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Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories [Hardcover]

L. E. Modesitt


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Book Description

March 18 2008
This is the first story collection ever from the bestselling fantasy and science fiction writer L. E. Modesitt, Jr. He began publishing as a short story writer in the SF magazines in the 1970s, mostly in Analog. Some of the earliest stories are kernels for his early SF novels, others display the wide range of his talents and interests, from satire to military adventure. 

This collection includes selections of stories from his entire career, as well as three new stories that have never been published before: “Black Ordermage,” set in the world of Modesitt’s bestselling Recluce series; “Beyond the Obvious Wind,” set in his Corean Chronicles universe; and “Always Outside the Lines,” which is related to the Ghosts of Columbia books.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (March 18 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765318571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765318572
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.5 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,747,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This impressive collection of reprints dating back to 1973 and a handful of new stories displays Modesitt's breadth of experience and knowledge to great effect. The Great American Economy mocks those who micromanage the national economy for political advantage. Rule of Law elegantly revives the age-old topic of computerized justice. Iron Man, Plastic Ships draws powerfully on Modesitt's experience as a navy helicopter pilot in Vietnam, as does The Swan Pilot, a modernized fairy tale with a twist. Beyond the Obvious Wind connects with the Corean Chronicles as Black Ordermage and Sisters of Sarronnyn, Sisters of Westwind do with the Recluce saga. As in Modesitt's novels, eloquent prose and skilled characterization are evident, only slightly diminished by occasional outbreaks of slow pacing. Readers will find this an excellent showcase of a very fine writer's highest quality work. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“The author’s skill in portraying the humanity of characters who possess the power to destroy others with a thought adds a level of verisimilitude and immediacy rarely found in grand-scale fantasy.” Library Journal
 
“Modesitt is an extremely intelligent writer, possessing remarkable ingenuity at creating systems of magic and a real gift for characterization.” —Booklist
 
“I especially enjoy the way Modesitt writes characters.The details that he shares create believable characters that are both powerful and flawed.” —SFRevu.com
 
“Modesitt’s work shines with engrossing characters, terrific plotting, and realistic world-building.” Romantic Times BOOKreviews
 
“L. E. Modesitt is one of those special authors who brings a great deal to his work: a love of words, an understanding of people and cultures, and an interest in great stories and ideas. It shows in every line of his tale.” —David Farland


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shorts From the Novelist April 18 2009
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Viewpoints Critical (2008) is a speculative fiction collection. It contains sixteen stories, nine science fiction, five fiction, and two ambiguous tales. Some are related to series by this author.

"The Great American Economy" (Analog, 1973) is SF only because it anticipated the future, since it relates a tale of cyber crime.

"Second Coming" (Asimov's, 1979) is an SF story relating the adventures of Jimboy Wright during an earlier mission.

"Rule of Law" (Analog, 1981) is another story that is SF only because it anticipated the future, describing the use of computers to develop profiles of judges, prosecutors and other aspects of criminal trials.

"Iron Man, Plastic Ships" (Asimov's, 1979) is an SF story explaining how an acting Captain reacted to inferior procurement methods.

"Power to ...?" (Analog, 1990) is an SF story about the development of an efficient and effective fusion reactor.

"Precision Set" (On Spec, 2001) is an SF story about future sports and their effect on the people involved.

"Fallen Angel" (Flights, 2004) is a fantasy story about a resident of Hell who gets calls for his services from the angels.

"Understanding" (On Spec, 2000) is a fantasy story describing how a man got his wish and regretted it.

"News Clips Recovered from the NYC Ruins" (The Leading Edge, 2005) is an SF story covering the decline of American education and the consequences.

"The Pilots" (In the Shadow of the Wall, 2002) is a fantasy story about three pilots, one a ghost from the Vietnam War.

"The Dock to Heaven" (Low Port, 2003) is an ambiguous story about an infosnark who does a favor for the angels. Are the supernatural terms metaphorical or real?

"Ghost Mission" (Slipstreams, 2006) is a fantasy story from the Ghost series, describing how a ghost saved a zombie from her killer.

"Spec-Ops" (Future Weapons of War, 2007) is an SF story recounting the perils of remote control warfare.

"Sisters of Sarronnym, Sisters of Westwind" (UNIVERSE, 2006) is a fantasy story about the founding of the Recluce settlement.

"The Difference" (Man vs. Machine, 2007) is an SF story telling of the perils of religion among computers.

"The Swan Pilot" (Emerald Magic, 2004) is another ambiguous story about the pilot of a starship and the interludes that he encounters on the voyage. Are the interludes merely delusions or do they have some reality?

Several stories draw from the author's experiences as a Navy helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. "Iron Man, Plastic Ships" comes from the McNamara effort to reduce the costs of fighting a war. In the long run, such methods actually cost more -- in lives if not in materiel -- than the rather chaotic processes used before and after that administration. Similar thinking still occurs among the politicians in Congress and elsewhere.

Other stories draw from the author's memories of the EPA and subsequent consulting work. "Power to ...?" shows the extreme complexity of global warming. It also warns of the hazards of ham-handed political solutions.

These stories are entertaining and thought provoking. Like the best speculative fiction, they illustrate future possibilities. Read and enjoy!

Highly recommended for Modesitt fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of exotic locales, enigmatic situations, and interesting people.

-Arthur W. Jordin
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the KEEPER shelf. March 24 2009
By Huntress Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For those who have enjoyed "The Saga of Recluse" series and the many other books by author L.E. Modesitt, Jr., we can thank Ben Bova for convincing him his future was in novels and not short stories. Fortunately, Mr. Modesitt managed to squeeze a few short stories into his prolific writings and in "Viewpoints Critical - Selected Stories" we get to sample them, and, unlike Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, the reader knows what's inside each tale is a treat.

Reviewing collections/anthologies can often be tedious and difficult work, but not in this case. Modesitt delivers a range of writings that should satisfy the pickiest reader. Some of the stories will make one wonder how science fiction writers seem so often to be soothsayers, e.g., "The Great American Economy" and, if you're a cynic like me, "Rule of Law." Having thought this, another story will chill you with a possible future that seems both potential and frightening (and, perhaps, close), "News Clips Recovered From NYC Ruins." Other stories introduce you to characters in his books and fill gaps in their lives, while managing to stand on their own merit as separate tales. Still other stories will ask the reader to reach out mentally and spiritually to expand beyond the mundane and to transcend what is often perceived as 'reality.' At least one will take you to the past in a different way, "The Pilots."

***** If you're a Modesitt fan or just like good science fiction and fantasy, "Viewpoints Critical" is a must read. Instead of Gump's box of chocolates, "Viewpoints Critical" is more like a bouquet of flowers, with each story contributing to the splendor of the arrangement. It gets highest ratings and earns a permanent place in my collection...very few of the books I review earn that status. *****

Reviewed by Dr. Phil Rhyne for Huntress Reviews.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb compilation March 21 2008
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This enjoyable anthology contains nineteen previously published stories; three never published before including a Recluce tale; five from 1973 to 1990; the remainder since 2000. Two tales are set in the Recluce universe ("Black Ordermage" and "Sisters of Sarronym, Sisters of Westwind") require understanding of that realm to grasp what is fully going on; for die hard fans of that saga will enjoy finding out how Cassis became a Recluce. A "what if" tale set in the realm of the Corean Chronicles ("Beyond the Obvious Wind") in which the author's introduction explains that this was his pre-novel efforts to set some ground rules; though this does not require reading the Corean tales, it is fun to compare the changes from this original short to what followed. This reviewer's favorite contributions are "News Clips from the NYC Ruins" that is reminiscent of the 1960s cult film Fillard Millmore as an amusing cautionary tale that highlights the future downfall of the United States and 1973's "The Great American Economy" summed up by the author in his Introduction to this piece" "forecast some of what later became known as cybercrime ...". Although these are short stories, for the most part the characters are fully developed or developed enough to carry the tale. Fans of author will appreciate this superb compilation while newcomers obtain a taste of a terrific author.

Harriet Klausner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars L. E. Modesitt at his best Aug. 31 2012
By James E. Perse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As I love to read L. E. Modesitt books no matter what the genre, I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to
read a selection of his early writings. Each story was a gem to be enjoyed. And I added to my collection
of Mr. Modesitt's Imager series.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and insightful May 8 2008
By S. Eaker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Viewpoints Critical was a delightful addition to the Modesitt collection. Having been a fan of his writing for nearly 20 years, this assortment of short stories were, as always, thought provoking and entertaining. I would have loved to have read a story on Erde, but it was not to be.
The stories were tight, quick and relatively easy to digest - at least on the surface. Strongly recommended, particularly to those who have read his work before. Perhaps less enjoyable for those who might pick read him for the first time.
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