Count to a Trillion
by John C. Wright
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765329271
Date: 20 December 2011 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In AD 2221 in backwater Texas, an independent nation, tweener Menelaus Illation Montrose overhears the elders talk about the once promising old future that never happened. He dreams of finding who caused the nightmare that the old future became. Menelaus knows from listening and from books that the last century's War of Religion proved more devastating to the planet than the previous War of Economics. Instead of the glorious future in which each generation has it better than the previous, bitter Menelaus knows the oil is long gone; electric grids no longer work; the Infertility Plague went viral; religious false prophets said Tribulation began but that proved another sham; presidents are pious but do nothing. Menelaus knows that each day his world deteriorates. He swears if he catches up with the perpetrator of global chaos he will take care of business; he also dreams of turning the world around making it a better place.
Fourteen years later including a time out in suspension for six months, Menelaus is a duelist for hire still roaming dumpy Texas. However, he has an opportunity to escape the Lone Star fiasco as part of a space expedition to a nearby system in order to retrieve antimatter from an alien relic. To increase his intelligence, Montrose undergoes an experiment that leaves him in a coma for years. When he awakens Montrose realizes he is a super genius and that his former mates used the antimatter to conquer Earth with a planetary IOU to the aliens who built the antimatter gizmo. With his brilliance he interprets the alien inscription and knows the meaning of the Trojan horse given to Earth.
This is a fascinating action-packed futuristic science fiction thriller that starts off a bit slow as John C. Wright describes the early twenty-third century landscape in which the acrimonious protagonist lives. Once Menelaus joins the space mission, the story line accelerates to a faster than light speed.
Menelaus is an interesting lead character with a need to make things right but has no idea where to start. He is angry at what man has done to the world in the previous century as life is at best Victorian. Ironically he starts off as an antihero but once he joins the space mission, especially when he regains consciousness after years in a comatose state, Menelaus becomes a hero. He is the only fully developed character though the support cast including Rania the woman he cherishes and his crew. Extrapolating modern day trends, Mr. Wright provides his fans with an exhilarating futuristic thriller as the world may or may not need a hero.