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Transient: A Tech Noir Novel (2016) by Zachry Wheeler isn’t your ordinary vampire tale. In fact, when I first started reading it, I had no idea there were vampires involved.
It’s set in the future by quite a few years or decades.
Jonas is a transient, a human being who has infiltrated Eternal (vampire) society, in this case, Seattle. He was sent by the last remnant of humanity, hiding in places on Earth the Eternals can’t or won’t visit. He’s a spy who uses subterfuge and drugs to pass as in Eternal, suppressing his body heat and his aging.
Much of his story and the history of things are told in journal entries about the past.
Once the Eternals were the outcasts living on the fringes of humanity, but they were able to expand, to wage war, to take over, to cast out humanity when they were unable to turn them via the virus that creates the vampire state.
But as you might imagine, Jonas, having lived for five years among the enemy, has started to understand them, to admire their rather idyllic society, to make friends and the most forbidden act…to take a lover.
It wasn’t always such. He was trained “in the field” by his human lover and fellow transient. The story begins with Mara’s exposure to the authorities, and when she resists, her death. He is shaken and expecting to be next, but it doesn’t happen.
This is his journey to discover where his loyalty and his destiny truly lies.
Wheeler really highlights the advantages of Eternal society, making it seem almost a paradise. Their government is benign, their technology highly advanced, and even the feeding on animal blood is managed in special clubs where each “diner” has his or her privacy.
By comparison, humanity, at least the part Jonas is aware of, has developed into a paranoid, xenophobic, ultra-conservative Christian…well, almost cult. They preach the glory of God and His mission for them to find a way to exterminate the Satanic enemy.
Comparing the two, Jonas is clearly attracted to the Eternals, and like watching Luke Skywalker slowly descend through the Star Wars trilogy into the dark side, so goes Jonas.
On the one hand, it’s hard to blame him given how the two people groups are depicted. On the other hand, there’s a lot of anti-religion propaganda involved and the Eternals could easily be substituted for the “enlightened” progressive left or some other previously shunned group that is now in favor.
That may be part of what Wheeler was describing, but thankfully, late in this rather short eBook (169 pages if in print form), the author throws in enough twists to make things much more interesting.
The book ends on sort of a cliffhanger, since it’s a direct lead-in to book 2 Thursday Midnight.
Does Jonas betray the human race, execute humanity’s last ditch effort to poison the Eternals food supply, or does he do something else entirely?
You’ll have to read Transient to find out. If I give this an Amazon review, it would be four stars out of five. A few points lost for preachiness and long stretches of exposition.
Addendum: Here’s my “Three-minute or less” book review on TikTok. And don’t forget to support your indie authors and publishers. Someday, maybe soon, we may be the only source of good storytelling left.