Reading List: Titan (Mammon vol. 1)

Kroese, Robert. Titan (Mammon vol. 1). Grand Rapids MI: St. Culain Press, 2021. ASIN B09DDHZ4R7.
With each successive work, science fiction author Robert Kroese is distinguishing himself not just as one of the most outstanding writers in the genre today, but also one of the most versatile. He seems to handily jump from laugh-out-loud satire worthy of Keith Laumer in novels like Starship Grifters (February 2018), cerebral quantum weirdness in Schrödinger's Gat (May 2018), to the meticulously researched alternative history time travel Iron Dragon epic (August 2018 et seq.). Now, in the Mammon trilogy, of which this is the first volume, he turns to the techno-economic-political thriller and, once again, triumphs, with a work worthy of Paul Erdman and Tom Clancy.

By 2036, profligate spending, exponentially growing debt, and indiscriminate money printing trying to paper over the abyss, has brought the United States to the brink of a cataclysmic financial reckoning. Both parties agree only on increasingly absurd stratagems to keep it from crashing down, and when entrepreneur Kade Kapur offers salvation in the form of a public-private partnership to exploit the wealth of the solar system by mining near-Earth asteroids (as the only way to keep grabby government from seizing his wealth), desperate politicians are quick to jump in the lifeboat.

But they are politicians, and in a continental scale empire in decline, populated by hundreds of millions of grifters and layabouts, where the “rule of law” means the rule of lawyers in dresses (judges) appointed by politicians, nothing can be taken for granted, as Kade discovers when he chooses to base his venture in the United States.

This is a compelling page turner and, once again, Kroese demonstrates how thorough is the research behind these yarns. He not only gets the economics of hyperinflation absolutely correct, but, in the best tradition of science fiction, “shows, not tells” the psychology which grips those experiencing it and how rapidly the thin veneer of civilisation can erode when money dies.

This novel ends at a point that will leave you eager to discover what happens next. Fortunately, we won't have all that long to wait: book two in the series, Messiah, will be published on February 28, 2022, and you can pre-order your copy today.

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