Or the non-science-fiction-science fiction one.
So this is the latest from the great Iain Banks, one of my favourite authors. In the US (and possibly elsewhere, I’m not absolutely sure) this is being marketed as a science fiction novel, but not here in the UK where it’s being positioned as a mainstream novel which kind of has sci-fi overtones. I heard Mr B being interviewed on Simon Mayo’s radio programme some weeks ago and this was touched on, and he seems to regard Transition as non-sci-fi. Although I’m only a reader, I beg to differ….
The multiple universes, the mechanisms for travelling between them, and the all-powerful Concern all push me towards the sci-fi view. However you could see it as it’s described in the blurb which explains it as a “high-definition, hyper-real, apocalyptic fable” and a great deal of the action does take place in “our” world, in the period between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the attack on the Twin Towers. But an awful lot of it doesn’t…..
But setting all of that aside, it is a really absorbing story of politics and greed and paranoia and terrorism and torture and parallel worlds and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly liked The Transitionary (which is probably just as well) moving between worlds and interfering in various ways for the greater good (or is he?) and Mrs Mulverhill and her habit of wearing small hats with veils, a style I never managed to pull off in the ten minutes when it was fashionable in the eighties. The structure of the novel, using multiple narrators really worked for me as well given the subject matter of the story, and although I had to read the end a couple of times to make sure I really had understood it, I found it a satisfying read.
And I don’t care, I’m going to claim this for the 42 Challenge.
Can’t wait until the next Culture novel, though.