Cover image for The golden age : a romance of the far future
Title:
The golden age : a romance of the far future
Author:
Wright, John C. (John Charles), 1961-
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Tor, 2002.
Physical Description:
336 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780312848705
Format :
Book

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Status
Central Library X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Science Fiction/Fantasy
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Summary

Summary

The Golden Age is Grand Space Opera, a large-scale SF adventure novel 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.

The Golden Age takes place 10,000 years in the future in our solar system, an interplanetary utopian society filled with immortal humans. Within the frame of a traditional tale-the one rebel who is unhappy in utopia-Wright spins an elaborate plot web filled with suspense and passion.

Phaethon, of Radamanthus House, is attending a glorious party at his family mansion to celebrate the thousand-year anniversary of the High Transcendence. There he meets first an old man who accuses him of being an impostor 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. He is an exile from himself.

And so Phaethon embarks upon a quest across the transformed solar system--Jupiter is now a second sun, Mars and Venus terraformed, humanity immortal--among humans, intelligent machines, and bizarre life forms that are partly both, to recover his memory, and to learn what crime he planned that warranted such preemptive punishment. His quest is to regain his true identity.

The Golden Age is one of the major, ambitious SF novels of the year and the international launch of an important new writer in the genre.


Author Notes

John C. Wright, a journalist and a lawyer turned SF and fantasy writer, lives with his wife and son in Centreville, Virginia.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The sacred Millennial Celebration is enormous, and countless life-forms from countless worlds attend its masquerade ball, hosted this time by Radamanthus House. Phaethon Radamanthus wanders among his guests but can't join in their gaiety. Feeling restless and strangely alone, he leaves a copy of himself to fill in at the party and slips away to a nearby garden, where he meets an elderly, eccentric artist who accuses him of being an imitation of himself, the old man. Soon after, a Neptunian claims to be his friend, dating from a time Phaethon can't recall, and also that the hallowed government Radamanthus House serves so loyally has taken Phaethon's memories and stored them away for his own safety. The two encounters shake Phaethon deeply, and he begins searching for his lost life and the secrets he permitted the Hortators to take from his mind. In the hedonistic, science-worshiping world of Wright's wonderfully complex first novel, Phaethon becomes an awakened truth seeker among determined sleepers. Paula Luedtke.


Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

In a future where humans, artificial personalities, and other exotic life forms coexist in the now-settled solar system, Phaethon, a scion of Radamanthus House, discovers that sometime in his past his memories had been locked away from him and that his familiar identity is a false one. Driven to discover his true history and his real name, Phaethon journeys across the solar system, seeking answers among human immortals, intelligent machines, and digital personalities among others. Bursting with kaleidoscopic imagery, Wright's first novel chronicles the quest of a far-future everyman in his journey of self-discovery. Reminiscent of the panoramic novels of Arthur C. Clarke, Iain Banks, and Jack Vance, this allegorical space opera belongs in most sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

1 THE OLD MAN I . 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. In this time of joy, he was not at ease himself; and he did not know why. His full name was Phaethon Prime Rhadamanth Humodified (augment) Uncomposed, Indepconciousness, Base Neuroformed, Silver-Gray Manorial Schola, Era 7043 (the "Reawakening"). This particular evening, the west wing of the Aurelian Palace-city had been set aside for a Presentation of Visions by the elite of Rhadamanthus Mansion. Phaethon had been extended an invitation to sit on the panel of dream-judges, and, eager to experience the future histories involved, had happily accepted. Phaethon had been imagining the evening, perhaps, would be in miniature, for Rhadamanthus House, what the High Transcendence in December would be for all mankind. But he was disappointed. The review of one drab and uninspired extrapolation after another had drained his patience. Here was a future where all men were recorded as brain-information in a diamond logic crystal occupying the core of the earth; there was one where all humanity existed in the threads of a plantlike array of sails and panels forming a Dyson Sphere around the sun; a third promised, larger than worlds, housings for trillions of minds and superminds, existing in the absolute cold of trans-Neptunian space--cold was required for any truly precise subatomic engineering--but with rails or elevators of unthinkably dense material running across hundreds of AU, across the whole width of the solar system, and down into the mantle of the sun, both to mine the hydrogen ash for building matter, and to tap the vast energy of Sol, should ever matter or energy in any amount be needed by the immobile deep-space mainframes housing the minds of mankind. Any one of them should have been a breathtaking vision. The engineering was worked out in loving detail. Phaethon could not name what it was he wanted, but he knew he wanted none of these futures being offered him. Daphne, his wife, who was only a collateral member of the House, had not been invited; and, Helion, his sire, was present only as a partialversion, the primary having been called away to a conclave of the Peers. And so it was that in the center of a loud, happy throng of brightly costumed telepresences, mannequins, and real-folk, and with a hundred high windows in the Presence Hall busy and bright with monotonous futures, and with a thousand channels clamoring with messages, requests, and invitations for him, Phaethon realized that he was entirely alone. Fortunately, it was masquerade, and he was able to assign his face and his role to a backup copy of himself. He donned the disguise of a Harlequin clown, with lace at his throat and mask on his face, and then slipped out of a side entrance before any of Helion's lieutenants or squires-of-honor thought to stop him. Without a word or signal to anyone, Phaethon departed, and he walked across silent lawns and gardens by moonlight, accompanied only by his thoughts. Copyright © 2002 by John C. Wright Excerpted from The Golden Age by John C. Wright All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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