View Poll Results: Best Banks SF book?

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  • Consider Phlebas

    6 7.23%
  • The Player of Games

    11 13.25%
  • The State of the Art

    0 0%
  • Use of Weapons

    21 25.30%
  • Against a Dark Background

    6 7.23%
  • Feersum Endjin

    2 2.41%
  • Excession

    20 24.10%
  • Inversions

    1 1.20%
  • Look to Windward

    8 9.64%
  • The Algebraist

    5 6.02%
  • Matter

    1 1.20%
  • Transition (yeah it counts in this poll)

    0 0%
  • Surface Detail

    2 2.41%
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Thread: Poll II - Up to Surface Detail

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    9

    Thumbs up in which Matter & The Algebraist are praised

    I voted UoW for the top slot, because I keep going back to it, and it never seems like trickery to me. The missing pieces of Z's life/character -- moments of ruthlessness and dawning remorse that we never actually see -- are still haunting.

    However, I really want to talk Matter and The Algebraist, which would be my runners up. (Full disclosure: haven't read ADB, I, Tr; disappointed a bit by LtW, SD, CP; very fond of E and PoG).

    Jehannum & von Hitch - I'm glad to see some other people with a high opinion of Matter. I really don't get why it's so little appreciated. You've got a sardonic take on classic fantasy tropes; a wonderfully grand-scoped tour of some at-times rather creepy non-Culture-dominated corners of the galaxy; a nicely rendered existential theme about the pivotal significance of our actions and choices; and the inimitable Oct! (my second-favorite Banks alien species).

    Then, to wrap things up, you've got first the stellar emergence of the big bad -- by which point Matter feels as mind-bending to me as Excession seems to to everyone else. And then, as long as you catch all the epilogues, there's a great character surprise which (to me) subtly changes the tone of the entire book.

    I find the book in sum more uplifting than dark, though it certainly deals with a lot of darkness. I also think Matter would serve as a great introduction to the Culture.

    The Algebraist, I can't help thinking of as a self-conscious lark on Banks part that paid off wonderfully. First, he reverses the key elements of the Culture: the reigning govt embraces hierarchy & cruelty, and loaths AIs'; FTL travel is impossible. Then he has fun cooking up the most ridiculously histrionic bad guy imaginable (love the diamond teeth). Let's see -- a quest plot, some sexy spy skullduggery, and just for fun why not toss in a reworking of the character dynamic in the backstory of UoW? And then we need some aliens. Okay, lots of aliens: ethereal ones, badass stormtrooper types, darkly-humorous death-obsessed aliens, two headed cyborgs that retweak the meaning of badass to 11...

    And hmm, what if we took the best thing about The Affront -- their outrageous, strangely likable, vaguely Klingon-esque egotism -- and subtracted most of the barbarity from it, then transplanted it into an ancient, hyper-advanced species who actually had some reason to be arrogant. Then you might end up with the Dwellers (the key aliens in TA, and along with Vinge's Tines my favorites). Unlike the Affront, which seem rather too much like a plot device to me, I'm basically convinced the Dwellers are really out there. They smell real...

    So to me The Algebraist comes across as a delightful romp through space operatic and genre territory, a juggling act by a master. Plus there's that gas giant storm-sailing scene...
    Last edited by praghmatic; 17-12-2011 at 08:27 AM.

  2. #22
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    Interesting comments Prag, you certainly make them sound worth a re-read each.
    "Just have fun"

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by charismatic megafauna View Post
    I'm sticking with Excession. /../ But to me the scope and scale, the shear audacity, of Excession define why I read SF.

    It's the book that hooked me on Banks /.../
    Me too!
    The very first page did that to me!
    (Not the Prologue, Outside Context Problem did it.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Zakalwe View Post
    /.../ I'll tell you what soylent green is!
    Tasty???

    Remember: Tuesday is Soylent Green day!
    Last edited by trekkiedane; 30-12-2011 at 02:13 PM.
    Time is the fire in which we burn.

  4. #24
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    Dec 2011
    Location
    Australia
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    Against a Dark Background Lady Sharrow, The Lazy Gun, the only weapon known to brandish a shrewd appreciation of humour. Loved it.
    Excession biting ever deeper into the Culture's curious, remarkable personality. Outside Context Problem and so much more…
    The Player of Games Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Mawhrin-Skel the Empire of Azad a game that embodies the incumbent preferences of the social elite, into the looking glass, razor-sharp, and relentless.
    Consider Phlebas Horza, Schar's World, twist after twisty mctwisterfance. Such an opera, such high stakes, such evident scope…
    One of those, I can’t choose, Use of Weapons, Look to Windward…
    Outside Context Problem (OCP), the kind of problem "most civilisations would encounter just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop."

  5. #25
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    Jul 2011
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    Excession by far is one of my favorite novels to read again and again. Glimpsing into how Banks builds up the psyche of the Minds is wonderful.

    This being said, Demesien from Surface Detail really sold the novel for me. Turminder did the same in Matter.
    Is this truly necessary?

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Rwanda
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    All right - after a couple of years of lurking I've decided to risk the collective frown of you IMB fans lot, and to write something.

    Having read everything under the [M] several times - well, except perhaps FE - the language was too challenging for this foreigner the first time around - I now find myself - rather surprisingly - sticking with Consider Phlebas. Perhaps because it was my first IMB novel, perhaps because it brought me back to science fiction after years of not finding anything I really liked. Or maybe because it was the first book in English I got as a gift from my English wife...

    It was close tho. UoW is great, Excession - well, there's the good ship Killing Time in it. AaDB is also a re-read every couple of years. And what about the more recent work? I thought SD the best book I've read in 2011 (well, together with Stephenson's Anathem), but before that I liked Matter and the Algebraist too..

    ...and I keep telling Italian SF readers that IMB in translation is not very good. Unfortunately.

    Right. I'll get my coat...
    We are strangers here
    And strangers are one another kin

  7. #27
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    Stop lurking and start hanging about (it's a whole different vibe), come join the hilarity and intellectual frivolity. Welcome KillingTime.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Hi there Killing

    Quote Originally Posted by charismatic megafauna View Post
    Stop lurking and start hanging about (it's a whole different vibe), come join the hilarity and intellectual frivolity. Welcome KillingTime.
    Indeed, not to sure about the "intellectual" bit though

    perhaps because it brought me back to science fiction after years of not finding anything I really liked. Or maybe because it was the first book in English I got as a gift from my English wife...
    Sensible lady, so appart from Neal Stephenson, what else have you liked?

    ...and I keep telling Italian SF readers that IMB in translation is not very good. Unfortunately.
    I have a German friend who says the same about their translations & often prefers the original English text despite finding it more difficult to read.

    Did they attempt an Italian translation of Feersum then?

    Feel free to head on over to the "Introductions" thread to tell us a bit more about yourself...
    "Just have fun"

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Rwanda
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    Thank you for the welcome. I'll look for the Introductions thread. There might be some frivolity in there...
    We are strangers here
    And strangers are one another kin

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    France
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    I'm always up for a bit of a frivol. i'm re-reading Consider Phlebas at the moment after reminding myself of Excession and UoW - even if nothing else, joining this forum has saved me a fortune on new books!
    "Don't know why I'm making this thing stare at the f***ing module screen"

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