FLASH

L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Author
L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Author Tor $25.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-7653-1128-3
Reviewed on: 08/23/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Ebook - 480 pages - 978-1-4299-1395-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 530 pages - 978-0-7653-4992-7
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Down the mean streets of a future Denver a man must go, in this Chandleresque tale of corporate and political scheming and murder. Fantasy bestseller Modesitt (the Spellsong Cycle) returns to his SF setting of a federated post-U.S. North America ("the Commonocracy") run by large companies ("multilaterals") as much as by governments. Jonat deVrai, ex-Marine colonel, tries to navigate among the corporate clients who seek his product placement ad analyses. When the Centre for Societal Research asks for a similar report on a political campaign, deVrai becomes part of an elaborate plot to further corporate controls over the indentured Martian colonies. Having quit the Marines to stop being used as company muscle, deVrai turns the tables on the executives who try to exploit him, with the help of a law-enforcement AI, Central Four, and "her" humanoid clone bodies, known as cydroids. DeVrai's campaign, as befits a noir hero, has personal costs, leaving him to care for his orphaned niece and nephew. It also comes with benefits, as Central Four's principal cydroid, Paula Athene, grows to self-awareness, independence and romantic attraction. Modesitt strives for emotional rather than intellectual satisfaction. His future has much eye-pleasing chrome, but it lacks infrastructure, making the book seem more contemporary techno-thriller than SF (parents queuing up in hydrogen-powered cars to pick up their kids after school). (Sept. 15)

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