In a clearing in a continental forest on the planet BoskVeld, a hominoid species of alien, the Asadi, daily act out their enigmatic rituals. These lithe, mane-bearing simian creatures trudge about obsessively, their rainbow eyes spinning like pinwheels. Egan Chaney in his anthropological study, “Death and Designation among the Asadi,” has persuasively suggested that their lifestyle has devolved from a level of high technological sophistication to one of brute simplicity.
Six years after his disappearance into the Wild, Chaney’s daughter, Elegy Cather, arrives on BoskVeld to find him. With her she brings an intelligent ape, Kretzoi, genetically adapted to resemble the Asadi. Together with Thomas Benedict, once Chaney’s assistant and later the compiler of his controversial “Death and Designation” monograph, Elegy strives to unravel the secret history of the Asadi.
As Kretzoi infiltrates their rituals, we, too, begin to grasp the full incomprehensibility of a truly alien species and the complex horror of its devolution. Working in the modes of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris and the anthropology-inspired fictions of Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Bishop dramatizes in Transfigurations both the innate difficulty and the scientific rapture of unriddling the unforthcoming Other.
“Transfigurations is as complex, as carefully thought-out, and as compelling an SF novel as you’ll find anywhere, ever.”
—Theodore Sturgeon, author of More Than Human
“A wonderfully intelligent [novel that] has a great deal to tell us about who and what people are. But, like all the best stories, there is a compelling mystery at its very complex, highly human heart. The desire to solve this mystery will keep you reading, and what you find out along the way will not only keep you thinking for a long time afterward, it might also change the way you think about the nature of humanity . . . or even just nature.”
—Pat Cadigan, author of Synners
“This new edition of Michael Bishop’s classic novel, Transfigurations, somehow manages to improve on an already terrific story. The characters are wonderfully complex, from Earth’s troubled anthropologists who struggle to understand the inhabitants of an alien world, to those aliens themselves. The scientific extrapolation is deft and utterly believable, the storytelling is impeccably crafted, and the way in which the ultimate appreciation of the aliens’ culture reflects on our own understanding of ourselves is a perfect example of how worthy, even important, great science fiction can be.”
—Rick Wilber, author of Alien Morning
“Michael Bishop’s Transfigurations takes a riveting modern classic of alien anthropology previously authored by himself and resolves all of its dilemmas in a masterly roller coaster ride of revelations—a stunning achievement which probes our own humanity as much as it questions the nature of alien beings.”