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The Golden Age (Golden Age #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,164 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
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
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 14th 2003 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 2002)
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Dan Schwent
Apr 10, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, 2011
While at a masquerade leading up to the celebration commemorating the High Transcendence, Phaethon finds certain people are shunning him and that a large segment of his memory has been erased. Phaethon slowly pieces together why his memory has been erased and learns that if he regains his memory, he will be exiled from Oecumene and the paradise it provides. But what does that have to do with his father, Helion, and the other six Peers?

The Golden Age is one mind-bender of a read. While wrapped in
Feb 21, 2013 Jason rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books, read-2013
5 Stars

The Golden Age is a gem of a sci-fi. It does not even matter that it is the first book in a trilogy; it is still worth a read. I want to say Thank You! To all my friends here at Goodreads that reviewed this book and put out the warning that although the beginning of this book is extremely difficult to get through, the persistent reader will be rewarded with a remarkably written hard science fiction mystery novel. This was my first exposure to John C. Wright as an author, but now I will se
6.0 stars. Absolutely mind-blowing science fiction debut novel. I do not know how best to describe this. In tone, it reminds me of some of the "golden age" science fiction classics like The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester and The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov. However, the book is written in a very contemporary and highly "computer literate" style (think cyber punk) that reminds me of William Gibson. Absolutely incredible and very unique. I can't wait to read the sequel. HIGHEST POSSIBLE ...more
Hillary Hall
Oct 05, 2007 Hillary Hall rated it it was amazing
Dude. This is one of those books that, for the first 60 pages, is impenetrable to the point of sheer frustration. I was reading it thinking, this guy is an ok writer but this whole "murky mysterious" thing is making me mental. Kind of like trying to read Greg Bear, or anyone who writes obscure prose out of some lack of story or character confidence. So it was like that for the first bunch of teh book, and Tim kept reading it on the sly and overtook me, and then he wouldn't put it down until it w ...more
Mar 15, 2010 DJ rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
When reality is only perceived through multiple layers of filters, what is truth?

When memories are readable, writable, and editable, what is an individual?

When superintelligences are capable of predicting the vast majority of our decisions, what is free will?

When biochemistry and emotional states are hackable (and therefore suppressible), what is discipline?

When every human has the option to plug in to their own custom virtual world, what is humanity?

If these questions sound like philosophical m
Feb 11, 2008 Luke rated it it was amazing
Extremely hardcore sci-fi, and very hard going at the start. I admit I came close to giving up, and did not enjoy the first parts of the book. I persevered only because I had nothing better to read and because I don't like leaving a book unfinished, but I'm very glad that I did. The first two books in this series are unequaled in page-turning power; it took me a fortnight to read the first half of this book, and about two days to read the second half.
Once you learn the terminology and can tell
Jun 10, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it
The four stars are probably conservative. I’m loath to bump this up to five until I give it at least a second reading, but my gut instinct is that it would not only survive one but a second read through benefiting from hindsight would be enriching. Ultimately, I found this more satisfying that the original Foundation trilogy, and it should definitely rank highly among any sustained science fiction stories of similar length.

It’s hard to talk about this work without drawing some point of referenc
Aug 30, 2011 Terry rated it really liked it
John C. Wright's _The Golden Age_ is a worthy read. Taking place in the far future, 10,000 years from now, it is a world where the transhuman 'singularity' has occurred long before and the population of the solar system is made up of humans of massive (and varied) intellects and powers as well as the 'sophotechs', huge supercomputers of intellectual capacity to dwarf even their superhuman creators who make sure that the society of humanity does not lack for anything except perhaps risk and adven ...more
Christopher McKitterick
I'm really impressed with this post-Singularity novel (and the follow-ups). This appears to be a first novel, and the copyedit was less-than-impressive (what's up with copyeditors these days?), but when I read this book in 2003, I found it the most inventive thing I'd read since LAST AND FIRST MEN. The very first page hooked me, and I couldn't put it down afterward. Wright creates a truly unique society and fashions it in such fascinating detail that you feel yourself thinking, "SF until now has ...more
Jordan Halsey
Jun 22, 2007 Jordan Halsey rated it it was amazing
I really, really enjoyed this book. There are so many ideas and concepts jammed into it (not all new by any stretch) and yet "jammed" is an unlovely term for what the author's done in this book. He's taken all of these ideas and used them to create a thouroughly believable future society. He's integrated them together to form a whole bigger than the sum of its parts. Definitely worth checking out for anyone with an interest in science fiction.
M.D. Backes
Nov 08, 2008 M.D. Backes rated it it was amazing
Still my favorite science fiction novel of the last few years. Incredible vision of the far future that blends Jack Vance and Vernor Vinge into a classic space opera.
"Era il tempo della mascherata."

Questo libro comincia proprio così. L'autore vuole semplicemente dire che è in corso una specie di festa di carnevale, ma io utilizzo questa frase perché ci vedo di più. E' ben rappresentativa di questo romanzo così folle e così estremamente visionario, dove l'identità non è mai stata così labile e fuori fuoco.
E' un grande romanzo di fantascienza, una vera sorpresa. Il futuro di Wright è lontanissimo, millenni avanti nel futuro, ed è un trionfo dell'immaginazione.
Nuno Magalhães
Jun 27, 2013 Nuno Magalhães rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SciFi aficionados
Este excelente livro é o 1º volume de uma trilogia escrita por John C. Wright que nos apresenta uma visão da evolução da sociedade humana nos próximos dez mil anos. O livro tem um dos inícios mais complexos que já li, mas deixa desde logo antever uma história futurista, com a referência a variadas tecnologias avançadas e recheada de visões sobre a evolução da espécie humana. A confusão inicial advém sobretudo da dificuldade em perceber a relação entre dois acontecimentos que nos são relatados em ...more
John David
Jun 11, 2011 John David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who isn't stupid
my favorite story of all time (meaning, the trilogy as a whole). yes, it is even better than the night angel trilogy. and yes, even better than the sword of truth series.

i rarely read a book twice. i read jurassic park about ten times in junior high, but other than that, it is extremely rare that i read anything more than once. three times is out of the question. it can be hard to say just which book you like more than another because each book can be so different... even in the same genre. so t
Sep 18, 2013 Kalin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So unexpectedly overwhelming that I have no patience, no patience at all, to talk about it. Shut up! And let me read The Phoenix Exultant!

(Still, my Third Thoughts wonder, 'unexpectedly'? Have you then lost your sense of infinite possibilities, your belief in the more-that-is-yet-to-come--even if not in the shape of this exact golden age?)
Apr 28, 2008 Andreas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot praise this book high enough. Such a mix of beautiful, baroque language and high tech on a breath-taking scale is really rare. If you like AI concepts or the simulation of personalities in a computer environment including all the options that this offers, this book is for you. But that's not all. As the story unfolds it's less and less clear which side plays which role and how our hero can overcome the obstacles.

A true masterpiece.
Dean C. Moore
Jan 20, 2015 Dean C. Moore rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

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,
Feb 15, 2011 Cláudio rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, far-future
The Golden Age describes our world far in the future where technology was developed to the point of being almost symbiotic with humans and where nanotechnology is just another skin. In the first pages I was overwhelmed with all the new concepts and notions but the author frames our hero in a context that makes life easier for us, but not less exciting. Phateon, in the Silver-Gray Manorial house. is a human more or less like us and follows old traditions, that is, is actions, vision of the world, ...more
Jay Michaels
Jun 25, 2011 Jay Michaels rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
The Golden Age (2002) by John C. Wright.

"Finally, a keeper!"

After picking up Robert Reed's _Marrow_ (2000) while perusing my local public library's "Books You May Have Missed" bookcase, I was a little wary to try another author I hadn't read. I found John C. Wright's _The Golden Transcendence_ (2003) in the same section, and noticed it was "Book Three of the Golden Age." I located Wright's first book in the series, aptly titled _The Golden Age_ (2002).

Super-science abounds here, with engineerin
Apr 13, 2010 Ian rated it liked it
This book envisions a pretty interesting universe, although its dialogue is amateurishly written and its pacing is very confusing.

One problem with a book set in a world where people may change their environment to appear however they wish is that the book doesn't really have a setting for a good hundred pages, or a discernible plot, or characters with any actual character.

Once the story kicks in it's pretty fun, though, if one can manage to suspend one's expectations of the craft. This book is
Fernando P
Oct 08, 2013 Fernando P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Notable agridulce. He tardado medio libro en interesarme por el destino de Faetón, aunque debo reconocer que el cliffhanger final me ha dejado con ganas de más. Me cuesta la pretensión de crear sentido de la maravilla por amontonamiento, sobre todo al principio. No comparto el horror vacui. Ni demasiado el supuesto sentido del humor, pingüinos o arlequines mediante. La mayoría de los personajes son únicamente parte del paisaje. Y aunque sí consigue un todo propio y original, sus componentes no l
Niklas Spitz
May 20, 2013 Niklas Spitz rated it really liked it
An extraordinarily detailed and intelligently extrapolated journey into the far future – a visionary, gripping and philosophically stimulating read.

A profound vision into the evolved future of humanity and civilisation – technology, philosophy, engineering, semantics, culture, intelligence, virtual and abstract reality, perversity, morality, art, fantasy and desire, where biology and neuro-form are augmented and interfaced with vast, benevolent, self-aware scholarly and planetary computer networ
J’ai rarement lu quoi que ce soit d’aussi étrange.

Et pourtant, j’en ai lu des bouquins décrivant des univers un peu dingues, des visions de l’avenir un chouïa corrompues, ou tout au moins gauchies, mais des comme ça … jamais, je crois.

En fait, le point troublant dès le départ, c'est que l’auteur nous envoie directement à ce qui est sans doute pour lui la fin de l’humanité. Enfin, la fin, pas vraiment, puisque tout le monde est immortel, avoir un corps est devenu un mode de vie comme un autre, le
Mary Catelli
Mar 19, 2015 Mary Catelli rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-solar-system
This does not open a trilogy of three independent stories; it is a book chopped up into three parts with cliff-hangers for the endings of the first two.

It took me a bit to get into this one, because this is a story of the far-distant, transhumanist universe. Sophotects -- immensely powerful AI -- humans who have rewired their minds to connect their conscious and subconscious in various configurations, Cerebellian minds that consist of many, many, many living organisms -- even "basic" humans have
Sep 26, 2012 Kerry rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, 6, 2005
The protagonist of this novel is Phaethon of Radamanthus House on an Earth many millenia in the future where humanity is immortal and the people of society come in a range of material and mental forms. As the book begins, Phaethon discovers that there are large holes in him memory, ranging back through at least the last 250 years. As he tries to discover the truth, he begins to learn that all is not perfect in paradise. Civilisation has become stagnant and focussed on the safety of now, rather t ...more
Feb 15, 2012 Bob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
All I can say is, grit your way through the first 50-100 pages, where everything is impenetrable and the narration assumes you know what's going on, and hold on until it starts making sense. After I finally got to where it started making sense (when you solve the mystery of why they're talking about two suns, and you realize "wait, they ignited...they ignited frickin Jupiter to make a second sun!"), it fast became one of the most unforgettable and enjoyable books I've ever read. As someone who l ...more
May 27, 2013 Ryan rated it liked it
Libertarians... in... spaaaaace! (technically, mostly still on the Earth, but you get the idea)

Mr. Wright is an excellent philosophical taxonomist, and I really enjoyed his hierarchy of human neural structure classifications and social arrangements. These things really burned themselves into my memory as unique and fascinating.

A few of the many things that frustrated me though:(view spoiler)
Sep 27, 2010 Tgut rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a completely original, thought provoking bit of science fiction! Imagine our world 10,000 years into the future. Here, we're watched over by a group of super intelligent artificial intelligences called Sophotechs, with whose help has finally brought about immortality & with it, the ability to view everything around us in whatever perspective suits us best. This world is also one where, since it's possible to live whatever life you choose as wells as have the ability to see the worl ...more
Oct 09, 2007 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Started reading it Jan 26th-ish. A bit hard to get into at first. Don't know why they bothered with the "dramatis personae" pages; they were more confusing than just jumping right into the narrative if you axe me.

Really enjoyed it, but feels like i'm not going to be moved by the Grand Theme. I suspect he's a bit of science fiction's answer to Ayn Rand? Not geeked to read the almost obligatory sequel, but i think i will eventually (if not next).

Terribly proofread, especially for a non-first-pri
Craig Couden
May 22, 2008 Craig Couden rated it really liked it
This is the fourth book that i've read by John C. Wright (I read his Orphans of Chaos trilogy before moving on to his earlier writing) and I still feel like his imagination is much better than mine. Because a lot of images and concepts that Wright thinks up are just a tiny bit beyond me. However, a lofty imagination is not something that I would criticize and Wright still manages to produce a great ride.

The society that Wright creates and the issues of social expansion vs. social stability remi
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John C. Wright (John Charles Justin Wright, born 1961) is an American author of science fiction and fantasy novels. A Nebula award finalist (for the fantasy novel Orphans of Chaos), he was called "this fledgling century's most important new SF talent" by Publishers Weekly (after publication of his debut novel, The Golden Age).
More about John C. Wright...

Other Books in the Series

Golden Age (4 books)
  • The Phoenix Exultant (Golden Age, #2)
  • The Golden Transcendence (Golden Age, #3)
  • The Golden Age Trilogy

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“Truth does not become more or less true, whether those who know it are many or few.” 11 likes
“Phaethon asked: “Do you think there is something wrong with the Sophotechs? We are Manorials, father! We let Rhadamanthus control our finances and property, umpire our disputes, teach our children, design our thoughtscapes, and even play matchmaker to find us wives and husbands!”

“Son, the Sophotechs may be sufficient to advise the Parliament on laws and rules. Laws are a matter of logic and common sense. Specially designed human-thinking versions, like Rhadamanthus, can tell us how to fulfill our desires and balance our account books. Those are questions of strategy, of efficient allocation of resources and time. But the Sophotechs, they cannot choose our desires for us. They cannot guide our culture, our values, our tastes. That is a question of the spirit.”

“Then what would you have us do? Would you change our laws?”

“Our mores, not our laws. There are many things which are repugnant, deadly to the spirit, and self-destructive, but which law should not forbid. Addiction, self-delusion, self-destruction, slander, perversion, love of ugliness. How can we discourage such things without the use of force? It was in response to this need that the College of Hortators evolved. Peacefully, by means of boycotts, public protests, denouncements, and shunnings, our society can maintain her sanity against the dangers to our spirit, to our humanity, to which such unboundried liberty, and such potent technology, exposes us.”

(...) But Phaethon certainly did not want to hear a lecture, not today. “Why are you telling me all this? What is the point?”

“Phaethon, I will let you pass through those doors, and, once through, you will have at your command all the powers and perquisites I myself possess. The point of my story is simple. The paradox of liberty of which you spoke before applies to our entire society. We cannot be free without being free to harm ourselves. Advances in technology can remove physical dangers from our lives, but, when they do, the spiritual dangers increase. By spiritual danger I mean a danger to your integrity, your decency, your sense of life. Against those dangers I warn you; you can be invulnerable, if you choose, because no spiritual danger can conquer you without your own consent. But, once they have your consent, those dangers are all-powerful, because no outside force can come to your aid. Spiritual dangers are always faced alone. It is for this reason that the Silver-Gray School was formed; it is for this reason that we practice the exercise of self-discipline. Once you pass those doors, my son, you will be one of us, and there will be nothing to restrain you from corruption and self-destruction except yourself.

“You have a bright and fiery soul, Phaethon, a power to do great things; but I fear you may one day unleash such a tempest of fire that you may consume yourself, and all the world around you.”
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