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THE ELYSIUM COMMISSION . [Mass Market Paperback]

L.E. Modesitt Jr
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 April 2008
A brilliant scientist on the planet Devanta has created a small universe contiguous to ours - and a utopian city on one of the planets. The question becomes, though, an utopia for whom? And why is a shady entertainment mogul subsidizing the scientist? More critical than that, does this new universe require the destruction of a portion - or all - of our universe in order to grow and stabilize? Blaine Donne is a retired military special operative now devoted to problem-solving for hire. He investigates a series of seemingly unrelated mysteries that arise with the arrival of a woman with unlimited resources who has neither a present nor a past.The more he investigates, the more questions arise, including the role of the two heiresses who are more - and less - than they seem, and the more Donne is pushed inexorably toward an explosive solution and a regional interstellar war.

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; Reprint edition (25 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765356546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765356543
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 502,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

No matter what anyone claims, writers are made, not born, and what and how they write is the result of just how they were made... or how they made themselves. I began by writing poetry, which was published only in small magazines, and then went on to write administrative reports while I was a U.S. Naval aviator, followed by research papers, speeches, economic and technical studies, and policy and briefing papers. Along the way, I've been a delivery boy; a lifeguard; an unpaid radio disc jockey; a U.S. Navy pilot; a market research analyst; a real estate agent; director of research for a political campaign; legislative assistant and staff director for U.S. Congressmen; Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues; a college lecturer and writer in residence; and unpaid treasurer of a civic music arts association.

As a result, my writing tends to incorporate all of the above, in addition to the science fiction I read from a very early age. After close to sixty published novels, and perhaps a score of short stories, it's fairly clear to me that "what kind of writer" I am for readers tends to depend on which of my books each reader has read.

Along the way, I've weathered eight children, a fondness for three-piece suits [which has deteriorated into a love of vests], a brown Labrador, a white cockapoo, an energetic Shih-tzu, two scheming dachshunds, a capricious spaniel, a crazy Saluki-Aussie, and various assorted pet rodents. Finally, in 1989, to escape nearly twenty years of occupational captivity in Washington, D.C., I escaped to New Hampshire. There I was fortunate enough to find and marry a lovely lyric soprano, and we moved to Cedar City, Utah, in 1993, where she directs the voice and opera program at Southern Utah University and where I attempt to create and manage chaos in the process of writing.

Product Description


Praise for "The Elysium Commission"

"With a well-realized world, an original plot twist, and a cliff-hanger ending--space opera by a first-class librettist." --"Booklist

""Action-packed space opera-cum-hard-boiled detective story. Modesitt cleverly weaves together disparate threads of information to form a complete tapestry." -"Publishers Weekly

""Modesitt delivers a more action oriented and less philosophically based novel than some of his other works. Readers can enjoy "The Elysium Commission" on many levels."

"Modesitt's fascinating and highly readable science fiction novel has more than a dash of detective-story whimsy. Blane Donne is a wonderful narrator." -"Romantic Times BOOKreviews"

About the Author

L. E. Modesitt, Jr., is the bestselling author of the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce, Corean Chronicles, and the Imager Portfolio. His science fiction includes "Adiamante," the Ecolitan novels, the Forever Hero Trilogy, and "Archform: Beauty." Besides a writer, Modesitt has been a U.S. Navy pilot, a director of research for a political campaign, legislative assistant and staff director for a U.S. Congressman, Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues, and a college lecturer. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.

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Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Jessica
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Modesitt has a real capacity for profound writing, but I find I prefer his purer sci-fi books as opposed to his fantasy as the style suits him far more. Other books by him (his recluse books) I haven't been completely sold on because although like this there are strong undercurrents they feel vaguely flat.

I really enjoyed this though; the narrative is complex but not unnecessarily so as it follows Blaine Donne, a retired military special operative now devoted to solving problems for hire. He takes on seemingly unrelated cases but these soon begin to collide in a fascinating way, that doesn't become clear till the end, in fact there were moments that I really couldn't guess at what would happen. Although Donne is a solid if unmoving lead I did at times have problems with his narrative, particularly in the beginning when I actually became confused as to who was narrating, as Donne's adversary is given a few chapters, this isn't made clear but then again this seems to be the point, as an aspect of the book is the two characters duality.

The sci-fi world created is very good, really interesting and the detective elements are effective and entertaining, making it very atmospheric, the book has a sort of ease to it, although you can get a bit tangled in Modesitt's writing. Modesitt often employs strong religious and spiritual undercurrents and this is no different, in this he uses really quite ingenious quotes and headings that enforce and further his arguments into human nature, industrialism, self, technology, the crux of which seems to be an exploration into a persons drive to obtain their own kind of utopia, no matter the costs to humanity.

I definitely recommend this, Modesitt can sometimes bore and preach but this has the right mix of reflection, quirky observations, profound musings and successfully employed sci-fi elements.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kept me entertained 20 Mar 2008
By Robert
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really do not know this author, but I found this book entertaining. It was a little like Jack Macdevitt in that the culture felt part of a coherent whole which did not require explanation to the reader. The story is a fairly typical SF private eye theme. However the author recognised that real PIs don't just have one case, else they would never pay the rent, so he has set up arcing stories. My only issue, and it is a small one, was that the sentences sometimes felt poorly constructed and it interupted the flow of the narrative. On the whole a fun book
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5.0 out of 5 stars LE MODESITT 7 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak for Modesitt 5 Mar 2007
By James D. DeWitt - Published on
I like Modesitt, despite this unfavorable review. A prolific writer, he has invented a variety of universes, each a bit different, and he writes good economic- and politically-based science fiction. The quality of his writing can be pretty variable, and he cannot write a love scene to save his soul. But I still enjoy most of his books.

But I had to work to even finish this one. The premise is promising: a male private detective in a society run by and whose royalty are women. But that premise is never fully developed. The private detective/protagonist also has a Dark Knight role, but that's never developed, either. He doesn't take assignments; he takes commissions. Hence, the title. And he does, indeed take the Elysium commission, even if he only figures it out afterwards. The rest of the novel is similarly fragments and undeveloped. The protagonist, as another reviewer has noted, is yet another iron-grey-haired guy who wears black a lot.

And when the plot drops into military action at the end, you won't be the only reader who wonders wear that came from.

Modesitt has written far better books. For example, the recent "Eternity Artifact" is superior in every way. This is a clunker.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok worldbuilding, lousy plot and character development 5 Mar 2007
By Indy Reviewer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Elysium Commission is not one of L. E. Modesitt's better novels. I take a star off each for POV storytelling that is confusing, a plot getting wildly sidetracked for 80% of the book before making any sense, and a protagonist that seems to be a composite of any of his other science fiction standalones. I'm going to be generous and add back one star for some fairly interesting concepts in worldbuilding, so three stars.

The world he creates is certainly different. Protagonist Blaine Donne lives in what seems to be a terraformed future world based roughly off of Italy and France that is dominated by the rich, ruled by women, and where nanite technology and societal acceptance allows routine enhancements ranging up to sex changes to those who aren't comfortable being themselves.

Unfortunately, that's the only good part. The narrative is both confusing and badly developed. Donne is yet another one of Modesitt's repetitive retired Special Ops types (of course, also a pilot) who has become a private investigator in his medical retirement. Modesitt makes an unusual mistake for a writer of his experience in spending most of the book away from the main plot of what exactly the Elysium project is by investigating Donne's other cases, and then compounds it by throwing in occasional POVs from the nominal villain that make utterly no sense until he finally reveals at the conclusion what the villain had intended all along. Character development is stunted, with Donne's occasional Batman appearance as the "Knight of Shadows" never explained, his familial and client relations barely explored, and Donne's motivations just don't make a lot of sense - if he's doing this for money, why is he willing to effectively spend almost 3 million for 20 grand, let alone where did he get the 3 million to spend in the first place?

Modesitt's typical one-man-conquers-all-and-gains-love-interest formula doesn't get used until almost the end, and while it may be a repetitive one it also normally works more or less as it does here. Unfortunately for Modesitt, the rest of the book doesn't. Modesitt is an unusually good fantasy and science fiction writer, but not in this book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best 22 Mar 2007
By I. J. Gilbert - Published on
This is one of the very few Modesitt books that I've been disappointed in. And I own, and have read, everything he's published with the exception of the Ghost books - which seem to be out of print or otherwise unavailable. Enjoyment of this book was further reduced by my having just finished reading Flash; and the Elysium Commission is pretty much a retread of Flash; but murkier and not as well-told a story.

The setting is only marginally different than Flash - it's a different world and nanite technology is less prevalent, but other than that there are no meaningful differences. The main character, Blaine Donne, is a 100% retread of the Flash's Jonat DeVrai - but more bland and less interesting. Another villian, another plot to foil... Modesitt has a tendency to cloak his villian's plots and the motivations behind them for a big reveal towards the end of the story - but in The Elysium Commission, I found that I really didn't care. The 'danger that must be thwarted' was so weakly explained that it was impossible to really get behind the hero's desire to stop it.

And there were some huge glaring plot holes in text. The worst among them is Donne's "Knight of Shadows" subplot - where it is apparently an open secret that he goes out and does the vigilante bit. It was such an open secret that one minor character goes so far as to say, "I wanted to see what a shadow knight looked like" - or something to that effect. And cryptic references to another type of Robin Hood-like character didn't help. In Flash, the main character manages to retire from the military with certain sensory enhancements intact; in EC Donne's manages to buy, equip, and maintain a near military aircraft with everyone giving it a wink and a nod - think a Stealth Fighter without the missiles.

Lastly, Modesitt has an extremely annoying habit in his SF writing - and that is creating and employing new words and acronyms and not supplying a glossary at the end of the book. This is an unforgiveable sin, and can make reading his work difficult and extremely annoying. I'm not sure why he does this; because this trait is not apparent in his Fantasy writing, where he goes out of his way to explain how things work. It's not uncommon to go 1/3 of the way through a book before he finally drops enough hints to let you figure out what a word actually means. In Flash, he finally resorted to one of his chapter opening "study reprints" he seems to be so fond of to explain one term; and in EC it's even worse.

Do I recommend this book to you? Only if you are a hardcore Modesitt fan - and only read it if you haven't read Beauty and/or Flash recently; there are far too similar and EC doesn't compare favorably with either.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an English History major's interlude 28 April 2007
By kris stadelman - Published on
Don't expect regular fare from this one! From the hero's name comes the first clue- think John Donne. Lots of literary references with an emphasis on Donne's work. This book is a sort of "time out" piece- having fun with English lit history. I think he's just having some fun, but it does create a lot of strain on the story. To really enjoy this work you had better have a pretty good grounding in Classical English Literature. Think of it more as James Bond meets John Donne. I got a kick out of it. How about doing Shakespeare next?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining book. 2 Mar 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on
L.E. Modesitt has been on my short list of authors for 20 years and I'm always willing to read anything he writes. Mr. Modesitt's strength is creating political/economic environments with strengths and weaknesses. He then sets his characters within these worlds as they approach a crisis. The Elysium Commission follows this formula.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it. The main character, Blaine Donne, is a retired special operations agent/soldier who's been medically discharged after a botched mission. The book begins on his home world of Devanta where he now acts as an investigator/fixer for the rich and well connected. He accepts a mysterious contract to investigate the connection between a scientist, an entertainment mogul, and something called Elysium. Intrigue, murder, and political brinkmanship follow from there.

The minor issue I have with this story and others by Modesitt are the main characters are almost always quiet, effective, have gray hair and green eyes, and typically dress in dark gray or black. Typically, the main characters will miss or misunderstand some salient point about his foes up to the point that it's almost too late, then they are forced into action to save the day. I've also come to the conclusion that Modesitt either doesn't know how to write a love interest into a story or always does the same variation on a theme here too.

Don't get me wrong, I can easily overlook those points listed above because the political/social/economic parts of the books often provide that 'hmmm, I hadn't thought of that' moment.
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