Iain Banks’ Transition on iTunes

I blogged previously about the news that Iain BanksTransition was going to be released as a podcast through iTunes. I recently downloaded and started listening to this. It comes in 7 episodes so far, each of about 15-20 minutes long. Although according to the press release there will be 23 episodes in total.

What the press release doesn’t say is that actually this isn’t the full book, but an abridged version. This of course makes perfect sense, why would the publisher give the whole audio book away. However, I think I’m going to keep listening. The story is well narrated and very intriguing. Banks uses a number of different narrators to tell his story, which after listening to two and half episodes is still rather enigmatic, but very intriguing. What I like about it so far is the fact that he doesn’t feel the need to insult the reader’s (listener’s) intelligence by explaining everything. We find out more about the characters and the setting as the story progresses. In particular there are two characters who are operating in a world that is not our own, but we have to piece together ourselves what is going on rather than being given an information dump to explain it to us.

The book also seems to be dealing with some interesting themes. It starts by comparing two incidents, 9/11 and the fall of the Berlin wall. It’s very much, I think, going to be a book about the world we live in now, despite the speculative elements. This is the kind of fiction that is both challenging and important. I can’t understand why Iain doesn’t get further in prizes like the Booker. Surely his kind of fiction which examines our society is more relevant than the books that seem to fill this short-list, which apparently with only one exception are all basically historical novels.

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