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The Business by Iain Banks
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The Business (1999)

by Iain Banks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,520194,857 (3.26)18
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English (17)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  bookczuk | Jun 29, 2013 |
Excellent and slightly weird high-finance potboiler. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
A high-mid-level exec of an infamously long-lived enterprise just referred to as "The Business" is sized up for a unusual project, involving the acquisition of a small Himalayan country.

The plot of this novel is your basic plucky heroine gets in over her head and susses out what's really going on behind the curtain. The plucky heroine in question, however, is a technology executive at the original multinational corporation, and while she has humble origins, she's pretty powerful at the opening of the novel. Instead of realizing her own strength and finding the man of her dreams, well, let's just say the novel takes a different tack. It's an interesting angle on a familiar story, and the voice of the narrator is vibrant enough that you hang on through an awful lot of what amounts to reviews of international transportation (the protagonist jets around the globe frequently, and comments on the service of private jets vs. Concordes, etc).

This book was recommended to me when I voiced a desire for mysteries that don't involve mortal peril, to read before bedtime (I try not to read about serial killers and the like before I go to sleep). It fit perfectly. ( )
  bkohl | Feb 26, 2013 |
pretty good. deeper than it looks, perhaps, in that the protagonist changes enormously over a short period of time, in response to events, and her evolution is nicely done. a bit odd to write this particular person to choose to change, though: someone with a lot of power and money, who starts out pursuing her own pronounced self-interest in maintaining the status quo, maintaining deliberately a shallow and rather callous view both of other people and her own emotional life. out of this change in perspective, a feminist perspective emerges that's rather interesting but also appears to be a bit of a tacked-on afterthought, suggesting that it has been incompletely developed by the narrative. also, the plot seems a little fantastical, or science fictional, in contrast to the whole global finance theme which is all too plausible, and the two different tonal approaches tend to undercut and devalue each other. the pacing is also a bit peculiar, possibly because it reads like the book was meant to be much longer, but then just as it's getting interesting wraps up summarily. still, like all of Banks, worth reading. ( )
  macha | Jan 2, 2013 |
Unnecessarily nasty, and unforgivably dull. ( )
  phoebesmum | Aug 25, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain Banksprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Ray, Carole and Andrew

and again

with thanks to Ken
First words
'Hello?'

'Kate?'

'Yes.'

'Itsh Mike.'
Quotations
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:53 -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.

» see all 4 descriptions

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