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Transition Hardcover – 3 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316731072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316731072
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 364,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, THE WASP FACTORY, in 1984. He has since gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels.

Product Description


** 'Baroque, digressive, kinetic, teeming with big ideas and grand theories, it's a novel to get lost in . . . gripping (THE TIMES)

** 'One of Iain Banks's most imaginative and compelling novels yet (SCOTSMAN)

** 'Wildly imaginative . . . A corker of a thriller, a classic good versus bad tale, and one which the author uses to tackle some seriously big moral and philosophical issues - but always in his typically light-handed and darkly humorous fashion . . . A book that makes you think, one that makes you look at the world around you in a different light, and it's also a properly thrilling read. If only more contemporary fiction was like it (Independent on Sunday)

** 'Transition is Banks at his exuberant, flamboyant, head-spinning best (Financial Times)

Book Description

* The long-awaited and stunning new novel from the unrivalled Iain Banks - a high-definition, hyper-real apocalyptic fable for our times

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Sam Woodward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book 'transitions' the split between Iain Banks' non-sci-fi output & Iain M. Banks' vast space operas, presenting a sci-fi tale with a contemporary setting.

It is based on the premise that a virtually infinite number of parallel dimensions do indeed exist. The inhabitants of one of them have discovered that by ingesting a drug called Septus, they can transport their consciousness into the bodies of unsuspecting people in other dimensions & thus meddle with the socio-political development of other Earths. They have therefore formed The Concern - an organisation designed to strictly control the use of 'transitioning' & ensure it is used to benefit other worlds. But since The Concern's High Council plays its cards suffocatingly close to its chest, can they actually be trusted? Or could some of its members have agendas of their own? And how can anyone decide what constitutes the greater good anyway? These are questions one of The Concern's assassins has to find answers to when he becomes a piece in a deadly game between his employers & an enigmatic renegade.

The Concern echoes the interfering, egalitarian Culture of Banks' sci-fi novels but as its members are all merely human, The Concern is murkier & harder to trust. The idea of parallel worlds has been used before, notably in The Adventures of Luther Arkwright but never with Banks creative flair & ability to analyse the deeper implications in an entertaining & thought-provoking manner. Yet despite the virtually infinite variety this backdrop provides, the plot is a relatively straightforward one.
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Dogma on 7 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This really is a challenging one and if I'm honest it is a wee bit of a grind at times. On the surface it sounds like a winner, a multiverse, a shadowy organisation, Christian terrorists and the coming together of Iain Banks and Iain M Banks. What's not to like?

Well too many of the plot lines don't seem to go anywhere; there are enough ideas in here for a couple of books and they are cramped in this one.

I have read that this book is Iain's answer to critic's complaints about an increasing gulf between his science fiction and mainstream fiction. I hope that's not true as I don't like the thought of one of my favourite authors being that easily swayed.

Despite what I've said above I genuinely like this book. You can see Iain's politics coming through and he raises some nice philosophical comments on greed, torture and terrorism among others.

A second reading could well be in order.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Fraser the Frank Fish VINE VOICE on 8 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
It has been suggested that Iain Banks lastest offering is a crossover novel meeting his sci-fi alterego, Iain M Banks halfway. Having never read Iain M Banks I can't comment on that but it is ceratinly a shift from Banks' normal output.

His past books have always been intricate and complex, The Crow Road & Garbadale being good examples, but with Transition the needle is off the scale.

It's undoubtably a very ambitious project, strands of the story are woven togeher across several contemporaneously existing multi-dimensional worlds, coming together at the end, but unspectacularly.

To be honest, I found this quite a difficult read and not just because of the long words. Like the characters who flit between the shadows I felt I was only skating the surface of Banks' vision, unable to break through to the real darkness below. When I finally made it to the end I was met by anti-climax. Yes, we know what happens to the characters but what was it all about?

A good idea, not a bad book, but not my favourite Banks. Perhaps it was me, but I just didn't get it. I feel a bit like crew of Red Dwarf when the Better Than Life game is over - I knew something was there, just couldn't work it out.
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93 of 104 people found the following review helpful By b on 28 Aug. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Iain Banks has devised a typically complex work of fiction, one which the narrator starts by introducing himself as an 'unreliable narrator' and which switches narrative voice frequently, presenting the development of the plot from different angles, yet not always filling in the gaps between them until the climax when the novel develops a clearer form.

Banks boldly moves away from the beautiful accounts of Scottish landscapes and the warm character led drama of works such as The Crow Road, Whit and The Steep Approach to Garbadale(three of my favourite novels) to a novel of ideas that is more similar to his science-fiction work. His characters have the special ability to travel through a series of worlds by taking a drug. However their travels are policed by a mysterious organisation, The Concern, whose rule under Madame d'Otrtolan, is far from benevolent. Different sections of the novel are narrated by a range of characters including a patient in a strange hospital, a greedy capitalist trader and a torturer. As Banks moves from world to world his descriptions of lavish parties and claustrophobic hospitals are detailed and evocative. The ending is tense and exciting. Yet in the development of the story, the rapid changes of perspective often become frustrating and confusing dissipating the momentum of the plot.

This is an ambitious and challenging novel but one which I did not enjoy as much as others by the writer.
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