The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction - cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.
Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.
©1987 Iain M. Banks (P)2011 Hachette Audio
"Dazzlingly original." (Daily Mail)
"Gripping, touching and funny." (TLS)
I listened to this because it was included on several lists of the best sci-fi of all time. The world building was amazing, consistent and interesting space-opera setup.
The main character was pretty interesting too, at least at the start getting into all sorts of scrapes and meeting interesting people (and killing them).
The problems kicked in about half way through. The super-proficient cyborg mutant killer suddenly becomes plot-blind to EVERYTHING. I was thinking he might die by peeing in the fusion drive because his brain fell out. And then a suuuuuper forced plot point involving a pregnancy that I think was supposed to make the characters seem more likeable but just made them seem like simpering idiots all of a sudden. Every chance to let the antagonists continue to be antagonists it taken gleefully. Every chance for the antihero to make terrible choices is also taken. Oh, and the primary driving question for our antihero (why does he work for who he does, and is he right to do so) is dealt with vaguely and unrealistically until a postscript that basically says "Oh yeah, the right answer to that complex moral question was X because it was not actually complex I was just wasting your time".
I don't know the rest of the authors work but based on this book I would say he can make a kick-ass worlds but can't plot/character his way out of a wet sack.
I was not expecting an action filled, contemporary SciFi adventure but that is what I got. The book will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. You cannot aford to veg out on even one part of one chapter. It is all relevant and all provative. I found the audio sample a little misleading. If I recall correctly, the sample comes from a section about an individual sentenced to prison and subjected to torture. What happens as the story unfolds is something totally different. The prisoner becomes the protaganist and his jailor plays a very unusual but exciting role in his escapade.
It's doubtful, I have a hard time moving on when the average reader gave this heap 4-5 stars. I only finished this book because it automatically plays through bluetooth when I get in my car.
No, one poorly constructed sci-fi novel cannot undo a lifetime of nerding.
The scenes on the island with the "Eaters" really stand out, although totally grotesque. Again though, the author completely fails to follow up on the fact that the main character lost two fingers to the Eaters, only mentioning that he "hides" his hand at one point when he boards the CAT.
With so many irrelevant and undeveloped characters to choose from, it's hard to decide. The entire sub-plot of mountain climbing Fal and her robot friend Jace could easily disappear and have no bearing on the storyline.
A beautiful exercise in world building, with a cast of fascinating characters. It's marred only by an ending I found anticlimactic, even if it did fit well.
This was my first Iain M. Banks book, just took a chance and now on my sixth Culture audiobook. Peter Kenny's narration is top notch. The world created for you is just amazing and leaves me thinking about it long after.
I'm just a big kid.
The reason I purchased this book is because Elon Musk decided to name his 'Autonomous spaceport drone ship' after one of the ships in this series: 'Just Follow The Instructions'.
I figured Elon would not like a bad book.
And indeed, the very original ships names Banks comes up with are very clever and entertaining.
The story itself is pretty basic. There a McGuffin. Everyone wants the McGuffin. We really don't care about The McGuffin, but we care about the characters as they run around trying to find the McGuffin.
At the start of the book the bad guys are 'The Culture', which is a galactic civilization that is run by 'minds', super intelligent machines that I'm sure Elon is working on building. They are at war with the the Idirans, a three legged warrior race who seem to be the good guys. Or not. It's hard to say.
I will say that the Idirans are bad asses, and the Cluture's huge sentiant space ships are way cool!
By the end of the book I wasn't sure who the good guys and the bad guys really were. Which is a plus in a lot of ways.
As they run around there is a lot of classic SciFi wizzbangery, with some very Firefly-like / Hans Solo like characters.
The Banks universe is more interesting than the story itself.
It's a good three star space opera wrapped in a five star fictional universe.
Peter Kenny does a terrific job of bringing the characters to life with his narration.
The last five minutes of the audio book are an epilogue, which is clearly there because the McGuffin chasing just ran out of steam and Banks didn't have the heart to actually wrap up the story.
Bottom Line: A workman like SciFi story set in a fascinating universe.
Wonderful narration with interesting characters, subtle humor, social commentary and hard tech diluted with Star Trek shootem up blood and guts.
Peter kenny's performance is marvelous and I will seek out more of his readings but Banks is not for me. The thin character development leaves me entirely disinterested in how any of this turns out.
Wonderful variety of characterizations, never reaching, enticingly modulated.
Horza's is ridiculous. It starts with him drowning in shit, and really goes down hill from there.
What I don't like about this story is the shapeshifters. That trope has been really over used by science fiction.
I know Ian Banks has a huge following but just could not get into this. would find at times my mind wandering and would then be lost to what was happening in the book.
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
Report Inappropriate Content