Reviewer Dispraise for COUNT TO A TRILLION (plus a helpful hint on how to count above one)

It dishonorable for an author to argue with a reviewer, on the grounds that the book must speak for itself, or not at all. The one exception I hope will be allowed is the case where the reviewer, no doubt concerned with more pressing matters, has overlooked to read the book.

Now, who am I to criticize a reviewer, or to dare to tell him how to review books? It is not as if he tells me how to write them! Er, actually, he does, but that is beside the point!

There is much useful information a reviewer can glean from examining the dust jacket of the book, as the title and the author’s name, or from reading Harriet Klausner’s review on, or looking a webpage such as, which conveniently will list the “tropes” that an anonymous poster assumes without evidence may or could be used by the author in a post written long before the book has come out, or even any advanced review copy.

While it is true that I could not write a review of a book I avoided reading, I am not a reviewer, and some subtleties of their mystery may be unknown and unknowable to me.

Even in this case, however, the author is obligated only to correct any errors of fact appearing in the review. We never dispute the reviewer’s judgment.

For example, if a friendly reviewer says that your humble author does not convincingly portray his female main character, Voluptua Zowie von Phlegm, as a Mesopotamian Martial Artist, the author is not allowed to protest that the main character is convincingly portrayed, as this is merely self serving.

Surely, if his book were truly crafted with the standards the muses ordain, it is redundant for him so to say; and if not, a falsehood.

On the gripping hand, if in fact his main character is a male gun-fighter from post-Collapse Texas, and no character named von Phlegm, either as a Babylonian Karate-girl or not, appears anywhere in the book, it is a statement of fact that the review errs, and the question of whether the portrayal is convincing or not becomes moot.

Hence I am allowed to print a correction when a reviewer describes COUNT TO A TRILLION as taking place in a “homogeneous” or background so monotonous and “monocultural” as to ruin the suspension of disbelief.

I will not bother providing a link to this review or the reviewer’s name, since the comment is so outre, I would prefer anyone reading these words to believe I hallucinated the review while roaring drunk from overindulgence in Christmas eggnog. The alternative is to believe a real person actually wrote them on purpose, and this is an ungenerous thought, even if true.

Had the reviewer said the background was poorly done, or boring, or offensive to the taste, my humility would have required my stern silence. But to call the background “homogeneous” is simply an error a fact, and my ego-bloat requires I answer with a stern giggle.

It will be giggling as dignified as a man of my undignified nature can produce, and uttered without malice. I will simply list some of the characters and scenes, and note from which part of the invented world of my imagination they come: the reader can decide whether this makes them homogeneous or not.

Homogeneous means that there are no factions, no minorities, no subdivisions, no racial divisions. If, as I list the characters and scenes, the background racial and otherwise for all characters is a single number, i.e. equal to one, then the charge is factually correct. If the number is above one, the charge is not.

When used by a Politically Correct commentator, or, more accurately, slanderer (political correctors do not make comments) the word “Homogeneous” is a code word used to mean every character is a White Anglosaxon Protestant. Not only is not every character in this current book a WASP, I am not sure any character is. It is not my fault if the reader assumes a character is of Northern European melanin-deficient ancestry following a Teutono-Scottish Church denomination when the author says nothing one way or the other. (One would have thought that the example of Podkayne of Mars or Sparrowhawk of Gont, that race-sensitive readers would be wary to make assumptions about skin color.)

Menelaus Montrose is described (perhaps facetiously) as “purebred” Tex-Mex, an ethnic group whose exact composition the reader is invited to speculate. It apparently allows for Neanderthal characteristics like ginger-red hair.

The Texmexicans are describes as being either at war or recently at war with distinct ethnic groups, each provided (in the parlance of the time) with a demeaning ethnic name: the ‘Oddifornians’ from the West Coast, called Rice-eaters, the ‘Anglos’ from the North, also called Grasseaters, and the Aztlan from the South, also called Meszitos or Beaneaters.

Montrose’s mother is from a different and higher social class from the surrounding township, albeit her cultural and ethnic background is not given a name. His nine brothers are, alas, all of his bloodline, so I suppose the charge of being “homogeneous” applies here.

The Texmexicans are also in perpetual low-level conflict with the Mormons of Utah, their main military and religious rivals. They despise the ‘Spanish Catholic’ church, and are mistrustful of Jewish peddlers, highwaymen, and inhabitants of the Blight (facetiously if predictably called Blighters). I believe all this is mentioned in the first three chapters.

Montrose is apprenticed to a Cathar named Throwster, a member of a religious/cultural minority whose small numbers make them vulnerable to the petty oppression by the town majority. Admittedly, Cathars are an ethnic group of my own invention, that allegedly springs out of different groups following different and mutually exclusive quarantine laws during and after the release of chemical and biological weapons into the environment the generations previous. If the reader reading the book decides this does not count as a minority, all I can say is that the characters inside the book do not agree.

The next character introduced is Ranier Grimaldi, who is both a Brahman of India and a sovereign prince of Monaco. He is Caucasian, even Gallic. In these days, the conceit in the novel is that national loyalties count for little, but linguistic and cultural identities count for much. Ranier is a member of the Indosphere, that is, India and her cultural colonies, described as being the dominant hegemonic power of Earth. The main rival to the Indosphere is the Hispanosphere, which includes a militarily-potent South America, and their Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking allies in Central America, the Iberian peninsula, Spanish Guinea, and elsewhere.

Of the next six characters introduced, no two Indospherians are of the same caste or origin. This was done to allow the narration to show the disparity within the dominant group.

The next two characters introduced are Sarmento i illa D’Or, whom, as you can see from the name, hails from Catalonia, and Ximen Del Azarchel, whose name is Andalusian, perhaps Latinized Muslim. It is not my fault if they both sound generically Spanish to you.

The next character with a speaking role is Tibetan, Doctor Sgradbyangs kyi rgyal-po Bhlogrochosnyi Intellect Cosmic Order Sun.

The next four speaking characters are Del Azarchel’s henchmen of his inner circle, all of whom are from some Spanish or Portuguese speaking part of the world. In this case, the difference between them was philosophical rather than ethnic or cultural, so that one a pacifist, on a militant, one of Roman Catholic Cardinal, one a witch, and so on: to those who suffer the delusion that men of the same racial stock share common outlooks and homogeneous opinions, perhaps this mix of Spanish, North African, Peruvian, and Portuguese looks homogeneous, but your humble author cannot correct for that, and has no wish to.

Of political groups, it is mentioned in the text that the current regime conquered a previous world-wide alliance between the Copts of Egypt, the Azanian Boers of Africa, and a political movement from Manchuria, which combined Confucianism with neo-Marxism; and these conquered groups form the aristocracy and higher management of the conquerors. The main political tension after the conquest is between the Australians of the Japanese-Anglosphere, and the Sinosphere of Greater China.

The world parliament is described as a crazy-quilt of landed aristocracies, small democracies, plutocracies, and something called ‘wardenships’ territory held by private military forces allegedly for the benefit of the commons.

The three main religious denominations are described as being Uniate Orthodox-Catholic, Buddhist, and Skeptic.

The main character wakes in a palatial fortress in Chile, is taken to Florida, flees to Northern Canada, where he is met by a Coptic Egyptian named Mark, who smuggles him to the Eastern Mediterranean, a place currently called Tripoli, in those years called Iarabulus.

The next character who speaks is an artificial being created from codes discovered in an alien monument — I leave it as an exercise for the entho-politically correct race-sensitive reader to determine what breed of human this posthuman counts as. Her bodyguards are Boer-Zulu Azanians crossbred with artificial genetics, except for one who is a Russian-artificial crossbreed.

Then come on stage her various other retainers and courtiers at De Haar castle in Utrecht,  who are some form of Dutch or Franco-German or Walloon or something — at this point, I am bedazzled by the rapid succession of characters who have no shared ethno-cultural backgrounds as to begin to lose track.

The next scene is in Switzerland, then in Gascony, then in Ecuador. Unless I have that order wrong.

Again, I would not dare argue with a reader who, annoyed by your humble author putting as many admixtures of races and cultures onstage as the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, complained at the unrealistic degree of heterogeneity.

Or if one wishes to say that the narrative skips from place to place and year to year too quickly for the reader to savor the nuanced complexity of each new scene, again, I dispute nothing. Indeed, that was one of my fears as an author — that I was cramming in too much richly variegated background detail at the expense of plot motion. If I have not convinced my reader, my skill is insufficient: so be it.

But to say the book is unrealistic because the background is too homogeneous is simply an error of fact, and an error that no one who read the book could make. It is like criticizing my Texan Gunman for being a Babylonian She-Ninja. It just ain’t so.

The book may be unrealistic or awkward or dull or ill crafted for other reasons: but not that one.