I felt the need for some good, old-fashioned, rock-em, sock-em space adventure stories recently. So I reached for a volume with the appropriate cover art (manly man with bulging muscles and movie-star good looks in futuristic, military-style outfit, set amidst post-apocalyptic ruins): L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s omnibus, The Forever Hero, a stapling together of three novels: Dawn for a Distant Earth, The Silent Warrior, and In Endless Twilight.
This one is part post-apocalyptic saga, part superman story, and part tragedy. Yes, the hero in the story is a genetic freak who, as it turns out, is all-but-immortal (I’m not giving away any spoilers here; the “I” word shows up on the back cover blurb). Yes, the hero takes on the Herculean task of
mucking out the Augean Stables restoring a devastated Earth to habitability, and of course succeeds. It’s not the existential kind of tragedy. OR is it?
I was swept up by the story. Lots of action to be had here. But Modesitt also manages to add some philosophical heft, non-ridiculous historical/political/economic thought, and thoughtful, tragic twists that make this more than just a shoot-em-up. The hero struggles with the burden of myth-making and the complexities of moral choices on a galactic scale. And he struggles to maintain his humanity in the face of a long, long, long existence. I was thoroughly entertained and more than willing to suspend disbelief on many of the more ridiculous parts (like, umm, the fantastical interpretation of how evolution actually works).
What are you reading?