Reviewer Praise (and Otherwise) from Goodreads

I find that reviews from customers are always more useful than those from professional reviewers, simply because the professionals are getting paid, and so they want to write columns that will be entertaining to read, which puts them under an incentive either to indulge in insult-humor quips or political posturing.

Customers, on the other hand, can give an author valuable feedback on what bits worked and what did not, and one can use the hints to improve one’s writing.

Here are several reviews of COUNT TO INFINITY from Goodreads, some complimentary, some critical, and some are oddly reverse-complimentary (that is, the complaint unintentionally compliments the book).

Jeff Miller

Such an amazing epic comes to an end. Must say I loved the ending, which I didn’t see coming. Fitting for the end of the rivalry between Montrose and Blackie over Rania. A space opera fueled on hard science spanning millennia as the two Texans fight over the Space Princess. John C. Wright always astounds me over the plethora of big ideas in his stories.


This storyline reminds me of Olaf Stapledon “First and Last Men”, an ambitious novel chronicling a history of humanity. Although that novel is rather dry in characters. Not so here where the characters are both complex and simple.


Johan Haneveld

I must confess I’m conflicted about this book. When you’ve read this far in the ‘Eschaton sequence’ I think you can’t miss this book. It’s the conclusion of this series and you won’t ever find a more epic conclusion to any series thinkable than presented in this volume. It’s the climax of all climaxes. And features the final duel between the dastardle Ximen DelAzarchel and Texan gunman Menelaus Montrose. The end of which I won’t spoil, but is fitting and touching. The scale of the story is really gigantic here, spanning galaxies, clusters and superclusters, rife with galaxy spanning dyson spheres and great attractors, crossing millions and billions of years to the end of time. The conflict is the most epic thinkable ever – with all thinking matter in existence torn between a malthusian philosophy of a closed universe, leading to the survival of the few (the 1%) at the cost the death of all the rest, and a philosophy based on altruistic principles and the belief in a world outside of the universe. Here ideas of philosophy and theology are stated in fasciniting sciencefictional terms, imagining the ultimate fate of the universe as the balance betwee a closed view of the time/matter continuum and the saddle like topography (both topographies described by the same formula). Stuff to ponder, and some great, touching imagery, boistering my hope and belief – like the greatest stories of Tolkien and Lewis do. This does increase my longing for and belief in an ultimate goodness underpinning our universe. And in between there are battles beyond imagination and some shocking duels.

However, ultimately I wasn’t able to give this book four or five stars (though I would give five stars just to the canvas this story takes place on and the ‘mind blowing’ nature of its ideas). I have two main complaints. The first one is that the scale of the story is so big here, that even though Wrights descriptions are lively and detailed, I found it hard to image what he described. This was combined with the repetitive structure of the story (Menelaus is thrown further on in the universe, meets a bigger intelligent entity, is sent on and meets another power, even bigger), so that the story consisted of descriptions of places by the author and descriptions of events by higher powers. It’s more tell than show, to be honest. And I tend not to mind that, but when I cannot really imagine what the author describes, I find a bit of a distancing effect emotionally. So while still intellectually engaged, my emotions lagged behind.

My second complaint was that the authors’ views finally started to irk me. Wright is politically right on the American spectrum, and not a bit, but extremely so. So his ideas about diversity and religion tend to be pretty conservative. And he also tends to have conservative, even patriarchal ideas about gender and marriage. Men have to be agressive and conquering in his view, and women obedient. I can deal with different visions to mine in fiction, but have a harder time when these ideas are espoused by the last surviving man and woman and thus are made the ultimate truth for all mankind. So, yes, I rolled my eyes at quotes like: ‘I have wronged you more deeply than ever woman wronged man. Beat me and I would not complain, wring my false neck and I utter no protest. But asking my pardon! It shows a weakness no man to whom I belong can show.’ or: ‘If I tossed you out of the wedding bad, what would you do?’ ‘Turn you over my knee, spank your cute backside soundly for motuhing off, and climb back in. Deeply all the way in.’ Or: ‘I also read Homer. Goddesses could use some humility as well. besides, if we live, I mean to have children, and I cannot expect obedience from them if I do not yield obedience to you.’ Or this doozy: ‘I weary of giving commands to crewmen and children. You decide. What is the point of having a husband, if he is not my captain for me? What else are men for? No one else can be the man for me.’ What saddens me is one, that with all his imagination the author cannot imagine men or women wanting to take on other roles than those society gives them or there being diversity in the expression of male and female characteristics (if those even exist). I don’t want to be bullied into taking on the agressive, dominant alfa male expression, when I can be sensitive, collaborative and creative seeking harmony and compromise. Two: in these passages the author contradicts the larger thesis of his book. The book is about trusting in love above self interest. But obedience is not the same thing as love and vice versa. Love is seeking what’s best for the other person, living to serve (mutually) and being served. In reducing love to power relationships (obedience, authority, absolute control), the author expounds the view of the bad guy of the piece who wants to create societys with thrones and kings and hierarchies. The protagonist says he fights for democracy and a free market and equality, but wants the same kind of hierarchy in marriage. The author wants to have his cake and eats it too, but I don’t think he gets away with this in the end.

So ultimately some passages left me frowing. It leads me to substracting one star, but for me it doesn’t ruin the total of the book and the series. This is one of the largest scale, most imaginative SF-stories I know, full of fantastic imagery and wild idea’s and also great metaphors for philosophical and religious truths. It inspired me and I recommend it, but with a few caveats as expressed in this review.


I’ve enjoyed other books by this author that have similar themes, but I just didn’t care for this series that much. I think it has a couple of issues.

There are three major things going on in this book besides a sci-fi story, a thinly veiled allegory for Christian eschatology, a romance showing the author’s views on marriage, and a revenge story against a former comrade. As someone who probably mostly agrees with the author on the first two topics, I found the first to be heavy-handed and just not pleasingly written. CS Lewis did this much better. The romance between the main character and his wife I did not find romantic, it frequently ventured into mawkish territory. Also, despite the fact that the wife was a messianic character literally from a better universe, and the main character and the main villain are supposed to have some mystical connection to her, the way she is written does not make it seem reasonable for the two to fight over her for literally all of time. Finally, we get to the revenge story. This really lost it kick over the course of the series. After the second time they decide to duel to the death(For real this time!) my eyes started to roll a bit at each subsequent duel. They finally get the issue resolved at the end of this book, but I just didn’t have much empathy for either character by this point.

I think a lot of issues with this book are exacerbated by the shortcomings of the series, which is very long. There are a tremendous number of races, characters, and side plots, many of which could have been safely cut. Plot points have a tendency to repeat, such as the aforementioned duel, or the main character almost but not quite catching up to his wife, or an interstellar phenomenon turning out to be the work of a super-civilization that can be conveniently used to move the main characters around. The author also keeps trying to expand our sense of scale on the axis of size or intelligence, but since he does this constantly throughout the series, at some point one just starts to assume there is no interesting upper limit, and the sense of size becomes meaningless. It’s somewhat like the game children play to guess the largest number. While this does tie into the title of the final book, it doesn’t work well for producing the impact the author wants.

Overall while I didn’t like this series, I do think there is a sensibility that it appeals to, and I’ll probably still read the authors next work. I just hope that he avoids some of the shortcomings of this series in the future.

Mary Catelli

Book six. The only thing I can say without spoilers is that the stakes in this book are the ultimate fate of the universe.

It opens with discussion of how Blackie had not quite ruined the ship, and so Montrose survived, with the help of a hypernova and then of a civilization his ship built. Letting him go on to deal with other things, which include a war with Andromeda, the episodes from the show Asymptote, Montrose’s past at the Momument that he used to be unable to remember, conditions of the duel, what made the False Rania false, the origin of the universe, and more.


I have rarely read a series that I (a) so thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated on so many levels, or (b) felt so woefully inadequate to review.

My husband’s summation of “Count to Infinity” was “It’s ‘The Last Battle’ for grownups.” I’d had a similar thought as I reached the final chapters.

As will be no surprise to those who made it this far in the Eschaton / Count to a Trillion series the time scale in “Infinity” jumps another several orders of magnitude. In book 5 we were dealing in thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of years. Here we are covering billions. Our heros and those they interacted with had intelects at the Host or Domination level; here we reach Cherub, even Seraphim level. And yet somehow it is still the same fight from “Count to a Trillion” where the time scale was in the hundreds of years: scarcity vs. infinity, love vs. hate, faith vs. doubt and pride, the perfectibility of man vs. the need to look outside not only himself but the universe itself for saving.

It’s almost as if there is nothing new under the sun(s).

Anyway, for all lovers of hard sci fi and philosophy, this series should Not be missed.

Daniel Brown


This is Hard, Hard Sci-fi at its finest. The learning curve is steep, but well worth it. It did fall into strong biblical allegories towards the last quarter, which was bothersome only in the sense that it was completely out of character from the previous 5 books and I found it a little jarring.