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28 February 2001 @ 06:15 pm
"Gravity Dreams" by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.  
In this book we follow Tyndel from his position as a junior Master of 'Dzin' in a sleepy backward seeming village, to a life as a 'demon' in a much more high technology culture. The book is written with flashbacks and flashforwards interspersed with the ongoing storyline, making it essential to check the date on each chapter. Like most of Modesitt's heroes Tyndel is very much a reluctant participant in the major events of the world he lives in. He would much rather have stayed in his familiar and safe world, learning to be a better Dzin master (which seems to be much like Zen). But he becomes infected with nanites and becomes a demon in the eyes of his erstwhile countrymen. He has to escape to the neighbouring country of Rykasha or be killed by the mob chasing after him. It soon becomes clear to both Tyndel and ourselves that his previous country is just one of a few enclaves of primitivity in a world and galaxy dominated by the Rykashan culture. We follow Tyndel through the initial culture shock, and through his development in this culture, and the part that his desire to be completely honest with himself and with others plays in bigger events than just his personal life.

This is a post-apocalypse story, which is a scenario I particularly like, partly as it often drops hints so you can work out what famous landmarks have become, or what a culture has become. For instance in this book I'm pretty sure one of the enclaves is what the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints are in this vision of many thousands of years in our future.

I also like post-apocalypse stories because they can give you a good idea of what the author thinks are the disasters waiting to happen in our current society. This story, in common with some other recent books I've read, postulates nano-tech as being involved in the destruction of society as we know it. If you look back at other times other concerns are apparent - most new books that I read in the late eighties and early/mid nineties postulated some version of the greenhouse effect, or other runaway changes in the ecosystem of the earth, as being the doom that faces us. Looking further back, earlier in teh eighties and also in the late forties and early fifties it was nuclear war and resulting aftermath that would finish off civilisation. Those two eras seem to differ in the level of knowledge of the problems to be faced, although I've read 'mutants everywhere' stories from the eighties, and 'dying of radiation' stories from the late forties. This is all based on my 'feel' of the things I've read. Some day I'd like to sit down and systematically go through, reading post-apocalypse stories and correlate year/era with disaster faced. It'd be interesting :)