Transference by B T Keaton

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Transference by B T Keaton

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
Reviewed by Alex Mitchell
Summary: B T Keaton's debut novel combines a thrilling yet fundamentally human story about a man searching for his family with a sobering exploration of how a radical technology can be exploited by those in power for their own gain.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 404 Date: February 2020
Publisher: Ingleside Avenue Press
External links: Author's website

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Barrabus Madzimure is about to die, stranded on a mining planet millions of light-years from home, executed for high crimes against the Church, the ruling body of Earth. Except he's not Barrabus Madzimure, he's Thaniel Kilraven in Barrabus Madzimure's body. Such is the magic of Transference, the ability to transplant a person's soul or consciousness into a different body - and a power that the Church has exclusive control over. As if Thaniel doesn't have enough things to worry about, a Church employee named Corvus has arrived from Earth to interrogate him. All Thaniel wants is to see his family again, and he'll stop at nothing to accomplish this, but the Church isn't going to give in without a hell of a fight...

The book is split into several different viewpoints, although it primarily focuses on our protagonist Barrabas Madzimure (or rather the consciousness of Thaniel Kilraven in Barrabas Madzimure's body), a traitor of the highest order to the Church, and a bit of a folk hero to some. He is a very human character, in that his primary motivation is to find his family again, no matter what it takes. He is currently stuck on the mining colony of Eridania, being interrogated by Corvus, an employee of the Church who seems to have some ulterior motives in questioning Barrabas/Thaniel. We get one chapter from the point of view of Kilraven's wife Elizabeth, which shows what kind of torture the Church is putting her through. We even get a couple of chapters from the point of view of Jovian, the prophet, where we get to gauge how much of a power-hungry megalomaniac he actually is.

The setting of the book seems a little like your standard space opera setting, although with some more interesting elements thrown in. In the aftermath of "the wars", the old world was all but destroyed, which allowed the Church to rise to power. New York City is now known as Neo York, presumably because it had to be almost entirely rebuilt. There are mentions of conflicts between people living in the various cities and the "nonurbanites", who refuse to submit to the Church. The Transference technology is very thoroughly explored, specifically the link between the body and the soul and the identity issues arising from people waking up in an entirely different body. Also, the Church has exclusive control over this technology, with everyone being forced to have their consciousness transferred into a new body at age 18, and feeds the population lies about them being the ones to first discover the technology. All in all, it is a rather sobering exploration of how a technology as revolutionary as transference can be abused by those at the height of society. The universe also has a method of Faster Than Light travel which honestly seems a little underutilised. While admittedly it is still a very new technology, the fact that the Church has managed to set up a mining colony on a planet 47 million light years away but not on some of the closer star systems (e.g. Proxima Centauri) does seem a little strange to me. It is mentioned in the book that Eridanium, the mineral that powers transference, can only be found here and Jovian does have some other motivations for settling the planet, so I guess that does explain it somewhat.

Overall, this is an intriguing and fundamentally human tale of rebellion, sacrifice and identity, even if the setting feels a little under-utilised.

Similar stories by other authors:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick – a classic piece of science fiction that also explores questions about humanity.

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Buy Transference by B T Keaton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Transference by B T Keaton at


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