by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This novel revolves around the Concern - a secretive group of dimension-hopping operatives who carry out missions across various alternate Earths for purposes known only to a very few on their governing council. It follows a variety of characters, though the central one is a Concern assassin with the delightful name of Temudjin Oh, who is finally asked to carry out a mission that he can't stomach, and goes rogue.
This book offers everything Banks's science fiction usually offers, except for the funny spaceship names: It's inventive, funny, though-provoking, occasionally just provoking, and just a bit too fond of the sound of its own voice. (If you don't like Banks's occasional ramblings, try the abridged audiobook version currently being made available as a podcast on iTunes. The abridger occasionally manages to make Banks's prose seem spare and taut. To me, this just feels wrong.)
This being a Banks novel, there are absurd feats of engineering, scenes of graphic violence, and technical lectures on the workings of the multiverse delivered in the throes of sexual congress.
The book's prologue frames its action as taking place between the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the collapse of the global banking system in 2008, and I was a bit afraid that it was going to be overly topical. I didn't find it so, though the book does tackle the ethics of both torture and investment banking, with rather more cheap shots taken at investment banking.
I had tremendous fun reading this book. I think it's the most satisfying of Banks's non-space opera novels that I've read in a while.View all my reviews >>