I just recently moved halfway across the country. As I was packing up books, I left out a small stack to take with me in the car, rather than put on the moving truck – I didn’t want to run out and be caught bookless on my trek, or before the moving truck got to me. I needn’t have worried. This book took foreeeever to read, and frankly wasn’t worth the slog.
It’s way in the future, and mankind has taken to mining on other planets. While out in space discovering new sources of energy, they find The Monument. The Monument is covered in mathematical formulas and symbols, floating in space, made out of a material science doesn’t recognize. Everybody on Earth is excited – mankind is not alone in the universe. A team of scientists is put together to go study the big coded space rock and see if they can decipher its messages.
Menelaus Montrose is one of those scientists. His theory is that mankind will not be smart enough to figure it all out, and that they need an evolutionary jumpstart. So in the ship on the way to The Monument, he injects himself with a serum he’s invented to supercharge his intelligence. He wants to start a Post-Human race.
And then the book jumps 150 years in the future, where Menelaus learns that he went bonkers from the serum, tried to open the door to the spaceship, and has been frozen in stasis until they could figure out a cure.
The rest of the book is Menelaus putting together the pieces of what happened while he was asleep, deciding he’s still smarter than everyone else on the planet, and setting about taking down the world’s leadership.
It all sounds interesting, right? Oh, you back-of-the-book blurb, you deceived me so. Menelaus is a horrible person. Everyone he meets is horrible. In the future, apparently, everybody’s a racist, and if you come from the ‘Hispanosphere’ you can’t possibly be smart enough to be a scientist (for example). He regularly dismisses people as ‘beaneaters,’ and goes on and on about castes. And the women? Forget it. Two female characters in the book: Menelaus’ mother, a horrible shrew who stomps her son’s dreams at every chance, and the princess, who was grown in a vat by scientists and is scientifically proven to be the smartest person on the planet – but Menelaus still knows best, because she’s only a girl. The 1 percenters have taken over the world, and only the very rich are treated as human.
Not only are the characters all reprehensible, the writing is almost impenetrable. I get that these are very smart scientists, trying to become even smarter, but here’s a sample:
“Under the Leray-Hirsch Theorem, a cohomology monomorphism could be described to express all the polydimensional vector subspaces involved.”
The whole book reads like that. It’s a LOT of math.
There are some interesting concepts. When they start figuring out parts of The Monument, they learn that it’s basically a beacon to the beings that put it there. When a species gets advanced enough to get to The Monument, that species is advanced enough to conquer and be put to use as slaves. So surprise! The vastly advanced aliens are now on their way to kick Earth’s ass.
We don’t get to find out what happens, though, because the book ends with Menelaus getting in a fight with the head dude/king/president/CEO of the world, and a building falls on them. The End. I only know Menelaus lives because there was a preview for the second book at the end. I will NOT be reading that one. No more math or jerkwads for me!