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    Review of THE PHOENIX EXULTANT by John C. Wright


    TOR, May 2003

    After the government exiles him, ordering that anyone who even talks to him also be exiled, Phaethon descends into the world of hopeless losers. He's equipped with sophisticated nanotechnology--but fears any contact with the global communications and computer system that will, he is certain, announce his whereabouts to the enemies that he knows are invading our system--enemies that only he believes exist. Somehow, Phaethon must overcome the limitations put on him by both his own society and these mysterious invaders, if he is to reclaim his space ship--the Phoenix Exultant which he built to travel to the stars. Of course, those enemies just may be figments of an implanted imagination.

    Author John C. Wright does a wonderful job building a convincing world of the future. Nanotechnology is everywhere, artificial intelligences are protected by law, and human/computer society has experimented with group minds. In many ways, it is a golden age, but an age with its limitations--and Wright's Phaethon is the kind of man who is destined to struggle against these limitations.

    THE PHOENIX EXULTANT combined interesting extrapolation with solid adventure. A dynamite combination, for sure. Unfortunately, the writing, especially the dialogue, is sometimes clunky to the point where characters seem to be lecturing one another. Phaethon's heavy-handed attempts to reform the losers of the water realm where he is sent may be well-meaning, but make him appear condescending and annoying rather than heroic and caring. Imperfections aside, THE PHOENIX EXULTANT is a fascinating read and worth the occasionally heavy language.

    See more reviews of novels by John C. Wright.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 6/05/03

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