Review: NEMESIS by Robert Kroese
The MAMMON trilogy sticks the landing, pun intended.
In 2021, Rob Kroese set out to to write a “different sort of apocalypse.” At its core would be the human tendency to destroy everything around us in the quest for riches and power, realizing the Biblical truth that we “cannot serve God and Mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)
Thus the Mammon series was born, comprising a core trilogy of three books as well as an anthology of tie-in stories from Travis Corcoran, Fenton Wood, myself, and more. This literary world would sit at the intersection of politics, economics and finance, mining, international relations, space travel, and the Internet, just to name a few things. Heaven only knows the headache Kroese must have taken on in order to tie it all together coherently, but hot damn, he pulled it off.
In TITAN, we’re introduced to our core roster of characters, most of whom are connected to Kade Kapur, a curry-flavored Elon Musk. He’s got a space company that can supposedly move mineral-rich asteroids into Earth’s orbit for high-altitude mining. Due to political and corporate meddling, the project is initially successful, but falls victim to sabotage so that the US Government can seize Kapur’s company. Having banked on the success of the project, the world descends into economic chaos as inflation starts to drive the cost of everything through the roof.
The sequel MESSIAH not only follows the escalation of the economic fallout, but the resultant damage of the asteroid mission’s sabotage. What was once a one-in-a-thousand chance of the asteroid colliding with Earth quickly becomes one-in-a-hundred, then one-in-ten, then…well, the unthinkable happens. The asteroid Mammon shatters and hits the Earth.
Now we get to NEMESIS, and there are a handful of big powers maneuvering to pick up the asteroid’s remains. Most of it landed in the Sahara, so for the hundredth time in human history, superpowers look to Africa as a basket of resources ripe for the pillaging. America, Russia, and China all mobilize for war.
This entire story scares the hell out of me because of how incredibly viable it all is. We get the occasional long and detailed conversation between characters about the goings-on of the world, and it sounds eerily familiar if you’ve been watching the news since 2020.
Even so, it’s like a car crash that has some element of redemptive hope in it—like forty-seven Honda Civics that keep plowing into a flipped-over school bus and the bus is full of puppies and you’re scared for the puppies, but the bus can take it…and you have to get to the end to know that the puppies make it out okay.
In the midst of this new gold rush is a rich cast of characters trying to save the world while they navigate their own personal problems. This brings us neatly to…
When we last saw Kade Kapur, he was nestled deep in a floating server farm that was likely to be destroyed by Mammon’s fragmentary landfall. Having survived “M-Day,” he now has to preserve the computers from the ocean and make contact with the survivors of the outside world. and save what’s left of his loved ones.
Valerie Sutherland is stuck with the other survivors in the castle in Libya, with several predators at the gates. Various Islamic terrorist groups are liable to invade the castle for its precious food stores, and uncomfortable alliances must be made with certain mercenary groups who would like to seize control of everything. This is only made more complex by the arrival of her estranged husband Rick, who is his own flavor of bastard, but can be useful to the castle.
Rounding out the protagonists are men like Jeong and Nowell, a young tech/finance guru and an experienced lawyer, respectively. (There’s a chance I botched the spelling of their names—I listened to the audiobooks.)
I liked all of these characters because they went as far as they could to max out in their own fields, and actually applied the knowledge they had despite all of the opposition they faced. It was their pluck, their drive, their resilience that kept me rooting for them.
Ours, now with 12% more bastard. The tech is more or less ours, the politics are definitely ours, and while all of the characters are fictitious, they are very real. This could (and probably does) happen here in our lifetimes.
Well, it’s not exactly Ayn Rand, but more or less it’s the libertarians who save the world, right? Haha. They don’t set out to save the planet with Objectivism, it’s more that People Doing The Right Thing(TM) are the ones who get everything back on track, using sound economic principles and aggressively flipping the bird to the Powers That Be.
R for language and violence, and implied sensuality. That last part is a little toned down from book 2.
Who is it for?
Fans of THE MARTIAN and the good parts of ATLAS SHRUGGED, where the author can make his point in about 1/10th the word count.
Why buy it?
When the smart characters sit down to discuss and explain what’s going on, these novels take on the better qualities of a textbook. Those discussions are worth revisiting in detail and learning from. Plus, the positive conclusion to two brutally hard entries in the trilogy is very whitepilling. Go get your copy.
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