A mathematics doctoral student and a talented polymath drink away their bitterness about the absurd plotlines dominating popular fiction as their own writing careers are stalled by editor rejections and not-so-friendly chiding from their published contemporaries. Ancient aliens, impossible secret societies and magical artifacts are the standard topics of derision at their weekly writers’ gatherings, until the two notice a footnote in a news story about a recently discovered manuscript claiming to be a lost treatise on mathematics written by contemporaries of Archimedes at the Library of Alexandria. Promising a ‘solution to the problem of the primes,’ the manuscript piques the interest of an emeritus classics professor with a specialty in the mathematics of antiquity. When the three men learn of a bizarre turn of events at the museum where the manuscript is being restored, they soon discover that the ancient text, written in the 3rd century BCE at the Egyptian court of the Ptolemies, holds far-reaching implications for the security of the cryptography sustaining the foundations of the modern world.
Epoch uncovers the relationships between familiar themes in unfamiliar settings: the complexities of information overload in antiquity, mythology in the present, Hellenistic hackers debating stoic philosophers and modern cryptographers reenacting ancient initiation rites alongside eccentric classics professors and flamboyant mathematicians. The novel explores culture, technology, modernity-chauvinism, mathematics, science and mythology in new and unexpected ways. Calling in to question the stability of the digital world, Epoch is posed as a challenge to our current ‘epochism’ and modernity’s sense of its own scientific, literary and intellectual exceptionalism.
Part modern literary thriller and part historical novel, Epoch explores two intertwining worlds, millennia apart yet intimately dovetailed, where ancient knowledge has very real consequences for modernity through the universal, timeless language of mathematics.
An intellectual thriller like no other, ‘Epoch’ chronicles an ancient Manhattan Project and a modern race to solve the world’s oldest mathematical problem. From digital cryptography to the descendants of Alexander the Great, ‘Epoch’ takes us on a high-stakes journey from the curio cabinets of the world’s greatest museums to the hidden storerooms of the Library of Alexandria.
“This is a wonderful book – Brilliant, fascinating and marvelously complex. Brain required.”
— JAMES BURKE, Science historian, presenter of the acclaimed BBC and PBS TV series Connections: An Alternative View of Change and author of The Day the Universe Changed
“A genre-busting, mind-twisting narrative from a powerful and wholly original new voice. Bring your thinking cap for this one. James Addoms’ Epoch is a mightily ambitious, multi-dimensional saga reminiscent of the work of Thomas Pynchon and Mary Doria Russell — a long, strange trip that you’ll be glad you took.”
— STEVEN PRESSFIELD, Bestselling author of The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire and The Lion’s Gate
“I loved this book! If given a choice as to where, and when, we could be transported, it would be hard to imagine a richer setting than the Mediterranean in the time of Ptolemy, Archimedes, and Eratosthenes–the great thinkers who invented or pre-invented almost everything in the modern world. ‘Epoch’ rings so true that after reading this book it seems that the version where digital computing has to wait until the 20th century is merely a myth.”
— GEORGE DYSON, NY Times bestselling author of Turing’s Cathedral and Darwin Among the Machines