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The Golden Transcendence

(The Golden Oecumene #3)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,668 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Begun with The Golden Age, continued with The Phoenix Exultant, and now concluding in The Golden Transcendence, The Golden Age trilogy is Grand Space Opera, an SF adventure saga in the tradition of A. E. Van Gogt, Roger Zelazny and Cordwainer Smith. It is an astounding story of super-science, a thrilling wonder story that recaptures the elan of SF's golden age writers in t ...more
Kindle Edition, 436 pages
Published (first published 2003)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  1,668 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Kevin Kuhn
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Well, I did it, I finished “The Golden Age” trilogy. It feels like an accomplishment. The trilogy itself has been a paradox for me. Flawed in many ways, yet brilliant and intriguing. As a whole, it is richly layered, complex, intellectual, and damaged, imperfect, and blemished. For those of you new to the series it takes place ten thousand years in the future, in a fully and diversely populated solar system. Mankind is joined by a variety of post-human and artificial intelligence in a solar syst ...more
Dan Schwent
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, 2011
On the eve of the Transcendence, Phaethon takes the Phoenix Exultant into the very heart of the sun to confront his enemy, the Nothing Sophotech, agent of the Silent Oecumene. Can he stop the Nothing before the Nothing launches a sneak attack during the Golden Transcendence? And does he want to?

Wow. I was hoping Wright could wrap up The Golden Age saga in a satisfactory fashion and he did. I can't say much about the plot without giving too much away. I will say that Atkins proved to be even mor
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Golden Oecumene trilogy is perhaps the most ambitious space opera (and novel, for that matter) I have read so far. It is also one of the cleverest, most visionary, provocative, and ... the hell with those epithets. I'm not up to it. Browse the quotes I added, try the books themselves.

There's more to my silence though. I am disappointed by the ending: by the ultimate philosophy of the book (or at least what I got from it). After having that huge smile on my face during the Transcendence (beca
Dec 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013, e-books
3 Stars

4.5 Stars for the series

3 Stars for The Golden Transcendence and 4.5 for the Golden Age series. I was extremely disappointed with this last installment of the series. It was not a mystery like book one, it was not a quest like book two, and it was more like a philosophical babble war inside an epic space opera fight for the world. To me that there was far too much time spent psycho analyzing every detail and possible outcome between the characters that the overall weight and scope of the
Apr 13, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
John C. Wright's The Golden Transcendence, the third and final novel in his Golden Age trilogy, is so utterly awful that I have had to revise down by two stars my opinion of the previous books. What began as a beautifully-imagined and well-executed piece of speculative transhuman fiction, by the third novel has devolved precipitously into complete drivel.

At the beginning of the trilogy, the story's pretensions toward philosophical complexity could be ignored in light of its luxurious imagery and
Roddy Williams
‘Here at last is the dazzling conclusion of the masterpiece of far future space opera that began with ‘The Golden Age’ and continued in ‘The Phoenix Exultant’.

The time is imminent when all the minds of the solar system – human, post human, cybernetic, sophotechnic – will be temporarily merged into one supermind called The Transcendence. It is an awesome moment, but one when humanity will be helpless.

The mighty ship ‘Phoenix Exultant’ is at last in the hands of her master, Phaethon the Exile. He
Jay Goemmer
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The Golden Transcendence (2003) by John C. Wright.

"This changes EVERYTHING... or does it?"

"Things are not as they seem." With that assertion seemingly in mind, John C. Wright plunges the reader into the final volume of his "Golden Age" trilogy. His flowery but captivating prose is back once again, which to editor David G. Hartwell's credit is fairly easy to lose spelling errors in. Half a dozen misspellings per book seem to be typical for this series, e.g., "Helion" is misspelled as "Heloin." Bu
Benjamin Kahn
Dec 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Wow! What a disappointment! After two books which were both excellent, Wright concludes the trilogy not with a bang but a whimper. There was so much half-baked philosophy and crackpot science in here, it was almost impossible to finish. Almost no action - just characters having interminable dialogues with each other. No real plot twists, nothing of substance - just Wright trying to show how many historical, mythological and scientific references he can cram in.

I thought it was a little weak and
Keso Shengelia
The final book in Wright's Golden Age Trilogy does not disappoint
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the eve of the Transcendence, our hero Phaethon is finally where all strands of destiny have always led him: aboard his magnificent starship, the Phoenix Exultant.

The book starts in high gear and never lets up with Phaethon matching wits and philosophy against his enemy, the Nothing Sophotech, agent of the Silent Oecumene. Can he stop the Nothing from sabotaging the Transcendence and triumphing over the Golden Oecumene? It's an all-out philosophical war on the bridge of the Phoenix Exultant
Joel Salomon
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review applies to all three books of John C. Wright’s brilliant space opera The Golden Oecumene: The Golden Age , The Phoenix Exultant , and The Golden Transcendence: or, The Last of the Masquerade .
  His vision is of of a far future, where immortal men are free to live in a benign Matrix-like dreamworld, or the real world, or anything in between; but where one man dares to dream of “deeds of renown without peer”: to expand humanity’s reach beyond our solar system (and one horribly
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]Sorry, but I've got a hundred pages into it and I'm giving up. The unlikeable protagonist is locked in mental battle with his adversary using various nanotech and other superpowers, and I suddenly realised I didn't really care which of them won (indeed, as Ian Hislop said about the Mohamed al-Fayed vs Neil Hamilton libel case, I almost wished they would both lose). ...more
Aug 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of unfair to rate this one since I never got past the first few chapters. It seems that the disappointment from the second book was destined to follow me into the third. I just didn't really care much anymore what Phaeton was doing or why. Things started to seem a little contrived and ultimately not worth the effort.

Maybe I'll go back to this one someday and try to finish off the series, maybe it gets better after the point where I dropped off.
May 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Florid fantasy wrapped in a thin tissue of offensively bad science fiction. I gave up about 1/3rd through.

Pros: fulfilled author's contractual obligation, thus supporting the economic structure which helped him write the first book in the series (yay!)

Cons: utter trainwreck

Apart from the various literary flaws, the science fiction, never Wright's strong point, breaks down completely in this book. Implausible, inconsistent, and just plain bad. My brain exploded.
May 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere in the 2nd book this series fell flat. The scifi was mostly pushed aside for overly verbose and meaningless philosophy. Run on sentences containing 100 words and 25 commas are littered throughout sections of bad science in an attempt to keep the epic nature of the first book alive. In the end we get treated to old cliches of 'Man is not complete/able to overcome without a woman' and the weaponized logic bomb.
Feb 18, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's too bad I couldn't award a -1 star to this book.

Poor editing. Extreme overuse of descriptive imagery and philosophic narratives. Complex plot line with numerous discontinuities. The author ties up loose ends at the end, but does so using extremely convoluted knots. This book, like its two predescessors in the trilogy, was a very tedious read.
Ben Hamner
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Cupof Tea
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May 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing ending to an otherwise excellent trilogy. I really enjoyed the setup and the development of the plot in the first two books, but this third book largely left me cold. I read these because I love Ian M Banks' Culture novels, and these are similar in a lot of respects. But unlike any of Banks' works, this one distracted me to boredom, I stopped paying rigorous attention to every word and sentence, and suddenly the text stopped making a lot of sense - the multiple timelines and indivi ...more
Bob Nolin
Fifty pages from the end of this trilogy, I realized I really did not care what happened anymore. Not in the least. I read these books when they came out, and I remember being impressed with them. The first book was decent, but the second was pretty dull. The third, as others here have noted, is not a novel, per se. It's a philosophical discussion, and it's about as exciting as you would expect.

The series seems to be SF for the Ayn Rand crowd. It's "Atlas Shrugged" in space. Will avoid John C.
Razique Mahroua
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What a treat. I loved this last one. The book is an ode to Hope. Wright takes here a political, social, and humanist stance on the future, and elevates virtue as an archetype. This is who and what Phaeton is and embodies.
Despite some small inconsistencies, the message maintains its strength and integrity.

After putting down this last volume, I realized on how amazing the whole trilogy had been (almost too short!)
Highly recommended.
Daniel Brown
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sharp. Beautiful. Brilliant.

Science fiction at its finest, a strong conclusion to a trilogy of inspired thought and flawless execution. Deep concepts, rich characters, a hint of philosophy. Read it twice, the man has done his job well.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, sci-fi, fiction
Underwhelming. Whole bunch of blah blah blah that did nothing good to wrap up the trilogy. I was disappointed after enjoying the first book a lot.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great finish!
David O'Brien
Well, thank goodness that's over!
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fitting end to a beautiful series. Complexity
simply told.
Edward Denton
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book and great series.
Jan 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The final book in Wright's Golden Age Trilogy does not disappoint. Definitely don't read this before reading the first two books (Golden Age and the Phoenix Exultant). It starts off with an insanely intense battle and then shoots for the sun - literally! It does slow down for a bit, but then takes off quite energetically again.

This is the climactic book in an amazing trilogy, and Wright does an excellent job of bringing together all the different links and elements which he began weaving in the
Benjamin Edwards
How can you tell the author of the book you're reading is a libertarian?

Don't worry they'll tell you in one of their many many monologues on ideology.

Then again in the appendix.

I swear it's only libertarians that feel the need to literally spell it out, like people wouldn't get the hint from the capitalism glorifying society they've created.
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, space-opera

AKA "The Philosophy War". Sorry, had to get that out of the way. Sure, there are physical things happening - stuff blows up, crazy technologies baffle, loves are found and found again, secrets are revealed - you know, stuff that happens in books. BUT, the core conflict or, rather, the conflict at the (super-dense) core of the climactic central scene, is one of philosophy and self-doubt. Man vs. Machine-as-Man converted to Man vs. Self by a clever enemy. Also, not unheard of. But the depths that
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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).

Other books in the series

The Golden Oecumene (3 books)
  • The Golden Age (Golden Age #1)
  • The Phoenix Exultant (Golden Age, #2)

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Whether it’s magic schools, dystopias, paranormal love stories, or contemporary explorations of important real-life issues, young adult books a...
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“Even a prison the size of a universe is still a prison. And it is every prisoner’s duty to escape.” 13 likes
“You were burning in the middle of the worst solar storm our records can remember. (...) Everyone else fled. All your companions and crew left you alone to wrestle with the storm.

“You did not blame them. In a moment of crystal insight, you realized that they were cowards beyond mere cowardice: their dependence on their immortality circuits had made it so that they could not even imagine risking their lives. They were all alike in this respect. They did not know they were not brave; they could not even think of dying as possible; how could they think of facing it, unflinching?

“You did not flinch. You knew you were going to die; you knew it when the Sophotechs, who are immune to pain and fear, all screamed and failed and vanished.

“And you knew, in that moment of approaching death, with all your life laid out like a single image for you to examine in a frozen moment of time, that no one was immortal, not ultimately, not really. The day may be far away, it may be further away than the dying of the sun, or the extinction of the stars, but the day will come when all our noumenal systems fail, our brilliant machines all pass away, and our records of ourselves and memories shall be lost.

“If all life is finite, only the grace and virtue with which it is lived matters, not the length. So you decided to stay another moment, and erect magnetic shields, one by one; to discharge interruption masses into the current, to break up the reinforcement patterns in the storm. Not life but honor mattered to you, Helion: so you stayed a moment after that moment, and then another. (...)

“You saw the plasma erupting through shield after shield (...) Chaos was attempting to destroy your life’s work, and major sections of the Solar Array were evaporated. Chaos was attempting to destroy your son’s lifework, and since he was aboard that ship, outside the range of any noumenal circuit, it would have destroyed your son as well.

“The Array was safe, but you stayed another moment, to try to deflect the stream of particles and shield your son; circuit after circuit failed, and still you stayed, playing the emergency like a raging orchestra.

“When the peak of the storm was passed, it was too late for you: you had stayed too long; the flames were coming. But the radio-static cleared long enough for you to have last words with your son, whom you discovered, to your surprise, you loved better than life itself. In your mind, he was the living image of the best thing in you, the ideal you always wanted to achieve.

“ ‘Chaos has killed me, son,’ you said. ‘But the victory of unpredictability is hollow. Men imagine, in their pride, that they can predict life’s each event, and govern nature and govern each other with rules of unyielding iron. Not so. There will always be men like you, my son, who will do the things no one else predicts or can control. I tried to tame the sun and failed; no one knows what is at its fiery heart; but you will tame a thousand suns, and spread mankind so wide in space that no one single chance, no flux of chaos, no unexpected misfortune, will ever have power enough to harm us all. For men to be civilized, they must be unlike each other, so that when chaos comes to claim them, no two will use what strategy the other does, and thus, even in the middle of blind chaos, some men, by sheer blind chance, if nothing else, will conquer.

“ ‘The way to conquer the chaos which underlies all the illusionary stable things in life, is to be so free, and tolerant, and so much in love with liberty, that chaos itself becomes our ally; we shall become what no one can foresee; and courage and inventiveness will be the names we call our fearless unpredictability…’

“And you vowed to support Phaethon’s effort, and you died in order that his dream might live.”
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