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The Business by Iain Banks

The Business (1999)

by Iain Banks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,597214,553 (3.26)22
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    Zodiac by Neal Stephenson (themulhern)
    themulhern: A mystery unfolds, an acerbic and capable protagonist, technology, money and social observations.

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
A contemporary thriller by Iain Banks. An intelligent, capable, acerbic, articulate _female_ protagonist. There are many novels with female protagonists, but they usually don't have all those qualities. I'm not sure I also admire the promiscuity, but the justified self-confidence that made it so easy, that would be nice too have. Several discourses on politics and morality and some bits that just made me laugh out loud.

The US characters were drawn with very broad strokes, but the fabulously wealthy collector of large ordnance and his play-writing nephew both had a kernel of truth in them. They were not the insulting, but entirely boring, stereotypes that many Europeans seem to accept w/out question. ( )
  themulhern | Nov 29, 2015 |
Enjoyable, but not his best by any means. Returned it to the charity shop. ( )
  ghostdog801 | Nov 18, 2014 |
My response to hearing of the passing of Iain Banks was to go out and get another book of his to read. This one lacks the "M." in the author name, so technically, it's not science fiction, though it does dive into alternate history/universe territory.

So, what if there was a powerful multinational corporation that had been in existence since before the Roman Empire (which it actually owned for a brief period of time), which was now interested in acquiring a country in order to have a seat in the UN? That's the underlying supposition in The Business (decidedly NOT "The Firm".)

I listened to this on audio, with one of my favorite voice actors, and the first bit was simply marvelous. It's a voice conversation between the main character, Kate, and a colleague Mike, who has just awakened after being drugged, to find about half his teeth randomly pulled. All this on the morning before he was to fly out for a high profile meeting with a powerful executive The Business has been been wooing.

The story that follows was quite compelling. Banks wrote from a woman's point of view and did it without embarrassing himself or women in general.

An author to be missed, to be sure, but luckily, he left us a legacy of reading. ( )
1 vote bookczuk | Jun 29, 2013 |
Excellent and slightly weird high-finance potboiler. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain Banksprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
ROSENBLAT, BARBARANarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vernooy, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Ray, Carole and Andrew

and again

with thanks to Ken
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'Itsh Mike.'
We always think we are right and — search as I have — there is no evil under the sun that somebody somewhere won't argue is actually a good, no idiocy that hasn't got its perfectly serious defenders, and no tyrant, past or present — no matter how bloody — without some bunch of zealot schmucks to defend him or his reputation till the last breath in their bodies — or preferably somebody else's.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0349112452, Paperback)

Iain Banks is a multi-generic, multi-task dream. On one hand, he's produced a series of science fiction novels (Feersum Endjinn, Inversions) that have achieved cult status in his native Britain. On the other hand, he has dipped into the world of contemporary fiction with a number of equally successful works (The Bridge, Complicity). Fans of both rely on Banks's acidic wit, elegantly clever prose, and sometimes befuddling but always fascinating plot twists.

The Business, a sly satire of corporate success, begins with every promise of fulfilling those standards. Kathryn Telman, "a senior executive officer, third level (counting from the top) in a commercial organization which has had many different names through the ages but which, these days, we usually just refer to as the Business," has been selected to negotiate the Business's purchase of the sovereign state of Thulahn (where "the royal palace is heated by yak dung" and the "national sport is emigration"). Corporate takeovers are small potatoes compared to the acquisition of an entire country, and Kathryn's politely scheming superiors have set their sights on a seat at the United Nations and the "unrestricted use of that perfect smuggling route called the diplomatic bag."

Kathryn's voice, at once polished and gritty, is the novel's strongest point. Her wry dissections of the Business, its motives and ambitions, its members, and the delightful irony of negotiating with Thulahn's crown prince (who is more interested in matrimony than marketeering) are sheer reading pleasure. And the notion of an ancient, omnipotent, secretive corporation is a great starting point for any number of stories. But The Business is, sadly, next to bankrupt on the level of plot. Of the two storylines that structure the novel (the takeover of Thulahn and Kathryn's growing suspicion of high-level fraud), neither amounts to much. Their development and resolution, such as they are, seem so haphazard that the reader might wonder whether Banks just lost interest in his own story.

For dedicated Banks fans, The Business may not be on a par with his other outings, but the pleasure of his prose is nonetheless satisfying. Newcomers to the Banks mystique, having no points of reference, may be well content with his arch humor and forceful characterization. --Kelly Flynn

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:56 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Kate Telman is a senior executive officer in The Business, a powerful transglobal organisation. Her job is to keep abreast of current technological developments. In the course of her journey she must learn to control the world at arm's length.

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