Iain M Banks

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Re: Iain M Banks

#41  Postby Tim Hendrix » Jan 20, 2011 5:39 am

They are mostly independant stories but you should probably read them in order, though it wouldn't be disatrous if you didn't. It's not so much that he might refer to events that occur in other books (though he does do that a tiny bit), it's more that the Culture concept itself has obviously developed as Banks writes each book, so it may be best to read them in order for that reason.

My favourites are Consider Fleabag, and Look to Windward, I LOVED Use of Weapons (which was the first one I read), I really liked Against a Dark Background, which is a great adventure novel.

Player of Games is fantastic too. Hell, they're all fantastic, I read and re-read them all the time!

Excession is great because it concentrates on the Minds, who are awesome. I remember someone saying that you should rip out the last page before you read the book. I agree. Don't know what Banks was thinking there.

I just finished the latest one, Surface Detail. Very much an old-style Culture book.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#42  Postby Matt_B » Jan 20, 2011 10:47 am

I'd also recommend reading at least one of the Culture novels before Inversions. It's somewhat ambiguous as to whether it's actually a Culture novel at all, but there are a few hints dropped in various places that you might pick up on if you've read some of the others.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#43  Postby Ubjon » Jan 20, 2011 3:59 pm

Matt_B wrote:I'd also recommend reading at least one of the Culture novels before Inversions. It's somewhat ambiguous as to whether it's actually a Culture novel at all, but there are a few hints dropped in various places that you might pick up on if you've read some of the others.


Ambiguous?The knife missile killing the torturer at the end wasn't that ambiguous!
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Re: Iain M Banks

#44  Postby Matt_B » Jan 20, 2011 4:24 pm

Ubjon wrote:
Matt_B wrote:I'd also recommend reading at least one of the Culture novels before Inversions. It's somewhat ambiguous as to whether it's actually a Culture novel at all, but there are a few hints dropped in various places that you might pick up on if you've read some of the others.


Ambiguous?The knife missile killing the torturer at the end wasn't that ambiguous!


I'd say that it's ambiguous, as the story is told from the viewpoint of unreliable narrators who know nothing of the Culture. A reader who does, however, might pick up on a few references.

For what it's worth, there's also a knife missile in The Bridge, but most people wouldn't call that a Culture novel.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#45  Postby Ubjon » Jan 20, 2011 4:36 pm

Matt_B wrote:
Ubjon wrote:
Matt_B wrote:I'd also recommend reading at least one of the Culture novels before Inversions. It's somewhat ambiguous as to whether it's actually a Culture novel at all, but there are a few hints dropped in various places that you might pick up on if you've read some of the others.


Ambiguous?The knife missile killing the torturer at the end wasn't that ambiguous!


I'd say that it's ambiguous, as the story is told from the viewpoint of unreliable narrators who know nothing of the Culture. A reader who does, however, might pick up on a few references.

For what it's worth, there's also a knife missile in The Bridge, but most people wouldn't call that a Culture novel.


To each their own I guess. I just saw it as a snapshot of culture interference in a developing civilisation. Its nice to have that variety of story in his books.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#46  Postby Made of Stars » Jan 21, 2011 10:25 am

Ubjon wrote:To each their own I guess. I just saw it as a snapshot of culture interference in a developing civilisation. Its nice to have that variety of story in his books.

Agree.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#47  Postby JoeB » Jan 21, 2011 10:46 am

Bought the series about a month ago after reading the first couple book (consider phlebas, player of games, use of weapons). Just finished reading Excession, which was the best yet in my opinion. (I love those neural leashes, practical telepathy haha, or the sleeper service going fubar :O ).

There´s one thing that annoys me a bit though, his writing style seems to form a sort of jigsaw tensionpattern (sort of like nowadays television). Basically once a particular scene gets really interesting he cuts it off. annoooooying.

Back to excession I loved how those MINDS at the excession chatted with another, you know, when the elench wanted to drop another drone into it within 2secs. They debated intensely - for what would be several long minutes to us - and cancelled the procedure in a few millisecs haha! :lol:
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Re: Iain M Banks

#48  Postby CarlPierce » Jan 21, 2011 10:58 am

Definitely Player of Games....or any culture book.

Does beg the question what would a hyper intelligent ship mind think about?....designing the next even more intelligent ship or upgrading itself to infinity.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#49  Postby Macros1980 » Jan 21, 2011 12:12 pm

CarlPierce wrote:Definitely Player of Games....or any culture book.

Does beg the question what would a hyper intelligent ship mind think about?....designing the next even more intelligent ship or upgrading itself to infinity.


In "Excession" Banks introduces the idea of Infinite Fun Space. Many Minds are sufficiently powerful to run full-universe simulations which they can inhabit, often at the same time as maintaining a real-world presence. They amuse themselves with these simulations by exploring what they call "metamathical" scenarios; some sort of fictional, ultra high-level branch of mathematics. They seem to find this pastime most gratifying, and some even retreat into IFS full-time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_(The_Culture)#interests

Banks has also written a document called "A Few Notes on The Culture" which provides some interesting insights into a few issues that aren't explicitly covered in the books. I'd highly recommend giving it a look.

http://www.vavatch.co.uk/books/banks/cultnote.htm
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Re: Iain M Banks

#50  Postby Mitts » Mar 05, 2011 2:21 pm

Consider Phlebas was the first Culture novel I read and is still my favourite. The Player of Games is also fab.

No-one has mentioned Feersum Endjinn which is great fun, even the phonetically spelt bits, though they do slow you down, are lovely to read.

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Re: Iain M Banks

#51  Postby surreptitious57 » Mar 05, 2011 2:45 pm

The two best novels Iain Banks has written were the first two in each genre, namely Consider Pheblas and The Wasp Factory. After that it went downhill. I have read The Player Of Games, Inversions and Excession, but they did nothing for me. Pheblas is excellent - I would read it again. If you however you want to read a consistently brilliant author, then your man is Alastair Reynolds. The best science fiction author on the planet, bar none. End of.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#52  Postby MacIver » Mar 09, 2011 10:51 pm

I have to agree with surreptitious57. I bought Excession and couldn't finish it. :(

It's a shame, I was excited to find a Scottish sci-fi author.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#53  Postby ramseyoptom » Mar 09, 2011 11:13 pm

MacIver wrote:
It's a shame, I was excited to find a Scottish sci-fi author.


Ken McCleod is another Scottish sci-fi author.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#54  Postby MacIver » Mar 10, 2011 12:35 am

Is he any good?
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Re: Iain M Banks

#55  Postby Made of Stars » Mar 10, 2011 7:04 am

Yep.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#56  Postby Matt_B » Mar 10, 2011 8:39 am

Charles Stross is the other big name in Scottish science fiction at the moment. He's had various Hugo and Nebula nominations, but Halting State is particularly worth a read if you're interested in something that's mostly set in the country too.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#57  Postby pennypitstop » Mar 10, 2011 8:53 am

I had to read Excession twice to capture everything that happened it, the first time I tried reading it I had to repeat chapters so it wasn't easy going! I really enjoyed a ship centred story. Consider Phelebas was my favourite and the first one I read.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#58  Postby Made of Stars » Mar 10, 2011 9:38 am

pennypitstop wrote:I had to read Excession twice to capture everything that happened it, the first time I tried reading it I had to repeat chapters so it wasn't easy going! I really enjoyed a ship centred story. Consider Phelebas was my favourite and the first one I read.

Agree on both counts. I also found Use of Weapons to be an outstanding, and disturbing, read.
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Re: Iain M Banks

#59  Postby pennypitstop » Mar 10, 2011 10:53 am

My husband thought Use of Weapons wasn't very good so kind of left it off my list and made my way around the rest of our stupidly vast sci-fi collection. I think I may start reading it tonight!
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Re: Iain M Banks

#60  Postby atrasicarius » Mar 10, 2011 11:00 am

I want to like Iain Banks, but I just cant. His books seem overly convoluted and kind of lacking in direction to me, especially Use of Weapons. I did like Excession pretty well, that was the first book of his I read. His universe has got great potential, but I just dont like his writing style.
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