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Comments for Transcendental
Transcendental by James Edwin Gunn is rightfully self described as a Canterbury Tales space opera. As a group of travelers are trapped together on a ship bound for an unknown destination on a pilgrimage, they take turns telling their life stories.
Beyond the Chaucer connection, Transcendental most reminds me of Greenglass House by Kate Milford. Both are confined settings, with unusual characters all brought to the same place for related reasons. Both books involve these characters becoming trapped together, either by a snow storm, or by an out of control space ship. Both involve the characters taking turns telling stories relating to the current situation (history of the house or the reason for the pilgrimage).
While I enjoyed the present day story — that being the space opera in the ship, I found the numerous background stories tedious at times. Gunn's aliens are as varied as Hal Clement's were but they lacked, for me at least, the authenticity of voice as Clement's. Not all of them, mind you, but enough of them to get me into heavy skimming mode more than I would have liked.