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The Golden Age (The Golden Age, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – April 14, 2003

138 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Golden Age Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

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.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Golden Age (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 407 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1st edition (April 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812579844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812579840
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,092,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John C. Wright is a retired attorney, newspaperman and newspaper editor, who was only once on the lam and forced to hide from the police who did not admire his newspaper.

In 1984, Graduated from St. John's College in Annapolis, home of the "Great Books" program. In 1987, he graduated from the College and William and Mary's Law School (going from the third oldest to the second oldest school in continuous use in the United States), and was admitted to the practice of law in three jurisdictions (New York, May 1989; Maryland December 1990; DC January 1994). His law practice was unsuccessful enough to drive him into bankruptcy soon thereafter. His stint as a newspaperman for the St. Mary's Today was more rewarding spiritually, but, alas, also a failure financially. He presently works (successfully) as a writer in Virginia, where he lives in fairy-tale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children: Pingping, Orville, Wilbur, and Just Wright.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Spoering on October 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Life, 10,000 years from now. Read this and you enter into a world of immortal beings where consciousness takes many forms as minds find many diverse vessels in which to inhabit. Nanotechnology, computer science, and other technologies have transformed civilization into a true golden age where Sophotechs (conscious computers who think many times faster than humans) control nearly everything. The group called the Hortators exhibit much control also, so is this really a golden age as it appears to be at first glance? The primary character here is a man called Phaethon, who has lost a good part of his memory as a result of a process of selective amnesia, a result of previous actions he cannot remember. He becomes obsessed with discovering the missing memories, with much intrigue along the way, and this is at the heart of a great mystery, brimming with passion and intellect, and ambition.
John Wright uses much reality based imagination here, this is far-future science fiction at it's best, without reverting to fantasy. I especially enjoyed the questions of personal identity and how that relates to whether or not a person is the original or a copy in cases of transferring minds from one medium to another, very thought provoking, speculation that will surely move from science fiction to reality someday, well done here. To use an old cliche', it does'nt get any better than this, with superb plot and character development. THE GOLDEN AGE is book one of a two book series, the concluding novel is THE PHOENIX EXULTANT, yet to be published.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on December 27, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Ten thousand years in the future, during the Golden Age, humankind has been incorporated by the Sophotechs into a virtual utopia that allows its citizens the joys of immortality, competitive world building, neurological resurrection through downloading, and social transcendence--not to mention outlandishly silly masquerades. The Manorial elites interact entirely through a Matrix-like grid, although there are hints that others not so "fortunate" exist outside the network. The solar system's computerized administration and its nanotechnological bioforms support a world in which every "transformation took an eye-blink" (or what passes for an eye in hyperspace), and entire memories and dreamscapes and databanks are transmitted instantaneously.

Given the light-speed transactions available to this future civilization, the courtly greetings ("Hail to thee!"), garrulous dialogue, and brooding soliloquies of its inhabitants seem a tad out of place. But then again, these poor souls have nothing but time on their (virtual) hands. Into the midst of their inexorable talk, threatening to ruin the interminable fun, strides the hero Phaeton, who stumbles upon the twin realizations that he is somehow missing the most recent 250 years of his 3,000-year life and that there are powerful interests struggling to keep him from regaining those memories, apparently as punishment for an unforgivable crime.

On John Wright's desk, I imagine, are well-thumbed copies of Bulfinch, of Frazer, of Edith Hamilton. As the main character's name suggests, the plot of "The Golden Age" is peppered with classical references, or (more accurately) Wright's novel is a series of classical allusions enclosed by a threadbare Greek plot.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful By JCW on March 13, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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. The Golden Age cannot stand alone, in doesnt 'end' in any way. It merely takes a break until you grab the second and third novels (The Phoenix Exultant and The Golden Transcendence) The publisher probably just decided to get 3 books out of the story, as opposed to one long story, which is what this really is, and should have been published as. (I believe i saw that the SFBC has them all in one volume)
A second warning, is that The Golden Age is difficult to start. The author throws terms and uses of language at you that can seem daunting and baffling. I'd actually reccommend you get the third book first, just to read the appendix which is included in that volume, that does a marvelous job of giving you the neccessary background to understand the beginning of The Golden Age. (I read the hardbacks, maybe when the paperbacks came out they included the appendix in the first volume)
That being said, The Golden Age is a marvel. Once you get past the initial confusion of who, and what, everyone is, it is a novel that you simply cannot put down. The story is engrossing, fast paced, and extremely well written. I saw it being compared to Perdido Street Station and it is a fantastic comparison. The books are just a bit different from, and far superior to, the typical fare that is offered up these days.
Enough other people have given a sense of what the story entails that I wont go into that. Just remember, it is really a 3 book story, be prepared to read all 3 if you want the story to be finished, and secondly, it may take awhile to get into and understand what is occuring at the beginning of the Golden Age. Be patient, and you will be rewarded.
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