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Haze by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Review by Lucy Schmeidler
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765323026
Date: 09 June 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Haze operates on many levels. It is a tour of a well thought-out utopia, as well as the story of a high level spy who becomes disillusioned with the government he serves. When asked why he was chosen for his latest mission, the hero, Keir Roget, answers that the Federation decided he was "the type of agent who worked best alone and on challenging projects", which his questioner translates as "resourceful and expendable".

There is a warning about current economic and political trends and possible near-term disasters, a couple of combat missions with what I assume are realistic military talk, and quiet moments on the return flights for the hero to ponder the consequences of these missions. And for those more intrigued by human interest stories than air or space combat, there is a hint of romance.

Fans of Modesitt's Recluse Saga might find something familiar in the plight of a man who's trying his best to untangle the problems posed to him, only to discover that he's learned things his superiors don't want to hear about. During black-out moments, when Roget seems to be living someone else's memories, he speaks about the need to maintain an effective military to prevent America's takeover by the world Federation.

Readers of Modesitt's Ghost books might be surprised at the favorable light he throws on the Latter-Day Saints, who are shown as a splinter culture that remains true to itself and true to basic American pioneer values of self- and community-reliance and resistance to foreign powers and ideas.

Haze displays world-building in several areas, including the political and military structure of an advanced superpower; the common environment of the conquered American population, and specifically of the Saints community; and the physical, economic, political, and social aspects of the foreign utopia.

There are two narrative streams, as is common in Modesitt's work, but in this case they both have the same viewpoint character, merely taking place at different times in his career, which makes it easy for the reader to keep his sympathy focused. I found this book a bit preachy, but a highly enjoyable read.

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