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Count to a Trillion Hardcover – December 20, 2011

102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


It's a pity the word 'awesome' has been misused to the point of meaninglessness: it would once have been an ideal description of Count To A Trillion. Instead, I'll say that the novel came perilously close to overloading my capacity for wonder, burning out all my 'gosh' circuits--and I¹ve been reading science fiction assiduously since 1954. Mr. Wright is a major figure in the recent renaissance of space opera, the kind of writer who is equally at home with hard science and poetry, the kind you read slowly and carefully, and very happily. Count to a trillion, as slow as you like: you'll be done long before you forget this story, or its Texan gunfighter hero, a child-abuse survivor yearning with all his heart for a cartoon future of hope called The Asymptote. (Spider Robinson, author of Very Hard Choices)

Spectacularly clever… in weaving together cutting edge speculation along the outer fringes of science. Highly impressive. (Kirkus)

R.A.Lafferty meets A.E.VanVogt in a cakewalk through a future full of anti-matter, alien artifacts, transhumans, an Iron Ghost, a Texas gunfighter, and a Space Princess. Well worth the price of admission. (Michael Flynn)

Wright is at his best…. Appealing to readers interested in glimpses of the unfathomable immensities of our universe. (Publisher's Weekly)

An awe-inspiring book, brave and full of wonder. Count to a Trillion pokes grand fun of humanity and post-humanity alike. (Brenda Cooper, author of Reading the Wind)

An elegant stylist and a true visionary, Wright will delight hard sf fans with his exuberance, while his characters and plot keep the action fast and furious. (Library Journal)

This is much more than a space opera, and fills your mind with intriguing, startling possibilities. John Wright's novel is bursting with ideas, blending mythology, machine and human evolution, mathematics, space travel, and much more. The hero, Montrose, is caught in the crosshairs of deadly, highly unusual foes--and his fate could very well determine the fate of everyone on Earth. Ultimately this is about human survival and potential, the future of mankind across a trillion star systems. (Brian Herbert)

About the Author

JOHN C. WRIGHT lives in Centreville, Virginia.

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Product Details

  • Series: Count to a Trillion (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1St Edition edition (December 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765329271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765329271
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John C. Wright is a retired attorney, newspaperman and newspaper editor, who was only once on the lam and forced to hide from the police who did not admire his newspaper.

In 1984, Graduated from St. John's College in Annapolis, home of the "Great Books" program. In 1987, he graduated from the College and William and Mary's Law School (going from the third oldest to the second oldest school in continuous use in the United States), and was admitted to the practice of law in three jurisdictions (New York, May 1989; Maryland December 1990; DC January 1994). His law practice was unsuccessful enough to drive him into bankruptcy soon thereafter. His stint as a newspaperman for the St. Mary's Today was more rewarding spiritually, but, alas, also a failure financially. He presently works (successfully) as a writer in Virginia, where he lives in fairy-tale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children: Pingping, Orville, Wilbur, and Just Wright.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Tghu Verd on March 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Wright's "Golden Age" trilogy (The Golden Age) and "Count to a Trillion" is similar but different.

The pace is frantic and the technology superbly imagined. So much so, that I had no idea half the time what was really being discussed, especially as much of it is maths, algorithms and biological systems, but that was a large part of the charm. In terms of sci-fi this is a semi hard novel, in that it has spaceships and aliens and lashings of future tech, but they are all subservient to the characters, and do not stand alone or apart as a reason to read the book.

Our main character, Menelaus Illation Montrose, comes alive as a future Texan in a world beset by all sorts of collapses - environmental, economic, political and biological. He has dreams and aspirations which he learns to keep to himself, courtesy of a religious zealot mother with a puritan mean streak, but he's also smart as a whip and fearless to boot, so if adventure is not going to come to him, he'll go to adventure. I could all but taste his Texanism (OK, that's not a word, but you know what I mean) seeping from the pages as he doffed his hat to the ladies and drew his six-gun to the baddies.

A subtle, subversive humour pervades "Count to a Trillion", almost as if Wright knows that the whole set up is absurd and is asking you to laugh along with him. For me, and unlike the "Golden Age" trilogy, the core of "Count to a Trillion" held up to scrutiny because while the various premises were absurd, they were at least self consistent.

But I can see why "Count to a Trillion" rated more 1 star reviews than 5 star reviews.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Miller VINE VOICE on December 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anybody who as read his books from the Golden Age trilogy to Null-A-Contiuum knows he is a writer of big ideas and this book is an embarrassment of riches. So many great ideas are contained within that they could have been parsed out a basis for a dozen of other SF books. This book follows the rich tradition of the Space Opera where it's not over until the "voluptuous green-skinned spacewomen in silvery space-bikinis" sing.

The specific story follows young Menelaus Illation Montrose from his childhood on. The Western world is in collapse and the world is divided up into various spheres of influence such as the Indosphere and the Hispanosphere. Menelaus is a brilliant polymath who dreams of "shining tomorrows" and the disappointments of actual life and not flying cars and other gee wiz technological developments. His dreams are partially shaped by a comic book series named Asymptote that has many shadows of Star Trek and it's view of the future of man along with the cornier aspects related to Captain Kirk. As someone whose childhood included the start of the Star Trek series and the race to the moon this young character had many elements I could relate to. His mother though has other plans for him that don't include such starry-eyed dreaming and seemingly escapist literature.

His path to adulthood leads through various phases of apprenticeship with nothing fully using his talents. He becomes a dueling-lawyer, that is a lawyer that handles things outside of court hi-tech dueling pistols. The description of one of the duels is one of the great ideas the story is so peppered with. These special guns with defenses reminds me of aviation warfare with electronic countermeasures, chaff, and other deceptive techniques along with special missiles.
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54 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Ian R Slutz on July 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the name implies Count to a Trillion hums with ambition. It chronicles the life of Menelaus Montrose who travels from his home in post apocalypse rural Texas, to become a gun fighting lawyer, mathematician explorer of cosmic artifacts, posthuman super genius, and witness to humanity's future. John C. Wright was clearly giving it his all when he set out to tell this tale, unfortunately the novel is not able to support his goals.

The initial problem is Montrose himself. Capturing the voice of the cowboy scientist was always going to be tricky because the author clearly wanted to work against trope. But with Montrose there is no nuance. The result seems to flop between two polar cliches rather than synthesize these traits. Still, the weakness of the characters would be less of an issue if it weren't for deeper problems.

Mr. Wright would never be called a disciplined author. His writing always tends to the verbose. Unfortunately, in Count to a Trillion he seems to have run completely amok. Too often this novel feel like waves of exposition alternating with torrents of technobabble. Ironically, Mr. Wright is a master of both so the result is remarkably readable. Still, phrases like "...Kolmogorov backward equation, or Erdos-Szekers Theorem about monotone subsequences..." batter the reader into exhaustion without leaving any particular impression. It is as if the author has drowned one half of his tale in the other half.

Its a shame. Mr. Wright has a unique voice in SF and is capable of much better. But on this outing his worst impulses have taken control. The book if far from terrible, but its grand ambitions are held back by the authors choice to tell so much, while showing so little.
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