The Hermetic Millennia
by John C. Wright
Edited by David G. Hartwell
Cover Artist: John Harris
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765329288
Date: 24 December 2012 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This is not a casual read even for dedicated Wright fans. As in Count to a Trillion, he again covers the waterfront with a breathtaking array of concepts and ideas that will intimidate and confuse many. It again follows the efforts of Menelaus Montrose as he struggles to protect humans against enslavement by an advanced race of aliens in the distant future. Unfortunately, the protections he set in place before entering cryrosleep have failed.
Dedicated Wright fans will welcome Montrose's new adventures as he strives to fight efforts by his enemies to prepare humans to become slaves. His wife has set off on a long, long voyage to prove humans are a starfaring race and capable of partnerships rather than slavery. Meanwhile Montrose struggles to keep things on Earth from turning into a disaster.
Wright's use of mythology, history, and religion is extensive and innovative. However, the speed with which novel moves leaves the implications of most of these unexplored. In many ways, the novel is more of a polemic rather than a story. Almost every concept about the far future appears. The ideas have been used elsewhere to better effect. The scattergun approach weakens the impact of both the ideas and the overall narrative.
In part the series pays homage to 2001, a Space Odyssey, Peter Hamiltonís The Neutronium Alchemist, and others too numerous to mention. The novel deals with extremes. Modified evolution is a biggie and the results awful in the extreme. Even Montrose's efforts are for naught. Wright's fans may have mixed reactions to this series. Those who liked Count to a Trillion will want to follow Montrose's efforts. Others may prefer to read the Golden Age and other titles by Wright instead.