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)
Enjoyed it a lot. I hadn't heard of this series before but Banks is clever, creative, and compelling in his writing. Also it was interesting to see much earlier versions of current video game and sci fi tropes (ring worlds, irritable drones, genetically altered humans, life and death stakes games) that were written in the 1980's. Not that Iain Banks is the first to describe all of this; much of it has been seen in some form before, but he does a wonderful and inventive job of creating his own version of the universe.
It's been said that there are no new stories, but the art is in how classic tales are re-crafted by a particular artist. Banks is a master.
Let me start by saying that the performance was very good. My disappointment is solely in the writing.
So, I love Alastair Reynolds, but I've read almost all of his books. Anyone I asked, and websites online said that if I liked Reynolds, I should try Iain M. Banks' Culture series. And a good place to start was either Consider Phlebas or Player of Games. Well, it's possible Player of Games was good, but Consider Phlebas was not. It certainly was not up to par with Reynolds.
The characters were dull archetypes (the spy with the good heart and noble reasons for the things he does, the caricature of a "space pirate" captain, the idealistic and loyal follower of the captain who falls in love with the protagonist, etc) at best, and just dumb at worst. The space pirate team (or "Free Company") that we spend most of the book with are like the rejects from every other sci-fi company. The plot contained many silly cliches (the spy left someone they loved who didn't agree with them, but that they hope to win back), as well as whatever the opposite of Deus Ex Machina is, where everything just goes wrong out of pure bad luck, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, etc. Doing that once or twice in a book is okay, but THIS book is FULL of these occurrences. For example, (SPOILER ALERT): They're on an alien planet with tons of underground train stations. One of the bad guys that they killed earlier they didn't apparently kill good enough and he gets a train going to crash into the train the protagonists are on. Well the audible alarm that would alert the protagonists that a train is going to run into them just happens to be in a register that's too high for humans' ears to hear. And the visual alarm that would alert them just happens to be hidden by one of the characters' helmets. And this kind of thing happens throughout the ENTIRE BOOK.
I'm very disappointed in this book, and wish I could get my money back for it. I DID actually listen to the entire thing, almost as a "hate listen" as I was driving across the country at the time and the growing rage at this book helped to distract me from how boring the drive was.
I don't recommend this book to anyone, nor will I buy another book from this author.
The genre? No, I love sci-fi and in particular space opera.
The author though? Yes, I'll never buy Iain Banks' books again.
I haven't, but the performance was great, just bad writing.
Not really, the performance was good, but that's not really part of the book.
Great world building and fascinating macro story, however the main narrative focus was slow and not as interesting. Point in fact that I enjoyed the epilogue a lot since it spoke to the larger events taking place in said world
Would alien cultures speaking different languages really use the f-bomb over and over and over? Iain Banks needs to expand his vocabulary and work on making his characters more expressive.
Long, lots of pointless sidebars and no overriding theme or plot detected. Eminently forgettable and not worth the time.
I am a sucker for this type of tech-sci-fi where the author isn't afraid to explain how it all works. especially love the description of hyperspace - plausible all the way. But the ending - the ENDING!? Have to read another one with THAT ending...
The zero sum ending was excruciating and infuriating. The closing chapters of the book are some of the most frustrating sections of story telling I've ever experienced. In a fell swoop Banks murders all of the interesting characters of the book as if to evoke some great sense of futility regarding the events of the books. Nothing that was done in the story has any impact to the greater galaxy - and while that may be true, I, as the reader, was incredibly invested in their stories and to just cockblock everything in an extremely unspectacular and meaningless fashion has really made me anxious about reading other Banks novels.
Which is a real shame, since 90% of this book is intriguing, exciting and insightful, but it all sums up to absolutely nothing and makes all of your invested time feel completely worthless.
I greatly enjoyed "The Player of Games" so I excitedly jumped into "Consider Phlebas". After the dreadful ending I don't know that I can justify spending more time on his books just to get slapped with more zero sum endings.
Peter Kenny's tone of voice is perfect for a scope of a story as grand as this. He is cool and calm, and his slight accent adds a great deal to the delivery. He makes a great effort at giving each character a distinct voice and personality and is very consistent throughout the whole story. Absolutely top notch performance.
I have read the whole series and chose to relisten during work hours, and had to stop myself every time i clocked out to save it for later. :) I'll definitely be picking up some more.
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