The Eternity Artifact - L.E. Modesitt Jr., L.E Modesitt Not much to say here really. The Eternity Artifact is what I call an "airplane book" - something to kill the time flying to the Christmas family reunion but nothing to get excited about. The basic plot is that several thousand years in the future, the Comity of Worlds (a secular, reasonably tolerant and liberal polity) has discovered an extra-galactic alien artifact and assembles a team to go out and take a look at it before it enters an area of singularities and becomes unreachable. Ranged against the Comity are the primary enemies of "truth, justice & the American way" in the galaxy, the theocracies of the Convenanters (Christian fanatics) and the Sunnite Alliance (Muslim fanatics). It's told from the 1st-person point of view of four actors in this drama: a former-commando/now university professor, a shuttle pilot, an artist and a deep-cover Covenanter agent sent to destroy the mission.

I don't believe I'll be injecting a spoiler if I say that the "good guys" win in the end. Or that there's an inevitable and badly handled "love affair" between the professor and the pilot.

I had more problems with this novel than good times, alas.

First off, the author tries to differentiate between characters by having them speak in different registers. The professor uses polysyllabic words in convoluted sentences; the shuttle pilot uses clipped, one-syllable words, sometimes in the most ungrammatical way; etc. So much so, that the dialogs become parody. A good author uses speech to make their characters unique but the reader shouldn't be aware of it until they've left the novel's "world" and are writing the review on GoodReads :-)

The dialog is also, all too often, preachy and simplistic. Especially the professor's, who appears to be the author's alter ego and talks like a bad sociology textbook.

The universe the author creates is also implausible to me. I could accept a continuation of today's general political/sociological framework projected a century or even several centuries into the future. But it's not plausible that the very same issues facing humans in the first quarter of the 21st century are plaguing us in the 51st and beyond. Oh, I don't mean that we won't be wrestling with faith, technology, aggression, etc., I just can't accept that it will be under the same framework of a secular "West" and a fundamentalist Christian and/or Muslim theocracy. And within that framework, the divisions are too simplistic - apparently everyone in the Comity is a committed secularist, if not an outright atheist, while everyone in the Covenant or the Alliance is a fundamentalist.

Mr. Modesitt will join the list of authors who may be competent writers but are "just not my cup of tea." I can't really recommend this to anyone but if you happen to be a fan of the author, I now have a copy of one of his books I'd be willing to part with :-)