Synopses & Reviews
Transcendental, an epic, high-concept space opera, is a Canterbury Tales of the far future in which beings from many planets hurtle across the universe to uncover the secrets of the legend of Transcendentalism. Riley, a veteran of interstellar war, however, is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. As the ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that Riley is not the only one of the ships passengers who is not the spiritual seeker they all claim to be.
As tensions rise, Riley realizes that the ships journey is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly voyage on a ship of fools. Looking for allies, he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, who, like so many others on the ship, is more than she appears. But while she professes to be just another pilgrim, he comes to realize that like him, she is keeping secrets could be the key to Rileys assignment, or might make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.
This long-awaited novel is a grand space adventure of exploration, intrigue, redemption, and the universal spirit that unites all beings. This is a real departure for Gunn, a novel of grand scope and high concept, a capstone to the career of this Grand Master of science fiction.
"Fascinating, frustrating conundrums are the core of this novel by one of the oldest living SFWA Grand Masters. Riley, a disillusioned soldier of fortune, has been sent on a pilgrimage in search of a machine rumored to offer transcendence, which here means fulfillment of one's potential. Riley's anonymous employers are worried that faith in transcendence might disturb the Galactic Federation's uneasy balance of power following a devastating war between humans and aliens. His orders are to destroy the machine and kill the mysterious prophet guarding it. But Riley is only one among a crowd of human and alien pilgrims aboard a rundown spaceship; all are suspicious of each other, and only a few are willing to explain themselves in lengthy tales that might or might not be true. Gunn keeps the action dancing nimbly through uneasy alliances, abrupt betrayals, and sudden violence as the ship sails through the starless void toward its destination. Perhaps inevitably, the conclusion is anticlimactic, making the novel feel like the first installment of a much longer story. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Jim Gunn doesnt publish a new novel very often, but when he does its a whopper. Transcendental
is his best yet, and in it he demonstrates his possession of one of the most finely developed skills at world-building (and at aliens-creating to populate those worlds) in science fiction today. Read it!”
—Frederik Pohl, bestselling author of Gateway
“James Gunn, after a long, stellar career in science fiction, is a master of the narrative art—as he shows in this Chaucerian pilgrimage through the galactic future.”
—Robert Silverberg, bestselling author of Lord Valentine's Castle
A grand space adventure of exploration, intrigue, redemption, and the universal spirit that unites all beings
Riley, a veteran of interstellar war, is one of many beings from many different worlds aboard a ship on a pilgrimage that spans the galaxy. However, he is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. While their ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that some of the ships passengers are not the spiritual seekers they claim to be.
Like the pilgrims in Chaucers Canterbury Tales, a number of those on the starship share their unique stories. But as tensions rise, Riley realizes that the ship is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly ship of fools. When he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, he thinks shes someone he can trust. However, like so many others on the ship, Asha is more than she appears. Uncovering her secrets could be the key to Rileys personal quest, or make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.
James Gunn's Transcendental is a space adventure filled with excitement and intrigue that explores the nature of what unifies all beings.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013
About the Author
JAMES GUNN is the Hugo Award-winning science fiction author of more than a dozen novels, including The Joy Makers, The Immortals, which became both a TV film and series, and The Listeners. He is also the coauthor, with Jack Williamson, of the classic epic SF novel Star Bridge. His nonfiction works include Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction and Speculations on Speculation: Theories of Science Fiction. He won the Hugo Awad for Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction and has been lauded by the Science Fiction Writers of America as a Grand Master. He has also edited anthologies, including the six volumes of The Road to Science Fiction. Gunn is the founder of the Center for Science Fiction at the University of Kansas and a professor emeritus there. A pioneering science fiction academic, he is a member of the Science Fiction Research Association and a recipient of the Pilgrim Award for lifetime achievement in science fiction scholarship. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas. To learn more, visit http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/bio.htm.