Transition

( 29 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Not easily described or abandoned, Iain M. Banks' Transition situates itself in a realm of permeable worlds where operatives, some of them invisible, move on missions of control or rebellion. In hardcover, this apocalyptic fable generated worthy reviews. Now in paperback; a fine hop and a leap for crossover fiction readers.

Michael Dirda
…wildly entertaining…longtime readers of science fiction will find much that is vaguely familiar in Transition. The decadent civilization of Calbefraques and the act of "transitioning" both call to mind Alfred Bester's seminal masterpiece, The Stars My Destination. The mental control of other people's bodies and the sparring between powerful super-minds suggests Dan Simmons's Carrion Comfort. The novel's overall current of paranoia adds a soupcon of "The Matrix" and Philip K. Dick…Suffice it to say that surprises are in store, as well as much slightly kinky lovemaking, a deliberate disordering of the senses in several bravura stylistic passages and, finally, a classic white-knuckle climax on the Rialto Bridge in Venice. Be sure to read the epilogue.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Banks's latest novel opens with a warning from "Patient 8262" stating that he or she is an unreliable narrator, before the epic takes off, plunging the reader into a whirlwind of intricately constructed characters and detailed accounts of their experiences as they "flit" across multiple Earths. The cast of characters include Adrian, the greedy city trader, emblematic of the selfishness needed to become a "traveler"; the Philosopher, an assassin who despises killing; a catch-me-if-you-can rogue operative named Mrs. Mulverhill; and the imperious Madame d'Ortolan, possibly the leader of the Concern, a vast multi-world organization that claims to protect worlds from chaos, but may also hide a greater, darker purpose. Banks's prose is elegant and electric and his story dizzying, but inevitable contradictions are brilliantly tied together-the only way many characters maintain sanity is to question everything, and readers would be well-advised to do the same. Banks manages the neat feat of synthesizing 19th-century style with the cutting edge, the irreverent with the philosophical, and the intellectual with the adventurous.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316071994
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Publication date: 9/15/2010
  • Series: Culture Series
  • Pages: 420
  • Sales rank: 785,087
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Iain Banks came to controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. Consider Phlebas, his first science fiction novel, was published under the name Iain M. Banks in 1987. He is now widely acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation. Iain M. Banks lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Find out more about Iain M. Banks at www.iainbanks.net.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    terrific cerebral science fiction thriller

    The Concern oversees the behavior of leaders on what appears to be an infinite number of parallel worlds. When they feel a person may cause worldwide harm, they send their Transitionary agents to assassinate that individual. The Transitionaries alight from one world to another by using a drug septus that enable their movement.

    One of the more adept Transitionary assassins is Temudjin Oh, who has recently began to doubt the missions as he questions the morality of intrusion and murder even as he understands he is an "Unreliable Narrator" telling an obvious false tale based on his wrong premise. While his ethical concerns grow with each hit, others have problems too but different from his hesitation to kill. Mrs. Mulverhill for instance opposes the Concern and has started a small rebellion while Patient 8262 fakes mental illnesses to gain hospitalizations in order to avoid Transitionary assignments. Mulverhill considers Patient 8262, but actively tries to recruit Oh.

    TRANSITION is a terrific cerebral science fiction thriller that demands people scrutinize and probe what is going on in their world instead of just acquiescing and accepting. With obvious implication and condemnation of the Iraq government change Iain M. Bank makes a case that instead of inane shallow bumper sticker analysis people need to dig into the essence and the background like Oh who no longer trusts or believes in the "benevolent" Concern as the members have their own agendas. With surprisingly plenty of action considering the intelligent design of the novel, fans will join Oh in Tibet, Venice, London and elsewhere as he struggles with the universal question of to kill or not to kill and be killed.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Many Worlds Explain Today

    I must confess that I like Iain M. Banks' Culture series the best, but this was a good read with some nice twists and closure at the end. There did seem to be some inconsistencies not clearly resolved in the novel, the most vexing of which involved mental vs physical travel between parallel worlds. In spite of that, however, I liked it very much and was reminded of Pynchon's "Against the Day" often. The alternate world in which the Christians were the terrorists was especially thought provoking. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Terribly disappointing

    For the first hundred or so page I was impressed with the author's skills at character building and dialogue. A little half way through I started getting the dreaded feeling that the book was nothing but character development - rambling along endlessly but I shook this off, declaring it as simple blind pessimism. By viewing the amount of stars I designated to the title, obviously my initial instincts were correct. The plot plods along at a millimeter a minute and eventually ends in a hastened wrap which seemed incompatible not only to the rest of the book's pacing, but as well to its overall style.
    As for the writing in a whole: as I stated the character building and dialogue were good. Good doesn't mean great. The whole piece was rather lack-luster, void of passion, without genuine expression.
    In short, I felt the characters to be tangible, but meandering about on vacant stage.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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