by James Gunn
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765380920
Date: 22 March 2016 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
For those reader who have not read Transcendental, the first novel in the new James Gunn trilogy on the effects of the Transcendental Machine, Transgalactic may seem incomprehensible at first. It begins when Riley, a human from Mars, wakes on a pyramid in a jungle somewhere in the universe and goes on to follow his search for Asha, a woman and veteran of the Transcendental Machine somewhere else in the universe.
Riley discovers he is on a planet where intelligent, meat-eating lizards/dinosaurs rule. They have a language of sorts, but at first Riley doesn't understand it. The creature he meets is a leader of a local tribe and for some reason feeds Riley and protects him from others.
To find Asha, Riley need some form of space travel. Considering the primitive state of the dinosaurs, he fears he may not be able to raise them to a higher level before he dies. Because of some remaining low level technology from possible star travelers, he assumes the inventors of the Transcendental Machine must have visited the planet, but were killed. Eventually he finds proof in the form of a red sphere that he concludes was their space ship.
Meanwhile, Asha ends on a more civilized planet, but the inhabitants fear the sky and have no space travel technology. However, she discovers there is a Federation ambassador, which means a space ship is somewhere on this planet. Eventually she blackmails the ambassador into providing her with a captainís barge which enables her to reach space.
The two, Riley and Asha, have a variety of adventures and misadventures as they seek to reunite. Along the way, Gunn introduces a number of themes about what constitutes civilization, being human, and man-machine interactions, all longtime staples of science fiction. It also delves into extrapolations of nanny machines and alliances between such machines. The novel ends with an Afterword which leads to a continuing adventure for the humans and the machines who support and sometimes control them.