The first book in the Transcendental Machine trilogy...
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 ship's passengers are not the spiritual seekers they claim to be.
Like the pilgrims in Chaucer's _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 she's 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 Riley's 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
"Jim Gunn doesn't publish a new novel very often, but when he does it's 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
"equals or tops his earlier landmark, earning, I think, a permanent rank in the extended canon of our genre. It is wise, exciting, clever, surprising, hip and au courant (or perhaps timeless is a better word). Its technical craftsmanship is subtle and awe-inspiring."
—Paul di Filippo, Locus