Thursday, January 6, 2011
The Eternity Artifact by L.E. Modesitt
(This review was written in 2006)Unremarkable. In fact, this novel is so unremarkable that I've spent the last week, since I finished it, trying to think of some remarks to make about it. I've liked Modesitt for years, and it WAS readable, but I don't really think it's up to his usual entertaining standards.
It seems that in the depths of space an engineered planetoid has been discovered, of unimaginable antiquity. An expedition is mounted to investigate the body, and the city scale artifact upon it. Everything is quite mysterious, and people from all of the governments around the galaxy are are attempting to either control the alien technology that might be revealed there, or to destroy it so others won't be able to. Seems like I've seen this plot a half dozen times before.
Much of this novel, however, is thinly veiled historical, political and philosophical pedantry. One of the primary characters aboard the expedition is history professor Liam Fitzhugh. A key aspect of his characterization by Modesitt is his propensity for hiding his true feelings behind multi-syllabic utterances, and throughout the novel we are treated to his treatises on the aforementioned subjects.
Heinlein, in his middle years, was able to do this quite skillfully, still weaving an engrossing, captivating tale. In this novel, at least, Modesitt falls a bit short.