The Golden Transcendence: Or, The Last of the Masquerade

The Golden Transcendence: Or, The Last of the Masquerade

by John C. Wright


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The Golden Transcendence: Or, The Last of the Masquerade by John C. Wright

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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765307569
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 11/15/2003
Series: The Golden Age Series , #3
Edition description: REV
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

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

Read an Excerpt




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?"

You agreed.

"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.

Copyright © 2003 by John C. Wright

Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae9
1The Ship17
2The Silent One40
3The Silent Oecumene54
4The Duel69
5The Defeat89
6The Falsehoods107
7The Earthmind130
8The Truth161
11Beyond the Reach of Time217
12The Revolt Against Reason231
13The Transcendence243
14The Golden Age262
15The Age Is Done281
16And Ages Yet Unguessed Come300
17The Young Woman318
AppendixNaming Conventions and Historic Aeons338


"The Golden Age is aptly titled--it evokes the best of the golden age of science fiction. Transcendence, big ideas, slam-bang action--it's all here, in the first significant debut of the new millennium."
-Robert J. Sawyer

"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."
-Library Journal

Praise for The Phoenix Exultant

"A delightful whatchamacallit: Whiz-Bang Space Opera, Laser Samurai Adventure, Socratic Spaghetti Western, Virtual Spa Masquerade, Paranoid Identity Soap oh hell, just read it. It's fun."
--Patrick O'Leary

"John Wright is a stunning new talent. His vivid worlds are filled with wonder and dread, tension and hope. If the future looks like this, our descendants are in for a wild time."
--David Brin

Praise for The Golden Age:
"[A] dazzling first novel. It's already clear that Wright may be this fledgling century's most important new SF talent. This is a rare and mind-blowing treat."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Wright wrings new surprises from a familiar SF scenario. . . . [An] extraordinary feat of invention and plotting . . ."
--Kirkus Reviews

"A satirical novel of ideas with interludes of action reminiscent of pulp fiction . . . an intelligent, good-natured caper."
-The New York Times

"It is a major novel, magnificently written, dazzlingly imaginative . . . the launching pad for an illustrious creative career. . . . The Golden Age is replete withriches and wonders, technical and conceptual. John Wright is clearly a very significant talent."

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The Golden Transcendence: Or, The Last of the Masquerade 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, now the downlow. Great story and excellent premise. The discussions on future technologies and their impact have resonance with today's issues. But it feels alittle JRR Tokien in that the plot moves slowly and all ends are tied up completely if not nicely.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For all practical purposes humanity is immortal, but with the Millennium ending, the Transcendence begins. Anything sentient in the solar system whether the creature is biological, mechanical, technological, or hybrid briefly merges into one super mind. These end days will judge the merit of all species to determine who will survive the Transcendence.

Phaethon the Exile has regained control of the Phoenix Exultant, but he has no time to rejoice, as the Lords of the Silent Oecumene, beings of a dead star system, hunt him for they need his ship. The invader¿s plan to destroy any sentient being in the Inner System, but need to use the superpower of the Phoenix Exultant to achieve this objective. As Phaethon struggles to stop his deadly foe, he wonders if he wastes his time as he has doubts about his future. He ponders whether the Lords of the Silent Oecumene, if inside the Transcendence range, will be judged and why risk his life now when he may be condemned by the final verdict?

The final tale in the Golden Age trilogy is a cerebral story that leaves the audience pondering many, perhaps too many, concepts. The author rightfully believes his fans will intelligently consider philosophical issues such as the meaning of life, when is war the right answer to a conflict, what is truly humanity, and whether it is religious or science in origin how will you and your species stand up in a life or death judgment, etc. The exciting action grips readers, but readers will think about the messages that make this novel and series transcend most science fiction books attaining the golden status of powerhouse.

Harriet Klausner