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Haze
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Tor, 303 pages

Haze
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is the author of the Recluce fantasy series and a string of science fiction novels, notably The Parafaith War and Adiamante.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Legacies
SF Site Review: The Octagonal Raven
SF Site Review: Colors of Chaos
SF Site Review: Of Tangible Ghosts and Ghost of the Revelator
SF Site Review: The Soprano Sorceress
SF Site Review: The Ecolitan Enigma

Past Feature Reviews
A review by John Enzinas

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Haze is the first book by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. that I've ever read. I doubt it will be the last. It is two stories from the life of Major Keir Roget told in parallel, one from his past and one from his present.

The Major is a government operative who works for the Federation, the current government of human civilization. Its strongest roots are in the Chinese government that created the Federation as it conquered the Earth and then spread out across the galaxy.

In the past, Roget was sent out as a covert operative and discovered a cell of dissidents who were plotting against the Federation. As his investigation progresses, we are shown the details of the Federation and how its policies work. However, he is unprepared for the weapons that they have made for themselves.

In the present, Roget has been sent to the newly discovered world Haze, a planet so named because it has a shroud to protect it from intruders and apparently also from detection. The planet was apparently colonized by Thomists (who took their name from Doubting Tomas) and fled Earth centuries ago. Roget learns about their society and contrasts it to that of the Federation. An interesting idea was the "House of Denial," a branch of the government that is only populated by experts who are only allowed to rule on their particular subject. Another idea is allowing lawyers to sue when incomplete information is published. Also interesting is the Federation and the Thomists both trying to find ways to show the real costs of things and going about it in completely different ways.

I greatly enjoyed the parallel stories and especially how they carried similar themes and resolutions (albeit for differing parties). Modesitt did an exceptional job at crafting the societies. Personally, I could have used a bit more detail about how some of the various changes came to be, but creating a cultural bias against accepted and/or uninformed explanations was inspired.

That being said, some of the technology could have done with a bit more explanation, or at least a bit more exposition. The book hints at great technological powers for some of the protagonists but doesn't go into detail. However, though some of my curiosity was left unsatisfied, the book remained true to its less-than-omniscient narrator and I enjoyed and respected that. There were even instances where he asked for more details and was refused.

We were only provided with snapshots of the players in these vignettes and that did not give them much chance to make their layers visible to us. They were hidden by subtle and refined descriptions like a very tightly acted performance. While a deeper examination would have been nice, I much prefer the artistic choice the author made to one where he would repeatedly tell us the character's traits.

This was the second piece of science fiction I've ever read that addressed the science of Economics. Thankfully, unlike the other one, Haze had the added bonus of not deifying Libertarians.

Copyright © 2009 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.


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