Books - Review

Showing all books by: Iain M Banks

Look to Windward
Culture novel. Masaq orbital comes under threat from the Chal who want revenge for an intervention by the Culture that went wrong and plunged Chalagria into bitter civil (caste) war.
Pretty good, although some of this is old ideas recycled. Very entertaining though, and read almost straight through on my birthday (pressie from Richy and Cara), just finished off on the Sunday.
Score: 8
Published: tbc
Read: January 27th 2002

Use of Weapons
Zakalwe and that woman whose name I forget swan around the universe doing 'Culture' good deeds with advanced weapons and drones and knife missiles etc.
Very boring now, although I can remember a time when I looked out for the next Culture book with anticipation. Maybe they just don't re-read so well?
Score: 6
Published: 1990
Read: June 14th 2003

The one where a mysterious thing appears from nowhere precipitating lots of drama and intigue. The inter-ship intrigue being particularly confusing, but has a good bit where Sleeper Service goes really fast.
Pretty good except for the confusing bits. Read it before of course.
Score: 7
Published: 1996
Read: January 25th 2005

The Algebraist
Seer Taak goes looking for the secret of ancient wormholes that may be the key to averting a bloody war in his home system, aided by Dwellers from the gas-giant planet Nasqueron.
Pretty good. Re-read this 7/01/07 over weekend at Charlotte's house in Guildford. Enjoyed it again but seemed a bit duller than I remembered.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2004
Read: September 12th 2005

New idea - Shellworlds. They have a god (or jolly powerful alien being) in the middle, and then layers of habitable space build outwards. Artificial. So different species live on each level, and one level is fighting against another, they're both a bit primitive and have kings and steampower and so on, and there's some betrayal and there's some more powerful species trying to take over and destroy everything, and so the Culture SC people have to go and sort it out.
OK, I thought, with lots of stuff about whether a powerful culture should interfere in the affairs of a small culture, but also lots of knife missile action.
Score: 6
Published: 2008
Read: March 13th 2009

Surface Detail
Lededje is tatooed, intagliated and abused. The Culture is keen to see the virtual reality war against the Hells prosecuted and won. Lededje seeks revenge against her abuser - but how far will the Culture go to help her?
Good story, lots of good battles, and not too much confusing intrigue. But some, obviously.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2010
Read: August 23rd 2012

The Hydrogen Sonata
The Gzilt are preparing to sublime when things start to go a bit pear-shaped, and military installations get unexpectedly wasted. The Culture step in, with their usual style and high-tech gizmos, to try and resolve everything fairly, work out what is going on and ensure the scavenger species (hoping to inherit abandoned Gzilt stuff) don't get too beaten up in the process. The action centres on a female Gzilt military reservist who gets called upon to try and find the oldest person in the universe, in the hope that he might have evidence concerning what went on during the period when the Culture was being founded, at the time that the Gzilt opted out of joining the Culture and followed their own 'Book of Truth' instead.
A good Culture novel, with plenty of Ships' snappy dialogue, avatars, and knife missile action etc but I couldn't help thinking the whole way through that for a species about to sublime (which you only do when your culture (small 'c') has reached its pinnacle in the real universe) there seemed to be a lot of greedy/silly/incompetent/murderous/deceitful Gzilt folk around?
Score: 8
Published: 2012
Read: July 8th 2013

Consider Phlebas
Struggling to remember, mustn't leave review-writing so long. The Culture and their minds vs anti-tech species - both want to capture a rogue mind hiding on a Planet of the Dead.
Even after reading the Amazon synopsis I can't recall anything. I'd better read it again sometime... Anyway, I'm sure it was worth an 8. Plus I must have read this one years ago.
Score: 8
Published: 1987
Read: January 26th 2019