Reviewer Praise for HERMETIC MILLENNIA

From the pen of John Vogt. Vanity urges me to reprint the whole thing, if not justice (since I think his rather minor criticisms about the pacing are fair and correct):

Ever read a book that has such high-concept scope and genius-level characters that it just makes you feel dumb and inferior? After reading The Hermetic Millennia, you may come away wondering why you don’t have eyes that can perceive the entire energy spectrum, retractable poison claws, and a mind that can perform alien algebra as an afterthought.

The sequel to the epic space opera, Count to a Trillion, The Hermetic Millennia doesn’t hold back from the large leaps the first book took into our future. Rather, it spins the time dial forward at an even headier pace and challenges the reader to keep up.

In Count to a Trillion, Menelaus Montrose performs brain surgery on himself in order to decipher an alien artifact discovered far outside the solar system. Unfortunately, these mental upgrades drive him insane for a while, and much of the story is his recovering a semblance of his former self while also trying to make sense of what his super-smart personality discovered from the artifact.

Turns out…nothing good. Apparently, an incredibly advanced alien race will be arriving in 8,000 years (give or take a decade) to judge humanity’s potential as slave labor.

Menelaus is determined to use his super-smarts to defeat the alien invaders, and puts himself in cryogenic suspension to live long enough to face them down. The major knot in his line of reasoning are his past shipmates, now equally mentally enhanced, who are determined to steer human evolution and shape it in their own image–one they hope their alien masters will decide is worthy enough to let live.

The Hermetic Millennia is crammed full of fascinating concepts and characters, each molded along increasingly diverse pathways humans might take over thousands of years–including sea-bound pods of hive minds, bestial chimeric races, technomagic druids and witches, and far more bizarre shapes and societies.

Menelaus is woken from his frozen tomb numerous times over the millennia, each time trying to undo the damage inflicted by humanity’s would-be-overlords, while encountering the transformed descendants of our species and learning how he himself has become a source of legend and myth.

Few science fiction tales attempt this enormous storytelling scope, and it mostly succeeds here, offering readers a vast landscape of time to wander and wonder through. However, this scope also works against the story to a degree. So much of Menelaus’ effort is spent just figuring out what’s going on in this brave new future that the pace often slows to a crawl.

Menelaus ends up interviewing a half-dozen specimens gathered throughout the millennia, learning their stories and histories in order to figure out where his plans went wrong so he can fix them. They’re intriguing and colorful side-stories…but subplots nonetheless, and may frustrate readers who want to get to the meat of the conflict–which is left up in the air thanks to a mildly cliffhanger ending.

The Hermetic Millennia still expands on the incredible potential established in Count to a Million. Menelaus’ Texan drawl and irreverent attitude remains an entertaining contrast to the strange beings he encounters, and John C. Wright shows a deft hand and mind in envisioning this world’s outlandish futures. But here’s hoping the next sequel doesn’t take another few thousands years to kick the bigger plot elements into action.