(1999) Iain Banks, Little Brown, £16.99, hrdbk, 393pp, ISBN 0-316-64844-2
This is a wry look at global capitalism, peppered with delightfully funny observations. Banks’ work has always contained elements of humour, which is just as well in this case, otherwise there may have been a possibility that the reader would pick up only on bitterness.
Kate Telman works for the Business, a trans-global organisation which pre-dates Christianity and the Roman Empire. Powerful as they are, sometimes working with (or around) governments, they would nonetheless like more power -- indeed, the Business appears to be less concerned with money as they are concerned more with influence. To this end, the Business has decided to buy their own country, ostensibly to secure a seat at the UN. It’s Kate’s job to liaise with the soon-to-be former head of a remote mountain state, while dodging his amourous intentions, and secure the site for the Business. But, while she has never considered the moral implications of ‘business’ -- or even that there are moral implications -- the small country and its people start to affect her in a decidedly unbusinesslike way, and Kate must overcome a lifetime of indoctrination to confront a colleague who is acting against the interests of the Business, while she herself is starting to question the ethical stance of the organisation.
Wickedly amusing and keenly observed, this book is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud in places. Recommended.
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