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James Gunn

James E. Gunn(1923- )
James Gunn was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1923. He received his B.S. degree in journalism in 1947 after three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and his M.A. in English in 1951, both from the University of Kansas. He also did graduate work in theater at KU and Northwestern. Gunn started writing SF in 1948, was a full-time freelance writer for four years, and has had nearly 100 stories published in magazines and books; most of them have been reprinted, some as many as a dozen times. He is the author of 26 books and the editor of 18; his master’s thesis was serialized in a pulp magazine.

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Transcendental

Transcendental — (2013-2016) 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.

Transcendental: Some long moments of pure deliciousness

Readers’ average rating:

Transcendental  by James Gunn

If you took The Canterbury Tales, Ship of Fools, The Origin of Species, and And Then There Were None, mixed them all up and added a pinch of Asimov, Brin, Blish and maybe a few others, you’d have something approximating James Gunn’s newest novel, Transcendental. While those are some quality ingredients, and there were some long moments of pure deliciousness, in the end the blend felt a bit off in its proportions (I wanted more Chaucer) and the novel left me feeling a bit unsatisfied.

Lest one think I’m reading too much into the literary associations, I’ll merely point out that Gunn gives us a spaceship named Geoffrey, an... Read More

Transgalactic: Disappointing follow-up to its predecessor

Readers’ average rating:

Transgalactic by James Gunn

Last year I gave a qualified thumbs-up to James Gunn’s Transcendental, which as I noted in the review, read like a mix of old guard sci-fi, The Canterbury Tales, Ship of Fools, and And Then There Were None. I absolutely loved (seriously, loved) the Chaucerian aspect, which were a series of stories embedded in the larger narrative that explained how various individuals — human and alien — ended up aboard the spaceship on a pilgrimage in search of the rumored Transcendental Machine (TM). The rest of the novel, however, I found far less successful. Now Gunn is back with the sequel, Transgalac... Read More