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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Review: Transition

Review: Transition

Transition is Iain M. Banks' latest science fiction novel. It's about world hopping, multiple dimensions, and a cross-world organization that calls itself “The Concern”. While an ostensibly benevolent organization, The Concern still has the need to perform assassinations and other unsavory tasks, which means that they have to hire, train, and then deploy such individuals.

The novel is written from three perspectives: a patient in a hospital in an unknown world, who immediately identifies himself as an unreliable narrator, Adrian, a drug-dealer/hedge fund manager who's incredibly self-centered, and Temudjin Oh, an assassin for the concern. The three threads interweave, though not along the same time-line and definitely not all on the same world.

However, recurring characters flit between the narratives, representing opposing forces within the Concern. The conflict, however, seems far too black and white for a typical Banks novel, and the theatrics and special effects seem calculated for a science fiction summer extravaganza rather than for a cerebral novel that somehow makes comments about our society (one of the alternate worlds visited is one in which the Christian religion is the terrorist prone organization). Unfortunately, these side trips and diversions never get developed into full fruition, and the finale seems at most mildly satisfying.

While this was an entertaining novel, I can't say that it is one of Banks' best. Good for an airplane, though, but paying the $9.99 Kindle price seemed a bit much.

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