Transition
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Transition

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  5,189 ratings  ·  437 reviews
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 in...more
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published September 23rd 2009 by Orbit (first published September 3rd 2009)
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Ian
IAN'S NEW AND IMPROVED REVIEW OF TRANSITION.

Immediately below is my original review, written 2/27/10. Farther down is my update and addendum, written 3/1/10 after I'd given this book a lot more thought.
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Apparently, every contemporary sci-fi author is now required to weigh in on the Multiverse. Perhaps it will soon be as indispensable to a sci-fi author's repertoire as a layup is to a basketball player's. The best Multiverse n...more
Manny
Aug 30, 2011 Manny rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who've been to Venice, like the quantum multiverse, and have read A Plague of Pythons
This entertaining SF thriller combines the premises of two of my favorite SF classics. In Asimov's The End of Eternity , an all-powerful group called the Eternals use time-travel to control the course of human history. Whenever something bad is about to happen, they engineer a carefully timed intervention to steer us away from it. Typically, these interventions are as inconspicuous as possible. Pohl's underrated A Plague of Pythons explores another, rather nastier idea. Suppose a device were in...more
Elf M.
I don't think I can legitimately say I read Iain M. Banks' latest SF book, Transition. I think it's best to say that I subjected myself to it. Sometime past the halfway point, I snarked to someone that this book answered one of the burning questions of my lifetime: "What would happen if China Mieville wrote Nine Princes in Amber fanfic?" Having finished the book, I stand by that assessment.

Spoiler for the Zelazny snark: (view spoiler)...more
David
I had difficulty following this book. The story went so slowly--it seemed like the prologue lasted maybe a quarter of the book before anything substantial happened. Some of the plot was sickening. I felt nothing for any of the characters.

I heartily recommend this book for sadists and masochists.
Ian
Is it considered an artificial padding of my GR shelves to add the audiobooks I've "read"? I loved the shit out of Transition, the actual book; you can read my review here. I loved the audiobook every bit as much. Peter Kenny is easily my favorite narrator. He does voices and accents amazingly well. (Okay, so he doesn't do an American accent very well, but kicks butt with all the European accents.) His sense of timing is wonderful, as is his situational awareness for lack of a better term ... I...more
Jonfaith
Transition takes an Inception-y hopscotch across concepts like Torture, Greed and Faith before pogo-ing itself back to the base of Borges' Aleph. There were a pair of action sequences which didn't contribute much but otherwise the novel was a philosophical rumination beyond the looking glass. Transition is a curious approach and an enjoyable means to idle away an afternoon.
Tom Lloyd
I've not actually finished this, but currently I'm unsure whether I will. I'm halfway and taking a break from it - most likely I'll come back to it, but I'm not certain.

Why? Because most of it is Banksy talking at me. He's not telling me a story, he's telling me about elements within a story and i'm struggling to care. there's little interaction with people and relatively little action. Individual pieces are interesting, but while the connections are clear there's not yet been much to make me c...more
Jesse Wolfe 5199
I've read a lot of Iain Banks books in the last couple years, and this is the first one that wasn't amazing. This books is not only less than amazing, it is, actually, terrible.
The characters are all obvious stereotypes. There are extended monologues where these characters explain their identity directly to you, the reader - and then most of those characters are just dropped from the storyline.
The plot ranges from nebulous to pointless. No character seems to have any particular motivations, so t...more
J M Leitch
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is one of Banks's best, in my opinion. It's an original story, has great characters, the plot was revealed in a very clever way and Banks's humour came through strong.
Mike Franklin
I loved this book – it’s probably now one of my favourite Banks books – though I suspect that just two or three years ago I would have been much more ambivalent; possibly even disliked it. I am glad I have recently read my first couple of Iain Banks ‘mainstream’ books, as opposed to Iain M Banks science fiction, as this book seemed to have a foot in each camp. The main story premise is firmly science fiction but the style of writing is much closer to his pretty weird mainstream writing; I saw a...more
Terence
Dec 21, 2009 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Banks fans
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Rating: 2.5-3 stars

Transition isn’t Iain Banks at his best but it’s still pretty good. The SF premise of the novel is that alternate Earths are constantly branching off, and that there are a small number of people who are capable (with the aid of a drug) to move between those alternates – transition. An organization, usually called the Concern (or l’Expedience in some worlds), controls the transition drug, and it has come under the baleful influence of Madame d’Ortolan, who is bent on destroying...more
Gordon
Billed as a "return to form" (although apart from the more recent The Steep Approach to Garbadale I haven't really had any issues, especially the Iain M Banks sci-fi as opposed to the Iain Banks thrillers (which tend to be weaker). (Ok, goodreads and the US indexing system doesn't highlight this discrepency so go view it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iain_Banks).

This is meant to be The Bridge-like and also to straddle his genres.

It starts well but then establishes itself as a fairly standard...more
Elaine
Wow. Right where does one start with a book like this? Transition is only the second Iain Banks book I have read (The Wasp Factory being the other) and I’m happy and terrified to say this messed with mind in just the same way.

So what’s it all about? Well having read it, it’s still quite difficult to explain. The plot is based on a rather complicated multiverse theory wherein (if I’ve got it remotely right) there are as many versions of Earth as we choose to imagine. The story unfolds through ma...more
David Hebblethwaite
When I first got my copy of Transition, I took a quick glance at the beginning, and grinned at what I found. The epigraph reads, ‘Transition – based on a false story’; and the opening sentence is one of the most endearingly cheeky I’ve ever come across: ‘Apparently I am what is known as an Unreliable Narrator, though of course if you believe everything you’re told you deserve whatever you get.’ That’s the start of an Iain Banks book, and no mistake.

Well, now I’ve read the whole thing, and am I s...more
Sam Woodward
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 develop...more
Avani
I was really excited to get this book, and a little disappointed with how it turned out.

First, it's still Iain Banks. The book is a fine, enjoyable read. It's a fantasy book set in the present day, so it lacks the typical trappings of Culture books (such as the Culture, though there is an entity that may be a logical predecessor). The big problem is that Banks just doesn't finish what he starts. It feels like he published half a book because he had a bunch of notes and a first attempt at an end...more
Liz
Iain Banks is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. Though his prose are not the most beautiful I've ever read, his ability to write a gripping plot and fill it with original characters, full of flaws and depth, is amazing.

'Transition' marks Banks' foray into science fiction without using his alterior persona of Iain M Banks. I've not read any 'M' books so can't comment on how 'Transition' compares, but as a lover of sci-fi and dystopia alike, I thought the book ticked all the boxes.

Th...more
Paul Weimer
Transition is a frustrating book.
This is my second attempt at reading Iain Banks. My first attempt at reading him, Inversions, was less than satisfactory. I have never read any of the Culture novels, despite having friends who have raved endlessly about them.
Being a fan of Moorcock, and Zelazny, and well immersed in the idea of multiple universes and alternate histories, I thought I would try and give Transition a try, and see if I could unlock Iain Banks to my imagination at last.

The attempt w...more
Andrew
I don't think I'd be happy with a Banks book unless I wasn't quite sure what to think after finishing it. In that sense, this book certainly didn't disappoint. I'm still not quite sure what the take home message is!

Transition falls squarely under the Iain "M" Banks label (i.e. sci-fi) as far as I'm concerned - reality hopping based on the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics contains sufficient science and sufficient fiction to qualify. But, as with most of Banks' work the sci-fi isn'...more
Robert
Banks has a number of themes that appear repeatedly across his now quite large output of fiction and they ALL get stuffed into this one. That makes for quite a rich book but some of it is just so unsubtle that it's irritating - take Adrian, the 100% cliche drug/financial dealer whose role is very minor as compared to the space he's given. Adrian is given that much space so that Banks can have another go at Capitalism, without any subtlety involved and giving a girl in a bar a walk-on part as Ban...more
Erik Graff
Jul 05, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Banks fans
Recommended to Erik by: John Elkin
Shelves: sf
This is the first Banks novel I've read which was not about the Culture, not set in the far future. Still, it is science fiction, the device being interdimensionsional travel, the old branching time-line thing--all of it happening on various Earths, all of it in times more-or-less like our present. The overarching plot concerns a covert interdimensional organization, its contested leadership and their purposes. In this way it has many of the characteristics of a spy novel and may interest those...more
Psychophant
Both in the sequence (he alternates between "present" fiction and science fiction) and the signature (it lacks the M in the cover), this should not be Science Fiction. And yet, it is full of its tropes, from alternate realities to unbelievable locales, with winks to several books hidden in.

It has more in common with Walking on glass than any other of his books, but expanding the narrative to many different points of view, and a great dose of realism in some of the back stories, rather than in th...more
Andrew
It looks like Iain Banks managed to sneak a science fiction book into what is normally his general fiction brand. Transition is very different from his usual space opera written as Iain M. Banks though.

The story follows four main characters, each one working, sometimes unknowingly, for the Concern. The Concern is an enterprise consisting of people who can move between alternate Earths, and their purpose seems to be to try and alter the course of history in the Earths they can get to, hopefully f...more
Alan
Jan 15, 2011 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Slippery solipsists and slipstick-kissers (whatever that means)
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work and current subject matter
The events of September 11, 2001, reverberate across many worlds, both of fact and of fiction. Informed and infused by those events, Transition could not exist without them... even though it is set primarily in parallel threads of time, ones in which 9/11 did not happen at all, or happened in horribly different ways. In our universe, the twin towers of the World Trade Center were brought down by hijacked jet planes; in others, perhaps, organized CTs (Christian Terrorists) are committing massacre...more
Julie
"Apparently I am what is known as an Unreliable Narrator, though of course if you believe everything you're told you deserve whatever you get."

I absolutely love this line from the back cover (it's also the opening line of the book, and has become one of my favourite lines of all time), but it took me a really long time to get into the story as a whole -- 6 months and almost 100 pages (!). I absolutely know why, though: Banks is building an interesting new world, but doling out his exposition ab...more
Lioneltrilling
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rich
Our world is but one of many within a multiverse full of an infinite number or realities in which all possible outcomes happen. The Concern is an organization distributed throughout the worlds with agents that can "transition" between them.

TRANSITION is thoroughly enjoyable and full of a lot of interesting concepts. This novel presents a story told with mixed narrative styles, "flitting" between first person and third person depending on the viewpoint character. This style worked for me and he...more
Stuart
Jul 26, 2011 Stuart added it
Shelves: science-fiction
Not very good. I give it two stars out of five because I did actually finish it, but I didn’t really like it much. For those of you who have not read the story elsewhere, the idea is that there is an infinite number of parallel and very similar worlds. A group of people calling themselves the “Concern” has discovered that by using a special drug, they can “flit” into other bodies in other dimensions and there adjust what will happen in other versions of Earth. The idea is that they can prevent b...more
Jonathan
Madam d'Ortolan valiantly attempts to keep the peace across a multitude of worlds, between the fall of the Berlin wall and the Saudi Arabian attack on the US, while rebels and traitors conspire to open up humanity to alien incursion, led by a suspiciously-eyed Mrs Mulverhill. One suspects that the downfall of a tyrant will not result in the return of a republic...

I am so happy to see a non-dull, yet also non Culture novel! The ideas are properly old school, carried off with aplomb and lashings o...more
Wendy
This novel revolves around the Concern - a secretive group of dimension-hopping operatives who carry out missions across various alternate Earths for purposes known only to a very few on their governing council. It follows a variety of characters, though the central one is a Concern assassin with the delightful name of Temudjin Oh, who is finally asked to carry out a mission that he can't stomach, and goes rogue.

This book offers everything Banks's science fiction usually offers, except for the...more
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Iain Banks / Iain...: Transition 7 29 Feb 11, 2013 07:33PM  
608 pages? 4 44 Sep 20, 2011 02:00PM  
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5807106
Iain M. Banks is a pseudonym of Iain Banks which he used to publish his Science Fiction.

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, li...more
More about Iain M. Banks...
Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1) The Player of Games (Culture, #2) Use of Weapons (Culture, #3) Excession (Culture, #5) Surface Detail (Culture, #9)

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“Perdition awaits at the end of a road constructed entirely from good intentions, the devil emerges from the details and hell abides in the small print.” 21 likes
“Yes," I said. "Temudjin Oh." I'd long got used to the fact that my Mongolian-extraction surname could cause some amusement amongst English speakers determined to extract a toll of discomfiture from somebody whose name was not as banal or as ugly as theirs. However, there was something about the way she pronounced it that immediately brought a blush to my cheeks. Perhaps the sunset would cover my embarassment.” 0 likes
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