New York: Avon Books, 1969.
Macroscope is about the engagement of four charactersIvo,
Beatryx, Groton, and Afrawith a lethal text
from an alien civilization. A new instrument, the macroscope,
has revealed the existence of thousands of civilizations in the
galaxy, all of them broadcasting their knowledge for the benefit
of anyone who wants to learn. However, every time the humans try
to tune in on any of the bands, a "jamming" signal cuts
in. This jamming signal is itself a message. The humans have discovered,
to their horror, that anyone who watches it and understands it
loses their mind, becoming an imbecile. The "destroyer"
signal, as it is named, blocks access to galactic knowledge. The
four characters take the macroscope and go in search of the source
of the destroyer signal, hoping to find the reason for its existence
and to stop it.
They are able partially to decode the destroyer signal, and they
learn that it is written in the symbology of a universal galactic
language. Ivo realizes that this symbology is qualitatively superior
to human language, since it is one of transcendental signification.
It has absolute meaning and universal referentiality. But this
is precisely what makes it so devastating. Any human being understanding
this language cannot remain human.
Perhaps the destroyer signal's victims, while apparently imbeciles,
have in fact transcended the human, like the fortunate few who
leave Plato's cave.
Brad Carpenter, one of the scientists affected by the destroyer
signal, can utter only one word afterward: "Schön",
the German word for "beauty."
Macroscope works Mesopotamian mythology into its plot, just as Snow Crash does.