On the Concern's books are Temudjin Oh, an un-killable assassin who journeys between the peaks of Nepal, a version of Victorian London and the dark palaces of Venice; and a nameless, faceless torturer known only as the Philosopher. And then there's the renegade Mrs Mulverhill, who recruits rebels to her side; and Patient 8262, hiding out from a dirty past in a forgotten hospital ward.
As these vivid, strange and sensuous worlds circle and collide, the implications of turning traitor to the Concern become horribly apparent, and an unstable universe is set on a dizzying course.
©2009 Iain Banks; (P)2009 Hachette Digital
If you like your stories complicated, you'll love Transition. Just keep track of which character is currently narrating and you'll be thoroughly entertained.
Iain Banks once again applies his unique perspectives and sporadic comedic genius to a supremely well thought-out plot constructed of ideas not often approached with such enthusiasm and expressed in such detail.
Very deep and philosophical in parts; sometimes long-winded but never boring. Definitely worth the time just for the last few chapters - especially the final paragraph of the epilogue. Very satisfying end.
Be aware of graphic sex and violence however the more elaborate and unconventional occasions are highly entertaining, even if occasionally too in-depth.
Narrator is excellent as always. Peter Kenny also read The Wasp Factory and has no trouble keeping the many and greatly varying character roles distinct and true to their natures. Australian and American accents are weaker but not only very brief in the story. Very glad that the reader is British.
Two hours into it, and I'm still not sure why I'm listening, whether there is a plot and why the characters are meant to be interesting.
The plot is very oblique, disjointed, and nothing that smacks of the brilliance of Excession, The Algebraist or Surface Detail.
Peter Kenny, a great narrator, doesn't really shine either, because there is so much text by the first person writer.
I haven't finsihed this yet but I'm really enjoying it. I think it's the best by him I have read/heard for some time. In addition the reading is lively and characterful, well suiting the tone of the book.
The premise - revealed pretty early on so I don't think this is a spoiler - is a bunch of people leaping from body to body in Quantum Leap style, but rather than back and forth within history, between an infinitude of parallel Earths. Banks has an unusually powerful imagination, and he's used it to render each world with depth of detail in a quick vignette, rather than to produce a shallow cavalcade of implausible exotica. The writing too is controlled and either lyrical or cynical as it needs to be.
"Does this help?"
Hmm I too was confused by this book. I then read some of the culture series.
Now imagine what it would be like if Special Circumstances felt they needed to intervene on a more or less contemporary earth.
They obviously would not be in the business of explaining themselves to anyone, least of all you!
It does work without that back story but it is much more fun with it in mind; so I would strongly recommend you try one or more of the Culture series,then see if you don't think Mrs Mulverhill has SC written all over her!
Iain Banks has always written 'straight' fiction and science fiction. Most of his books are one or the other while in Transition the two elements come together gloriously.
His earlier novels, bursting with ideas rattled along at a breathtaking pace, as he has matured his writing has slowed and taken a deeper more complex, considered flavour.
I love the questions he appears to answer and those he leaves the reader to try and unravel. This is a fine story, well written and starring a host of wonderfully diverse characters and scenarios.
"I nearly gave up but persevered. interesting story"
but not as satisfying as some of his other works of sci-fi. The Philosopher parts were difficult to stomach
Kenny has a great voice and provides all the characters with a real personality you can feel. It's almost as if he truly takes on the personality and inner thoughts of each person, he is an inspired narrator. The story brings together many great themes from traditional science fiction in a refreshing way, and we get many hints to higher themes within the story. It jumps between each character at just the right time to keep your attention, it was very difficult to turn off. All in all a fantastic package, would recommend to anyone who is interested in parallel universes and higher power conspiracy theories.
"Transition - the 'Sliding Doors' of novels"
A well narrated and nicely paced listen. Those familiar with the sci-fi of Iain M Banks will immediately feel at home with Transition, and will half expect a Culture reference round every corner. Another Banks universe(or should that be universes) to explore; I hope there are more but its satisfying enough on its own if thats all there is to be.
"Wordsmithery at its bestest"
Ive read all but one (The Bridge) of Iain Banks's books and I've liked most and loved some. This is definitively in the loved camp. How can he offer so slight a description and paint such a huge canvas. Peter Kenny's voices brought each caracter to life, each with far flung personality differences. How could the author conceive of the caracter Buisquitine yet how could she come to life other than through Kenny's voice. I craved so much for continuance that on completion I started it again and got even more out of it the second time. I'm obsessing over reading it again but I've decided to follow the excellent narration to my next read and come back to Transition a little later. After all, its where I live.
"A new classic"
Just finished listening, my first reaction is: bravo, a classic! A great story combined with very entertaining characters, brought to life by Peter Kenny, it becomes a "must read"
A reader at Amazon have described the book as "graphic" and did not much like it. There is a stong element of sex. Perhaps a bit too much, but whereas Stanley Kubrick's film "Eyes wide shut" seemed like an old mans sexual fantasies, and not much more, Banks have a strong underlying story. The element of sex and imagery of Venice makes it possible Banks where inspired by the movie. He is not alone in using sex as a catalyst. Peter Hamilton use it in a similar way in "The Dreaming Void" The SF concepts as such are perhaps not new, but Banks manages to give it an entirely new twist.
Excellent story, excellent narration, a new classic!
"A Confusing book"
I like Iain Banks' books, particularly his SF "Culture" stories, but "Transition" just didn't gel with me. It has a marked SF content, but unlike the culture novels, this is only sketchily drawn so lacks the kind of belief-suspending plausibility that makes good SF work. The plot is VERY confusing, takes quite a while to get going, and in the end is a tad threadbare. And whilst the characters are interesting and well drawn and the prose as good as ever, overall the book was a disappointment.
My advice, if you are thinking a buying, would be to have a look at the reader feedback on the Amazon website to try to judge whether you'll like the book - it's mixed to put it mildly!
On the plus side the narration is excellent, ditto sound quality.
Wow allot of thought. With philosophy, physics and astronomy rolled into a good story, good thought provoking listen, not nice nice escapism, love the Christian terrorist angle...
It gives you the impression of people with psychological lives but from there perspective, relativity the frame of reference ...
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