This debut sci-fi novel tells of a connections between a strange artifact linked to the biblical Moses and a vast conspiracy.
Peter Marc Vogel works for Nova House, the publisher of the magazine GEO. When he receives a strange package from Dr. Emile Danchenko and his daughter, Irina, he books a flight to discuss it with his own boss in Toronto. At the publisher’s headquarters, Peter meets the researchers, who have evidence of what he calls a “Flying Dutchman”—a phantom vessel that’s seemingly able to “appear anyplace, anytime.” Included in this evidence is a cartouche, located in New Zealand, which points to the biblical Moses burying a strange—possibly alien—device of immense power. For thousands of years, the device has energized the Moses Stone Vault, which seems to travel underground. Peter is assigned to work with people who hope to excavate the vault, and he speaks with the Rev. Michael Odum, who describes a “shadowy over-group” that’s been manipulating humanity for generations. Meanwhile, in a parallel narrative, Sarah Jane Gustafson is at a massive Kansas City facility for hard-core participants in an elaborate multiplayer video game; she rises through a tournament with her teammates, Jiggles and Romeo, and encounters a strange, disturbing media file that includes imagery that may be connected to the aforementioned vault. In this dizzying, Thomas Pynchon-esque novel, Jones populates his near future with sparkling secondary characters, such as Isaiah Pollenaire and Sanchristo Leonelli, teenage MIT grads and creators of the “Dynamically Anchored Spread Spectrum Language,” “a radical deviation from previous methods of interfacing multimedia content with firmware.” Jones does give readers some mild relief from his bevy of hard-science concepts, occasionally delving into Peter’s relationship with Sonny, his wife from whom he’s separated. Still, even dedicated sci-fi fans will find the storytelling here to be dense and often cryptic; the author offers sentences such as “I want to try that new flash parity algorithm on some random SARTs,” for example, without immediately explaining the terminology. Intriguing characters, such as the telepathic Arkane, appear in the margins and promise conflict on a grander scale in a planned sequel.
Several interesting concepts, buried in sometimes-obtuse prose.