Iain M. Banks
Orbit, Sep 2009, $25.99
The Concern oversees the behavior of leaders on what appears to be an infinite number of parallel worlds. When they feel a person may cause worldwide harm, they send their Transitionary agents to assassinate that individual. The Transitionaries alight from one world to another by using a drug septus that enable their movement.
One of the more adept Transitionary assassins is Temudjin Oh, who has recently began to doubt the missions as he questions the morality of intrusion and murder even as he understands he is an “Unreliable Narrator” telling an obvious false tale based on his wrong premise. While his ethical concerns grow with each hit, others have problems too but different from his hesitation to kill. Mrs. Mulverhill for instance opposes the Concern and has started a small rebellion while Patient 8262 fakes mental illnesses to gain hospitalizations in order to avoid Transitionary assignments. Mulverhill considers Patient 8262, but actively tries to recruit Oh.
TRANSITION is a terrific cerebral science fiction thriller that demands people scrutinize and probe what is going on in their world instead of just acquiescing and accepting. With obvious implication and condemnation of the Iraq government change Iain M. Bank makes a case that instead of inane shallow bumper sticker analysis people need to dig into the essence and the background like Oh who no longer trusts or believes in the “benevolent” Concern as the members have their own agendas. With surprisingly plenty of action considering the intelligent design of the novel, fans will join Oh in Tibet, Venice, London and elsewhere as he struggles with the universal question of to kill or not to kill and be killed.