A world that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, between the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, frozen in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse, such a world requires a firm hand and a guiding light. But does it need the Concern: an all-powerful organisation with a malevolent presiding genius, pervasive influence and numberless invisible operatives in possession of extraordinary powers? On the Concern's books are Temudjin Oh, an un-killable assassin who journeys between the peaks of Nepal, a version of Victorian London and the dark palaces of Venice; and a nameless, faceless torturer known only as the Philosopher. And then there's the renegade Mrs Mulverhill, who recruits rebels to her side; and Patient 8262, hiding out from a dirty past in a forgotten hospital ward. As these vivid, strange and sensuous worlds circle and collide, the implications of turning traitor to the Concern become horribly apparent, and an unstable universe is set on a dizzying course.
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Iain M. Banks
Iain [Menzies] Banks was born in Fife in 1954, and was educated at Stirling University, where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. His first science fiction novel, Consider Phlebas, was published in 1987. He has continued to write both mainstream fiction (as Iain Banks) and science fiction (as Iain M. Banks). He is now acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation: The Guardian has called him "the standard by which the rest of SF is judged". William Gibson, the New York Times-bestselling author of Spook Country describes Banks as a "phenomenon". Iain M. Banks lives in Fife, Scotland.