Beginning with The Golden Age, continuing with The Phoenix Exultant and now concluding in The Golden Transcendence, The Golden Age is Grand Space Opera, an SF adventure saga in the tradition of A. E. van Vogt and Roger Zelazny, with perhaps a bit of Cordwainer Smith enriching the style. It is an astounding story of super-science, a thrilling wonder story that recaptures the excitements of SF's golden age writers in the suspenseful and passionate tale of a lone rebel unhappy in utopia.The end of the Millennium is imminent, when all minds, human, posthuman, cybernetic, sophotechnic, will be temporarily merged into one solar-system-spanning supermind called the Transcendence. This is not only the fulfillment of a thousand years of dreams, it is a day of doom, when the universal mind will pass judgment on all the races of humanity and transhumanity. The mighty ship Phoenix Exultant is at last in the hands of her master; Phaethon the Exile is at her helm. But the terrible truth has been revealed: he is being hunted by the agents from a long-lost dead star, the eerie and deadly Lords of the Silent Oecumene, whose super-technology plumbs depths even the all-knowing Earthmind cannot fathom. Humanity will be helpless during the Golden Transcendence. Phaethon's enemies plan to use the opportunity to destroy the population of the Inner System, man and machine alike. To do this, they must take control of Phaethon's beloved starship and turn her unparalleled power to warlike uses. Phaethon's memories are incomplete - but he knows a spy for the Silent Ones is already aboard. And when the all-encompassing Mind of the Golden Transcendence wakes - who will it condemn?Which future will it chose? Are Phaethon's dreams of star-flight about to revolutionize the Golden Age into an age even more glorious than gold, or will they kindle the first open war fought across the immensity of interstellar space? At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
A movie based on Wright's modernized space opera could easily appeal to fans of The Matrix: both contain a charming bulletproof last-best-hope-of-mankind protagonist, sociological philosophy debated by hyperintelligent computers and fanatically purposeful people, and exciting (but relatively unimportant) action scenes. Many of the flatter descriptions might translate well to the screen, and the long, meandering discussions would be more tolerable with the addition of body language and vocal inflection. Such a film would, however, lack the grand polysyllabism that sets the tone of this volume and its predecessors, The Golden Age (2002) and The Phoenix Exultant (2003)-language both deeply literary and deeply essential. Wright's fondness for a well-turned phrase is genuine-he never repeats himself-and he's clearly taken the time to study the science and mythology that underlie his tale of a visionary wanderer returning to the utopia that has rejected him. Unfortunately, the author is so excited by his ideas that he pours torrents of them onto the head of the unsuspecting reader, a shower that leaves one more bedraggled and bewildered than refreshed. Once Wright starts parceling out his fascinating concepts a bit more stingily and decides whether he's writing fast-paced space opera or sociopsychological treatises, his work will really shine. Until then, most readers will have to take notes just to keep track of everything that's going on.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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May 31, 2004
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Excerpt from The Golden Transcendence by John C. Wright
Personality and memory download in progress. Please hold all thoughts in abeyance until mental overwrite is complete, or unexpected results may obtain.
Where was he? Who was he?
Information unavailable--all neural pathways occupied by emergency noetic adjustment. Please stand by. Normal thinking will resume presently.
What the hell was going on? What was wrong with his memory? He had been dreaming about burning children as he slept, and the shadow of aircraft spreading clouds of nano-bacteriological agent across a blasted landscape....
This unit has not been instructed to respond to commands until the noumenal redaction palimpsest process is complete. Please hold all questions until the end; your new persona may be equipped with proper emotional responses to soothe uncertainties, or memory-information to answer questions of fact. Are you dissatisfied with your present personality? Select the Abort option to commit suicide memory-wipe and start again.
He groped his way toward memory, to awareness. Whatever the hell was happening to him, no, he did not want to start all over again. It had been something terrible, something stolen from him. Who was he?
He had the impression he was someone terrible, someone all mankind had gathered to ostracize. A hated exile. Who was he? Was he someone worth being?
If you elect to commit suicide, the new personality version will be equipped with any interim memory chains you form during this process, so he will think he is you, and the illusion of continuity will be maintained....
"Stop that! Who am I?"
Primary memories written into cortex now. Establishing parasympathic paths to midbrain and hindbrain for emotional reflex and habit-pattern behavior. Please wait.
He remembered: he was Phaethon. He had been exiled from Earth, from the whole of the Golden Oecumene, because there was something he loved more than Earth, more than the Oecumene.
What had it been? Something inexpressibly lovely, a dream that had burned his soul like lightning--a woman? His wife? No. Something else. What?
Thought cycle complete. Initiating physical process.
"Why was I unconscious?"
You were dead.
"An error in the counteracceleration field?"
Marshal-General Atkins killed you.
The last soldier of Earth. The only member of the armed forces of a peaceful utopia, Atkins commanded godlike powers, weapons as deadly as the superhuman machine intelligences could devise. Strangely enough, the machines refused to use the weapons, refused to kill, even in self-defense, even in a spotless cause. Only humans (so said the machines), only living beings, should be allowed to end life.
There was a plan. Atkins's plan. Some sort of plan to outmaneuver the enemy. Phaethon's exile was part of that plan, something done to bring the agents of the Silent One out of hiding. But there were no details. Phaethon did not know the plan.
"Why did he kill me?"
"I don't remember agreeing!"
You agreed not to remember agreeing.
"How do I know that?"
The question is based on a false-to-facts supposition. Mind records indicate that you do not know that; therefore the question of how is counterfactural. Would you care to review the thought index for line errors?
"No! How do I know you are not the enemy? How do I know I have not already been captured?"
Please review the previous answer; the same result obtains.
"How do I know I am not going to be tortured, or my nervous system is not being manipulated?"
Your nervous system is being manipulated. Damaged nerves are about to be brought back to life temperature and revitalized. Would you like a neutralizer? There will be some pain.
"How much pain?"
You are going to be tortured. Would you like a discontinuity?
"What kind of discontinuity? An anaesthetic?"
Pain signals must be traced to confirm that the pain center of your brain is healthy. Naturally, it would be counterproductive to numb the pain under these circumstances, but the memory of the pain can be redacted from your final memory sequence, so that the version of you who suffers will not be part of the personal continuity of the version of you that wakes up.
"No more versions! I am I, Phaethon! I will not have my self tampered with again!"
You will regret this decision.
Odd, how matter-of-fact that sounded. The machine was merely reporting that he would, indeed, regret the decision.
And, just as he blacked out again, he did.