it as much because you know what to expect as for any actual update in the story. If you like it, that’s not a bad thing as long as you understand what you are getting into.

Natural Ordermage represents yet another branch in the story that tells other sides of things that have happened in the past. In this case we get a glimpse into the Empire of Hamor and,


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Mage-Guard of Hamor: Left me bored

Mage-Guard of Hamor by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Mage-Guard of Hamor is the 15th book in the Saga of Recluce series by L.E. Modesitt Jr. If you’ve gotten to this point in the series, then odds are you know what you are getting in to, and perhaps you don’t mind the comfortable repetition. But, unfortunately, this installment only left me bored.

Mage-Guard of Hamor continues the story we were following in Natural Ordermage. The main character,


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Arms-Commander: A welcome return

Arms-Commander by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Arms-Commander is a return to historical Candar and the SAGA OF RECLUCE by L.E. Modesitt Jr. This book follows in the wake of Chaos Balance and Fall of Angels as continued explanation of how the female-run and empowered part of the continent of Candar came to be. For long term fans of the series, this is really interesting stuff to fill in some of the blanks.

Saryn, a decidedly cardboard character from the earlier series,


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Cyador’s Heirs: I read it twice

Cyador’s Heirs by L.E. Modesitt Jr 

Cyador’s Heirs, the seventeenth book in the SAGA OF RECLUCE, takes place after the fall of the great nation of Cyador. It tells the story of Lerial, the younger son of the current Duke of Cigoerne, the heir to the Malachite Throne of fallen Cyador. L.E. Modesitt Jr. follows Lerial as he comes of age and is shaped by people and events around him.

Lerial is an intelligent, angry, slightly jealous younger son of the nobility.


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Heritage of Cyador: Follows the pattern

Heritage of Cyador by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Heritage of Cyador is the eighteenth book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s SAGA OF RECLUCE and is the immediate sequel to Cyador’s Heirs. It continues the story of Lerial, the second son of the Duke of Cigoerne. This is a typical Modesitt novel, which means it follows the pattern of having different political parties wrangling back and forth with each other until a hero is forced to use his magical skills in some unique and unexpected way to save the day.


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Fairhaven Rising: Boring

Fairhaven Rising by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

I’ve read every book that L.E. Modesitt, Jr. has written in the SAGA OF RECLUCE. I have thrilled to watch different characters go through the refiner’s fire of youth and grow into interesting adults. There have been sorrows and joys along the way, and I often felt like I was reading the same book over and over with different character names, different trades they were pursuing, but mostly the same pattern and the same themes. Men are naturally power-hungry and bad.


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Adiamante: My favorite science fiction novel by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Adiamante by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Suppose that the world had gone through an apocalypse based on a conflict between two groups of super-technologically-advanced people with fundamentally different beliefs on how technology should be applied. One group wanted the logic of technology to replace human thought, and the other wanted technology to merely enhance human perception. Could this difference provide the footing for outright war?

Ecktor is a Demi, a human who has been enhanced with physical and mental abilities hard-coded into his DNA. His wife has died; her memories are everywhere and permeate the very home he lives in.


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The Parafaith War: Interesting premise, too many problems

The Parafaith War by L.E. Modesitt Jr

In our far future, a young man named Trystin Desoll is a soldier in the long war that his high-tech civilization has been fighting with the Revs, a society of religious zealots. The Revs, who are outgrowing their own planet, believe that the Eco-Techs are sinful because they use brain implants and other technology to improve their bodies. Therefore, the Revs think it’s permissible for them to wipe out Trystin’s civilization, and they’ve been trying to do this for decades.

Trystin is rising rapidly in the Eco-Tech military.


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Gravity Dreams: Some interesting themes but not much else

Gravity Dreams by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Tyndel is a religious leader in his society. Any use of nanotechnology is forbidden and those who change their bodies with nanotech are considered “demons.” When someone purposely infects Tyndel with the forbidden “mites,” Tyndel must flee his country before he’s arrested and killed. When he gets rescued by the “evil” empire that allows technological body enhancements, his faith is challenged.

Gravity Dreams (1999) is very similar to The Parafaith War, the last Modesitt book I read.


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The Octagonal Raven: Be patient with it

The Octagonal Raven by L.E. Modesitt Jr

His fantasy, in particular the RECLUCE saga, is a lot more popular but L.E. Modesitt Jr. has also written quite a few science fiction novels. I’ve read a number of these now and they are usually an all or nothing read for me. Some I enjoyed tremendously (Flash, Adiamante, The Forever Hero), others I will never read again (The Ethos Effect,


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Legacies: A pleasant but not brilliant epic fantasy, now on audio

Legacies by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Alucius lives in the land of Corus which used to be ruled by a great civilization until some sort of cataclysm occurred. Now the continent is divided into several countries that are on the verge of war. Alucius, who we see grow from a young boy to a young man, just wants to get married to a nice girl and live as a peaceful herder on his family’s stead. But war comes and Alucius is drafted into the army where he rises rapidly in the ranks.

As a herder,


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Darknesses: Not great but solid and well-paced

Darknesses by L.E. Modesitt Jr

First off, though this does stand as in independent story in what is called THE COREAN CHRONICLES, it will make a lot more sense to you and you’ll be a lot more invested in the characters if you read the first book ahead of time. Darknesses returns to the same main character, Alucius, who remains as in the first a reluctant soldier caught up in battles and politics he’d rather not wage, preferring to set down his sword and his strange Talent and return home to be a herder with his new wife.


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Scepters: Not bad on its own but been down this road too often

Scepters by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Scepters, the third book of The Corean Chronicles, isn’t a bad book in its own right. If it could be read on its own (one really needs to have read the two previous books to follow this one), it would have been a decent if not great or even really good read. But coming as it does after the first two, my largest reaction was: haven’t we seen all this before?

By now the pattern of plot and character has become pretty rote.


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Alector’s Choice: Shampoo-rinse-repeat

Alector’s Choice by L.E. Modesitt Jr

There’s no longer any doubt — Modesitt has fallen into the “shampoo” mode of series writing: rinse-shampoo-repeat. Alector’s Choice, while not a bad book if read on its own (which it can be), is, for fans or former fans of Modesitt’s other work, merely a rehash of the same old same old. Same old plot. Same old characters. Same old conflicts. Same old resolutions. Only the names have been changed to protect the profits (and a possible plagiarism suit if one could sue oneself).


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Cadmian’s Choice: A long middle book

Cadmian’s Choice by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Cadmian’s Choice is the fifth book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s COREAN CHRONICLES and the second in the trilogy about Mykel and Dainyl. You don’t need to read the first trilogy in the COREAN CHRONICLES (Legacies, Darknesses, Scepters) before reading this one. In fact, I think it makes more sense to read this trilogy first since it focuses on events that occur generations before Legacies.


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Soarer’s Choice: Satisfactorily concludes the second COREAN trilogy

Soarer’s Choice by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

The second trilogy in L. E. Modesitt, Jr.’s COREAN CHRONICLES closes with Soarer’s Choice. While this book is better than the previous novel, Cadmian’s Choice, that’s mostly because (1) It closes out this overly-long trilogy and (2) It gives the background that helps explain the world Alucius lives in in the first three COREAN CHRONICLES books, LegaciesDarknesses, and Scepters.


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The Lord-Protector’s Daughter: Rather dull

The Lord-Protector’s Daughter by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

According to the publisher’s blurb, The Lord-Protector’s Daughter is a “standalone fantasy.” Um… no. It most certainly is not. It’s book seven in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s COREAN CHRONICLES and while it’s true that it begins a new story that takes place a couple hundred years after the events of book six, it is the first part of a story that will be at least a duology set in Corus. So, you’re not going to get the full story about Mykella,


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Lady-Protector: A little better than the predecessor

Lady-Protector by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Lady-Protector is the last (so far) book in L.E. Modesitt’s COREAN CHRONICLES and a direct sequel to The Lord-Protector’s Daughter. You can read this duology without having read the first six COREAN CHRONICLES books, but you do need to read The Lord-Protector’s Daughter before picking up Lady-Protector. This review will necessarily spoil some of the plot for that earlier novel.


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Haze: An excellent stand-alone SF

Haze by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Major Keir Roget, an agent for the Chinese-dominated Federation government, is sent to investigate a mysterious world — mysterious because it is entirely enveloped by a “haze” of shielding particles. When he arrives on Haze, he finds a friendly and seemingly very advanced civilization of humans who give him such complete access to their society that it almost seems as if his perceptions or thoughts are somehow being controlled.

Roget’s story is told in alternating chapters, going back and forth from the Haze mission to the events leading up to it,


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Imager: A new series to please Modesitt fans

Imager by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Imager is the first book in the IMAGER PORTFOLIO, the newest fantasy series by the incredibly prolific L. E. Modesitt Jr. I usually enjoy the author’s work very much, and Imager was no exception, despite the fact that it’s so recognizably L. E. Modesitt Jr.’s work that it verges on the predictable. I’m actually sure that some Modesitt fans could predict the early part of this novel’s plot just by looking at the included map: hmmm…


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Imager’s Challenge: Nothing new

Imager’s Challenge by L.E. Modesitt Jr

I really looked forward to L.E. Modesitt‘s return to the Imager series. The first book, Imager, was typical Modesitt fare, but it felt like he was trying out some new stuff. In Imager’s Challenge, I felt like we went right back to where we were before Imager.

After the events of Imager, Rhennthyl, the main character, had been through the typical Modesitt transition.


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Imager’s Intrigue: Political intrigue, social commentary, exciting action

Imager’s Intrigue by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

L.E. Modesittreturns to great storytelling in Imager’s Intrigue, the powerful third book of The Imager Portfolio series. Imager’s Intrigue follows closely on the heels of Imager’s Challenge as Rhennthyl, the main character, continues his rise in power as an Imager and a catalyst for change.

Rhennthyl, now married to his fiancée Seliora and father of a young daughter, continues in his role as Patrol Captain and Imager. Modesitt has fast-forwarded a few years and created a good transition between where we left off and how things now are.


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Scholar: A new beginning in the IMAGER PORTFOLIO

Scholar by L.E. Modesitt Jr

In a pattern that’s by now familiar for L.E. Modesitt Jr., Scholar marks a new beginning in the IMAGER PORTFOLIO series. The book is set several hundred years before the events portrayed in the three “Rhentyll” novels Imager, Imager’s Challenge, and Imager’s Intrigue. Because of this, Scholar shares no characters with the earlier novels in the series and can be read separately.


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Princeps: Solid IMAGER novel

Princeps by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Princepsis a direct follow-up to Scholar and continues the story of Quaeryt, the Scholar/Imager. In Scholar, Quaeryt grew greatly both as a person and as an Imager through his service to Lord Bhayar in investigating the reason for heavy military requirements in the province on Tilbor. Quaeryt’s resounding success in figuring out the underlying issue and protecting Lord Bhayar’s interests is rewarded by an appointment as Princeps of Tilbor and marriage to Bhayar’s sister, Vaelora.

As Princeps of Tilbor,


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Imager’s Battalion: Feels like a textbook, not a fantasy novel

Imager’s Battalion by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

THE IMAGER PORTFOLIO has covered two eras and two separate characters and tied them together with a theme of great power and great responsibility. L.E. Modesitt Jr. has taken the time to show the evolution of magic (imaging) in a low-tech world and has given us some pretty amazing world-building. The challenge for readers, however, is that it has been at times dreadfully boring, endlessly repetitive and so heavy-handed in its statements about the social conditions and the inherent prejudices that exist in that world that even the most stalwart fan gets… tired.


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Antiagon Fire: When does might make right?

Antiagon Fire by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Antiagon Fire is the fourth book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s IMAGER PORTFOLIO series about Quaeryt the scholar (it’s the seventh book in the entire series). The twists and turns of Quaeryt’s life have been momentous as befits a fantasy epic, but have often dealt with very mundane aspects of life. In this installment, Modesitt really reaches deep into the realm of political motivations and asks us to consider whether and when might really does make right.

After the traumatic conclusion to the war with Bovaria and the near death of Quaeryt,


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Rex Regis: A very human tale

Rex Regis by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Regis Regis (2014) is the eighth book of the IMAGER PORTFOLIO and the fifth book following Quaeryt. After literally years of hard work, war, and nothing less than miraculous events, the curtain begins to close on this part of Solidar’s history.

The fall of Antiago had been particularly painful for Quaeryt because of the loss of his child when his wife was injured. The reality of the constant threat of power-hungry competitors to influence the future of the continent of Lydar leaves Quaeryt with very little time to heal or mourn.


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Madness in Solidar: Bleak

Madness in Solidar by L.E. Modesitt Jr

THE IMAGER PORTFOLIO has hopped all around the chronological history Solidar, from the very beginning when Imagers were feared and forced to hide or else be killed or enslaved, to the very end when they are a powerful arm of the government. Madness in Solidar (2015) falls in the middle and is one of the bleaker installments in Modesitt’s series. You need to have read the previous eight books before picking up Madness in Solidar.


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Treachery’s Tools: Satisfying for a fan of the series

Treachery’s Tools by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

It’s always a surprise when a fantasy novel can carry real meaning in depicting modern issues. Things like pride, avarice and jealousy that can be pervasive in certain segments of the social structure of a modern world can be so powerfully demonstrated when people use swords and magic to actually kill each. L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s Treachery’s Tools was able to provoke those comparisons for me.

When last we left Alastar he had successfully stood off a revolt by High Holders against the Rex of Solidar and the attempted obliteration of the Imager’s Collegium.


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Empress of Eternity: Impressive but impersonal

Empress of Eternity by L.E. Modesitt Jr

It’s hard not to get excited whenever L.E. Modesitt Jr. releases a new standalone sci-fi novel. Despite being better known for his various fantasy series than his science fiction, some of his best work can be found in the latter genre. Novels like The Parafaith War, Archform: Beauty, Adiamante and Haze (just to name a few) are wonderful examples of this amazingly prolific author’s talent when it comes to science fiction.


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

The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, With Winds and Accompaniment by L.E. Modesitt Jr

I am a big fan of Modesitt’s science fiction work, even when he gets on his political soap box for gender, socially progressive politics, and environmental issues. The One-Eyed Man is a solo novel that encompasses all of these topics, but this time there is almost a feeling of cynicism that I really enjoyed.

Paulo Verano is an idealistic Environmental Analyst who has just been taken to the cleaners. In a scene that is familiar to many,


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Solar Express: Not entertaining

Solar Express by L.E. Modesitt Jr

L.E. Modesitt Jr’s newest work is a stand-alone hard science fiction novel that takes place in the 2100’s when the geo-political landscape of Earth has changed dramatically. Climate change and bad economic policies have nearly destroyed the United States, which now belongs to the North American Union. The major world powers have been exploring space, but all have signed a treaty that prevents them from weaponizing their spaceships or militarizing space in other ways. War threatens, however, after the Sinese Federation accuses the North American Union and the Indians of breaking the treaty.


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Quantum Shadows: Unpleasant

Quantum Shadows by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

What would life be like if you were living through a seemingly never-ending series of holocaust-style planetary collapses? Corvyn is a cynic. He questions everything and tries to hold himself above the mundane ideals that normal people struggle with. He’s been there, done that, is powerful enough in the world order that exists to resist almost anyone, but he refuses to take a leadership role himself.

In Quantum Shadows (2020) we follow Corvyn as he attempts to track down an apparent attempt to seize power by entities unknown.


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Speculative Horizons: Feel good about buying this anthology!

Speculative Horizons edited by Patrick St. Denis

Speculative Horizons is a lovely little anthology edited by book blogger Patrick St. Denis (of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist fame). When the good people at Subterranean Press asked him whether he’d be interested in editing a short story collection, he understandably jumped on the idea (who wouldn’t?!), but asked that a portion of the proceeds be donated to breast cancer research. Not only is this an absolutely wonderful initiative, but it also means that you now have an excellent chance to buy a book and actually feel good about it.


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The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: For a dose of crazy genius

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is the latest themed anthology edited by John Joseph Adams — and it’s another good one. This time, Adams has collected a set of short stories featuring the hero’s (or often superhero’s) traditional antagonist: the mad genius, the super-villain, the brilliant sociopath who wants to remold the world in his own image — or occasionally, maybe, just be left alone in his secret lair to conduct spine-tingling experiments that,


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FanLit Asks: Why are you kicking yourself?

Instead of asking one author several questions, we’ve asked several authors just one question. Please leave a comment or suggest a question for us to ask in the future. We’ll choose one commenter to win a copy of Jesse Bullington’s The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart on audio CDs (or, if you’ve got bad taste, something else from our stacks).

Question: Which speculative fiction character created by another author are you kicking yourself for not dreaming up first?


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