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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  9,345 ratings  ·  650 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 1st 2009 by Orbit
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,345 ratings  ·  650 reviews

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Kevin Kelsey
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
Posted at Heradas

Transition reads like it was intended to kick off a new series for Banks, and like Consider Phlebas, the first in Banks’ Culture series, it was kind of a hot mess but I loved it anyway. There’s just so much room in the universe of Transition for more stories featuring the Concern / l’expérience. The concept is so large that there is the potential for all of Banks’ fiction to take place inside of it. Even the Culture could’ve existed inside of this. It’s massive. I’m kind of mour
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Have you read any Iain Banks? If you have, you know how great he can be - read this book, and enjoy. If you haven't, I wouldn't start with Transition. This novel isn't The Bridge with its frenzy of invention and strangeness, nor is it Excession or The Player of Games with their big scale mind-blowing Sci-Fi. Transition sits somewhere in between Banks' literary work and his SF, and in my opinion is middle-range in the rankings of his novels.

Anyway, comparisons aside, Transition is a still good re
Oct 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  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 w ...more

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.

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
Elf M.
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
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)
Jesse Wolfe 5199
Mar 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Mike Franklin
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mainstream, favorites
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
Tom Lloyd
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
A. Dawes
May 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Iain Banks is a writer with a rare understanding of identity. Much like his predecessor, PK Dick, Banks is masterful at changing his prose to suit each individual character. He succeeds again here with Transition, yet despite the wonderful unreliable opening and exceptional voice, Banks isn't at his best in terms of the actual story here.

Transition is an ambitious work that attempts to explore a vast array of themes - capitalism, solipsism, existentialism, terrorism, religious extremism, Islamo
May 18, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
J M Leitch
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
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.
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
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its Iain Banks so you know he is a good writer but in some books he gets too clever for my liking. This was not one of those.

A multiplicity or narrative threads meant that it took me some time to get into the rhythm of this book. Once I did though I enjoyed it for what it was, a unique look at a multi-verse based story.

There were no clear good or bad people and the characters were nuanced. The plot wove nicely along and the action pieces were really good as well.

Once into it I was fully engrosse
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Just finished this and i have waaaay too many unanswered questions, still confused about some bits and i have a sneaky suspicion that i didn't quite like this book. Sure, it was never boring and it was true Banks' form but....i don't know.
Anyway, googling for the book's discussions on the epilogue or spoilery reviews so that my brain can relax and not go bonkers over some of the remaining questions i've got, has been fruitless. I mean there's this link but i'm sure it's also just added
Sam Woodward
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 development of
Oct 23, 2009 rated it liked it
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:

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
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Imagine a single moment. Rippling from that core moment (let's use the honeycomb pattern) are the very same moments, only with very minute variations, and these changes increase the further from that original moment. Now every of these moments are also core moments with their own bloom expanding in all directions and so forth. That's infinity. And there are people transitioning, entering lives and bodies to cause changes that benefit the unknowable wants of the Concern, the organization facilita ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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
Jul 26, 2011 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
Sep 14, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
Another borderline unreadable book from Banks. I'm a huge fan of his earlier efforts, but the last few have been a struggle to finish. I think he's totally lost the thread of how to build characters and communicate an interesting story involving them. I get a sense from him of intense self-satisfied cleverness, even as the book is going to pieces in a tangle of disorganized yarn.

Zelazny did more with the concept of world skipping and paranoid conspiracy in *the first 20 pages* of Nine Princes in
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, speculative

Although the book has a veneer of science fiction – using many-world science as a starting point – there’s actually zero consistent science in the book. The mind-body problem is just sidestepped – a bit like in Altered Carbon – and used inconsistently to be able to do something gimmicky with OCD and with polyglotism. In this sense, Transition is like a 21st century version of all that laughable telepathy focused scifi of the 50ies and 60ies.

Similarly, there’s a veneer of deep thought and ph
Neil Fulwood
Perhaps the most ambitious, imaginative, complex and trickily structured novel I’ve ever read in which shag all of interest happens and the pages of which are not inhabited by a single character about whom I give a flying one. ‘Transition’ reads, for at least three-quarters of its longer-seeming 400 pages, like an extended curtain-raiser for a multi-volume epic that was never written. Huge screeds of prose are given over to world-building, character backgrounds, hierarchies and an ongoing moral/ ...more
James Kinsley
100 pages in and not feeling it, so calling it a day. Anything relying on multiple first person narrators needs to differentiate between its characters better than this, and the underlying story has done nothing so far to interest me.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Never really connected with this book. it's a series of vignettes that firm the larger story. It reads more like one of his literary novels that science fiction, although there are science fiction/science fantasy elements to the plot.
Nicky Neko
I think this was a 3.5. I enjoyed it, but it was most definitely not one of Banks's best.
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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

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