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The Golden Age [Mass Market Paperback]

John C. Wright
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 14 2003 The Golden Age (Book 1)
The Golden Age is 10,000 years in the future in our solar system, an interplanetary utopian society filled with immortal humans.

Phaethon, of Radamanthus House, is attending a glorious party at his family mansion celebrating the thousand-year anniversary of the High Transcendence. There he meets an old man who accuses him of being an imposter, and then a being from Neptune who claims to be an old friend. The Neptunian tells him that essential parts of his memory were removed and stored by the very government that Phaethon believes to be wholly honorable. It shakes his faith. Is he indeed an exile from himself? He can’t resist investigating, even though to do so could mean the loss of his inheritance, his very place in society. His quest must be to regain his true identity and fulfill the destiny he chose for himself.

The Golden Age is just the beginning of Phaethon’s story, which will continue in The Phoenix Exultant, forthcoming from Tor.

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From Amazon

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 text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On the hundred-and-first night of the Millennial Celebration, Phaethon walked away from the lights and music, movement and gaiety of the golden palace-city, and out into the solitude of the groves and gardens beyond. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Accomplishment July 16 2004
Mythic Tale of astonishing depth, Shakepearean drama, and thrilling science. The trilogy IS the LOrd of the Rings of SCifi.
Like many others have said the first 100 pages leave you confused yet eager to see where this is going.
It is probably not for everyone.
The relationships among the major characters is Truly some of the best writing ever. I cant wait for Mr WRights next book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Break through the naming conventions June 26 2004
By Brian
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Plot Summary (as much as this thing can be summarized by me anyway): The time is the far future where mankind can live for as long as he/she/it wants. Most of life is spent in various dream states where living computers and various other things transmit your desired appearance onto mannequins in other peoples aesthetics when you want to visit them. The solar system is colonized and energy is harvested from the sun. No one need suffer, ever. Have a bad day, have your memory erased and stored somewhere. Anyway, to start the story the protagonist, Phaethon, is walking around the masquerade that is part of the Transcendence festivals which occur every 1000 years. It comes to light to him and to us that a large chunk of his memory was erased, like 250 years worth of memory. It is further discovered that he agreed himself to this arrangement, but does not understand or know why since he has been forced to erase that part of his memory. Phaethon leaves the masquerade to various different places to try and understand why he made himself do this, why the government (such as there is one) will banish him if he attempts to rediscover his lost memories, and who he, his wife, and father really are.
Opinion: Wow! It took me a while to figure out all the language in the book (there are many large, compound words full of meaning that I'm sure I missed alot of). Once I got the basic grasp of the structure of the societies involved, I was engrossed. This story has many facets, many of which I listed above in the summary. I seriously need to pick up the second book in this series because This book just ends. Not much is resolved, yet many things seemed to have been resolved. The resolutions bring up many more questions.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I'd definitely buy it again June 7 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Party because of school, and partly by choice, I took a break from SF for a few years, only occassionally rereading some classics that I kept around. The parade of look-alike space battles, alternate histories, and cynical cyber-bunk futures had gotten tiresome. This book was a very refreshing choice. Though I'm sure there must be other fine, new talents that I've missed over the last 5 years, I feel John Wright must be one of the best in recent years.
He develops a detailed society several thousand years in our future where the relationship between humans and computers is practically symbiotic. The society is vastly different from our own but also very believable due to it's many human nuances. He keeps the prose tidy by describing daily details in the futuristic vernacular, avoiding unnecessarily long passages to give you the mental picture. It takes a couple of pages to get oriented, but the immersion makes the ride that much more enjoyable.
The main gist of the plot centers on how the main character uncovers in stages why certain parts of his memory were removed, the incredible endeavor hidden therein, and why he stands to lose so much if he breaks the law to restore what was lost.
Because of his adept construction of a detailed and believable advanced society and the layered sociopolitical intrigue, the novel moves along well. Many authors would have gotten bogged down and been unable to correctly decide when to advance the story and when to further immerse the reader in details of the novel's world. I was disappointed when I found that I was out of pages to turn. Fortunately for us (as well as Mr. Wright I suppose) there are two sequels to this novel. I've read the second, and have ordered the third.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning debut worthy of the masters May 24 2004
John C. Wright's "The Golden Age" is one of the most important pieces of science fiction in recent memory. Although this flowery revival of the romantic space opera won no awards (that I am aware of, anyway), it truly is one of the finest works of science fiction I have read in at least a decade.
Wright was schooled in classics from Homer to The Federalist Papers, and he worked as a lawyer and a journalist. His erudition shines through on every page. Characters are named after personages from ancient myth, and their dialogue is learned and meaty. Wright has also meticulously painted a convincing backdrop of human society in the far, far future. His knowledge of the classics has enabled him to distill and retain what is essential about the human experience, i.e., the ability to dream, love and achieve (as well as their opposites, stagnation, hatred and resentment). This gives his characters a kernel of familiarity despite their distinct otherness of living in an essentially post-human civilization spanning most of the solar system.
Wright is equally passionate about scientific realism. The book paints incredible advances in computing and nano-scale technology, there are no warp drives. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is strictly adhered to. Yet his scenarios and inventions are so fantastic, so wonderfully fresh and well-crafted, as to send the mind reeling.
All this would be enough to recommend the book on its own, but I believe the book's philosophical merits will be of particular interest to many readers. In interviews, Mr. Wright states outright that he created his future society to be a libertarian utopia. In fact, he wrote it partly as an explicit rebuttal to certain portrayals of communist utopias.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing...
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
Published on July 20 2004 by Christian Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Ever
Combine the politcal machinations of "Dune," the philosophy of "Neuromancer" or "The Matrix," and the social norms (and twists and turns) of Iain... Read more
Published on May 31 2004 by Jon M Altbergs
1.0 out of 5 stars Software manuals are more readable
Others who have called this jargony and overwrought are dead-on. The result is borderline unreadable, plodding and uninteresting. Read more
Published on May 16 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated - Should have been shorter, at least.
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 more
Published on April 23 2004 by Adam Piontek
1.0 out of 5 stars Contrived techno-babble
The first thirty pages were so dense with extremely contrived techno-babble as to make the story difficult to appreciate. Read more
Published on April 6 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A spectacular debut!
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 more
Published on April 6 2004 by Brian A. Schar
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut
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 more
Published on March 13 2004 by JCW
5.0 out of 5 stars A libertarian paradise - with flaws
This is one of the most thought provoking and genuniely interesting science fiction books I've read in some time. Read more
Published on March 1 2004 by Steven Casper
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
A great read!
I truly enjoyed reading this It's a rarity these days to find an author capable of such good storytelling. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2003 by PMurphy
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