Review: Adiamante, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

So, after a long period of not being able to read due to a combination of stress and physical problems that left me drained, during which I’ve tried different light rereads to get the reading going but without success, I finally managed to finish L. E. Modesitt Jr‘s Adiamante, which I had on loan from a long-time colleague.

Ten thousand years ago, after an age of massive segregation and ecological disaster resulting both from conflicts, overconsumption and a general disregard for the ecological balance, certain people – the cybs – were ostracised from Old Earth. They now return to exact revenge on the descendants of the perpetrators. The Old Earth people have learned and changed, something the returning cybs are unwilling to see.

I had absolutely no idea of either book or author but the cover hinted at hard SF of some kind. Soon enough it became clear that the book was written mainly as a way to put forward certain ideas, ideas regarding ways to conduct one’s life, both as an individual and as a society. At times this made the book hard going, with conflicts and scenes engineered not to drive some kind of story but to act as an arena for dialogues in which the ideas put forth could be displayed – a classic allegory. This puts characters in the passenger seat. Sometimes this is no trouble. For example if the ideas are interesting, or the way in which they are examined, are novel enough, or if the author is an exceptionally skilled writer, this may work. In this case it worked so and so – I would not venture as far as saying the prose was bad but it had a certain Clarkesian feel, in the way there is a tangible distance between protagonist/s and reader, despite the story being told in a first person perspective.

The cybs are representatives of ideas persistent in our present society, with the right and might of the strong prevails, and with the Old Earth people acting as advertising board for a philosophy where people respect the environment and have done away with money (instead you work up debts when you spend resources, debts you work off in different ways). Some aspects of this philosophy, like not protecting the weak or stupid (“because stupidity breeds”) instead letting those be killed off by the aggressive mutated wildlife, is entirely revolting.

In the end it was an OK read but nothing I’d recommend anyone, except if it was the only SF available from the airport kiosk and you really REALLY needed something for that flight ahead of you.

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