L. E. Modesitt Jr. is an author of Science fiction and Fantasy novels.
Probably best known for writing series with a long series of books set in the same world separated by time and space.
He has several major series including:
- The Saga of Recluce — A fantasy series containing 20 books spanning 1900 years. Various protagonists take part in the central thematic conflict between Order and Chaos.
- The Corean Chronicles — A series spanning 8 books and three primary protagonists, heavy on environmentalist themes.
- The Spellsong Cycle — A series spanning five books and two protagonists about a fantasy world where music can create magical effects.
- The Ecolitan Institute — A sci-fi series of four books where a small society focused on eco-technology fights a larger society with more tradition sci-fi technology.
- Imager Portfolio — A fantasy series currently containing 8 books with two sub-series. A late medieval to Renaissance world in which 'Imagers' can create (or "uncreate") whatever they can imagine, within rather strict limits.
Works by Modesitt with their own pages:
Other works by Modesitt contain examples of:
- Alternate History: In the Ghosts series, history is different due to the presence of actual, scientifically-verifiable ghosts that appear after a violent death in which the person knows he or she is dying.
- Bad Moon Rising: The world of the Spellsong Cycle has two moons, Clearsong (normal) and Darksong (small, red, a portent of trouble when it is unusually bright).
- Benevolent Precursors: In the Forever Hero series, the last survivors of civilization sealed away their nuclear and biological weapons as the Earth was dying, with a warning to not try to open the vault.
- The Captain: Gerswin, protagonist of The Forever Hero, is widely known as 'the captain', and serves as a captain for a large portion of the first novel; He is later promoted, and eventually leaves service, but he is still referred to as 'the captain'.
- Cult Colony: The duology The Parafaith War and The Ethos Effect uses this along with divisions along racial lines, to the point where some characters begin confusing race with ideology. The predominantly Caucasian "Revenants of the Prophet" evolved out of a merging of Mormons and a white Muslim offshoot sect. The protagonist of The Parafaith War has to deal with strong suspicion about his motives and loyalties because he looks a lot like a generic Rev in a society whose population was mostly derived from Southeast Asia.
- Deep Cover Agent: Protagonist Trystin Desoll of The Parafaith War, though his infiltration didn't actually last that long. Because he looks a lot like the vaguely-Aryan "revs," he gets put through heavy training to learn how to infiltrate their home planet. His training would have allowed him to stay indefinitely, but he carried out his assassination mission in about a week.
- Deface of the Moon: When the Cyb come calling in Adiamante, their first act is to demonstrate the destructive potential of their warships by using a particle beam to mirror-polish a large region of the moon.
- Divided States of America: In the alternate history of the Ghosts series, North America is split into Columbia (a United States analogue where the Dutch are one of the prominent people), the Mormon Theocracy of Deseret, New France, and Quebec.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum: In the first chapters of the first book of the Spellsong cycle, a spell is cast that teleports the main character in from Earth. It's implied that although the lady casting this spell isn't a very strong sorceress, she can still send people to locations halfway across the continent with a bit of help. This use of magic is never mentioned again, despite the fact that it would be tremendously useful in a variety of circumstances.
- Future Food Is Artificial: In The Parafaith War, the main character eats a lot of algae crackers and drinks a lot of Sustain (like a cross between an energy drink and a protein shake), and a breakfast with real eggs, real juice, and real bread for toast costs him about a month's salary. But that's just because he's posted on a planet undergoing terraforming, so it can't support its own food production yet, and shipping foodstuffs between solar systems is incredibly expensive. When he visits home, on the capitol world of his society, he has plenty of real food available.
- Gaia's Lament: The Forever Hero features this heavily. Earth is practically uninhabitable due to massive ecological disaster, and the few survivors are quickly dying off. The main character is one of the (very) surviving outside a city, and he ends up spending his life and career trying to restore the planet.
- Human Resources: In the Corean Chronicles, the Alectors' Magitek is powered by draining lifeforce from lesser beings; everything from their life-extension, to weaponry, to transportation, to buildings are created and powered wtih lifeforce. Alectors cultivate and destroy entire worlds, planetforming them with indigenous and introduced life forms, up to and including "inferior" humans (who they refer to as "cattle"), solely for their life energy.
- Humans Are White: Inverted in The Parafaith War. The hero is blond and white-skinned... and therefore regarded with a lot of suspicion by everyone as straight "anglos" are rare in the Eco-Tech Coalition. They are more often associated with their adversaries, the fanatical Revenants of the Prophets. Most Eco-Tech citizens are Asian (predominantly Southeast Asian with a strong component of Japanese.) Because of that he is ultimately sent into enemy territory as a spy.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: In Gravity Dreams, hyperspace not only requires a Training from Hell to be able to navigate through, it also has a god who wants some reassurance that he is a god.
- In Harmony with Nature:
- Central to the Corean series.
- In the stand-alone science fiction novel Adiamante, the future people of Earth are In Harmony With Nature because they have to be: the environmental damage of the past has so damaged the planet that even the most "minor" disruptions would have big consequences.
- Laser Blade: In the 1982 novel The Fires of Paratime, one character possesses an actual light saber; it's apparently the genuine article, having been acquired "from some obscure group of galactic-wide do-gooders" during a trip to the distant past.
- Magic Music: In the world of The Spellsong Cycle, if you sing it, it happens, but the energy to make it happen comes from your body. Being accompanied by instruments or other spellsingers helps you do more impressive things without passing out due to exhaustion or starving to death. Most people in that book's universe never learn how to sing, because most wizards don't like having potential rivals around.
- Matter Replicator: The Fires of Paratime had time/space-traveling humans stealing matter duplicators from aliens called Murians. The duplicators were small, about the size of a suitcase (which was the limit that a human could carry back home, and the humans were users, not scientists or engineers), but anything put inside the doughnut-hole center of the device could be copied. Unless it was an electrical device and you left the power on, at which point the duplicator would explode with the force of several kilotons of TNT.
- Medieval Stasis: In the Corean Chronicles, in which massive spans of time occur, although it's more like Renaissance Stasis.
- My Suit Is Also Super: In the Corean Chronicles, there is a fabric known as nightsilk. High quality nightsilk is not only warm and comfortable, when it is worn in a tightly fitting outfit, it can absorb impact damage. The reason that most people in the story give for the main character of the first trilogy surviving all the stuff he gets put through is because he's wearing bulletproof underwear. (In truth, he needs to reinforce it with his psychic powers to survive the more extreme incidents, but casual observers know about his nightsilk body stocking and don't know about his powers.) This material is not widely used as military armor due to a limited supply and the high manufacturing costs (the hero of the first trilogy can acquire nightsilk clothing mainly because his family makes it).
- No-Self Buffs: In the Spellsong Cycle, magicians cannot cast magic on themselves. They can, however, cast magic on each other.
- Only One Me Allowed Right Now: The Timegod series has this as an explicit rule: a timediver cannot superimpose himself or herself in space and time. So if one screws something up, he can't just go back a few minutes and try again.
- The Power of Rock: In the Spellsong Cycle, a classically trained opera soprano is transported to a world in which music is magic. And nobody there has any training. And combined with some fancy lute playing, is powerful enough to create a city-sized nuclear fusion explosion from thin air.
- Reassignment Backfire: In The Ethos Effect the main character, a former military spaceship commander responsible for a PR disaster (everyone knows he did what he had to do, but being responsible for the loss of a large passenger ship doesn't make you popular) ends up being the "victim" of one of these; he's given a weird assignment that doesn't match his experience, working at an embassy on a planet he's completely unfamiliar with. He ends up foiling an assassination attempt targeting diplomats from multiple interstellar nations. Which angers his superiors even more, because, as the main character eventually realizes, they were behind the assassination attempt and didn't intend for him to actually succeed at his job. In fact, they didn't even intend for him to survive the journey to the planet; the unidentified spaceship that attacked him en route was actually one of their own ships.
- Sufficiently Analyzed Magic:
- In the Corean Chronicles, protagonists sometimes have to keep reinventing the wheel but do so in an analytic way.
- Played with in the Spellsong Cycle, the protagonists are part of a world that has some low level analysis of magic tradition which they upgrade to the realm of actual science.
- Summon Everyman Hero: In the Spellsong cycle, magic is done by a combination of song and music. The fact that music has magical effects leads to the paradoxical situation where musical theory is stunted, since the musical experimentation required to advance theory is dangerous. The summoned heroine is a professor of music whose trained singing voice, advanced knowledge of musical theory and Every(wo)man knowledge of science allows her to do things with magic that no one who born in the world could possibly match.
- Trapped in Another World: In the Spellsong Cycle, the main character is summoned from Earth because of her skills as a singer.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: In The Spellsong Cycle, the main character, who's canonically Neutral Good, accumulates a five-digit body count by the end of the first book, because she's determined to fix the Crapsack World she's trapped in. Interestingly, she isn't aiming for utopia proper—she's trying to recreate the American democratic system, which is utopian compared to the society she's dealing with.
- What the Hell, Hero?: At the end of The Ethos Effect, the hero is forced to decide whether it is permissible to kill many people now so that more can live peacefully in the future. He decides that it is, and decides to commit genocide on the new would-be Evil Empire, before it can become a threat to the rest of the galaxy. Some extremely pacifistic Sufficiently Advanced Aliens call him out on this, accusing him of misusing their technology. He argues with them, saying that no, he's not a deity, just a tool-using creature who used the biggest hammer he could find because nothing else could possibly do the job, complaining that they're too afraid of corrupting themselves to take sides when humans fight each other.