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Transition [Hardcover]

Iain M Banks
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Sep 2009
Imagine a world that is one of infinite parallel worlds, that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse. Presiding over this world is the Concern, an all-powerful organisation whose operatives possess extraordinary powers. There is Temudjin Oh, an unkillable assassin who journeys between the high passes of Nepal, a version of Victorian London and a wintry Venice; Adrian Cubbish, restlessly greedy City trader; and the Philosopher, a state-sponsored torturer who moves between the time zones with sinister ease. Transition is a high-definition, hyper-real apocalyptic fable for terrible times.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (23 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316071987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316071987
  • ASIN: 0316071986
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,603,650 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)

** 'Stunning . . . tackles the issues of the responsibility of power, the moral implications of intervention and even the philosophical conundrum of what constitutes life itself. If only more contemporary fiction were like it . . . A book that makes you l (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

** 'One of Iain Banks's most imaginative and compelling novels yet (SCOTSMAN) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

* The long-awaited and stunning new novel from the unrivalled Iain Banks - a high-definition, hyper-real apocalyptic fable for our times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Banks at his most inventive & daring 20 Sep 2009
By Sam Woodward TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm sure I'm missing something 8 Oct 2010
By Fraser the Frank Fish VINE VOICE
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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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Iain Banks meets Iain M Banks? 7 Sep 2009
By Dogma
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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93 of 104 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A novel of great ideas 28 Aug 2009
By b
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it
Published 15 days ago by Petra Walters
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind blowing
Not one of Mr Banks scifi books, but this reality it aint ( or is it??) If you like Iain M Banks then this will confuse and delight you
Published 5 months ago by MR T J K PAYNE
5.0 out of 5 stars Great characters and inventive plot
I admit it, I'm a real fan of Ian Banks and Ian M Banks. This book is based on the idea that there are different realities and that people can travel between them. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Glider06
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, a tour de force
Fascinating plot, interesting structure, extremely clever premise, delightful characters. Highly recommended. A mesmerising read. Read more
Published 8 months ago by nova me
4.0 out of 5 stars Odd but worth sticking with
This is the second `straight` Banks book I've read. It's science fiction definitely but far removed from the Culture. As with a lot of his work don't dare skim it.
Published 8 months ago by Michael
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
I chose this rating because I received the book on time and in good order. As to the content I have not as yet had the time to read it.
Published 9 months ago by J. Rowland Broughton
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Interesting Read
I am only half way through this book and I am totally hooked. The book was recommended by a friend, however i was wary at first as I thought it would be complicated and confusing... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Miss HP
2.0 out of 5 stars transition
really struggling to get into this. fighting my way through and only about a quarter in. it's stalling my whole reading generally. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ally Hardy
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best
Transitions is, in my humble opinion, one of Iain Banks' best books on either side of the fi / sci-fi divide. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Reviewer Z
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book and came in good condition
Definitely worth a read though a little surreal at times and the multiple perspectives can be rather confusing but overall a good read. Read more
Published 13 months ago by J Bryant
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