Transcendental is a fascinating book by veteran science fiction author James Gunn. I was immediately struck by the world building that went into this because it seems so natural. I don’t think it’s easy to create alien species and alien worlds, but Gunn makes it look easy. Kudos to the author for this obviously well-planned and interesting book. The story involves Riley, described as a cynical war vet, who is contacted by a mysterious group and recruited to investigate the alleged existence of a transcendental machine and the source of a new religious cult. With an unwanted computer implant in his mind, Riley has no choice but to go along with the quest. Hurtling into deep space aboard a craft populated by others seeking “transcendence,” Riley meets a cross-section of galactic beings, and one attractive human female, each of whom has a fascinating back story. Gunn introduces these characters with a deft touch. I was caught up in a web of intergalactic deceit, although about halfway through the book I suspected this volume was going to be the first of several. I was right, and the sequel, Transgalactic, has already been published. I haven’t read it yet but I intend to. If Transcendental is going to be a part of a series that’s fine with me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. There is less action in this story, but the general flow and suspense were sufficient to keep me reading. James Gunn tells a exciting tale without resorting to an indulgence of Space Opera action, although this is still a Space Opera all the way. I have read several of James Gunn’s science fiction novels and enjoyed every one of them. Transcendental is published by TOR and available in paperback and for Kindle.