It is an astounding Or, The Last of the Masquerade. 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: 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.
The main characters in most of his books, this one included, are basically static.
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Which is fine, because his books are about ideas and it's the unusual or extraordinary circumstances of the books that drive the plot not the characters per se. This book is full of great ideas, and I found myself riveted wondering if the antagonist was actually bad or not, right along with the characters. The books in this series are easily one of the most memorable sci-fi books I've read and it's in my top ten easily. Instructions for a reader: Put the book down.
Walk away, having lost literally no important information regarding the plot or characters. I know you're not killing trees when you publish electronically, man, but give me a break here, even my spare time has SOME value, I don't want to spend three hours reading what might as well be a word-jumble designed to statistically throw up high-concept catch-phrases with high frequency. Three stars solely because you might as well since you've read the first two.
The Golden Transcendence
With enough hard science to limit space travel under the speed of light, yet fantastic enough to dip into the sun itself, this book presents a rich mixture. With it's hard science, this series scratches the Greg Egan Diaspora itch, and yet has enough melodrama to satisfy my desire for emotional manipulation. One interesting aspect of the story is that with nearly omnipresent super-intelligent AI everywhere, the character's foibles and motivations are brightly lit for everyone's evaluation, resulting in a unique self-awareness to everyone's behavior.
That said, the author's treatment of female characters seems jarringly ham-handed and one-dimensional. And although I like long passages of introspection and second-guessing, I can imagine that some readers will be tempted to do a bit of skimming.
The Golden Transcendence (Golden Age, #3) by John C. Wright
But all in all I found it a fun read and would readily recommend the whole three book series: Part 3 of the Golden Age Trilogy. Singularly outstanding, well worth the money.
Of course you must start with The Golden Age or you are strange. The very best trilogy I have read by Mr John C. Sorry for short review but I am sure everyone else has spoiled the plot and told you how impressed they are with John C. Wright's unequalled skill as a writer. Glad I own it.
A lot of authors create trilogies for some sort of perverse obsession with writing one, when one book would have been better. Other writers create massively overlong tomes full of boring filler about Treecats and Junior Ensigns. John Wright creates worlds with stories that can be told in three distinct parts, neither wasting space nor dragging things out nor leaving the reader with an abrupt cliffhanger.
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