Start reading Transfigurations (S.F. MASTERWORKS) on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.
Transfigurations (S.F. MASTERWORKS)

Transfigurations (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Kindle Edition]

Michael Bishop
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
Kindle Price: £3.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £6.00 (60%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £3.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback £7.99  
Unknown Binding --  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: At least 60% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Between 20-26 October 2014, spend £10 in a single order on item(s) dispatched from and sold by and receive a £2 promotional code to spend in the Amazon Appstore. Here's how (terms and conditions apply)

Product Description

Book Description

A fascinating and compelling novel of alien life by the NEBULA AWARD-winning author of ANCIENT OF DAYS.

Product Description

In a clearing of the great forest of the planet Bosk Veld, a strange, ape-like species of alien, the Asadi, act out their almost-incomprehensible rituals, rainbow eyes flashing, spinning like pinwheels.
Egon Chaney, in his anthropological study, "Death and Designation Among the Asadi" has shown how their life-style has apparently degenerated from a level of complex technological sophistication and devolved to a primal simplicity. Long after his disappearance in the forest, his daughter, Elegy Cather, comes to Bosk Veld to carry on his studies of the Asadi where he left off. With her is an intelligent ape, Kretzoi, physically adapted to resemble the aliens.
Together with Thomas Benedict, Chaney's old partner, Elegy begins to unravel the enigma of the Asadi. As Kretzoi insinuates himself into their rituals, so we are drawn into what is perhaps the most convincing portrayal of the alien yet.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1405 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway (14 Nov 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #274,106 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4 star
2 star
1 star
4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what you expect 9 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this, Very Alien Alien's who turn out to have a lot more in common with us than you would think.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonal read 27 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent concept mashed by a clinical,newspaper prose and an over long story,rambling with a lot of unnecessary,tedious detail.It was largely unvisualised.

Having said that,I suppose it was not too bad,and might suite somebody who is interested in ancient civilisations and anthropology,and wants something different.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great SciFi - One Of The Best IMO 12 Sep 2009
By Robert Evans - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I discovered this book on a top shelf, and read it a second time. I could not put it down the first time I read it many years ago. Ditto for my second reading. I agree with the first reviewer, placing it the same category as "Rama". It is one of the best, if not the best, novels I have ever read. The writing is spellbinding. You feel you are really "there" on the planet BoskVeld. The mysteries surrounding the totally alien Asadi presented in the first part of the book will force you to read the rest. You will HAVE to know the answers: the mysteries of the Asadi society (if you can call it that), the role of the bat-like creatures they interact with, the fate of the missing scientist who went to live among them. This book should be "rediscovered", reprinted, and placed on lists of great SciFi novels (or simply lists of great novels).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, haunting study of the human and subtly inhuman 15 July 2007
By G. W. Stebbins - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am distressed that this book is out of print and seems to have fallen into obscurity. It is one of the best of the anthropological science fictions novels (Left Hand of Darkness and others) that delve deeply into what it means to be human. It is the haunting and disturbing tale of an anthropologist who follows the footsteps of his brilliant former partner who disappeared into the alien jungle after totally immersing himself physically and psychologically in the life of another species. The Asadi are hominids that appear to have degenerated from a much more advanced society into the primitive daily reenacting of brutish, incomprehensible, almost hallucinatory rituals. The closer he comes to the intuitive leap that would let him understand them, the deeper he slips into the madness, which may be the fate of any member of a species that too deeply partakes in the nature of another. The aliens are some of the most convincing ever invented, the story is gripping and the conclusion (actually the whole story) is unforgettable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Novel expansion of Bishop's masterpiece: "Death And Designation Among the Asadi" (1973') 1 Aug 2014
By Mithridates VI of Pontus - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
On the surface, Michael Bishop's anthropologically inclined science fiction appears deceptively simple. In his first novel, and unacknowledged masterpiece, A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (1975), the premise (moving an alien people from a planet) evolves into a vast and complex anthropological tapestry filled with stories within stories creating an almost claustrophobic doubling of characters. In Stolen Faces (1977) the biological mystery of a virulent disease grows, tumor-like, into a brilliantly nightmarish exploration of bodily and societal decay and the gravimetric forces of memory.

Bishop's Hugo- and Nebula-nominated novella, "Death and Designation Among the Asadi" (1973) follows a similar pattern. This novella--conceived as a series of notes and transcribed recordings compiled and published after the disappearance of their author, a cultural xenologist named Egan Chaney--forms the prologue to the expanded novel Transfigurations (1979). The mysteries of this powerful text within a text recounting Chaney's trip into The Synesthesia Wild in search of the Asadi, are as unsettling as staring into non-human "eyes that look like the murky glass in the bottoms of old bottles" (15). Although the mysteries are slowly revealed, they remain truly alien.

Highly recommended for fans of anthropological and social SF--especially fans of 70s exemplars of this subgenre. As with most of Bishops' SF Transfigurations is not a plot-driven work.

Brief Plot Summary/Analysis (*some spoilers*)

Transfigurations deploys a traditional SF trope: scientist sets off to decipher the nature and culture of an alien species. But under this purely anthropological veneer--hinted at by Egan Chaney's mantra "There are no more pygmies, there are no more pygmies, there are no" (14)--is an intense character study and meditation on post-colonial mentalities that builds towards inevitable conflict. The planet BoskVeld is modeled on the open, uncultivated landscape of the Bushveld of Southern Africa (parts of South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe). The Synesthesia Wild, the same continent's more forested wilderness... Both Stolen Faces and Transfigurations drew some inspiration from Colin Turnbul's controversial ethnography, The Mountain People (1972) on the Ik people of Uganda.

The prologue, "Death and Designation Among the Asadi," truly conveys the alienisms of the Asadi. Cyclical rituals, rooted inextricably to the natural forces (the movement of the sun) of BoskVeld, dominate Asadi activities. Possessed by "Indifferent Togetherness" the Asadi mill around clearings, engaging in "brutal" sexual activity and "quirkish staring matches" which seem to be the only indications of social behavior (29). Egan Chaney, treated like the outcast Asadi whose eyes do not swirl with colors, is a deeply conflicted man.

In a desperate move to save a people after the "African Armageddon" that resulted in the complete contamination of the continent, Chaney oversaw the transportation of the dozen remaining BaMbuti pygmies to the New World (114). On their arrival, perhaps due to "homesickness, nostalgia, disorientation" they slowly died off one by one (115). This guilt and confusion generated by his earlier failure boils beneath the surface and influences all of Chaney's actions and conceptions of the aliens. He is simultaneously terrified and intrigued by the Asadi, who often resort to animalistic violence, burning out their own eyes but prolonged exposure to the sun, and even practicing nocturnal cannibalism.

Chaney is unable to decipher all the cryptic clues to Asadi behavior. He tries to return to the settlements on BoskVeld but slips into deep depression, refuses to discuss elements of his discoveries with Thomas Benedict, his principle colleague and friend. Despite Chaney's concluding monologue as he observes another Asadi ritual, "the show is beautiful and grotesque, grotesque and beautiful, but at this stage my principal reaction seems to be one of...well, of disgust" (71), he feels their inexorable pull, the desire to assuage his guild. Before he heads back into the clearing he leaves a note: "I'm one of them. I feel for them" (87).

Soon new forces enter the narrative in an attempt to find Chaney: Thomas Benedict, Chaney's daughter Elegy, a modified primate designed to look like an Asadi, and the interplanetary government. There is more at stake than the discovery of the explorer. The mysteries unravel and clarify. Incredible scenes of decay permeate the pages.

In A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire the nature and rituals surrounding eyes define each group of aliens. The eyes of the diseased are read in order to divine the Final Vision before death. The eyes, after they turn to dust, are carried by the progeny of the diseased: the physical material that conveyed the image of the soul. The Asadi in Transfigurations define social roles via the nature of the eyes: the outcasts have murky eyes and are unable to engage in the central communicative ritual of intense staring bouts, where eyes swirl with incandescent colors, that interrupt the "Indifferent Togetherness" of Asadi existence.

The mysteries of the Asadi are perceived through a variety of lenses: Chaney and his past guilt, Elegy and her desire to find the father that abandoned her, Thomas's drive to discover find friend. Despite the biological explanation for many of the Asadi rituals, their alieness remains unsettling and inhuman. As the expedition sets off again into The Synesthesian Wild, Elegy confesses, "I never thought... never thought I'd sink so low" (214).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing.... 15 Oct 2008
By C. Hoffman - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I too am sad to see "Transfigurations" is out of print. Definitely one of the best book sI have ever read, the same caliber as Clark's "Rendezvous With Rama" or "Childhood's End". Superb.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite all time sc fi novels. 21 Mar 2014
By Ginger - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first read this when I was in my early 20's and really enjoyed it. I had been more of a fantasy fiction fan up to that point. I have re-read this book half a dozen times over the past 25 years and never get tired of it. There is always another, new thought process that gets started while I am reading the story. The theory of "indifferent togetherness" struck a cord with me from the very first reading.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category