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Bob Shaw’s Palace Of Eternity

I’ve had something nagging away at my subconscious for the past couple of weeks while I’ve been writing the early stages of the last novel in the Tamboli Sequence, Transformation. Having completed the interludes and while working on the prelude this morning, it struck me as to what it was. Purely coincidentally-and I’ll try to justify that statement next-there's an interesting similarity to Bob Shaw’s terrific 1969 novel, The Palace Of Eternity.

I probably read that book for the first time in the early 1980s, and again about ten years later. Indeed I devoured everything Bob Shaw wrote in those days, and I’d probably rate him as one of my biggest influences. So, I was more than a little chagrined to realise that Transformation had evolved to mirror a couple of key things from that novel. To be honest, it’s a long time since I read it, and those are the main things I can now recall! My edition had the cover above, by the way.

I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but I’ll discuss how this came to pass, as it definitely wasn’t intentional-nor what Transformation is primarily about.

There are two independent aspects of the story that resonate together to create the similarity.

The first of these is a hangover from The Stream. If you've read that novel, the part that's important is what happened to Kofi Albus on Pollux and how he ended up living amongst the Safirans. Now it won't be Kofi Albus this time, nor will it be on Pollux, but one of my protagonists will go on a similar–but also very different–journey.

That on its own wouldn't have reminded me of Palace of Eternity. It's only when it's combined with one of the other themes of the book that things get more complicated. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the concepts of religion being used as a method of controlling people is also explored-with interesting resonances between two different religions being key. The concept of an Afterlife(TM) to these religions is also important, and I wanted there to be an unexpected twist when compared to the actual nature of reality itself, which again links back to something else about the Safirans from The Stream. It's that twist, put together with the things carried over from The Stream, that made me think of Palace of Eternity.

Everything else is different, including the use of those elements. At least, I hope so, as I can't remember enough about it!

Anyway, I just wanted to go on record that I recognised those similarities early on, but don't feel like I nicked the ideas as they evolved from a different standpoint and I expect the story to be entirely different.

And if you haven't read Palace of Eternity, go buy it! You won't regret it!

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