The Business is a science fiction novel by the acclaimed British author Iain M Banks.
Thinking that it maybe was about time for something not so spectacular, I grabbed this book by Iain Not-M Banks while I was at the bookstore (getting The Naked God). Good thing.
Even with it's high finance setting and international business milieu, The Business is the most quiet and laid back book I've ever read by Banks. This is mostly because of the main character Kate Telman, who's just so nice, and warm and understandable that it's nearly too much. But only nearly, Banks keeps her well in line and makes her tell her story, in just about the best possible way that the story can be told.
Kate is a lever three executive (level one is the top) in the company called The Business. Now that may sound like the recipe for a silly movie with Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford, but it isn't, really!. The Business is a different kind of company, first of all; it's old, in the sense that it owned the Roman Empire for a short period; it's democratic, in the sense that its executives are elected by the employees and thirdly it's big, in the sense that it's trying to buy a country so that it can get a seat in the UN.
The country-buying bit is where Kate comes into the picture – The Business wants her to check out this small country in the Himalayas. Oh, and could she possibly marry the local prince while she is at it? There's a lot more to the story, but not as much as one might have hoped. Lots of zipping around the world and talking to people with way too much money and definitely too much power, but somehow I had a feeling that Banks didn't know Kate well enough before he started out on this story. Oh, the story is great, but I could have used just a bit more depth of character in Kate.
Written on 1st October 1999 by TC.
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