Iain M. Banks novels

Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:32 pm

... for that matter, I'm not supposed to have enough time to be around here so much this week either... :)
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Graham Kennedy » Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:58 pm

Finished Consider Phlebas... mild to moderate spoiler review follows...

This was always one of my favourite of the culture books, and it still has a good deal to recommend it. That said, it's a bit more... meandering than I remember.
The basic story of a Culture agent vying with a Changer over a lost Mind is an interesting setup. I also like that the protagonist is actually the bad guy, rather than the Culture agent. Indeed the Culture is not really a clear "good guy" here. The book doesn't paint it as evil or anything, in fact it goes out of its way to paint the Idirans as a much nastier group. But so often science fiction depicts a society led by intelligent machines as a Bad Thing, something ultimately doomed, or evil... the first time I read this I couldn't help but think that the Culture were somehow the bad guys in all this. Not until the end notes did I really see them as the clearly morally superior side.

The book does go on a bit, though. For instance the story is about capturing the mind... but a good half of it is taken up with Horza and his adventures on the CAT. Horza in the Temple of Light... Horza on the Megaship... Horza on the island... Horza at the Damage game... Horza escaping Vavatch... they are all good sequences, full of interest and excitement, but this time through especially I couldn't help but wish they'd hurry up and get to the Mind already. I would have been tempted to have Horza take over the CAT a lot sooner and just get on with things.

If there's one over-riding theme to this book, it seems to be "shit happens". All over the place people are being buffeted around by chance or circumstances that they just couldn't have imagined, often with horribly fatal results. Indeed I won't go into details, but once they escape Vavatch there is never any threat from the Culture again; Horza's only opponent is basically an extreme case of bad luck.

Overall a good ride. Someday they will make a movie out of this; the escape from Vavatch alone would make it worthwhile!
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Mikey » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:22 pm

I noticed that "meandering" quality in Excession, too. Some of the tangential stories, while entertaining, left me wondering what they contributed to the novel as a whole.

BTW - that would be some cinematic eye candy - the whole Sleeper Service-built fleet massing to square off against the Affront-led forces...
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Captain Seafort » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:38 pm

GrahamKennedy wrote:Overall a good ride. Someday they will make a movie out of this; the escape from Vavatch alone would make it worthwhile!


And if they could capture the scale of the Eschatologist's stunt... wow. :shock:

Mikey wrote:BTW - that would be some cinematic eye candy - the whole Sleeper Service-built fleet massing to square off against the Affront-led forces...


Never mind the SS - how about the KT's charge? How fast was that thing moving exactly?
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Mikey » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:44 pm

Exactly? I think the exact measurement was "stupid fast."
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Sionnach Glic » Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:04 pm

IIRC, the whole thing was over in seconds, with hundreds of ships destroyed in that time. No Culture movie could ever do it justice.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Captain Seafort » Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:13 pm

I've been mulling over this incident for a while now - I've posted my calaculations (which involve some pretty hefty assumptions) here. The results are startling.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Reliant121 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:21 pm

I've never read a Culture novel, and I dont think any local libraries have any.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Captain Seafort » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:25 pm

You're missing out then. I've only read three - Consider Phlebas, Use of Weapons and Excession, but they're easilly among the best si-fi ever. I'd strongly advise getting your hands on one if at all possible (Consider Phlebas is the best of the ones I've read for an intro to the series).
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Reliant121 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:30 pm

I'm getting money soon, so i'll trawl through Amazon.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Sionnach Glic » Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:17 pm

You should definitely check them out. It's one of the most unique settings you'll find.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:14 pm

Rochey wrote:Agreed, that was one disturbing ship. The way it killed that commandant guy at the start of Excession was....disturbing. Sure, the guy deserved it, but it was still pretty unpleasant. Really brings home just how much power these ships have at their disposal, and hints at what a rogue one could do.


OK, I just read this scene (and the description of the OCP) -

1. Frightening and disturbing indeed :shock:

2. Yes, the Commandant did deserve it.

3. In the words of the Gray Area itself, "Vastly superior power."

4. Meatfucker :lol:

Seafort - those three are the exact three I've either read or are currently reading (ironically, in the order you posted 'em, too!)
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