A nameless man lies in a hospital bed. A shadowy organisation runs the world. A boy grows up in a religious sect. Fans of Iain Banks will find him revisiting quite a lot of old ground in his new novel. The Bridge, The Business and Whit are just three previous fictions that this book self-consciously echoes. Throw in a dodgy capitalist geezer, some extreme sadism and a few high-definition sex scenes and what we have is the literary equivalent of a greatest hits album.
Yet, despite the familiarity of some of its elements, Transition does seem to represent a departure in a couple of ways. First, it attempts to cross the divide between the work of the literary novelist Iain Banks and his alter ego, the sci-fi writer Iain M Banks. Second,