Wright, John C

Tagged: Author

(1961-    ) US author who began publishing work of genre interest with "Not Born a Man" in Aberrations for Christmas 1994, and whose novels, most of them comprising series, vigorously attest the value of modern Space Opera as a format or arena capable of representing complex philosophical and (perhaps less rewardingly to a general audience) Religious arguments, ranging from Politics to Evolution to Eschatology. His use of the form is baroquely and intriguingly opportunistic, and involves frequent Equipoisal thrusts into different categories of discourse, usually fantasy, but also Dialogues with the Dead (or Voices of those who rule what A E van Vogt called the sevagram). The Golden Age sequence – comprising The Golden Age: A Romance of the Far Future (2002), The Phoenix Exultant; Or, Dispossessed in Utopia (2003) and The Golden Transcendence; Or, the Last of the Masquerade (2004), all three assembled as The Golden Age Trilogy (omni 2004) – is his most successful completed work to date. Set in the moderately Far Future, when the solar system seems to have been transfigured into an environment hospitable to Homo sapiens (and that species' Genetically Engineered descendants), godlike immortals (see Immortality) and Machine-life including supervisory AIs, it follows the course of the Amnesiac Phaethon in a Fantastic Voyage from Neptune inwards – with some attention paid to Saturn, which Ecology faddists are seeking to preserve from industrial exploitation – as he seeks to preserve the kind of universe where he can continue to thrive against the conspiratorial persecutions mounted by those who think differently, and therefore wrongly, about the nature of the universe. The series has been misdescribed as Hard SF.

Wright's next sequence, the Chronicles of Everness [for titles see Checklist], was fantasy; his third – the Chronicles of Chaos series comprising Orphans of Chaos (2005), Fugitives of Chaos (2006) and Titans of Chaos (2007) – mockingly resembles a Young Adult novel in its first chapters, set in an eccentric boarding school, somewhere in Wales, whose only students are five gods each of whom, when fully released into his or her role, commands an understanding of the nature of the universe as a whole so prepotent that each understanding engenders a unique Alternate Cosmos. A war in heaven over sovereignty of All duly transpires between ultimate Order and ultimate Chaos, couched in terms that shift between heroic fantasy and space opera. The whole is narrated by Phaethusa, a strangely priggish and punitive goddess dressed as Amelia Earhart; Wright's handling of women (see Women in SF), even in tales where Gender-switching is declaredly routine, seems markedly uneasy. In the end, the quincunx of gods, all divested of Amnesia and other impediments, save the universe.

Of rather greater sf interest is Wright's most recent sequence, the ongoing Count to the Eschaton series comprising so far Count to a Trillion (2011), The Hermetic Millennia (2012), The Judge of Ages (2014) and The Architect of Aeons (2015), couched in terms that evoke readers' memories of writers like R A Lafferty or Jack Vance within a Future History frame clearly derived from Olaf Stapledon's Future History/Last Men sequence, primarily Star Maker (1937), laced with homages, some explicit, to authors like A E van Vogt, whose Slan (September-December 1940 Astounding; 1946; rev 1951) is here channelled. Like Wright's typical protagonists to date, the Hero with Superpowers at the heart of the tale is deeply sure that his actions are correct (Wright's work has been described as Libertarian SF, which may explain an assumption in this series that World War Two saw the defeat of "socialists"; though its general affect is more complex). On being prematurely aroused from Suspended Animation, the current hero finds that Homo sapiens – over whom he maintains a fatherly concern, like a humorless reincarnation of one of Roger Zelazny immortal Secret Masters – is fissiparating into various Posthuman configurations; in the world of this series, Evolution as scientifically understood does not exist. Here, creatures like gods take an active role (so confirming Intelligent Design). Something must clearly be done if the meaning of life, the End to which it aspires, is to be achieved. The sequence, an increasingly absorbing exercise in Cosmology, continues.

Wright's only singleton is Null-A Continuum (2008), an exceedingly ingenious continuation of A E van Vogt's Null-A sequence that far surpasses van Vogt's own weak third volume. [JC]

John Charles Wright

born Chula Vista, California: 22 October 1961

died

works

series

Golden Age

Chronicles of Everness

The War of the Dreaming

Chronicles of Chaos

Count to the Eschaton

individual titles

links

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