Iain M Banks - 'Culture series'

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  • Jetset_UK 17 Mar 2008 23:11:19 3,538 posts
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    OK, now I realise I'm about 20 years behind, but Ive almost finished Consider Phlebas, and am hooked.

    Couldn't believe there wasnt already a thread about it TBH. Considering how well read some of you are. :D
  • otto Moderator 17 Mar 2008 23:13:29 49,291 posts
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    There are loads of threads about it! Have you joined Book Club?

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  • Inquisitor Moderator 17 Mar 2008 23:15:13 14,545 posts
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    Probably my favourite of the series, though use of weapons and player of games were really really good aswell.
  • GrandpaUlrira 17 Mar 2008 23:19:29 3,751 posts
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    I've read two books by Banks, but I have to ask... does the man know how to write a consistently interesting middle section? Consider Phlebas and The Algebraist seemed to meander for quite some time.
  • Jetset_UK 17 Mar 2008 23:23:39 3,538 posts
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    otto wrote:
    There are loads of threads about it! Have you joined Book Club?

    I did a search. Even went a grabbed it, to check my spelling. :D

    Not joined the book club. I'll go do it.
  • otto Moderator 17 Mar 2008 23:25:13 49,291 posts
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    Mini review of Banks sci-fi, not in any particular order:

    Consider Phlebas - good, but definitely not the best Culture novel, 7/10
    Use of Weapons - very good, dark, 8/10
    The Player of Games - my favourite, this, rang all my bells, 10/10
    Excession - also very very good, lots of fun with ships, 9/10
    Inversions - 'sort of' Culture but only very loosely, a good yarn, 6/10
    Look to Windward - bit meh about this tbh - 5/10
    Matter - some great moments but ultimately disappointing - 5/10

    non-Culture:

    Feersum Endjinn - my first Banks novel and one of my favourites, though very much a marmite book - 8/10
    Against a Dark Background - wonderful book, a corker, 10/10
    Algebraist - wtf was he thinking? Diabolical pot boiler, 3/10

    Have I missed any?

    edit - ooh yes, missed the short story collection, State of the Art - well, a mixed bag, but the Culture novella was very good so 7/10.

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  • GrandpaUlrira 17 Mar 2008 23:38:27 3,751 posts
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    Will I miss much if I go straight to The Player of Games?
  • JammyB 17 Mar 2008 23:42:14 756 posts
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    I'm nearly done with Against A Dark Background at the moment and, although not a Culture book, it's really enjoyable. It took a while to get into it but the characters are some of his best and it's got a great sense of humour.

    Consider Phlebus and Player Of Games are my favourite Culture books, and some of my favourite sci-fis. I'd definitely read PoG next and then read the rest in whatever order you like. I found the others less hard-hitting but I suppose I had more of an idea of what to expect (Excession has some incredible moments even so).
  • Deleted user 17 March 2008 23:44:10
    I've always faniced these, having gone off his 'Dial-a-Scottish-book' novels after Complicity (which was skimming the surface of 'airport trash', to be honest), but flicking through them led me to think it was all terribly geeky other-world sci-fi claptrap.

    Does they have redeeming qualities?
  • Deleted user 17 March 2008 23:44:32
    Still remember those few days, 20 years ago , when I read Consider Phlebas (was 15 years old) - one of my best 'reading memories', if you like...
  • Jetset_UK 17 Mar 2008 23:51:10 3,538 posts
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    MrED209 wrote:
    Does they have redeeming qualities?

    They're great (on the strength of 3/4 of the first one). I dont usually enjoy sci-fi books that much, but I'm well into it. I want them to make a film of it. I'm lobbying my MP (the overpaid twat).
  • coastal 18 Mar 2008 00:00:31 5,372 posts
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    greggywocky wrote:
    Still remember those few days, 20 years ago , when I read Consider Phlebas (was 15 years old) - one of my best 'reading memories', if you like...

    soddin hell you're right, 20 years...

    /gulp at age

    bf3: sergeant_shaftoe

  • Deleted user 18 March 2008 00:14:01
    coastal wrote:
    greggywocky wrote:
    Still remember those few days, 20 years ago , when I read Consider Phlebas (was 15 years old) - one of my best 'reading memories', if you like...

    soddin hell you're right, 20 years...

    /gulp at age

    Yeh was a bit shocked when UK Gold did a run of Red Dwarf the other week because it was the 20th anniversary too... :)
  • Shinji 18 Mar 2008 00:18:12 5,903 posts
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    I agree about Matter being disappointing, but it's very readable all the same. 7 is probably fair. Look to Windward was fantastic though, I really enjoyed the fairly high-level Mind stuff in it - you've done it a disservice, really.

    And I absolutely loved The Algebraist. How dare you. ACTUALLY how dare you. It's ace!

    Well, maybe not ace, but a solid 7 or 8 :)
  • Psychotext 18 Mar 2008 00:35:33 52,802 posts
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    Full of win... even the not so good ones. That is all.
  • Jetset_UK 18 Mar 2008 00:39:21 3,538 posts
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    Where too after those then? Tell me now, and I'll come back to this thread i a few months. :)
  • UncleLou Moderator 18 Mar 2008 00:42:11 35,172 posts
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    I bought Consider Phlebas ages agon, then spilled some coffee over it and never read it because the ruined state of the book annoyed me. Great story, I know, I know. I shall have a look for it and finally read it.
  • StixxUK 18 Mar 2008 01:57:02 7,173 posts
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    My favourites are Player of Games and Feersum Endjinn. Both utterly awesome.

    To be honest, I haven't read a Banks book that I didn't like (well, not a sci-fi one at any rate... Song of Stone and Whit were both crap).
  • lost_soul 18 Mar 2008 05:32:24 9,369 posts
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    I loved Consider ... and Excession, but could never get into any of the others.

    Wasp Factory needs to be mentioned in this thread, too. (Yeah, I know it's not an "M" book)
  • Clive_Dunn 18 Mar 2008 06:57:47 4,762 posts
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    +1 for Against a Dark Background. Not a Culture book and therefore gets a bit overlooked, but its a great yarn set in a fantastic solar system.

    Solipsists ftw.
  • The_Aardvark 18 Mar 2008 08:03:05 3,063 posts
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    Not directly relevant, but I'm reading 'The Line of Polity' by Neal Asher and what a sad rtip off of the Culture novels that is. A utopian human empire, governed by AIs, seeks to expand it's territory by undermining dictatorships through shady dealings.

    I was sold on it with promises of the new weird, but as far as I can tell it's more the old derivative.
  • otto Moderator 18 Mar 2008 08:42:33 49,291 posts
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    Jetset_UK wrote:
    Where too after those then? Tell me now, and I'll come back to this thread i a few months. :)
    You mean where to go after reading all of Banks's stuff? (Don't read his non 'M' so-called non-genre stuff, it's rubbish!)

    I'd say the usual space opera line-up would include:

    Peter F. Hamilton - Night's Dawn Trilogy (but you should avoid his other stuff)
    Ken Macleod - his Fall Revolution quartet (again, best to avoid his other stuff)
    Dan Simmons - the Hyperion/Endymion quartet
    Vernor Vinge - A Deepness in the Sky

    Not strictly Banksian space opera but on the same level of readability and excellence are the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, and anything at all by Neal Stephenson.

    If anyone suggests Alastair Reynolds to you, taze them.

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  • DaM 18 Mar 2008 08:44:24 12,612 posts
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    StixxUK wrote:

    To be honest, I haven't read a Banks book that I didn't like (well, not a sci-fi one at any rate... Song of Stone and Whit were both crap).

    Really? I really like both of those! I like the setting for Song of Stone. And I only read Whit when it came out, but remember loving it - may have been something to do with living on the banks of the Forth at the time, the river that the main character sailed down on the river tube.
  • otto Moderator 18 Mar 2008 08:44:25 49,291 posts
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    MrED209 wrote:
    I've always faniced these, having gone off his 'Dial-a-Scottish-book' novels after Complicity (which was skimming the surface of 'airport trash', to be honest), but flicking through them led me to think it was all terribly geeky other-world sci-fi claptrap.

    Does they have redeeming qualities?
    Haha, TROLL!!! :p

    If you hate his airport trash (which is entirely understandable) and yet you think sci-fi is 'geeky other-world claptrap' what on earth possessed you to 'fancy' these?

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  • TechnoHippy 18 Mar 2008 08:50:12 14,642 posts
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    The_Aardvark wrote:
    Not directly relevant, but I'm reading 'The Line of Polity' by Neal Asher and what a sad rtip off of the Culture novels that is. A utopian human empire, governed by AIs, seeks to expand it's territory by undermining dictatorships through shady dealings.

    I was sold on it with promises of the new weird, but as far as I can tell it's more the old derivative.

    I quite liked it, while some of it is quite derivative, his books are still a good read.

    As for culture novels, Excession is probably my favourite.

    My books, contests, reviews and author interviews on my blog

  • otto Moderator 18 Mar 2008 08:53:03 49,291 posts
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    I'd love to see him write a sequel to Excession because there's definitely potential for one.

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  • TechnoHippy 18 Mar 2008 08:53:46 14,642 posts
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    My thoughts exactly.

    My books, contests, reviews and author interviews on my blog

  • Khanivor 18 Mar 2008 18:39:14 39,895 posts
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    otto wrote:
    I'd love to see him write a sequel to Excession because there's definitely potential for one.

    I wrote my MA dissertation on that book and Nueromancer :)
  • otto Moderator 18 Mar 2008 18:40:14 49,291 posts
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    Seriously?

    Bung us a copy! I'd love to read it.

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  • spindizzy 18 Mar 2008 18:45:01 6,400 posts
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    Techno Hippy wrote:
    The_Aardvark wrote:
    Not directly relevant, but I'm reading 'The Line of Polity' by Neal Asher and what a sad rtip off of the Culture novels that is. A utopian human empire, governed by AIs, seeks to expand it's territory by undermining dictatorships through shady dealings.

    I was sold on it with promises of the new weird, but as far as I can tell it's more the old derivative.

    I quite liked it, while some of it is quite derivative, his books are still a good read.

    As for culture novels, Excession is probably my favourite.

    I really like the Neal Asher stuff tbh, and I think it's a bit rich to claim that Banks invented the concept of a future ruled by (mostly) benevolent AIs. Google 'multivac' for a start. And my Culture favourite has to be the 'Use of Weapons'.

    I think one of my favourite sci-fi books of all time has to be The Demolished Man though. Awesome energy to it. Oh, and 'Only Forward' by Michael Marshall Smith. THAT is an incredibly inventive book.
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