3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Elaborate, yet disappointing,
This review is from: The Golden Transcendence (Mass Market Paperback)
John Wright has meticulously designed the technologies and societies in the series of books ending with The Golden Transcendence and they seem workable and reasonable in their context. Yet the books leave me cold - the characters are flat and I feel no empathy towards them, except for the few times Daphne Tercius [sic] gets the chance to put in a few words sideways, she has the irony to take down the puffed-up male protagonists, but in the end she is also reduced to just a scantily-clad, high-heeled female admirer of the mighty Phaethon, engineer and capitalist entrepreneur par excellence. Laurie Anderson once hoped that there would be at least economic equality between men and women by 3888, but it seems that in Wright's future many thousands of years in the future, Big Important Jobs are strictly reserved for Real Men powered by Mighty Drives to Change The Future of the Universe, while women are only allowed to work as artists, mothers and sex objects.
When Phaethon in the second book (The Phoenix Exultant) is exiled and turned to a pauper, there would have been a chance for some kind of reflection on the society he lives in, but no, the Poor People really deserve their lot, though they can (in some instances) be improved in a day or two by the imposition of discipline, hard work and sound capitalistic principles. Little Orphan Annie contained the same level of social commentary. The stinging comments by Daphne would seem to hint that there could be some deep irony intended by the author, but it is not born out by the rest of the book, it is as if they were written by someone else.
The time scale is also strangely compressed for such a long-lived and far-planning society, Wright speaks about messages taking hours, days and months to move between outlying nodes of the Solar system, yet events move as if everyone could communicate instantly and all the events of the three books apparently take place within a few weeks at the outmost.