by Gregory Mone
Publisher: Carroll & Graf
Pub. Date: April 2003
It has been said of our day and age that there are no more heroes; that all of our role models are tainted, and that our generation has nobody to look up to or emulate. "The Wages of Genius" shows otherwise, as we take a tour of the early 2000 dotcom universe from behind the eyes of Edward Weston: self-proclaimed genius and heir to the Einstein legacy.
Triggered by a passing similarity between his birth and Einstein's, Edward finds security in the world by benchmarking his progress against that of the famous German thinker. He compares every notable occurrence in his life against footnotes in his hero's biography. His observations are described in terms of physics models. Every unknown is explained away with theories describing electron behavior, gravitational forces, or any of a wide range of scientific principles.
Each chapter is prefaced by a short, biographical reference to Einstein. In addition to providing some interesting historical information, these anecdotes serve to supply the reader with the necessary background to understand Edward's constant comparisons. As the story progresses, Edward's thoughts and actions drift further and further from his icon's milestones, and he is continually forced to use his above-average mental powers to keep these delusional parallels intact.
In his very matter-of fact style, Mone walks us through a firsthand view of dotcom employee life: From dropping out of college to pursue the here-and-now of an internet startup, to the uncertainty of carving your niche in a company you don't understand (and which likely doesn't understand you) to the disillusionment experienced when sliding stock prices and traditional business models conspire to phase you out. All the while, Mone portrays a typical example of an insecure but intelligent young man whose internal coping mechanisms seem simultaneously laughable and pitiful.
Hero worship, or escapism? Mone's timely and concise presentation offers insight and perspective on this, set in a setting with which we can identify… some of us more strongly than others.