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Transition by Iain Banks
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Transition (edition 2009)

by Iain Banks

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1,209406,612 (3.65)43
Member:KerryD1971
Title:Transition
Authors:Iain Banks
Info:Abacus, Paperback
Collections:Read 2012, Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction

Work details

Transition by Iain M. Banks

  1. 01
    Complicity by Iain Banks (sturlington)
    sturlington: By the same author, but wow--very different.
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English (39)  French (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
I guess this was a work in progress but he ran out of time. I could have done without all the copulating but the basic idea of the multiverse was tackled really well. So thanks for a last book.
Ah - I later realise this wasn't his last book, so theoretically he could have done some editing...... ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
This read like it was an Iain M Banks book - it's firmly in the world of Sci-fi following people that can jump between the parallel universes by kind of temporarily possessing the body of someone else already in that universe. It's pretty confusing, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered and I'm still not entirely sure what the hell was going on or why. But plenty of diverse characters and wild imagination made it a good read. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Feb 23, 2014 |
One of the things I like about Banks is that exposition is handled very well - there's a tendency to avoid big info dumps, and some things just aren't explained. There's no compulsive need to explain every last little detail. He doesn't fall prey to the need to somehow lay out thousands of years of history just so you know that he had it planned out in case anybody asked. Well crafted book. Always a pleasure. ( )
  curiousgene | Feb 14, 2014 |
I enjoyed this book, however I thought it was set in the Culture and it wasn't. It was pre-culture or something. The premise of the book is around extraordinary rendition and how that might play out in a sufficiently advanced culture. Interesting idea and well written exploration of it. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
Wow. Right where does one start with a book like this? Transition is only the second Iain Banks book I have read (The Wasp Factory being the other) and I’m happy and terrified to say this messed with mind in just the same way.

So what’s it all about? Well having read it, it’s still quite difficult to explain. The plot is based on a rather complicated multiverse theory wherein (if I’ve got it remotely right) there are as many versions of Earth as we choose to imagine. The story unfolds through many different narrators including a self-serving city trader, a state contracted torturer who refers to himself as ‘the philosopher’, and a world hopping assassin. Following so far?

The sections of the book told from the point of view of ‘The Philosopher’, generally made me retch and I mean that most literally. Banks is an author that has the power to make me physically react to what’s on the page.

Then we have the sections of book told from Adrian’s point of view (the self-serving city trader). These made me laugh, a lot, and normally out loud on the bus.

I was confused, amused, repulsed, but always enthralled by this book.

Full review here ( )
  ElaineRuss | Sep 23, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
In the end, for better or worse, this is a novel held together by its author’s moral vision. Transition may boast a postmodern plethora of worlds, but it offers a single old-fashioned world-view which all this random rattling about paradoxically reveals... This is a thriller with a conscience, decent and timely, even if, amid all the blood and thunder, it sounds what can seem an incongruously still small voice.
 
Despite being published without the M in the author’s name - except in the US - this Iain Banks novel features parallel worlds, and flitting between them, and has as a plot point the existence or not of alien intelligences somewhere out there. As such it can scarcely be described as mainstream. But then early Iain “no M” Banks offerings (Walking On Glass, The Bridge, Canal Dreams) were suffused with SFness and/or sensibility (The Wasp Factory.)

Transition does, though, signal its literariness from the outset – its strapline is “based on a false story” and the first words of its prologue are, “Apparently I am what is known as an unreliable narrator.” There is, too, a high degree of characterisation throughout even though, with the aid of a drug known as septus, most of its main characters can flit from one body to another. In typical Banksian fashion there is a shadowy organisation - here known as l’Expédience, or the Concern (which last is a pun) based on a world unusually known as Calbefraques rather than Earth - in charge of the use and distribution of septus and of recruitment to and training for the transition process.

I did notice that while at one point it is said that there has to be a recipient body for transitioning to take place - the one left behind has only rudimentary function as a husk - later transitions to uninhabited worlds do take place without added explanation.

The narrative is divided between various viewpoint personalities, Patient 8262, who is in hiding in a hospital in a country where the local language is not his own, The Transitionary, who may be an earlier incarnation of Patient 8262, Adrian, a former drug dealer turned hedge fund manager, Madame d’Ortolan, foremost member of the Concern’s ruling council, The Philosopher, a legal torturer, and occasional others. The Transitionary’s is a first person present tense narrative, others are past tense, sometimes first, sometimes third person. The most intriguing character is the rather prosaically named Mrs Mulverhill – who is not married, merely likes the name.

In the sort of inversion beloved of SF authors one of the parallel worlds has a set of Christian fanatics pitted against the state and indulging in suicide bombings and the like. The scenario gives Banks the opportunity to riff on how proportionate a response society ought to have to terrorism and on the (in)efficacy of torture. One of his characters also skewers “the invisible hand.”

Devotees of Iain M Banks will probably find this a treat. Followers of his M-less namesake ought also to find enough in it to satisfy them.
added by jackdeighton | editA Son of The Rock, Jack Deighton
 
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Dedication
For Alastair and Emily, and in memory of Bec
With thanks to Adèle, Mic, Richard, Les, Gary and Zoe
First words
Apparently I am what is known as an Unreliable Narrator, though of course if you believe everything you're told you deserve whatever you get. (Prologue)
I think I have been very clever in doing what I have done, in landing myself where I am.
This is how it ends: he comes into my room. (Epilogue)
Quotations
But of course she was not a racist. To the contrary, as she could point out, in appropriate company (that would be to say, highly limited and avowedly discreet company), had she not tasted of what she thought of as the Dark Pleasures, with blacks, on more than one occasion? The epitome of such enjoyment was, for her, to be taken anally by such a Nubian brute. Privately, she thought of this act as "going to Sèvres-Babylone," as this was the deepest, darkest, and most excitingly, enticingly dangerous Métro station that she knew of.
Paris has changed once more. There is a canal through the breadth of the Ile St Louis, the street is full of gaily dressed hussars on clopping, head-tossing horses being politely applauded by a few passers-by who have stopped to watch and everything smells of steam. I look up, hoping for airships. I always like it when there are airships, but I can't see any.
And don't forget Goldman's Law: nobody knows anything. Nobody knows what will work. That's why they make so many remakes and Part Twos; what looks like lack of imagination is really down to too much, as execs visualise all the things that could go wrong with a brand new, untested idea. Going with something containing elements that definitely worked in the past removes some of the terrifying uncertainty.
We live in an infinity of infinities, and we reshape our lives with every passing thought and each unconscious action, threading an ever-changing course through the myriad possibilities of existence.
Libertarianism. A simple-minded right-wing ideology ideally suited to those unable or unwilling to see past their own sociopathic self-regard.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316071986, Hardcover)

There is a world that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, between the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, frozen in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse. Such a world requires a firm hand and a guiding light. But does it need the Concern: an all-powerful organization with a malevolent presiding genius, pervasive influence and numberless invisible operatives in possession of extraordinary powers?

Among those operatives are Temudjin Oh, of mysterious Mongolian origins, an un-killable assassin who journeys between the peaks of Nepal, a version of Victorian London and the dark palaces of Venice under snow; Adrian Cubbish, a restlessly greedy City trader; and a nameless, faceless state-sponsored torturer known only as the Philosopher, who moves between time zones with sinister ease. Then there are those who question the Concern: the bandit queen Mrs. Mulverhill, roaming the worlds recruiting rebels to her side; and Patient 8262, under sedation and feigning madness in a forgotten hospital ward, in hiding from a dirty past.

There is a world that needs help; but whether it needs the Concern is a different matter.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:17 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Sharing nothing in common except links to an organization committed to protecting the world from itself, an assembly of dubious characters including a torturer, a reluctant assassin, and an amnesiac patient confront challenges beyond their imagining.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Editions: 0316071986, 0316071994

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