cover image The Eternity Artifact

The Eternity Artifact

L. E. Modesitt, Jr.. Tor, $25.95 (367pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1464-2

The prolific Modesitt (Flash ) employs four different narrative perspectives in this slow-moving tale of far-future intergalactic human civilizations, with often compelling if sometimes repetitive results. The enlightened, progressive government of the Comity persuades artist Chendor Barna, cultural historian Liam Fitzhugh, shuttle pilot Jiendra Chang and assassin Goodman/Bond to join an exploratory space voyage to a mysterious, uninhabited terraformed world named Danann. At a site on Danann so old that the atmosphere is solid ice, the four discover a marvelous artifact that allows them to speculate on its implications for the technological level of the unknown aliens who created it and the changing nature of the universe. This revolutionary discovery, however, leads to conflict between the Comity and the worlds of the Zionist Covenant and Muslim Sunnis, who want to prevent access to advanced technologies and suppress knowledge of ancient alien life-forms. Readers who like both hard science and realistic sociology will be rewarded. (Oct.)