- Series: The Golden Age (Book 1)
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (April 20, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765336693
- ISBN-13: 978-0765336699
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,160,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Golden Age Paperback – April 20, 2002
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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 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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Top Customer Reviews
I started selecting titles from the recent Hugo winners, and ordering them for my kindle. I was usually disappointed.
When the "Sad Puppies" imbroglio began I said to myself, "why not try one of the authors they suggest?" So I grabbed "The Golden age"
While not up to the standards of Niven or Herbert when they were on the top of their game, it was a romp. I could actually enjoy reading a novel without the sticky slimy feeling of being lectured to be some PC pedant whose book was recommended more by the author's diversity quotient then by whether the book was well written, thoughtful, and entertaining.Humorous, but not in in any overt way, the characters are wonderfully imagined in their provided context, and behaved as if self interest was not a vice ( though some antagonists did act so). I found it reminiscent of A.E. Van Voght or Sam Delaney; Elements of 60s "New Wave" SF with an emphasis on hard science presented with originality, and with a subtle optimism not tainted with naivete. I read it in two sittings (I need more sleep as I age) and immediately ordered the sequel. Science fiction is not dead, it is being repressed by an editorial coterie that simply doesn't get it or has an agenda. This is the real deal. Highly recommended.
If you peruse the first few pages of this book, don't be put off by the jargon. Yes, the book starts out a bit slower than many other pop-sci fi books would, and yes it can be difficult to grasp what's happening, but the little bit of work you put in up front will be worth it. If you like fantasy (real fantasy, not the modern schlock), sci-fi or even just great story telling then this book is definitely for you. I imagine it has had a hard time finding a very mainstream audience due to the seemingly inaccessible use of language, which is a shame because this is one of the best books I've ever read.
On that note, Phaethon is probably one of the best characters I've ever read. His strength-of-will in the face of any opposition and even temptation kept me completely hooked on the story. He's not the only great character, but I don't want to get too wordy so I'll avoid giving a description of my other favorites.
I can't think of too much negative to say. There's some pacing problems. I just started the second book, but I'm not sure really what the details of all of the technology are. For all I know, there are major inconsistencies or even plot holes, but since I don't completely grasp this distant culture's technology I can't be certain. But, I feel like I don't need to get it 100%. Sure I could read it slower and really study it out, but the story is what hooked me and all of the sciencey jargon is just a backdrop for the great story and characters.
You probably won't like this book if you're really into the dour, nihilistic sci-fi of yesterday (such as Neuromancer - which is a great book, but can be kind of a bummer). If you prefer hopelessness you won't find that here. This book is about big ideas and while it does deal with negative themes, in the end it's uplifting if only to see people who haven't crumbled under the weight of those negative things.
I'd say give it a chance. You may not love it, but I can't imagine anyone walking away from this saying, "That was a horrible book". I can only see some people saying, "Well, that wasn't my cup of tea."
His writing is superb. His use of language facile. But... and this is somethign I find with many of the most praised authors -- I have difficulty grasping his characthers. It may be because I don't put the effort in: reading is now relaxation. I need at tlesat three weesk off to be able to approach the authors I read and enjoyed -- Exra Pound, Tolkein, James Joyce, Elioa, And A.I Solxintsyn -- as a youth.
So trhis book is recommended: it is Asimov with a better language. But I need to reappraoch it after a week on the beach. And that will be the anitpodean summer.
John C. Wright is one of the big names in Singularity Sci-Fi, which is a topic of great interest to me. His The Golden Age series has met with a tremendous amount of critical acclaim. Hence, purchasing it was a bit of a no brainer.
For the most part, I found the novel tremendous exercise for the mind and would agree that this is quality “brain food.” The extrapolation from today’s trends with technology, the internet, video gaming, and so on seemed spot on. It’s a world for cybergeeks, no doubt about it.
But for the rest of us, not looking to lose our humanity along the way, I must say I found this future world rather cold and off-putting. And while you’ll find The Golden Age classified as one of the few examples of positive sci-fi, for me this was a dystopia as real as any I’d just as soon avoid. That may be all the more reason for readers who enjoy this sort of thing to jump in. But I found in between struggling to figure out what was going on, and trying to connect to the people, places, and things, I just wasn’t having that much fun. Which is why I went with the 3.5 stars. All the same, for any hard sci-fi fan, any Singularity fan, and anyone looking to author some books in these areas, this remains required reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
it's been awhile since my last English class.Read more