Transition, by Iain Banks Rothdas book review RSS
3.0 Stars

A lesser Banks. Rather than an infinite sea of stars, the story is set in an infinite sea of multiverses, and at every instant the infinity of existing universes branches into infinitely more infinities of universes. Set in this hyper-infinity is the Concern, an organization that has learned to send agents between universes, theoretically to do good and manipulate events in a positive direction. So, right away the setting runs onto Rick and Morty ground, with issues of what exactly it means to do good or even to act in such an endless sea of worlds. E.g. the Concern has a few tens of millions of people involved, which (to use the old Comp482 joke) you might notice is quite a bit less than infinity. So anything that they do, any positive or negative outcome of the story, is going to affect 0% of existing universes, with that fraction growing smaller at every instant. Besides this structural issue, there's also some content problems (waaaaay too much torture! Also perhaps too much sex and sexposition), and some narrative concerns (a raft of new rules and powers are dropped in, without any setup, in the last 40 pages of the book). So not really a Banks novel that I would recommend to anyone but a completionist. On the positive side, I thought Banks did a good job with all 4 of the main characters that he winds through the story (Temudjin, Madam Ortalon, Kleist, Mulverhill) in that they are all engagingly larger than life. Or to put it another way, what makes a good Bond story? Is it that the villain's plot makes a lot of sense? Or is that Bond, the villainous Mastermind, the Henchman, and the Bond girl are all memorable and entertaining? Banks mostly succeeds at this former task at least.

Edit: oh right there is a 5th main character, Adrian Cubish, but I completely forgot about him since he is irrelevant to the otherwise tightly twined plot of the other 4 characters.