In an interesting departure from his fantasy writing, L.E. Modesitt delivers a hard SF novel with plenty of surprises in ARCHFORM: BEAUTY.

Four hundred years in the future, Earth has changed but there's still crime and there's still art. Luara Cornett is an extremely talented singer, teaching classical music to apathetic university students. She is fighting to keep her beloved music program intact against university cutbacks so she challenges a senator to support the arts.

Senator Cannon is a consummate politician with a good heart up for re-election. He's fighting against an elusive crime lord that uses Luara as bait. Lieutenant Chang follows trends to predict criminal activity and he knows something big is going down, but can't pinpoint what until a news service researcher also recognizes the trends.

While the technology and characters are solid, the abrupt switches of viewpoint in each chapter become irritating and distract from the storyline. (Jul., 336 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kelly Rae Cooper