Iain Banks’ new book is of a sort that Iain M Banks could have put his name to – because this book, though it has a (sort of) contemporary setting, is loaded with sci-fi concepts. The main one is that we all live in a multiverse, which is to say there is a (possibly infinite) number of parallel earths, all different to some degree, existing beside one another. Then there’s The Concern, an organization dedicated to influencing events across worlds, possibly for the better, but possibly for its own gain. It takes a while to work out what's going on - the book is a challenging read. Exposition is kept to a minimum at first, with readers left to keep up with events over a growing number of apparently unconnected narratives. This could be alienating, but each story is absorbing enough to carry the reader onwards towards finding out how they connect. Key to the story is that some characters can make transitions, which is to say they move from one body to another across universes – and one of these transitionaries is planning rebellion. What is initially a complicated book, quickly bceomes a fascinating one. [Nat Smith]
Out now. Cover price £18.99. Published by Little, Brown.