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The Business

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  4,985 Ratings  ·  177 Reviews
Kate is a senior executive officer in a powerful and massively discreet transglobal organization. The character of The Business seems, even to her, to be vague to the point of invisibility. Her job is to keep abreast of technological developments, but she must let go the assumptions of a lifetime.
Paperback, 393 pages
Published 1999 by Little, Brown and Company
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Community Reviews

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Barbara Rosenblat 11.7 hours.

Description: Kate is a senior executive officer in a powerful and massively discreet transglobal organization. The character of The Business seems, even to her, to be vague to the point of invisibility. Her job is to keep abreast of technological developments, but she must let go the assumptions of a lifetime.

BLURB: From Publishers Weekly: Ever since The Wasp Factory first bent readers' minds in 1984, prolific Scottish author Banks has tantalized and terrified with h
Robert Dunbar
May 10, 2016 Robert Dunbar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Imagine if Evelyn Waugh had written “The Firm.” Remember that book? A by-the-numbers thriller from John Grisham, it was effective enough, especially if the reader's expectations weren’t high. But imagine if Waugh had written it. The plot would retain that edge-of-the-seat construction, yet be augmented by a real – and quite dark – artistic sensibility, replete with vicious humor and enhanced by a flair for characterization.

Iain Banks’ THE BUSINESS concerns an insidious secret organization (and
As every conspiracy theorist knows, They control everything. When something unexpected happens, it's because They arranged it. And, needless to say, you don't want to find out too much about Them. It could be bad for your health. Which makes you even more curious - so it's surprising that this is one of the few novels I know that's firmly set in Their world. It turns out that They are actually called The Business, and were already well-established at the time of the Roman Empire.

I see some othe
Nov 30, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, economics
I've had extremely mixed experiences with Iain Banks novels. Some I loved (Transition, The Player of Games), one I absolutely hated (The Wasp Factory), others had clever elements but failed to engage me (Consider Phlebas, Use of Weapons). ‘The Business’ was a different experience again - I enjoyed it and was engaged, but there were certain flaws that prevented me from wholly adoring it. The greatest strength was the narrator, Kate Telman. She is an excellent character: a clever, reticent, ambiti ...more
Simon Mcleish
Jan 21, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in July 2000.

The Business is a shadowy commercial operation which has been in existence for thousands of years, and which now aims to buy itself a country, so its senior executives can gain the privileges which go with a diplomatic passport. Kate Telman, the narrator, is not quite up to that level, but is one of the rising stars in the Business, and it is not particularly surprising when she is asked to become an ambassador of sorts to the Himalayan kingdom o
Sally Melia
Jul 12, 2014 Sally Melia rated it it was amazing
I have read all of Iain Banks novels and this one is one of my favourites.

The Business from where the book gets its name is a centuries old concern, at one point in the novel it is suggested that its history stretches back as far as the Roman Empire, but the story postulates the compelling conceit that over centuries The Business has been built up with assets and resources that go beyond countries and national powers to influence every part of the world.

Unexpectedly, at the top of The Business i
Oct 01, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The more I read Iain Banks' work, the more I appreciate it. His way with words aside, it's the fact that no two books are exactly alike in tone or style, but they share a common quality that makes me go "yummm".

In The Business, Banks introduces us to Kathryn, a Level Three in The Business, but who knows from personal experience what the hard life actually is - she's from the "schemes" (Scots for "projects") and only by dint of natural cunning and adoption by Mrs. Telman does she get out. The Bus
Aug 21, 2012 Jonfaith rated it liked it
A delightful satire on international finance and investment, rife with high-grade one-liners and a morlaity axis which one hopes could be possible. Not a great effort from Iain but one worth one's time.

I've read that could be considered a proto-Culture novel, that such a qualification adds to the novel. I honestly don't know.
Aug 20, 2010 Scott rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
First read it five or six years ago in a single afternoon and was wholly underwhelmed by the experience. Coming after Song of Stone – the only Banks book I genuinely dislike – I felt at the time that maybe his powers were beginning to wane.

But a friend urged me to give it a second chance and told me to read it as a prequel to the Culture books, whereupon it makes much more sense.

And do you know, he’s right. It’s a bloody Culture book in disguise. Or at least, it takes as its premise – how could
My response to hearing of the passing of Iain Banks was to go out and get another book of his to read. This one lacks the "M." in the author name, so technically, it's not science fiction, though it does dive into alternate history/universe territory.

So, what if there was a powerful multinational corporation that had been in existence since before the Roman Empire (which it actually owned for a brief period of time), which was now interested in acquiring a country in order to have a seat in the
Aug 25, 2015 Morgan rated it it was ok
I thought I owned this book because it was on one of those 1001 books one should read type lists. The whole time I was reading it, I kept asking myself, "What in the world is so special about this novel that it would make such a list? I'm pretty sure there Banks has better books, and there are certainly better books in the world..." I didn't realize that I'd confused it with The Information by Martin Amis. The names are similar and both authors are British, okay? We all make mistakes. Even if I' ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Gregory rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. For fans of Gibson's Bigend series who are feeling iffy about Banks, pick this one up (conversely, if you've read this and liked it, but don't read Gibson, you may want to give those books a whirl; they are, in order: Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History). Really thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was torn over how it should end, and in the end I can't say I disagreed with how it did. Anyway, given the nature of the plot, I'll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.
Ian Caithness
Oct 25, 2010 Ian Caithness rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredible novel on the human condition and the temptation of capitalism in business. Iain Banks writes with a free-flowing and captivating prose that allows people to sink into his books and come out at the end feeling refreshed.
Jan 27, 2009 reed rated it it was ok
Not one of his best. I've tried to read it twice now and can't get through it.
Alex Vrettos
Nov 28, 2016 Alex Vrettos rated it liked it
Reading Iain (M.) Banks for me is always like a warm bath for the mind with plenty of bubbles with some energetic music rather than whale song in the background and a bottle of aged rum rather than a mug of coco. The Business did not quite meet this for me but it was a good story with some fantastic characters and had enough twists and turns to keep me interested. It gives the reader a glimpse of a lifestyle most will never know which is compelling, but on the whole I felt it just lacked a ...more
Finn Pumford
Nov 13, 2016 Finn Pumford rated it it was ok
This is the second Iain Banks book I've read. Incredibly thankful it wasn't my first as I wouldn't of picked up another of his if it had been. The Business spends far too much time explaining and not enough time showing. Fortunately I read Stonemouth first so I have an idea of what the author's capable of.

If you're thinking about checking out Iain Banks do it. He's incredible. Amazing description and really great character development. Just don't read this one first, or ever, simply doesn't hig
Ian Shepherd
Nov 19, 2016 Ian Shepherd rated it liked it
Didn't seem to go anywhere. Towards the end there was some intriguing developments but the end was somewhat predictable. I would read another Iain Banks book as I quite liked the way "The Business" read, but it did not draw me in as I would have liked.
Nick Drabble
Dec 03, 2016 Nick Drabble rated it it was amazing
Steven Reiz
Sep 29, 2016 Steven Reiz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: livingroom
Very accessible non-SF story, about 'the oldest commercial organization' and its plans to buy its own country. Not very deep and a bit predictable, four weddings and a funeral mixed with some jet set business dealings. All in all ok, entertaining but not great.
Jul 23, 2012 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Iain Banks' novel The Business at the local library when they didn't have his Consider Phlebas in. The first few pages intrigued me, so I checked it out.

Sadly, the first few pages were the best in an otherwise dreadfully boring novel.

Those first pages were part of the prologue of the book. Once I got past it and began the first chapter, I knew I was in trouble. Here's the opening paragraph in it's entirety:

My name is Kathryn Telman. I am a senior executive officer, third level (cou
Mike Franklin
Dec 22, 2015 Mike Franklin rated it really liked it
Iain Banks’ book The Business is about an organisation known, unsurprisingly, as “The Business” and, even if you’ve not read the blurb, the reader very quickly becomes aware that the Business has been around for a very long time:

“The origins of what we now call the Business predate the Christian church, but not the Roman Empire, to which it might fairly be said we owe our existence, and which, at one point — technically, at any rate — we owned.”

Unwelcome visions of tired conspiracy theory storie
Dec 17, 2015 Oscar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prestados, mainstream
’El Negocio’ (The Business, 1999) es una novela escrita por el Banks de la rama mainstream, y por tanto no tiene nada que ver con su particular universo de ciencia ficción de La Cultura. Pero esta obra se aleja bastante de sus otras obras mainstream, como ‘La fábrica de avispas’, ‘Pasos sobre cristal’, ‘Una canción de piedra’, ‘Cómplice’ o ‘El puente’, ya que todas contienen elementos de una imaginación insuperable, y un ritmo muy atractivo. En el caso de ’El Negocio’, no sucede esto; la acción ...more
Clive Thompson
Jul 10, 2013 Clive Thompson rated it really liked it
In some of Bank's novels you are not sure whether they are set in the past, present or future. This one appears to be set in the present, if the past had been different. In this version of Bank's world, an organisation (The Business) has become more and more powerful through legitimate means and has a structure that is based on promotions rather than the 'murder to get to the top' of less successful family organisations. The story follows Kate Telman through the most important times that she has ...more
Leila Anani
I'm a huge fan of Iain Banks and as per usual, couldn't put this one down, even up until the last few pages I wasn't sure how the story was going to end - but the ending was frankly a bit of a damp squib. I was expecting a totally blinding plot twist and there just wasn't. This one is also reasonably upbeat where decency triumphs which if you're familiar with some of his more gothic stuff is a bit disappointing.

Our heroine kate is part of the mysterious business - she's sent to the Himalayan pri
Shawn Davies
Mar 03, 2013 Shawn Davies rated it really liked it
I love Banks! This is another wonderfully imagined world right here amongst our own, in which he twists and turns on classic fairy tale themes whilst discussing capitalism, wealth distribution and the morality of money.

The imagined “Business” itself felt too neat to be real (no way would any such enterprise survive human folly and greed!) but did allow Banks to position our protagonists in the centre of great wealth and power and the quandaries that come with wielding it.

At least I hope such pe
Jan 18, 2009 Alex rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is science fiction only because its premise of a globe-spanning corporation which has been around in one form or another since the Roman Empire is so outlandish. Banks is a good writer, and its well written with good characters and funny where it needs to be and so on, but it loses points with the huge financial organization that has existed forever and so forth because:

a) we're seeing right now that huge financial organizations don't last that long,

b) a preoccupation with huge financial or
Jan 02, 2013 Macha rated it liked it
3 & a half stars. pretty good. deeper than it looks, perhaps, in that the protagonist changes enormously over a short period of time, in response to events, and her evolution is nicely done. a bit odd to write this particular person to choose to change, though: someone with a lot of power and money, who starts out pursuing her own pronounced self-interest in maintaining the status quo, maintaining deliberately a shallow and rather callous view both of other people and her own emotional life. ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Gina rated it it was ok
A semi-secret society. A conspiracy somewhere within the society. A smart and trusted woman poking her nose around to uncover the dirty details. Will she find the truth? Will she unearth the massive corruption deep within the confines of the world's oldest club?

I think the back of the book was something like that. In reality, the book didn't have much to offer. The characters were not very well described; I never could figure out how old the main character was and I had no real details about the
Emma Cox
Sep 12, 2016 Emma Cox rated it it was ok
Just couldn't get into this book unfortunately. Never finished it after deciding it wasn't for me.
Martin Davey
Feb 15, 2012 Martin Davey rated it it was ok
For years I thought Iain Banks could do no wrong. 'The Wasp Factory', 'The Bridge', 'Complicity' and all the rest, every time I read an Iain Banks book I felt as though my mind had been blown by the guy's genius. And then I ran out to WH Smith and bought 'The Business' as soon as it was released. Ack.

It sounds interesting enough, the whole history of the Business, this huge, shadowy organisation and this woman who works for them. But the book is what I never ever thought Banks could be. Dull. I
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This author also published science fiction under the pseudonym Iain M. Banks.

Banks's father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater. Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, living in Edi
More about Iain Banks...

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