Iain Banks's new thriller TRANSITION as a free podcast

Alex sez, "In a first for Orbit, we're serializing the abridged audio edition of Transition by Iain M. Banks as a podcast., starting today. For free. New chapters launched Tuesday and Friday. This is the abridged edition -- the full book is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook editions today. The Independent says: 'TRANSITION is a book that makes you think, one that makes you look at the world around you in a different light, and it's also a properly thrilling read. If only more contemporary fiction was like it.'"

I'm a huge fan of Banks's thrillers; I like them even better than his science fiction.

Podcast feed

Transition hardcover (US)

Transition hardcover (UK)


  1. Careful when using this author’s name. Iain M. Banks is the name he uses for his SF. Iain Banks is the name he uses for his non-SF work. (Unless, of course, that’s changed)
    Saw the Iain Banks in the title, and wasn’t very excited. Add the M, and I’m very excited.
    Love any of his SF, felt pretty Meh about his other stuff, like Wasp Factory.
    Just my $0.02

  2. Hmm, it’s listed as fiction. Confusing. Forget most of my earlier comment, sorry.
    Nothing to see here, move along!

  3. Yeah, well, the Iain M. Banks is a much better writer than that impostor Iain Banks.

    Also, are there any volunteers for the role of Lives in an upcoming game of Damage? Time and place are necessarily confidential.

  4. So, I have read a lot of Iain Banks novels, and like them a lot, but so far haven’t read any Iain M. Banks stuff, mainly because I am not that in to Sci-Fi. However, everyone raves about the M. books compared to the no-middle-initialers. So question to those M.ers, which Iain M. Banks book would you recommend as the best? or best to start if there is any kind of lineage?



  5. #8TATE88

    Any of his Culture books (the Culture are a benevolent if slightly mischievious pan-galactic civilization run by super intelligent machines) except the last one he wrote recently called Matter, I thought that book sucked compared to the others.

    My personal favorite is Look to Windward.

  6. Tate88, to disagree with Woopantz, I quite liked Matter, though I don’t think it would be a good introduction to the series — most of what’s interesting about it is going on behind the scenes, and requires knowledge of the Culture. I think Use of Weapons and The Player of Games are his two best, and I’d go so far as to say there’s a rough consensus on that point among Banks fans.

    Sheetzam, Banks’s non-M novels are not all winners, but some of them are fantastically incisive fiction. I recommend The Crow Road and The Bridge, and was recently pleasantly surprised by The Steep Approach to Garbadale.

  7. Tate,

    A good discussion of his sci-fi books is here (down a bit, for opinions on starter books).

    But you should probably read them in order, or maybe start with Feersum Endjinn, one of his non-culture sci-fi books, and then move on to the Culture books in order.

  8. I was listening to Iain on the radio talking about the book. He says it’s roughly 50% SF and 50% regular Bank’s fiction.

    In the US it get’s the ‘M’ treatment and in the UK (and everywhere else) it’s non-M. I’ve found his later non-SF books somewhat lacking and so I was put off and going to pass on it until I heard him say the book deals with things like the multiverse and characters leaping into different realities dependent on their actions and so forth.

    Since I’m jonesing for a new M novel, I’m going to grab this – it’s going to be another year before the next Culture novel, apparently.

    To Tate88 … Consider Phlebas is an outstanding first SF novel and still one of his best. I loved State of the Art (short non-culture stories and a little Culture novella), Feersum Endjinn is (IMO) a flawed masterpiece.

    Of course if you want a *really* good Bank’s book I would reccommend Walking on Glass.

  9. I started with Iain Banks and found his first M books rather disappointing. The problem seems to have been though that as he separated into two personae all the weird stuff went into the M novels and the rest became rather mundane.

    Since no-one else has mentioned it, I’ll shout out for Espedair Street. Sadly I lent my signed copy to a girlfriend who promptly dumped me.

  10. Nickpheas, I’ll second you on Espedair Street although my (sadly not signed) copies are still in my possession.

    I’ve been looking to get a copy of the podcast for the last few weeks. It was available in the UK (which makes sense) and in the US, but not in Canada. Frustrating given that I see his books here in Canada all the time and have yet to come across them in my travels through the US.

  11. I’d recommend the “State of the Art” novella as an introduction to the Culture novels, followed by the novels in order (beginning with *Consider Phlebas*). My own favorites are *Excession* and “State of the Art,” but my opinion is not widely shared.

  12. Strangely, I have read a lot of SF in my life, but have only read the Iain M. Banks novels rather than the SF ones.

    The first book of his I read was The Wasp Factory. What an initiation, there is some sick s**t in that book. I thoroughly recommend it! Walking on Glass is a mindf**k too, I also thoroughly recommend it. I think I should get his new book!

  13. yeah, a good culture novel is prob. the peak of sf.

    I did like some of his earlier non-m stuff, in particular The Bridge, tho rly, after trainspotting / marabou stork nightmares, Irvine Welsh left him in the dust for interesting scottish novels for a while and I stopped reading the non-m ones.

    for the m ones, agree with @15 – they all pretty much rock apart from matter, which wanders.

    earlier ones, (excession, against a dark background and feersum endjinn in particular) just own.

  14. Anonymous15

    My fav is Excession too. Along with Use of Weapons.

    You get them the first read, but need to read them twice to appreciate them, and you still miss subtle, clever shit.

  15. My copy of Transition arrived in the mail yesterday, very disappointing so far – it’s completely failed to grab me in any respect.

    Will persist, of course, as who knows it could turn out to be an Excession (unlikely). So far, though, it’s not even a Matter.

    You know what I mean.

  16. Mandatory shout out, for TATE88, to The Algebraist, and Against a Dark Background, which were both excellent non-Culture Iain M. Banks books. And to reiterate what others have said, read the Culture books in chronological order, which would start with Consider Phlebas.

    As a side note, I wish he had done more with Idiran-Culture War instead of merely referencing it in passing in subsequent books.

  17. I got all excited for a moment, until I saw the word abridged.
    Ah well.
    *Goes back to waiting for the paperback to come out*

  18. Can’t believe no one has raved about Player of Games yet. That’s his best M work, in my opinion. Awesome awesome stuff. Encapsulates everything that’s awesome about the Culture, and his most imaginitive, I think.

  19. I Have to agree with sheetzam, – Player of Games was indeed a fantastic Culture novel. My favourite is Excession though, but I don’t think you can start with that one, its important to read a few of the others first to fully appreciate it imho.
    Use of weapons was also completely awesome.

  20. Great Culture tips. Another vote for “State of the Art” as a primer (love Sma). UPS delivered yesterday. That makes 26 Banks titles when “Transition” hit the doormat, I’ve read each one so far. Some of his books reward multiple rereading. Don’t forget he has done non-fiction too. “Raw Spirit” was an interesting tour, but then I like Scotch. “The Crow Road” was made into a Scottish TV 8 part serial on NTSC-VHS tape that was quite a hit there.

  21. for TATE88:

    For me, it is with out a doubt Excession, amazing read (reread, reread). The ships, their quirks, the culture, the drones its all so enjoyable. All subsequent books never matched it imo.

  22. He’s playing games again. The Bridge, by Iain Banks, has weird sequences right out of Iain M. Banks, including some specific passages that relate to the Culture novels. And note the title of Transition, please.

  23. Yeah, Against A Dark Background is great! As is Player’.

    They’re all so bloody good, whenever someone asks for recommendations you just end up with his whole catalogue..


    Your Mind name?

  24. @33, ahh; my favourite number…

    ahem. Not my mind’s name. That gets lost in translation. Credit goes to Iain; There’s one for every occasion.
    If I was more well read (checks grammar…ok),
    (damnit) I probably wouldn’t hold Banks in *such* high regard.
    As it stands; I think if someone doesn’t make a film of one of the Culture novels soon, I’m just going to have to learn how to do it myself. Dag-nabbit.
    by the way, in case you hadn’t noticed; I heart semicolons.

  25. 2K,

    I’ve been dreaming about a Culture feature film for years. I reckon they’d need a duology or trilogy per book, though. I dunno if the studios’d go for it.

    Let us join forces, I’ll do the effects..!


  26. Podcast seems to dry up at Ep22/23! I suspect either malicious ploy of bait and switch “here’s the whole thing…cough…without the ending. Surprise!” or a really busy December for whoever puts out the podcast. Hope it’s the latter, as it’s jolly good and deserves an ending.

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