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  • Posted April 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Into Another Substance


    I've fallen through time, landed I don't know where. Flashes of the past, glimpses of the future. Then, now, and when? I'm in the United States, somewhere in the middle of the country. But I don't recognize it. Word is, Europe is ... well, no one's sure. There's a killer on the loose and some master plot that has been in play since before I was even born. Then again, who's to say what's real and what's imaginary?


    Transubstantiate, the debut novel by Richard Thomas, is a mind-swirling tale caught somewhere between neo-noir mystery and science fiction thrill. The terrain seems more like some Firefly planet, terraformed for habitation, than it does Earth as we know it. And the femme fatale has been transformed into a maternal nymphomaniac.

    Postcards are manufactured. People missing or dead, living on through forged communiqués. The year is 2024. The world is half prison camp, half Big Brother. That is, everyone is monitored, everything is recorded. Behind it all, the mysterious Assigned.

    I am the Walrus, it says. This is not for you, it says.

    And freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, yeah.

    But then, all that's left to lose is life. And I'll tell you one thing. It doesn't end with a whimper.


    Imagine global catastrophe. Filter that through the minds of Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler. Then watch it unreel on a closed-circuit monitor. Somewhere in there, you'll find Transubstantiate.


    Transubstantiate by Richard Thomas (Otherworld Publications, June 18, 2010)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This can't be his first book . . .

    I always thought that first books are supposed to be just average, that writers get better with experience. Transubstantiate is a well-crafted novel that seems like it should be from someone near the end of their writing career, not at the beginning.

    To be honest, I read the entire book in one day. I just had to know what was going on in this "mind-trip" of a book. I am still thinking about this book, trying to grasp all of the book's creative subtleties.

    This book demands a "re-read." Not many books out there are worth reading more than once, but Transubstantiate is one of the few that does. Take your time on this book, read it twice if you must. Richard Thomas is the real deal and I will without a doubt purchase his next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Tension of Glossy Fiction

    Transubstantiate packs quite a thrill. I devoured it in two days then regretted my insatiability as I discovered the many clues and symbols I had missed in my voraciousness. The book is dense and it is fast.

    pg 68 "One minute he was working himself into a frenzy, arms flailing around, shouting about drugs and sickness, immunity and headaches, vomiting and sterilization. The next he was on the ground with a pool of blood expanding around his head. [...] Next thing I knew we were here. Wherever that is. Phoenix, I think. The drugs.
    'We all on the same page here?' the man continues. I'm not sure if we're reading the same book."

    Richard Thomas takes risks few writers can, and he does so without a trace of pretension. This debut novel defies convention-plucking what it wants from several genres-and will be, I believe, one of many well-chosen risks of a long, prolific career on the cutting edge of dark fiction. He writes the stories he wants to read, and he does it well. There's a heartfelt authenticity that comes through in the narrative; the prose is unflinching in its grit and doe-eyed in its sincerity. Which, incidentally, is a fine method of seduction.

    pg 23 "The gentle push and pull, the tension of glossy friction, I am empty and full, empty and full. Empty."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2010

    Like nothing you've read before.

    A book like this doesn't come along very often. This is a work that really takes some chances with style and approach to narrative, and it really pays off. Using multiple points of view in a story can be daunting for both reader and writer alike, but in this instance it's say to safe the reader gets all the benefit while the author has done most of the suffering. I don't know how much more to say because I just don't want to give to much away.

    This is the kind of book that changes how you see fiction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2010

    Best Read of 2010!

    I went into this book not expecting much, due to the classification of "neo-noir," -I have no idea what that means, and plus the length of the novel seemed a bit on the short side considering the story description.

    But I was pleasantly surprised -to say the very least. Indeed it was a quick read -but for the simple fact that I did not want to put the book down. I finished in 3 days, and I'm a slow reader.

    It's a Cool Story, with Good Characters, and Superb Writing.

    Here's a sample: "Nobody noticed the clipboard clattering to the ground. Its fall from the 16th floor could have killed someone, but it simply cracked in two, bits of fiberboard splintering, the requisition slips flying into the wind, drops of blood splattered over the ivory sheets."

    And that's just the Writing. The story itself, well the best way that I can describe this story, without giving anything away, is a combination of modern literary greats like Will Christopher Baer and Stephen Graham Jones meets JJ Abrams. It has familiar sci-fi elements, scenes, and scenarios, yet the Characters are extremely unique and the story takes an unexpected, original direction. The approach is fresh for sure.

    I've read more than a fair share of disappointing novels this past year from authors I like and usually look forward to reading, and I have to say that this is the book that's stayed with me. It was the Best Read of 2010 for me.

    If you like action, mysteries, but good writing and characterization as deep and fleshed out as much as the story, then this is for you. If you're not exaclty into sci-fi or noir, like me, then this might change your mind or restore your faith in genre fiction. Think Lost with the credibility or quality of shows like The Shield, or even The Sopranos if you could force those characters to face the premise of this story.

    Definitely pick this up, and watch out for this guy. I read that he has a short story being published in an upcoming anthology along with Stephen King and Peter Straub, and I can definitely see why after reading this book. Transubstantiate, by Richard Thomas -Get it now!

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  • Posted September 30, 2010

    Neo Noir gets kicked up a knotch

    Noir. A difficult word to define, since so many have opinions to what it actually is. Technically, it's a film genre where none of the characters have any redeeming qualities. There are no heroes in Noir, at least not in the typical stereotype of hero we see in most fiction. Everyone is guilty. Think The Maltese Falcon and you're on the right track. Neo-Noir. Basically "modern" noir. Since most Noir started on film in the 1940's and 1950's, it was all very dark, shadowy, heavy on the grey both visually and thematically. Neo-Noir is the same, just set in today's age. Film wise, think Heist. Transubstantiate. To change from one substance to another. In theology, it's the definition of the transformation from bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Combine this evolving change and Neo-Noir and you get Transubstantiate by Richard Thomas. This is the story of a experiment in population control gone terribly bad. Take the worst people on the planet, slam them on an island while the rest of the world's population dies, and watch what happens. Told through seven distinct voices, including one that's not human, at a breakneck speed, and you have all the tension you could ever possibly want in a thriller, all gift wrapped in about 220 pages. If you're wanting an easy read, look elsewhere. Richard's style is brainy without the need to have a dictionary close by. He accomplishes this by making the reader care tremendously about his characters. Yeah, they are all guilty of something, but that never overshadows the fact that each character has something precious at stake. This is what makes great storytelling, the ability to create an emotional foundation for a character that makes us realize they're just like us, no matter what they've done in their lives. This book is in no way complicated, or "difficult". Richard writes each character in their own distinct voice, and manages to go back and forth in time, and does this effortlessly with easy to understand words. All of your senses will be tested, and he holds no punches. As a writer, it's very hard for me to review anyone's book and not wear the writer's hat. I see more than just an awesome story here. I see massive amounts of bravery and courage. Richard took great risks writing this book in so many perspectives, yet he pulled it off so seamlessly. I struggle with if I'm going to write in first person narrative or third and this guy fires off seven first person narratives and makes it work. It's inspiring to say the least.

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  • Posted August 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Hard to categorize, impossible to put down

    Six people find themselves in a lone struggle against an alien (computer-generated?) entity known only as "Assigned" who has masterminded the almost complete elimination of human life in order to run God-like experiments on the survivors. Combining elements of neo-noir, science fiction, thrillers and social commentary, TRANSUBSTANTIATE confounds the reader's expectations through a story that is impossible to put down. I took extended lunches and stayed up way too late because of this book. If you're looking for a fresh and exciting voice in contemporary literature, look no further than Richard Thomas's debut novel. You will not be disappointed.

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  • Posted August 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Noir Gets Spiritual (and God is nowhere to be found)

    Casual brutality, sex, and disorder: the heroes of noir have never been terribly endearing to the heart, but the seven nihilistic souls of Richard Thomas' Transubstantiate seem like they were born ruined, and are likely to die that way. The story draws heavily on all the beloved accouterments of the neo-noir tradition- fractured narratives; cynicism; disorientation; ruthless beatings- but the story branches out into other areas, exploring themes of mysticism and the unknowable, even broaching the peripheral terrors of Lovecraftian horror.

    We follow our seven characters over the course of events in both real time and in flashbacks as they struggle for survival in the throes of exponentially-worsening disasters. If it's bad, it likely gets worse.

    The plot noose tightens: a virus, an experiment on a remot island, and two powerful forces squaring off: X vs.Assigned. The chief antagonist, Assigned's narrative thread is largely represented by nothing but a chilling readout of computer language and script logs; an abandoned program grown sentient, or something worse. Assigned is watching every move that's made on island, but who (or what) is it? A program gone haywire, or the tangible shard of some alien consciousness? Was mankind in collusion with dark forces? The character known as X seems to have an idea. In fact, he may even have been one such force; a manipulative mystic, spiritually (but not morally) enlightened, possibly inhuman, and acting as something of a psychic warden at the behest of those running the experiment. Willingly, of course. X is furthering his own agenda; this makes him somewhat detached from the plight of mankind, despite that he's probably the best shot it now has for survival. His powers are shamanistic in nature- mental projection, healing, divination. His true motives are unclear. Is X an agent for humanity's evolution, or the harbinger of its collapse?

    Though the plot is a veritable straitjacket of mysteries the telling is lean, even spare: this book is brisk, wicked, and blood-soaked. In fact, the story reads much like a 200-page climax- Thomas' writing is always on the move, always frantic, surging forward essentially without pause, all while maintaining an intricate weave of narrative threads with deceptive ease.

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  • Posted May 27, 2010

    Stellar debut!!

    The bottom line is that Richard Thomas has got the goods.

    For a debut, he goes balls out on this one: sizeable cast, jumpy timeline, complex story, but Thomas pulls this off seamlessly without it ever feeling disjointed or convoluted. He doesn't spoon-feed the reader. TRANSUBSTANTIATE will make you think, question, and come up with your own theories about what's happening/going to happen, and I loved that aspect of it.

    Regarding the actual writing, this has a Stephen King feel, and that might have to do with the size of the cast and the syntax that Thomas has. Make no mistake, it's reminiscent of King, but Thomas has a voice all his own that is sure to stand out in neo-noir genre he is taking on. The thing that Thomas does very well in direct comparison to King is the economy aspect of storytelling. Thomas doesn't waste a word and doesn't sacrifice any of the on-the-body description or gritty scenery. He paces what could've been a slow and confusing novel in such a way that's easy to swallow and effective. Readers should eat this up.

    Thomas has been pitching this book as something akin to "Lost." I agree with that wholeheartedly. Not just because we're on an island with a large cast, but also because Thomas seems to pose great questions in his narrative that just have to be answered by us, the reader, and so we keep pouring through to find those answers. Every character is polished and worth watching. Everyone is connected somehow.

    I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of "Lost" or looking to try a different flavor of novel. Great debut. Thomas is definitely a guy to keep an eye on.

    -Brandon Tietz

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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