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Iain (M) Banks
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The Doughmaster
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I'm about halfway through The Player of Games, and while I'm greatly enjoying it, I must admit that every time I read the name "Gurgeh" the first thing that pops into my head is "Gurgi" from The Chronicles of Prydain.


~ Non-Mod-Amy, aka Amy of the Lost Ark

You are a Bookholder. To prompt, or...LINE! (not to prompt) --not to prompt. That is the question. Whether t'is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of a bad memory, or to take arms against a sea of textual deviations, and...LINE! (by opposing) --by opposing them...LINE! (end) --end...LINE! (them) --end them...LINE! (to prompt, to correct; no more; and by a correction to say we end the heart-ache of a really terrible performance) You didn't have to give me the whole thing! I know it!
 
Posts: 11747 | Location: Michigan | Registered: August 15, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
is imperfectly illuminated
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quote:
Originally posted by ZoneSeek:
quote:
Originally posted by Mischief the Polarbear:
Better than Excession and Use of Weapons?


Yes. Just finished Surface Detail yesterday. Consider me ravished. Sizzles and seethes with humanistic anger. Some of the Hell passages out-Dante Dante, made me wish for mind bleach. But that's the point isn't it?
Indeed. I was also very pleased. His mojo is thoroughly back. I found Matter encouraging, but this one really turns on the juice again.
quote:
The Culture books before Matter are introductory, maybe even misleading. In Matter and Surface Detail, we start to see how the Culture really rolls. The regular wankers can dick around pointlessly on orbitals all they want, but out amongst the other Involved races they need rational adults. The Byzantine bureaucracies of The Algebraist (my favorite Banks novel) are leaking through, that's what Contact should look like.
I disagree they are introductory. Even Consider Phlebas showed how the Culture rolled... Use of Weapons is all about the sharp end of Culture intervention. Matter is a companion piece, it just has the luxury of concentrating on 1 intervention and how the humanistic concerns are overtaken by larger events, a spiralling out of priorities and decisions that is the reason why many dislike it. It's pulling the rug of narrative comfort out from under us. Likewise, how is Excession any less Byzantine, any less unconcerned with the 'regular wankers'?

I'm not disputing the quality of Surface Detail, but I think you wildly overstate the change of angle. The focus is sharper on the ethics of power, pain and politics, but the picture hasn't changed.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Murphy,


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Posts: 8147 | Location: London, England | Registered: July 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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But in the earlier stories, over and over again we hear about how in the Culture, you're free to do anything, have anything you want. My frustration was waiting to see how that couldn't possibly be true, and we start to get that in Matter. Can't mess with the Morthanveld, or the junior races under the Morthanveld. The king talked about how in some ways, his feudal monarchy had more freedom, the Culture's all tangled up in diplomatic agreements with the other Optima civilizations.
 
Posts: 2627 | Location: Manila | Registered: October 15, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by ZoneSeek:
But in the earlier stories, over and over again we hear about how in the Culture, you're free to do anything, have anything you want.
Well, I'm not sure about that. The freedom was always complete within the confines of the Culture, rather than in their actions towards other civilisations. The citizens of the culture have few limits on their personal actions, but their freedom was always constrained when it came to outer interactions.
quote:
My frustration was waiting to see how that couldn't possibly be true, and we start to get that in Matter. Can't mess with the Morthanveld, or the junior races under the Morthanveld. The king talked about how in some ways, his feudal monarchy had more freedom, the Culture's all tangled up in diplomatic agreements with the other Optima civilizations.
I think you're confusing the individual with the Culture as a whole in this post, to be honest.


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Posts: 8147 | Location: London, England | Registered: July 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Read the first chapter of the new Culture novel, The Hydrogen Sonata.

After reading just a few paragraphs, the familiar Banks rapture descends upon me. Top of my wish list.
 
Posts: 2627 | Location: Manila | Registered: October 15, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
*Special Achievement Award Winner 2010* shines on like the stars
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Just saw the new one at work I'm on the waiting list at the library.

What do you think of it?


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Posts: 2485 | Location: Page 42 | Registered: December 27, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The Hydrogen Sonata worked out kinda meh. I thought we'd really get into two great ideas, Subliming and the early days of the Culture. There's a little more of the former, but even after the book's done, Subliming's still mostly this unsatisfying black box that everyone says is the Greatest Thing Ever. There's a small glimpse, from a Culture ship that came back to baseline reality, who lyrically describes being down here in Plato's Cave as an extreme kind of asceticism, to make the return to the Sublime all the sweeter.

And the founding of the Culture, I imagined small wars and alliances formed under combat conditions, but no, it was all fairly cozy, delegates and conferences and minutes of the meeting kinda thing.

Overall, par for the course for Banks, which is still pretty good, but not as great as Surface Detail or Matter. And not the best sf of the year, that's Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312.
 
Posts: 2627 | Location: Manila | Registered: October 15, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Iain Banks is dying. Frown

Just read that he's got terminal cancer.
I wish cancer would stop.


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Posts: 8147 | Location: London, England | Registered: July 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Murphy:
Iain Banks is dying. Frown

Just read that he's got terminal cancer.
I wish cancer would stop.

It's gotten to the point where when I hear someone enthuse about how wonderfully designed the human body is, I have to resist the urge to punch them in the eye.

Oddly, I don't really like Banks' writing, but I hold it in very high regard. He's an amazing craftsman, it's just not a craft I've found enjoyable.


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AJGraeme
"Why are there ghosts in the kitchen punching each other in the balls?" - Aidan, "Being Human"
"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."
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Posts: 48708 | Location: Concord, NH, USA | Registered: July 20, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I know now that I may never finish reading Iain Banks' work. I may get the complete set, and come close, but I'll never turn that final page, because in some obscure way it keeps a little bit of the work undiscovered.

I still have a letter from my granddad that he wrote to me about 2 weeks before he died. It's written over 2 sides, and with his increasingly spidery scrawl it's difficult to decipher. I managed to decipher the 1st side before he became ill and died, but I never did read it at the time, and although I've read that 1st side again since I've never turned the page and gone to the signature.

It's as if I'm still keeping a small part of our relationship waiting, so that it isn't finished.

I'll miss Banks, but may never read everything he wrote.


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Posts: 8147 | Location: London, England | Registered: July 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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