Iain M. Banks
Transition Cover

Transition: pulpy



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 philosophy: solipsism gets some pages, but it's not that interesting - maybe if you're 15 it is. It's all painting by numbers. Let's try this insightful passage as an example:

He did recall, despite the pulsings of such concentrated extended pleasure, that there were people who existed in a state of perpetual sexual arousel, coming to orgasm continually, through the most trivial, ordinary and frequent physical triggers and experiences. It sounded like utter bliss, the sort of thing drunk friends roared with envious laughter over towards the end of an evening, but the unfunny truth was that, in its most acute form, it was a severe and debilitating medical condition. The final proof that it was so was that many people who suffered from it took their own lives. Bliss - pure physical rapture - could become absolutely unbearable.


Themes are typical hedonist Banks: lots of sex, some drugs. He opens the book explicitly by embedding the setting between the fall of the Berlin wall, 9/11 and the 2008 economic crisis. That seems promising at first, as Banks does it with quite some aplomb, but sadly none of the political stuff is explored - except for some asides about torture (in an interview he said to have Guantanamo in mind) and a few rants against capitalism. There's also the typical stuff about those that have superpowers and try to influence reality for the better, and that power corrupting... you've read it all before.


Please read the full review on Weighing A Pig...