ARCHFORM: BEAUTY by Jr. Modesitt
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New SF from the versatile author of Ghost of the White Nights (2001), etc. By the 25th century, rising sea levels have drowned much of the eastern US. The population divides into “filch” (filthy rich), “sariman” (middle class), “servies,” and ex-criminal “permies” who’ve had their attitudes permanently readjusted with microscopic-machine “nanites.” In the North American capital, Denv, police lieutenant Eugene Chiang keeps tabs on crime statistics, using his experience and intuition to spot trends—such as a small but puzzling increase in minor crimes, suicides, and ODs in under-25s. Also troubling is the death of lawyer's wife Nanette McCall, killed apparently accidentally when her nanite vehicle protection system malfunctioned. Music professor Luara Cornett struggles to make ends meet amid incessant budget squeezes and falling demand for real, live music—today's hottest commodity is “rez,” the resonant amplification of a piece's emotional impact: behavioral conditioning that works. Good-guy senator Elden Cannon confronts unexpected opponents and shadowy string-pullers, straining his reputation for honesty. Media researcher Jude Parsfal uncovers some odd facts about Martian Republic business practices; he also finds Nanette McCall's death suspicious, and notes an inexplicable increase in fatal heart attacks among apparently healthy individuals. Ruthless businessman Chris Kemal, meanwhile, buys and sells: politicians, commodities, drugs, anything that will extend his family's shady empire. As the first-person narratives of these five individuals intermingle, what eventuates is an investigation of genuinely fascinating, intriguing, provocative, and inspirational scope.

Modesitt's always worth reading, but this may well be his best ever.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-765-30433-3
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2002


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