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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Eternity Artifact by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

The Eternity Artifact by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. New York: Tor, 2005. ISBN: 978-0-765-31462-2

Now this is what a science fiction novel should be like! Humankind has spread to the stars, but has so far found no real evidence of alien intelligence anywhere. Then a planet is discovered, traveling rapidly outside the galactic plane on its own, with no sun or solar system in attendance, on which appears to be an alien city abandoned several billion years ago.

A scientific and military expedition is mounted to explore, which has to fight a rival faction even before getting underway, and other factions are waiting for its return. These factions are based on current religious divisions, with entire political comities based on Muslim, fundamentalist Christian, Jewish and other faiths, with our protagonists coming from a more open, scientifically oriented society, somewhat like we might like to think of the United States, at least up and until the past decade or two.

There are plenty of human interest angles to keep us well entertained as the exploration proceeds. We follow in particular the lives of a shuttle pilot, a somewhat pedantic, but surprisingly agile historian of sorts, an artist, an enemy saboteur, and several others Naturally, the artist makes more discoveries than the professionals, to the frustration of the archaeologists in charge of the investigation. There's even a somewhat unlikely and gradually unfolding love story to help carry us along.

While Modesitt may be more well known for his fantasy novels, he has a sure touch with the traditional science fiction genre, and this book is well worth reading for SciFi fans of all stripes. Definitely recommended.

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