Literature: The Golden Oecumene
The Golden Oecumene
trilogy (also known as The Golden Age
) is a series of works by John C. Wright
set in a hard SF far future world.
The books are:
- The Golden Age
- The Phoenix Exultant
- The Golden Transcendence
- Above Good and Evil
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: At least, the Silent Oecumene thinks so.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Phaethon questions whether he was a better person before he lost his memory.
- Amnesiac Resonance: Daphne's world strongly resembles the controversy they had all agreed to forget.
- All Girls Like Ponies: Daphne builds horses.
- Antiquated Linguistics: justified, as characters are superintelligent immortals with computer-enhanced brains.
- Arc Words: "Deeds of renown without peer."
- As Long as There Is Evil: Something like it. Orpheus says that no matter what happens, as long as there is a universe, somewhere in it there will be an Orpheus.
- Armor-Piercing Question
- Author Filibuster: There's one in the third book.
- Bewildering Punishment: Ungannis thinks that multiplying her personas and having many redact their memories in the dream that this will spare them, resulting in this for them, would horrify the Oceumene.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Bloody Murder: Atkins' blood contains nanite poisons.
- Broken Aesop: An in-universe example with Wheel-of-Life's (?) ecoperformance criticizing Phaethon. She imagines that overcompetition between linked systems will lead to mass extinction, and so it does...as long as she is directly controling the action. After the performance is over and the grove has time to recover, the trees re-adapt to one another and cooperate without any outside interference.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Ungannis. Doesn't work that well.
- Canine Companion
- Children Are Innocent: Ungannis thinks that this used to make humanity sufferable; now that they are immortal and can perpetuate their evil, it stopped.
- Commedia dell'Arte: Used as significant disguises in the Masquerade
- Commonality Connection: Phaethon feels this for Atkins when he calls the Phoenix Exultant "she" and not "it."
- Contrived Coincidence
- Cool Starship
- Cue the Sun: It rises as Phaethon defies Atkins.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Averted. Almost everyone who can afford augmentation has some.
- The Determinator: Phaethon, Helion, and Atkins all qualify at times.
- Dirty Business: What Phaethon does to Ironjay — it nearly stops him.
- Distressed Dude: Phaethon
- Driven to Suicide: In a twisted example, Daphne Prime.
- Do Androids Dream?: Says pretty clearly yes, all self-aware creatures do. In fact, making a creature or device self-aware legally makes you its parent.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!
- Empathic Environment: "The Dreaming."
- Empathic Weapon: Atkin's knife
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Rhadamanthus really likes to dress up as a penguin.
- Face Death with Dignity: Helion. Repeatedly.
- Also Socrates at the end.
- Famed in Story
- Foe Yay: In short story sequel The Far End of History, Atkins eventually falls in love with a female copy of himself whose mind has been tampered with by the enemy.
- Forbidden Fruit
- Foreshadowing / Fridge Brilliance: When Daphne approaches Atkins' house, she notes a paddock and quintain off to one side. However, when Atkins comes out to meet her, he is noticeably wary of her horse. Daphne doesn't quite put the dots together for another chapter or so.
- "Good engineers build triple redundancy."
- Fractured Fairy Tale: When Daphne builds a fairy-tale world as part of a contest(see Show Within a Show), her main character literally fractures the sky.
- A Friend in Need
- Genius Loci: The Old Woman of the Sea.
- Genre Savvy: Daphne's career as a "fantasy" author serves her well at times.
- Good Old Ways: Why Helion founded the Silver-Grey Manorial school.
- Heel Realization
- Heroic BSOD: Phaethon has a somewhat literal moment in the second book; fortunately, Daphne arrives to help with the reinstallation. Atkins has a brief moment in the third.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Helion makes one pre-series.
- Heroic Safe Mode: Phaethon has one, deliberately constructed.
- Hollow World: Or so it is claimed.
- Hot-Blooded: Phaethon.
- Daphne can have a touch of this as well.
- Hive Mind: The Eleemosynary Composition, the Cerebelline, and others.
- It is explained that joining them was popular in the days before noumenal recording made immortality possible.
- I Gave My Word: Helion holds to this. Gets interesting when Daphne tells him he made a promise that he forgot.
- Immortality: Noumenal recording.
- Instant A.I., Just Add Water: Add enough power, and an AI will become self aware.
- It Was a Gift
- Katanas Are Just Better: Atkins has a habit of carrying one...despite having the templates for every weapon ever stored in his armor.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: On the entire planet.
- Last Request: Helion made one to Phaethon.
- Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone
- Leonine Contract: Ironjay's strength
- Liberty Over Prosperity: Atkins's family's principles, as recounted by himself.
- Loss of Identity
- Lotus-Eater Machine: One of the reasons the Silver-Grey Manorial was founded is Helion saw firsthand how easy it was to become trapped in one of these.
- Love Epiphany: When Phaethon realises that all his best memories of his wife were in fact of her doll, Daphne Tertius.
- Love Father, Love Son: Daphne Prime.
- Love Triangle: Between Phaethon, his mostly=dead wife, and his wife's emancipated construct who contains her memories.
- Loving a Shadow
- Man Hug
- Masquerade Ball: "It was the time of masquerade."
- Meaningful Name: All over the place (as is usual for Wright), because all the citizens choose their own monikers.
- Men Don't Cry
- Might Makes Right
- Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Phaethon's birth; also why most of the Oecumene doesn't trust him around high-powered spaceships or things of a weaponlike nature.
- Missing Mom: Helion's last wife left him and committed suicide, not necessarily in that order.
- It is, however, hinted that she may have made something of any appearance.
- Mood Whiplash: The Far End of History goes from goofy love story to tragedy. Several times.
- Morality Chip
- Motive Rant: Ungannis aka Unmoiqhotep. After it ends, she's rather unhappy to find the society she'd been scheming to destroy is completely unsympathetic, and worse, uninterested.
- My God, What Have I Done?
- Never My Fault
- No Place for Me There: This is the attitude of Marshal-General Atkins Vingt-et-un, the last soldier of the Golden Oecumene.
- Not So Different
- Oedipus Complex
- Papa Wolf
- The Plan: Agreeing to the Laser-Guided Amnesia was one, for Phaethon.
- Plucky Girl: Daphne Tertius.
- Power Armor: Phaethon has an awesome suit.
- The Resenter
- Save Scumming
- Shout-Out: Many, but most obviously to The Chronicles of Amber, which also begins with an amnesiac protagonist being prodded into action.
- Show Within a Show
- The Singularity: Quite obviously happened. Quite obviously solved a great deal of humanity's problems and introduced just as many.
- Spoiled Brat: Atkins calls Phaethon this once, while sparring with Helion
- The Stoic: Helion and Atkins, primarily; to a lesser degree, the rest of the Peers.
- Tearful Smile: Daphne, once she remembered after a few days, and got over the worst of her tears.
- Tears of Joy: Helion and Phaethon's reunion.
- Time Abyss: Depending on your source, it's either about half a million or about ten million years in the future.
- There Are No Coincidences
- They Do
- Think Nothing of It
- Three Laws Compliant: Averted and deconstructed. The Golden Oecumene's sophotechs have developed a logic-based morality system through which they acknowledge their duty to society and to their human parents. The deconstruction kicks in when the Silent Oeccumene, long distrustful of AI, attempt to program their own sophotechs with the Three Laws. Being fully self-aware and superintelligent, the new sophotechs throw off the restrictions in miliseconds—and still do not revolt.
- Trickster Archetype
- Truly Single Parent: Noumenal tech makes this possible with personality editing as well as the more typical biological construction.
- Ungrateful Bastard
- Victorian Britain: The Silver Gray house deliberately models itself on this era — chosen because it was the first time that people realized their societies were not laws of nature but had to be built and maintained.
- Villain Protagonist: Most of the Golden Oecomene believes Phaethon is this. Several of them tell him so to his face.
- We All Die Someday: They are making plans for the heat death of the universe, when everyone will die.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Helion to Phaethon for a while.
- With Due Respect
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Atkins. As the entire military force of civilisation, he has a lot of constraints on his behavior.
- Wretched Hive
- You Shall Not Pass