Review of ARCHFORM: BEAUTY by L. E. Modessit, Jr.
TOR, July 2002
Police Lieutenant Chiang is overwhelmed with work--the last thing he needs is a series of strange overdose cases--cases where no excessive drugs or alcohol seem involved. As he investigates, he learns that the cases may be involved with something even more sinister. Someone is attempting to take over one of the largest Earth-based technology companies and murder is no object.
Author L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see BooksForABuck.com reviews of all novels by this author) delivers a futuristic earth with close ties to today's technologies and dangers. Extrapolating on trends in science (nanotechnology is the dominant means of producing food, protecting buildings, and preventing disease), the Internet (everyone has a built-in web connection), biological warfare (there an outbreak of an e-bola virus during the story), and space technology (Mars inhabitants are bombarding the earth with supposedly out-of-control asteroid debris), Modesitt's earth is both believable and interesting.
Modesitt uses his novel as a polemic in favor of the arts and beauty--support for 'great art' rather than popular art, and for the irrational over pure rationalism, but this sermon is delivered well in the context of the story (except for occasional essay bits inserted to make sure the reader doesn't miss the points--trust us, Modesitt, we would have got it without them). The mystery, a number of sympathetic characters, and even a hint of a romance add up to a compelling read.
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