Modesitt, L.E., Jr. 1943-

views updated

Modesitt, L.E., Jr. 1943-
(Leland Exton Modesitt, Jr.)


PERSONAL:

Born October 19, 1943, in Denver, CO; son of Leland Exton (an attorney) and Nancy Lila Modesitt; married Virginia Dale Eschenburg (an attorney), September 16, 1964 (divorced, 1976); married Christina Alma Gribben (an educator), October 22, 1977 (divorced, 1991); married Carol Ann Janes Hill (an opera singer and professor of music), January 4, 1992; children: (first marriage) Leland Exton III, Susan Carnall, Catherine Grant, Nancy Mayo; (second marriage) Elizabeth Leanore, Kristen Linnea; (third marriage) Lara Beth, Kevin Lawrence (stepchildren). Education: Williams College, B.A., 1965; graduate study at University of Denver, 1970-71. Politics: Republican. Religion: Presbyterian.

ADDRESSES:

Home—255 South Sunny View Rd., Cedar City, UT 84720. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

C.A. Norgren Co. (industrial pneumatics company), Littleton, CO, market research analyst, 1969-70; Koebel & Co. (real estate and construction firm), Denver, CO, sales associate, 1971-72; legislative assistant to U.S. Representative Bill Armstrong, 1973-79; administrative assistant to U.S. Representative Ken Kramer, 1979-81; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, director of Office of Legislation, 1981-83, Office of External Affairs, consultant, 1984-85; Multinational Business Services, Inc., Washington, regulatory/communications consultant, 1985-91; Plymouth State College, Plymouth, NH, adjunct instructor in literature and writing, 1990-93; independent consultant and freelance writer, 1991—. Lecturer in science fiction writing at Georgetown University, Washington, 1980-81. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1965-69; became lieutenant.

MEMBER:

Delta Kappa Epsilon.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Two Romantic Times awards.

WRITINGS:


"TIMEGODS" SERIES


The Fires of Paratime, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Timedivers' Dawn (prequel to The Fires of Paratime), Tor (New York, NY), 1992.

The Timegod, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.

Timegod's World (collection), Tor (New York, NY), 2000.

"FOREVER HERO" TRILOGY


Dawn for a Distant Earth, Tor (New York, NY), 1987.

The Silent Warrior, Tor (New York, NY), 1987.

In Endless Twilight, Tor (New York, NY), 1988.

The Forever Hero (collection; contains Dawn for a Distant Earth, The Silent Warrior, and In Endless Twilight), Tor (New York, NY), 1999.

"ECOLITAN MATTER" SERIES


The Ecologic Envoy, Tor (New York, NY), 1986.

The Ecolitan Operation (also see below), Tor (New York, NY), 1989.

The Ecologic Secession (also see below), Tor (New York, NY), 1990.

The Ecolitan Enigma, Tor (New York, NY), 1997.

Empire and Ecolitan (contains The Ecolitan Operation and The Ecologic Secession), Tor (New York, NY), 2001.

Ecolitan Prime (contains The Ecologic Envoy and The Ecolitan Enigma,), Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

"RECLUCE" SERIES


The Magic of Recluce, Tor (New York, NY), 1991.

The Towers of the Sunset, Tor (New York, NY), 1992.

The Magic Engineer, Tor (New York, NY), 1994.

The Order War, Tor (New York, NY), 1995.

The Death of Chaos, Tor (New York, NY), 1995.

Fall of Angels, Tor (New York, NY), 1996.

The Chaos Balance, Tor (New York, NY), 1997.

The White Order, Tor (New York, NY), 1998.

The Colors of Chaos, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.

The Magi'i of Cyador, Tor (New York, NY), 2000.

Scion of Cyador, Tor (New York, NY), 2000.

Wellspring of Chaos, Tor (New York, NY), 2005.

Ordermaster, Tor (New York, NY), 2005.

The Magic of Recluce has been translated into numerous languages, including Dutch, German, Czech, Polish, Russian, French, and Spanish.

"GHOSTS" SERIES


Of Tangible Ghosts, Tor (New York, NY), 1994.

Ghost of the Revelator, Tor (New York, NY), 1998.

Ghost of the White Nights, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.

Ghosts of Columbia (contains Of Tangible Ghosts and Ghost of the Revelator,), Tor (New York, NY), 2005.

"SPELLSONG CYCLE" SERIES


The Soprano Sorceress, Tor (New York, NY), 1997.

The Spellsong War, Tor (New York, NY), 1998.

Darksong Rising, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.

The Shadow Sorceress, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.

Shadowsinger, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.

"COREAN CHRONICLES" SERIES


Legacies, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.

Darknesses, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

Scepters, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.

Alector's Choice, Tor (New York, NY), 2005.

Cadmian's Choice, Tor (New York, NY), 2006.

OTHER; FICTION


Hammer of Darkness, Avon (New York, NY), 1985.

(With Bruce Scott Levinson) The Green Progression, Tor (New York, NY), 1991.

The Parafaith War, Tor (New York, NY), 1996.

Adiamante, Tor (New York, NY), 1996.

Gravity Dreams, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.

The Octagonal Raven, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.

Archform: Beauty, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.

The Ethos Effect, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

Flash, Tor (New York, NY), 2005.

The Eternity Artifact, Tor (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to science-fiction magazines, including Analog Science Fiction-Science Fact, Galaxy, and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Contributor to In the Shadow of the Wall, an anthology about the Vietnam Wall, Emerald Magic, Lowport, and Extreme Flights.

SIDELIGHTS:

L.E. Modesitt, Jr., has proven himself an able and prolific creator of both hard science fiction and fantasy novels. Reviewers have often praised his finely crafted, imaginative plots as well as his thoughtprovoking subject matter. In both genres, his writing is frequently concerned with environmental issues, perhaps reflecting the author's previous work at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Some of Modesitt's best-known work has been done in series. The "Ecolitan Matter" series and the "Forever Hero" trilogy are within the realm of science fiction. Set in the far future on the planet Accord, the "Ecolitan Matter" books feature Major Jimjoy Wright, a top spy for the empire that rules Accord. Sent to Accord to investigate an opposition movement, he becomes sympathetic to its cause and eventually adopts a new identity, as Professor Nathaniel Firstborn Whaler.

The "Forever Hero" trilogy features an Earth made poisonous and barren by nuclear war. Violent weather, such as frequent hail and tornadoes, also make life perilous. As the series progresses, an Imperial lieutenant named Gerswin dedicates his life to stopping the empire from using Earth as a dumping ground, and to seeking a way to readjust atmospheric conditions so that life can flourish on the planet again.

In the "Ghosts" trilogy, science blends with the world of the paranormal in an alternate history set on Earth. In this history, North America, named Columbia, has been settled by the Dutch, and the resultant peace-loving, hard-working culture is pitted against the power-hungry Austro-Hungarian Empire in Europe. The only thing preventing a global war between the two governments is the powerful psychic energy of the spirit world. Johan Eschbach, a teacher of environmental economics and a Columbian agent, is drawn into the struggle for world domination when the ghost of a former colleague appears to him and demands justice for her murder. His quest leads him to discover a frightening technology that can harness the power of ghosts to serve human wills. In Ghost of the Revelator, the second book in the series, Johan discovers that he is being sought for his power to call ghosts. Ghost of the White Nights finds Johan and his opera singer wife, Llysette, in Russia for a cultural exchange. Although ruled by the Romanovs, it bears a resemblance to the Russia of today. Johan is involved with the trade of pollution-control technology, but at the same time is seeking out information on a rumored rocket that can deliver a warhead able to turn human beings into zombies. Booklist reviewer Roland Green described this series as being "smart and absorbing."

Modesitt's "Recluce" and the five-volume "Spellsong Cycle" series fall into the fantasy genre. The Magic of Recluce, which opens the first series, is "a splendid tale which grips from the first sentence," according to an essayist for St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers. The protagonist is Lerris, a bored teen who is sent out of his perfect society on a "dangergeld." On this mission, which is something like a quest and a rite of passage, he discovers his special powers to focus the powers of Order. Keeping Order and Chaos in balance is an ongoing and vital aspect of life in Recluce. Subsequent volumes in the series explore different characters and aspects of this world. Fall of Angels, for example, tells of the events that led up to the battle between Order and Chaos; it involves a spaceship full of female angels who enter a deadly alien land. The Magic Engineer focuses on Dorran, the ambitious son of a Black Wizard, who is strongly drawn to metallurgy—a process forbidden because of its harmful by-products. A White Mage named Cerryl rises from poverty and obscurity to become a powerful wizard of Chaos in The White Order, and his adventures continue in Colors of Chaos and other books within the series. In the latter, Modesitt provides great detail in describing The White Order and the conflicts that arise within it, as well as developing the volatile relationship between Cerryl and Black healer Leyladin. Reviewing Colors of Chaos for Booklist, Roberta Johnson pointed out its "vivid, unaffected dialogue" and rated it "much better than the average dark-versus-light power struggle." Yet another "Recluce" plot thread is developed in books such as Scion of Cyador and Magi'i of Cyador, which tell the story of Lorn, a brilliant man with military and magical powers.

The series continues with Wellspring of Chaos, in which Kharl, a cooper, or barrel maker, with a shop in Brysta, is punished for intervening when two men attempt to molest his neighbor's daughter because one of the men is the son of an official. Kharl, who is charged with murder but then found not guilty, is taxed out of business. He becomes a ship's carpenter and eventually begins to develop his untapped powers of order. Sherry Hoy commented in Kliatt that teen readers used to young protagonists may be drawn to the middle-aged Karl. "Not only an engrossing story, this is also a morality tale about the roles order and chaos play in life and the importance of all the choices we make," noted Hoy. Karl returns in Ordermaster, in which he is rewarded with the title of lord and an estate for crushing a rebellion in Austra. He travels to his home of Nordla as a diplomat, where he must quell a plot to overthrow the ruling government. In reviewing this book, Jackie Cassada wrote in Library Journal that it is a continuation of this "ever-enchanting history."

The first three books of the "Spellsong Cycle" series feature Anna, an Iowa singer who becomes a sorceress and the protector of Defalk. The subsequent volumes are about Secca, her protege, who replaced her after she died.

The first three books of the "Corean Chronicles" series form a trilogy that covers one time period. A new tale begins with the fourth book, Alector's Choice, called "a fantasy well worth the effort" by a Publishers Weekly critic.

Modesitt has written many stand-alone novels, including

The Octagonal Raven, a near-future thriller featuring media consultant Daryn Alwyn in a story described by a Publishers Weekly reviewer as resembling "North by Northwest meets Logan's Run. Modesitt followed with Archform: Beauty, a twenty-fifth century story in which rising sea levels have wiped out most of the eastern United States. The capital is now Denv, and the population is categorized as being either the rich, the service class, and the former criminals whose attitudes have been adjusted through the use of nanotechnology. When a number of deaths occur, Modesitt observes this new world through five first-person accounts. "This brilliant novel is as thought provoking as it is entertaining," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor.

Radical fundamentalism is a threat in Archform, as it is in Modesitt's The Ethos Effect. In a Strange Horizons interview, Modesitt described the latter as being "about the conflict between, on the one hand, secular practicality and ethics, and on the other religious necessity and tenets."

Flash was described by a Publishers Weekly critic as being a "Chandleresque tale of corporate and political scheming and murder." Set in twenty-fourth century Denver, it is the story of former Marine Jonat deVrai, who is now a top product placement consultant. When Jonat is hired by the Centre for Societal Research to investigate the campaign of a senatorial candidate suspected of using "rez," or resonant amplification, to create an emotional response to music, he is attacked. Other threats keep him busy, including smugglers attempting to take weapons to Mars. Characters include cydroids who appear human, most of which want to see Jonat dead, but one of which is a female cydroid he can trust. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted the novel's "great characters and plotting, impressive attention to detail," and described Flash as being "smart, aware, provocative, and engrossing."

In The Eternity Artifact, a planet is discovered which, although uninhabited, contains the remnants of a complex society that may have existed millions, or even billions, of years earlier. The progressive Comity government sends four people to the world they name Danann, so old that its atmosphere is solid ice, even as both the competing factions, the Muslim Sunnis and the Zionist Covenant, attempt to suppress knowledge of the ancient civilization. The four who travel to Danann on a space shuttle are pilot Jiendra Chang, historian Liam Fitzhugh, artist Chendor Barna, and a trained assassin. "Readers who like both hard science and realistic sociology will be rewarded," concluded a Publishers Weekly contributor.

Modesitt once told CA: "Writers write. They have to, or they would not be writers. I am a writer who worked at it long enough to become an author. Virtually all of my early and formal training in writing was devoted to poetry—where I had a choice! I did not write my first science-fiction story for publication until I was twenty-nine, and my first novel was published just before my thirty-ninth birthday.

"Although the various aspects of power and how it changes people and how government systems work and how they don't are themes underlying what I write, I try to concentrate on people—on heroes in the true sense of the word. A man who has no fear is not a hero. He's a damned fool. A hero is a man or woman who is shivering with fear and who conquers that fear to do what is right.

"I also believe that a writer simultaneously has to entertain, educate, and inspire. If he or she fails in any of these goals, the book will somehow fall flat."

Modesitt more recently told CA: "At least for me, there was a difference between ‘finding’ my voice as a writer, and recognizing what that voice is and what it entails. A key part of what I do is to examine, as Alfred North Whitehead once suggested, those assumptions of society that are so taken for granted that no one ever questions them. Often, when people read what I've written, they comment that the subtext was interesting, but, upon reflection, ‘obvious.’ Most of those readers, however, had not taken the time to undertake such reflection, until reading the book in question. That, I believe, is an integral part of what I do as a writer, and one of the aspects of my writing that distinguishes my work from that of many others."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


BOOKS


St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

PERIODICALS


Analog, June, 1995, Tom Easton, review of The Order War, p. 167; February, 1997, Tom Easton, review of Adiamante, p. 145; November, 1997, review of The Ecolitan Enigma, p. 147; January, 1999, Tom Easton, review of Ghost of the Revelator, p. 128; November, 1999, Tom Easton, review of Gravity Dreams, p. 133.

Booklist, February 1, 1997, review of The Soprano Sorceress, p. 929; May 15, 1997, review of The Ecolitan Enigma, p. 106; June 1, 1997, review of The Ecolitan Enigma, p. 1669; September 15, 1997, review of The Chaos Balance, p. 216; December 1, 1997, review of The Spellsong War, p. 612; May 15, 1998, review of The White Order, p. 1604; September 1, 1998, review of Ghost of the Revelator, p. 73; December 15, 1998, Roberta Johnson, review of Colors of Chaos, p. 730; July, 1999, Roland Green, review of Gravity Dreams, p. 1930; December 15, 1999, Roland Green, review of Darksong Rising, p. 761; April 1, 2000, Roland Green, review of Magi'i of Cyador, p. 1440; September 1, 2000, Roland Green, review of Scion of Cyador, p. 71; May 1, 2001, Roland Green, review of The Shadow Sorceress, p. 1672; January 1, 2001, Roland Green, review of The Octagonal Raven, p. 928; October 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of Ghost of the White Nights, p. 388; January 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of Shadowsinger, p. 825; June 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of Archform: Beauty, p. 1698; July, 2004, Frieda Murray, review of Scepters, p. 1829; September 1, 2004, Frieda Murray, review of Flash, p. 75; January 1, 2005, Frieda Murray, review of Ordermaster, p. 834; June 1, 2005, Frieda Murray, review of Alector's Choice, p. 1768; October 15, 2005, Frieda Murray, review of The Eternity Artifact, p. 37.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1997, review of The Ecolitan Enigma, p. 685; August 1, 1997, review of The Chaos Balance, p. 1168; November 15, 1997, review of The Spellsong War, p. 1678; April 15, 1998, review of The White Order, p. 539; August 1, 1998, review of Ghost of the Revelator, p. 1074; November 15, 1998, review of Colors of Chaos, p. 1637; June 1, 1999, review of Gravity Dreams, p. 841; November 15, 1999, review of Darksong Rising, p. 1782; August 15, 2001, review of Ghost of the White Nights, p. 1175; January 1, 2002, review of Shadowsinger, p. 22; May 1, 2002, review of Archform, p. 625; August 1, 2004, review of Flash, p. 718; September 1, 2005, review of The Eternity Artifact, p. 947.

Kliatt, September, 2005, Sherry Hoy, review of Wellspring of Chaos, p. 28.

Library Journal, September 15, 1994, review of Of Tangible Ghosts; May 15, 1997, review of The Ecolitan Enigma, p. 106; May 15, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of The White Order, p. 119; September 15, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of Ghost of the Revelator, p. 117; January, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Colors of Chaos, p. 166; July, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Gravity Dreams, p. 142; January, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Darksong Rising, p. 168; April 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Magi'i of Cyador, p. 126; September 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Scion of Cyador, p. 118; February 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of The Octagonal Raven, p. 205; June 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of The Shadow Sorceress, p. 106; October 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Ghost of the White Nights, p. 113; February 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Shadowsinger, p. 182; July, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Archform, p. 127; January 1, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of Ordermaster, p. 102.

Publishers Weekly, January 20, 1997, review of The Soprano Sorceress, p. 398; May 12, 1997, review of The Ecolitan Enigma, p. 62; August 25, 1997, review of The Chaos Balance, p. 50; December 22, 1997, review of The Spellsong War, p. 43; May 25, 1998, review of The White Order, p. 69; August 10, 1998, review of Ghost of the Revelator, p. 374; November 30, 1998, review of Colors of Chaos, p. 54; June 28, 1999, review of Gravity Dreams, p. 59; December 20, 1999, review of Darksong Rising, p. 61; April 3, 2000, review of Magi'i of Cyador, p. 66; September 4, 2000, review of Scion of Cyador, p. 91; February 5, 2001, review of The Octagonal Raven, p. 73; May 28, 2001, review of The Shadow Sorceress, p. 56; June 25, 2001, review of Empire and Ecolitan, p. 56; January 28, 2002, review of Shadowsinger, p. 275; June 10, 2002, review of Archform, p. 45; August 23, 2004, review of Flash, p. 41; May 16, 2005, review of Alector's Choice, p. 45; August 22, 2005, review of The Eternity Artifact, p. 41; January 16, 2006, review of Cadmian' Choice, p. 40.

School Library Journal, July, 1998, review of The Chaos Balance, p. 115; September, 2001, Paul Brink, review of The Shadow Sorceress, p. 259.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1988, Tom Pearson, review of In Endless Twilight, p. 247; February, 1991, Diane Yates, review of The Towers of the Sunset, pp. 354-355; April, 1995, Jennifer D. Kubenka, review of Of Tangible Ghosts, pp. 37-38; February, 1997, review of Adiamante, p. 339; April, 1997, review of Adiamante, p. 9; October, 1997, review of The Soprano Sorceress, p. 253; February, 1998, review of The Chaos Balance, p. 394; October, 1998, reviews of The White Order and The Spellsong War, p. 286; April, 1999, reviews of The White Order and The Spellsong War, p. 14; June, 1999, review of Ghost of the Revelator, p. 124; August, 1999, review of The Colors of Chaos, p. 193.

Washington Times, February 25, 1996, Frank Perley, review of The Parafaith War, p. 6; July 4, 1999, Frank Perley, review of Gravity Dreams, p. 6.

ONLINE


L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Home Page,http://www.travelinlibrarian.info/recluce (February 5, 2006).

Strange Horizons,http://www.strangehorizons.com/ (December 5, 2005), Cheryl Morgan, "Interview: L.E. Modesitt."

About this article

Modesitt, L.E., Jr. 1943-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article