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    Review of THE ELYSIUM COMMISSION by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see his website)

    Tor, February 2007

    Worldwide surveilance and the benevolent dictatorship of the 'Sisters' haven't eliminated crime and ex-special forces soldier Blaine Donne splits his time between acting as detective, tracking down missing people, questionable dealings, and patent infringement, and acting as the 'knight of shadows,' righting wrongs and preventing the violence and cruelty that still exists in a civilization thousands of years in our future. But the private detective business is undependable and Donne needs to take the commissions he gets. Still, it's odd when he gets several commissions at once--and odder yet when all of them seem challenging, with all of the facts apparently hidden.

    With the help of his sister and her business partner, Donne tries to get to the bottom of the biggest of these commissions--finding a connection between the planet's biggest entertainment conglomerate and a mysterious something called Elysium. It doesn't take long to discover that the managers of the entertainment complex are up to something--they're spending fortunes on research, violating patents, and running unregulated energy generators. Finding a connection to Elysium is more difficult since Donne doesn't even know what Elysium might be.

    Author L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see more reviews of novels by Modesitt) creates a fascinating and believable future world. Despite scientific advances, some still yearn for the days when answers were all easy, crime still endures, and mindless sex is still a money-making enterprise. The secret behind Elysium turns ot to be something on the barely possible end of the scientific spectrum, making the story that much more believable.

    Modesitt occasionally jarred me out of the story by making reference to contemporary (21st Century) debates--over the roles of men and women and over Intelligent Design. I suspect this was Modesitt's frustration with the current low level of scientific understanding in America--and the devout wish of so many of the devout to deny reality when it conflicts with their beliefs. Still, it's hard for me to believe that anyone will even remember Intelligent Design a thousand years from now, any more than we remember any of the weird and disproven theories of alchemy that must have been popular a thousand years ago. I'll cut Modesitt some slack--he handles these interuptions well, and he does make them relevant to the story.

    Modesitt is most famous for his Recluse fantasy novels but THE ELYSIUM COMMISSION shows that he's in top form as a Science Fiction author as well. I'm happy to recommend this one.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/06/07

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