Thursday, May 30, 2013

Transition by Iain M. Banks

By Iain M. Banks

Transition switches between multiple character's parallel narratives that eventually intertwine.  Initially, it was promising, since the writing style for each character seemed quite distinct and I was hoping what would emerge was differing, in-depth characters coming together in a unique way.

But this did not happen.  Moreover, halfway through, I was not sure I should continue.  Overall, this just did not do it for me.

First, there's a sense of smugness to when characters explain what's going on.  One particular chapter sounded like a freshman, taking a philosophy class, knowingly lecturing to his friends about a mode of thought.
Solipsism, he told us, was in a sense the default state of humanity. There was, arguably, a kernel of us that always believed that we personally, our own individual consciousness, was the only thing that really existed and that nothing else mattered. That feeling we have - certainly that behavior we exhibit - of utter selfishness as a child, absolutely demanding...
Blah, I can't even finish quoting it. The writing goes on and on about, excitedly, about a pedestrian idea that could easily have been done in a few sentences and any other explanations have that feel to them as well.

Secondly, the male characters seem to be astoundingly obvious projections of the author's desires.  The male characters here are just so awesome, one with a talent that has never before been seen, that the two beautiful, intelligent women main characters recognize this and offer themselves (of course sexually) to them.  Uh huh. There's more emotional authenticity to Penthouse letters - the reader knows they were made-up, but  understands there's an entertainment purpose to the fakeness (like WWE).  Here not so much - I wouldn't be surprised if Banks thinks he's a ladies' man in real life.

Lastly, I give you Bank's attempt to be edgy.  I need only give a quote:
I do not like to question females. The rather obvious reason would be that their screams remind me of those of my mother when my father raped her on that never-to-be-forgotten night following her return home after the birth of my sister.
Ick.  Banks is on my never-read-again list.

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