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FunkyFingers
25-04-2002, 11:30:35
Wow. Waterstones have a bit of an Iain (M) Banks promotion going on, just bought the following 4 novels:

Iain Banks
The Crow Road
Whit
Walking on Glass

Iain M Banks
Consider Phlebas

Rock on!

Funkodrom
25-04-2002, 11:42:19
Of those Walking on Glass is the most obscure. Very strange book. Takes a lot of liberties with what you normally expect from a novel. Absolutely excellent because of that.

Whit and The Crow Road are about as close as he gets to normal stories in non-genre stuff. Both similar in some ways as they are about young people finding out who they really are.

Consider Phlebas was the first of his books that I read and in hindsight it's an interesting departure, looking at the culture from outside in. Very good though. I like the main character a lot.

All excellent books but then they all are really.

FunkyFingers
25-04-2002, 12:03:53
Cool, looking forward to reading them all in the next few weeks. Got to use that 2 hours a day sitting on the train for something!

Thought I should try and read another Culture novel and see if it grabbed me, it being 3 years since I read the last one.

Iain (M) Banks is excellent though.

Funkodrom
25-04-2002, 12:35:15
Which one did you read?

I prefer the non-genre stuff generally but the sci-fi stuff is good too.

FunkyFingers
25-04-2002, 12:49:26
Excession and Feersum Enjinn - see the other thread about Alastair Reynolds!

Guy
25-04-2002, 12:51:58
Consider Phlebas is a good intro to the Culture. It's got a lot of conventional sci-fi elements presented in unconventional ways along with some truly great aliens and totally three dimensional characters.

Walking on Glass is an excellent book, I think you'll like that one a lot. One thing I like about Banks is that all of his novels challenge the reader. You get the sense that a lot of his books are experiments first and stories second, yet he still has the skill to maintain very readable and interesting concepts (it would be wrong to call them 'plots') that make it a lot of fun to play along and follow.

Funkodrom
25-04-2002, 13:17:54
Absolutely. The more experimental they are the more I like them.

FunkyFingers
25-04-2002, 14:15:29
There's a film been done of Complicity - anyone seen it? Any good?

Funkodrom
25-04-2002, 14:27:04
Not seen it. BBC2 did a series for The Crow Road which was excellent. Not as good as the book still but a good representation.

Noisy
25-04-2002, 15:59:17
Originally posted by FunkyFingers
There's a film been done of Complicity - anyone seen it? Any good? Got the DVD. Very good.

'Consider Phlebas' was his first Culture novel, and his best, in my opinion, although 'Look to Windward' comes close. 'Excession' was really weird, but I still liked it a lot.

Didn't think an awful lot of 'Whit', but 'The Crow Road' was excellent.

jsorense
25-04-2002, 16:05:14
The "Culture" series sounds very interesting.
That will be my next read.
I am currently reading "Darwin's Radio." So far so good.
Anything with Neandertals in it interests me. It is like reading about my relatives.
:cute:

Funkodrom
25-04-2002, 16:09:01
Read "The secret diary of Venom, 23 1/4"

You'd definitely like the Culture series.

jsorense
25-04-2002, 16:14:33
Originally posted by MikeH
Read "The secret diary of Venom, 23 1/4

Thanks for the tip, however, that book has been banned in California, burned, banned again and the ashes reburned and buried.
Maybe you can send me your copy.

Funkodrom
25-04-2002, 16:15:27
I would do but one week we ran out of loo roll...

Sean
26-04-2002, 16:50:41
I got two in the same promotion, Wasp Factory and Excessions.

Of the ones you got, I have read Walking on Glass and Consider Phlebas. Consider Phlebas is a good book, but it is rather dull. I find it perplexing that the blurb calls it a classic space opera, or that may be the point.

Walking on Glass is, to totally contradict Mike, a fairly straight-forward novel. You have your Gormenghast-y bit, your romance-or-maybe-not bit (in flashback), and your paranoid-fool-or-maybe-not bit.

The problem with splitting a book up like that, as he did with Use of Weapons and as Herbet the Younger and Kevin Anderson did in the Dune prequels, is that you have to make sure each strand is equally interesting to both you and the reader. Otherwise the author has to write filler while he is really waiting for the exciting bit in the other strand. Banks does a good job of avoiding this, but it isn’t total. I have no urge to read it again.

Noisy
26-04-2002, 18:19:17
Originally posted by Sean
<snip> Consider Phlebas is a good book, but it is rather dull. <snip>:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

Dull? DULL? The profusion of ideas included in the book is staggering, and - although some are rehashes of earlier ideas - there must have been a number that were fresh to a lad of your tender years. Also, the impetus is maintained throughout the book, which is something that can't be said of Peter Hamilton's stuff.

Mind you, because I'm so smitten by his style I'd find the weather forecast written by Iain Banks to be a good read.

* Wanders off with shoulders hunched ... muttering darkly. *

Sean
26-04-2002, 18:31:19
But that’s the point. The writing isn’t as slick as in some of his other novels, the book is too long for its content, and it doesn’t live up to its own blurb. It is good, but not that good.

You probably don’t want to hear what I think of the Wasp Factory having read the review snippets in the front of that.

Call that disturbing? Call that semicolon usage? Call that…

Perhaps I lack context. The Wasp Factory was written before I was born, and Consider Phlebas two years after my birth.

Qweeg
27-04-2002, 14:35:27
i think banks sucks, utterly unreadable tripe. all his stories go nowhere, he has no imagination whatsoever. you're all nuts:)

Venoms Secret Diary on the other hand.... Now THATS a BOOK!!!!!

The Sunday Times Review sez

A dark journey into the twisted mind of a soul gone mad... Brilliant!

The Literary Review said

Terrifying, evil and Terrifying and Sick... Wonderful!

The Opticians Weekly said

Warning, the text in this book may damage your eyes.. becouse its all mad skwibblings iznit

Writers Weekly said
The central character makes Kurtz look like a happy optimist

Phsyciatrist Jounal said
Hilarious

I still shake sometimes so its definately up there with George Orwells 1984 and Octavia Buttlers Clays Ark as the most scary body of text i have yet encountered.

King_Ghidra
29-04-2002, 13:27:58
unrelated point, but Consider Phlebas takes it's title from the t s eliot poem The Waste Land (which everyone should read :))
here's the snippet:

'PHLEBAS the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.

A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.

Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you'

Didn't Iain Banks do a book called 'look to windward' too?

Must have an eliot fetish (nothing wrong with that)

Funkodrom
29-04-2002, 14:23:29
Originally posted by Sean
Walking on Glass is, to totally contradict Mike, a fairly straight-forward novel. You have your Gormenghast-y bit, your romance-or-maybe-not bit (in flashback), and your paranoid-fool-or-maybe-not bit.

:hmm:

It's not generally normal to have three strands of the book set in completely different worlds/environments/times. Each strand follows, in some ways, and breaks in others the rules of a different genre of novel. It's very, very cleverly done.

The Bridge and The Song of Stone are the other one of his books that immediately come to mind as similar bits of work. All three are very experimental and there are bits of each that work and things that don't work quite as well but I wouldn't describe any of them as dull. As Noisy said you always get some stuff to think about in his books, whether it's what he's writing, how he structures the story or the ideas he's exploring.

The Wasp Factory is my favourite Banks book just as most times a band's first album will be my favourite. He deals with so much personal trauma that even though it's not his best written book, I'm always a little disappointed by his later work that he doesn't delve so deeply into his dark side.

Mind you, because I'm so smitten by his style I'd find the weather forecast written by Iain Banks to be a good read.

Me too.

Qweeg
29-04-2002, 14:25:04
We are the hollow men, leaning together

I like that one, can't remember the rest of it..

Sean
29-04-2002, 17:13:55
K_G, it is mentioned at the front of both Consider Phlebas and Look To Windward.

Mike, the strands can be considered separate until the end—most of it until then is reminiscence from the main characters: Graham, Steven, Quiss, and the other one. Of course it breaks the rules in some way, very few books don’t. The book is a pleasant enough journey before a trick ending, which is hardly spectacular, but certainly not bad.

Oh, and they aren’t all in different worlds or times. Grout and Park are in the same time and place, which is pretty blatant.

One final thing: the Dune prequels (fun but not great) have a lot of strands floating about in different places. Three, by comparison, is not much.

I liked Excession, it’s a sci-fi novel done really well. My favourite remains the Player Of Games.

The Wasp Factory didn’t strike me as that dark or macabre, but this is probably because of the spectacular desensitising I have got from Cormac McCarthy, especially Blood Meridian and Child Of God. Barbaric and poetic.

Bought Song Of Stone and Complicity today.

Qweeg: http://www.cs.umbc.edu/~evans/hollow.html

Spartak
29-04-2002, 21:37:11
Of the Culture books I enjoyed "The Player of Games" and "Look to Windward" the best. Defn some of the best books that I have read in the last year. But then IoT STILL has my copy of LoTR so its not like I get to read my favourite book at any time...

FunkyFingers
30-04-2002, 09:20:27
The Wasp Factory was twisted, and very shocking, but not always in an overtly just in your face nasty way (ok, the maggotty skull cap bit was, and the snake in the leg bit definitely), but the way in which Banks really draws you in to the disturbed mind and makes you aware of the actual psychologial mess. Very very good. Plus it's a great ending, totally not what I expected at all.

I'm still left feeling very impressed by The Bridge. That's must-read Banks as far as I'm concerned, worthy of extended discussion here definitely.

I've not read the Dune prequels: having waded through the entire Dune sexology over 10 years ago and finding each subsequent novel to be inferior to the last, I'm not sure I can really bother to invest the time in the prequels. Somehow it just doesn't grab.

Funkodrom
30-04-2002, 10:09:54
Originally posted by FunkyFingers
The Wasp Factory was twisted, and very shocking, but not always in an overtly just in your face nasty way (ok, the maggotty skull cap bit was, and the snake in the leg bit definitely), but the way in which Banks really draws you in to the disturbed mind and makes you aware of the actual psychologial mess. Very very good. Plus it's a great ending, totally not what I expected at all.

That's what I liked about it. It's the ease with which he shows that a disturbed mind isn't really all that different to a 'normal' mind (whatever that might be).


Originally posted by FunkyFingers
I'm still left feeling very impressed by The Bridge. That's must-read Banks as far as I'm concerned, worthy of extended discussion here definitely.

I agree. I think I'm going to have to read all his books again sometime soon.

Spartak
01-05-2002, 08:21:41
Im rereading "excission" again. Excellent...

Sean
01-05-2002, 20:55:06
Funky: don’t bother. After the first one the authors realised that they had so many loose ends to tie up before they hit bedrock (Dune) that it was a real scramble.

FunkyFingers
02-05-2002, 08:33:21
Sean - thanks for the advice, that's saved me 25 quid and several weeks of reading!