Cover image for Gravity dreams
Gravity dreams
Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : TOR, 1999.
Physical Description:
399 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


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L.E. Modesitt, Jrs bestselling SF and fantasy novels have made him one of the leading genre writers of the 1990s. His new SF novel, Gravity Dreams, is a stand-alone action adventure. Set in the distant future, our hero, born and raised in a conservative religious culture, is exiled to a more technologically advanced space-faring civilization to which he must adjust. Fortunately, he has the rare talent required to become a space pilot. What no one expects is that he might meet God, or at least a superior being, in space.L.E. Modesitt takes his place way up there with the sf and maybe some other immortals. ~ A.E. Van Vogt

Author Notes

Leland Exton Modesitt, Jr., was born on October 19, 1943 in Denver to Leland Exton and Nancy Lila Modesitt. He was educated at Williams College and earned a graduate degree from the University of Denver. Modesitt's career has included stints as a navy lieutenant, a market research analyst, and a real estate sales associate. He has also held various positions within the U.S. government as a legislative assistant and as director of several agencies. In the early 1980s, he was a lecturer in science fiction writing at Georgetown University.

After graduation, Modesitt began to write, but he did not have a novel published until he was 39 years old. He believes that a writer must "simultaneously entertain, educate and inspire... [failing any one of these goals], the book will fall flat." A part-time writer, he produces an average of one book per year, but he would eventually like to write full-time. The underlying themes of many of his science fiction novels are drawn from his work in government work and involve the various aspects of power and how it changes the people and the structure of government. Usually, his protagonist is an average individual with hero potential. Much of his "Forever Hero Trilogy"--Dawn for a Distant Earth, The Silent Warrior, and In Endless Twilight--is based on his experiences working with the Environmental Protection Agency. He made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2012 with his title Princeps.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Modesitt's latest is set in a universe unrelated to that of any of his others and most strongly resembles his Adiamante (1996). A young teacher in an ecologically oriented, religiously conservative society runs afoul of the authorities and has to flee into space. There he learns the art of space piloting and how to cope with a technologically advanced secular society that accepts change as normal. None of his new expertise prepares him, however, for an encounter with a superior alien who may, just possibly, be God, as the exile has learned to define that concept. Modesitt once had problems with pacing, but neither that nor style nor really anything can be faulted much in this page-turner, even if it isn't quite as good as his more recent tales of Recluce (The White Order [BKL My 15 98]) and of alternate history (The Ghost of the Revelator [BKL S 1 98]). --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

The transformation of a young man from an agrarian Luddite to a physiologically enhanced star pilot provides the plot for Modesitt's (The Ghost of the Revelator) latest, a far-future SF adventure. Young Tyndel is content with his career as a teacher and following the antitechnology philosophy of his religion, Dzin. But when he's infected with nanites, microscopic machines that alter his blood chemistry, he's labeled a "demon" and forced to flee his home of Dorcha for the high-tech neighboring country of Rykasha. Tyndel is welcomed by the ultra-rational Rykashans, who not only embrace his enhanced abilities, but recognize that he has innate talents that would make him an excellent intergalactic pilot. At first, Tyndel resists Cerrelle, his Rykashan teacher, and eschews the teachings administered through nanopills, preferring to work as a "low tech" worker on an orbital station. Yet eventually he relents and asks to begin training as a pilot. Tyndel overcomes his squeamishness, letting the Rykashas "adjust" his nervous system so he can complete the space program and integrate himself into his new society. Modesitt does a fine job of creating a believable world where citizens are exhorted to accept complete responsibility for their actions and genetically "rehabilitated" if they do not. While some readers might be put off by the excessive philosophizing on Dzin naturalism vs. Rykashan pragmatism, the novel is loaded with enough hard science and space opera elements to please the author's large and avid body of fans. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Infected by nanites designed to enhance the capabilities of the human mind and body, Tyndal flees his theocratic homeland for a neighboring country inhabited by "demons" who dwell in a society of technological wonders. Modesitt's latest novel traces Tyndal's struggle to adapt to a new way of life in a society that accepts the superhuman as "natural." The author of the popular Recluce series displays a unique ability to infuse the minutiae of everyday life with depth and meaning in this stand-alone sf tale that belongs in most libraries. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1 [THE CALDRON: 4513] To that which is born, death is certain; to that which is dead, birth is certain . My eyes flashed to the rain-swollen stream, and then to the swirl of water that geysered out of the gray rocks of the defile. Heavy clouds melded with the granite to the north. Mist droplets clung to my hair, and water seeped down my neck and back. Sweat and fear enveloped me, a combined odor that the rain could not wash away, that would guide my pursuers through the ancient trees to me. "The Demons' Caldron." The words mumbled from my chilled and chapped lips, and I looked eastward, seeing again the cart road. A thousand meters or so to the right was the cart path that headed northward toward Rykasha and the Demons' Niche-- one thousand, seven hundred and ten point four meters jumped into my thoughts, reminding me again of the demon I had become or was fast becoming. The paved path followed the once-larger road of the ancients, or so the maps showed, although it supposedly ended short of the boundary markers, and only a trail continued north into Rykasha. I shook my head. Too close by far. I had thought I had been jogging farther westward, moving away from that serviceway, but my feet had betrayed me and carried me gradually downhill and back toward the gliders that tracked me. Back toward Foerga? My eyes burned, and I shook my head. Poor Foerga, linked to a man who had become a demon, yet still loving him to the end, against the tenets of Dorcha, against the Townkeeper and the Shraddans. Against the Shraddans I had trusted and upheld in all my teachings of Dzin. Underfoot the ground grew hard, with the ancient pavement that still endured around the Caldron. My stomach growled, a reminder that I had gone through all the food in the rucksack I had discarded kilos behind me, enough food for a normal man for weeks. It had scarcely lasted days for me. An image of a vast glowing ball of light--an intense, yet peaceful, spinning pinwheel--rose before my eyes, and the grayness and the rain vanished for a moment. Just as suddenly, the image vanished, and I shook my head as I beheld the darkness of firs and rain-damped oak and maple trunks, and rain. Rain…the mist was turning into rain, and I had no time to think about mysterious balls of light appearing. I forced my eyes back to the wet and gray granite and the twisted trees before me. From the Caldron, the green-and-white stream water swirled up in a foaming cascade, then subsided. I paused and took a deep breath. Whrrrrr … A glow of silver flashed through the trees to my right, the silver teardrop shape of a rough terrain glider--one with self-induction risers. I turned away from the stream and the Caldron and sprinted uphill. The rain burst down in gusted waves interspersed with the near-continual rumbling of thunder, as I ran westward and then neared the crest of the first low rise, northward, trying to keep an even pace ahead of the gliders and the grim-faced Shraddans they contained. So long as they could not get in front of me before I reached the border…I had to reach the border, if only for Foerga's sake. The ground rose and smote me, doubtless because I have been thinking more of geography than where my feet should go. I staggered up, ignoring the line of fire across my forearm, the blood that mixed with rain, and dull aches too numerous to count. Then I had to bend and untangle the boot laces from the root that had tripped me, retying them before straightening. The mustiness of damp leaves and mud filled my nostrils. Two more gliders whirred out of the mist and over the stream south of the Caldron and began to climb the low hill. I began to run once more, tired as I was, running like a hare compared to how I had once run, even in my younger years. Benefits of becoming a demon … The hill and granite outcroppings seemed to slow the Shraddans and their gliders, and the whining and whirring faded. Faded but did not disappear, lingering in my hearing, lingering in too many perceptions that had become too acute. I slowed to a jog, insisting that one foot follow the other, then lead the other--any sort of mental imagery to keep moving, keep ahead of the Shraddans and what they wanted to do to me. Lines of golden red fire filled the skies like arches holding back the depth of the void beyond the planet. That sky was not purple, nor blue, but nielle, blackness beyond black, with stars that jabbed like knives of light. I shook my head, concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, and the vision vanished. Some time later, when my legs ached into cramping, my lungs heaved, burning so that I could barely breathe, I lurched to a halt beside the dark-trunked fir. For a moment, all I could do was pant, although I tried to force deeper breathing. Before I had taken much more than a dozen breaths, the silver teardrop shape of the first rough terrain glider loomed out of the rain to the east, whining and groaning as it forced its way through the undergrowth, not dodging bushes as I had done, but still weaving to avoid the man- thick pine and hardwood trunks. With a gasp that was half sob, I dodged uphill around an outcrop of rain-stained rocks and back into the dark-wood forest, forcing my legs, gasping for air, ignoring the agony that stabbed through my lungs with each breath. Anything was better than starving in a stone cage. Than dying quickly by slow grams entombed in immovable stone. But I wasn't supposed to die. I couldn't let them kill me…not after everything that had occurred. I pushed my body, using every Dzin technique I had ever learned. Once more, the whining and whirring faded to the edge of consciousness as I plunged northward, knowing another set of gliders followed the road to the east, ready to slide in front of me should I falter. Did they wish to capture me? Or just drive me out of Dorcha? Containment pattern, ninety-nine percent probability …Was that the demon, or was the demon liberating my own demons? Having no answers, no time for answers, I avoided the berry patches, but even the other bushes ripped at my already-rent gown, and. my boots skidded across clay and damp leaves and slick needles. How had it all happened? Less than a month earlier, I'd been a respected master of Dzin in Hybra. A low-level master tasked to educate the children of the town, but a master. Not quite a decade earlier, I'd been a candidate scholar in Henvor, learning the way of Dzin, learning the very skills that had stabilized the world and reclaimed it from the unbridled selfishness and chaos of the demons. Now I was being hunted…as a demon…as an outcast and hated remnant of a despicable past forced on today's world by the unspeakable depravity of the ancients. I slowed somewhat on a level stretch, a trail carpeted in rain-slicked needles, trying to catch my breath, to let jarred shins and fatigued muscles recuperate ever so slightly. Me? A demon? Because I suddenly could think more clearly, run more quickly? The long baying of a hound to the right spurred my flagging steps. Hounds were not used for herding and containment. Hounds were for the kill. The blood on scratched arms forgotten, the cramps in overstrained legs ignored, I stepped up my pace, continuing to run up a gradual incline through the hills that never seemed to end. Again, the sense and sounds of the gliders retreated. More important, that awful baying diminished. The mist cooled, became thin pellets of ice that bounced off my shoulders, off my soaked hair. In the stillness came the odor of sweat and fear, of panic. The trees thinned, fir and spruce replacing the leafless oaks and maples. Fine snow sifted through the woods, settling on the needles and undergrowth not covered with the coniferous canopy. In spite of my efforts, my pace slowed, and the whirring neared. Another pair of hounds bayed, their howling lower, more mournful. The forest ended, and I stopped, caught by the openness running from left to right, an openness covered with snow. Flat, as though the snow covered pavement or grass, with no sign of undergrowth. Fifty meters-- forty-eight point three meters --to my left a tall silver pillar rose out of the ankle-deep snow, shimmering in the dim light. A cleared swathe that cut off the tree growth as sharply as a knife or a laser ran east and west--marking the boundary between Rykasha and Dorcha, between civilization and chaos, and, incidentally, added that newly autonomous part of my thoughts, the forty-fourth parallel . I shivered. Behind me rose the whining of the pursuit gliders, a sound so faint I could not hhave heard it a month earlier sound so fearsome I would have pushed the idea out of my thoughts a decade earner. The hounds bayed again. I glanced back, sensing the approach of three, perhaps more, of the gliders, then looked at the pillar, then downhill to where. I knew there was another, and another beyond that--a silver line marking the north boundary of Dorcha and the south boundary of Rykasha, the land of the demons. Finally, as the whining rose, I shivered once more, then bolted past the boundary and into the land of my damnation. The snow got deeper as I continued northward, seemingly centimeters higher with each few hundred steps, until I was plodding through knee-deep and clinging heavy white powder that soaked through the thin undertrousers and chilled my legs. The trees grew farther apart, yet larger, and the mist became a white powder that filtered down from the darkness overhead. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, glad at least that the whining and whirring of the gliders had been left behind at last. Bitter-glad, doing what duty--and love--required. As I stepped out into a long empty space, with granite cuffs rising to the left and the right, another sound, more like a whooshing hum, intruded, grew louder by the moment, seemingly coming from no direction and all at once. I stood still, calf-deep in snow that chilled even my heated body, turning in every direction before looking up… Light transfixed me--then darkness. Copyright © 1999 by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Excerpted from Gravity Dreams by L. E. Modesitt All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.