Banks, Iain M.: Transition

Iain M. Banks’s Transition is, alas, entirely unworthy of its terrific opening line:

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.

Honestly I can barely remember what happened in it, and I can’t have read it more than six months ago (barely any time at all, when it comes to this backlog), so whatever the plot was, can’t have been very interesting. I do recall that it takes forever to get going, which may have something to do with it straddling the SF and mainstream genres (it was published in the U.S. as SF and in the U.K. as mainstream). It has an entirely unbelievable and rather tedious sexual relationship. And it completely squanders its opening line: you just can’t have a first-person narrator going around saying “but maybe I’m lying to you! Aren’t I cute!” when you also have ordinary third-person narrators recounting the same story.

Not recommended.

5 Comments

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  1. recounting the same story
    They’re ALL unreliable narrators.
    🙂

  2. Have you read Liar yet by Justine Larbalestier? Now that’s an unreliable narrator who uses her talents for confusion.

  3. Not yet, though it’s on my list.

  4. Effective review. Yes, the book was really quite rubbish, in all kinds of disappointing ways. Banks seemed to be declining for a bit, but Transition was a nadir, without a coherent plot or well constructed character in sight. The two things that I remember really hating were:
    1) the gratuitous inclusion of incest as character backstory, just like in every non “M” Banks book in the last decade
    2) how thoroughly the many worlds concept is underused. The setup shows a huge potential variety of alternate timelines, yet all they’re used for is to point out that Limited Liability Corporations are a mistake.

  5. Oh dear me I’d forgotten both those things and I was glad to do so.
    Wow. Yeah. Really not a very good book indeed.

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