L. E. Modesitt
The amazon.com product description:
In Earth's distant future, Tyndel is both teacher and mentor, a staunch devotee to his conservative and rigidly structured religious culture. Then a rogue infection of nanotechnology transforms him into a "demon", something more than human, and he is forced into exile, fleeing to the more technologically advanced space-faring civilization that lies to the north, one that his own righteous people consider evil. Although shaken by his transformation, he has the rare talent required to become a space pilot. What no one, least of all Tyndel, expects, is his deep-space encounter with a vastly superior being--perhaps with God.I've read and reviewed Gravity Dreams before, and loved it. No difference this time - just the challenge of getting my hands on a copy. I know I owned it previously, but for the last year or so I couldn't find it. Figuring it was lost in one of the boxes from my moving, I just shrugged, and thought it would turn up. Books have done this before - usually after I give up and replace them. Well, I replaced my copy of Gravity Dreams, but the original copy has yet to show up. I'm still waiting...
Aside from that - and the note that I ended up buying my replacement copy through Abebooks - I still found Gravity Dreams to be a very good read, racing through it over the course of about four days - including a camping trip.
L.E. Modesitt Jr. writes his science fiction with layers. The surface layer is the story, but there are other deeper layers and themes to each of his books as well. With Gravity Dreams, I'm sure there were layers that I was missing - quite a bit of the Dorchan culture left me scratching my head at their ways of thinking, but at the same time raising some interesting points.
One of the biggest themes in this book, as well as others of Modesitt's such as Adiamante is personal responsibility. In Adiamante, the personal responsibility theme was strongly focused on the environment, but there nonetheless. In Gravity Dreams, it's geared more to responsibility for your choices and the consequences thereof.
The other big theme in this book is honesty. Honesty with yourself and with others, distilled down to the most basic and even extreme levels, even to the point where it's forced on people - using some of the characters own words here. This is where I have to be honest myself and say that this is a world I wouldn't want to live in. I like my illusions a bit too much thank you - a comment I made in my previous review as well.
In terms of story structure, Gravity Dreams is rather interestingly put together with time-jumps both forwards and back. Thankfully, each chapter starts with the date for the events in that chapter, and also the location. Definitely something that I found was needed. Also, and I've seen reviews complaining about this, much of the story is set up around dialogue and internal thoughts. I liked it, but others obviously don't.
Following on that is the depth of descriptions that the author uses. I especially liked the use of color and music in overspace, making it a multi-sense experience rather than just simply visual. Humans have five senses, and Modesitt makes use of that as best he can though the medium of the written word. On the other hand, I quite like descriptive stories, so this was right up my alley.
If you like science fiction and also want a story that will make you think while you're reading it, I highly recommend Gravity Dreams and also L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s other science fiction novels.