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The Golden Age is the most ambitious and impressive science fiction novel since China Miéville's Perdido Street Station. Amazingly, it is John C. Wright's debut novel.
In the far future, humans have become as gods: immortal, almost omnipotent, able to create new suns and resculpt body and mind. A trusting son of this future, Phaethon of Radamanthus House, discovers the rulers of the solar system have erased entire centuries from his mind. When he attempts to regain his lost memories, the whole society of the Golden Oecumene opposes him. Like his mythical namesake, Phaethon has flown too high and been cast down. He has committed the one act forbidden in his utopian universe. Now he must find out what it is--and who he is.
A novel influenced by Roger Zelazny, Jack Vance, and A.E. van Vogt, yet uniquely itself, The Golden Age presents a complex and thoroughly imagined future that will delight science fiction fans. John C. Wright has a gift for big, bold concepts and extrapolations, and his smoothly written novel pushes cyberpunk's infotech density to a new level, while abandoning cyberpunk's nihilistic noir tone for SF's original optimism. Big ideas are joined by big themes; Wright provocatively explores the nature of heroism, the nature of power, and the conflict between the rights of the individual and those of society.
Fiction as ambitious as The Golden Age is never flawless. Action fans will find this novel too talky. A change of quests late in the novel is jarring. And, while this Romance of the Far Future suitably examines the heroic virtues, its unfortunate subtext is "heroism is a guy thing." This far-future novel published in 2002 maintains a credulity-shattering mid-20th-century sexual status quo.
Not all plotlines are resolved in The Golden Age, and a sequel is forthcoming. --Cynthia Ward
This dazzling first novel is just half of a two-volume saga, so it's too soon to tell if it will deliver on its audacious promise. It's already clear, however, that Wright may be this fledgling century's most important new SF talent. Many millennia from now, his protagonist Phaethon disrupts the utopia of the Golden Oecumene to achieve "deeds of renown without peer." To write honestly about the far future is a similarly heroic deed. Too often, SF paints it as nothing more than the Roman Empire writ large. Wright recognizes that our society already commands many of the powers the Romans attributed to their gods; our descendants' world will be almost unimaginably magnificent and complex, and they will be able to reshape their own minds as easily as they engineer the heart of the sun. To make their dramas resonant today, the author uses echoes of mythology both classic (like his namesake, Phaethon is punished for soaring too high) and contemporary (SF fans will enjoy nods to modern masters Wells, Lovecraft and Vance). And he wisely chooses simple pulp-fiction plots to drive us through the technological complexities of Phaethon's world. The hero's quest to regain his lost memories, learn his true identity and reach the stars is undeniably compelling. As a result, having to wait for the next volume is frustrating. Wright's ornate and conceptually dense prose will not be to everyone's taste but, for those willing to be challenged, this is a rare and mind-blowing treat. (Apr. 24)Forecast: Intellectual SF fans should make this a cult favorite akin to Vernor Vinge's Marooned in Real Time or Greg Egan's Permutation City. If the novel finds a wider readership, it will be because, like William Gibson's work, it reflects and inspires current developments in virtual reality and AI.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Ok, so there are a few things I'd like to get straight with you right off the bat...
1: I just got back from a semi-romantic dinner with my 24 year old ex... Read more
Combine the politcal machinations of "Dune," the philosophy of "Neuromancer" or "The Matrix," and the social norms (and twists and turns) of Iain... Read morePublished on May 31 2004 by Jon M Altbergs
Others who have called this jargony and overwrought are dead-on. The result is borderline unreadable, plodding and uninteresting. Read morePublished on May 16 2004
Don't read this - read books by Alastair Reynolds instead. His books cover some similar ideas, but he wields them with vastly greater skill. Read morePublished on April 23 2004 by Adam Piontek
The first thirty pages were so dense with extremely contrived techno-babble as to make the story difficult to appreciate. Read morePublished on April 6 2004
Where can one start in reviewing this book? It is tremendously entertaining, at once a grand space opera, a detective story, and a much-less-grimy-than-genre cyberpunk narrative,... Read morePublished on April 6 2004 by Brian A. Schar
First, lets be clear here, this is a trilogy, not a 2 book series as is indicated in the 'official' reviews. And, to get the entire story, you *must* read all three books. Read morePublished on March 13 2004 by JCW
This is one of the most thought provoking and genuniely interesting science fiction books I've read in some time. Read morePublished on March 1 2004 by Steven Casper