PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 September, 2010, 12:00am

by Iain Banks
Little, Brown HK$104

Transition is one of Iain Banks' regular adventures in science fiction. The story follows an assassin who kills people in a number of different universes, and has the sort of name you encounter only in sci-fi: Temudjin Oh. But for Transition, Banks has dispensed with the 'M' initial that he usually uses to denote a sci-fi offering. Transition is named for people like Oh - transitionaires who can inhabit different bodies in different realities. Oh works for an almost ludicrously two-dimensional corporation/fascist government called the Concern. Borrowing from the plot of Philip K.Dick's The Minority Report, the transitionaires kill baddies before they do bad things. Oh is summoned by his superior, Madame d'Ortolan, something of a baddie herself. D'Ortolan commands him to kill a Mrs Mulverhill - a courageous leader of an underground movement and Oh's ex. By the end, all manner of strange plots and characters are rattling around: a torturer called the Philosopher and a banker with the less exciting name of Adrian Cubbish. At times, Transition is pompous, politically obvious and rather worthy. At others, it is good, complicated fun.


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