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Thread: Use of Weapons [Ruinous Spoilers]

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    Default Use of Weapons [Ruinous Spoilers]

    Ok, this the oddly structured one which features a protagonist that's a cross between James Bond, Malcolm Reynolds, and Ed Gein.
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    BO, UoW is definitely oddly structured; I've always wondered if it was the strange structure, more than anything else, that created its reputation. Zakalwe could be said to be a combination of James Bond and Malcolm Reynolds, though I think he's an original creation. I don't get the comparison to Ed Gein, I just don't see Zakalwe as a murderous psychotic lunatic in any way similar to Ed Gein. The whole chair maker thing is grotesque and horrible, but coldly calculated to bring about a particular effect. We never learn Zakalwe's actual role or involvement in the whole affair. Whatever it was, it's clear from the book that Zakalwe carries the incident like a millstone around his neck, something he can never forget or forgive himself for. Not very serial killer like.

    While I still regard it as a great book, IMO it rates behind Excession, LtW, and THS, and maybe Matter and SD too.

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    I re-read it a few years back, for the Guardian Book Club interview, (incidentally the last time I saw Iain. I asked him at the time if he was just doing the non "M" books out of obligation as they were far more pedestrian than his SF output).

    It was good, but not as good as I remembered.

    The original novel was much longer & didn't have the "odd structure".
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    Here's the Book Club thread link:
    http://www.iainbanksforum.net/showth...apons+guardian
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    Here's a link where Iain discusses the gestation of UoW: http://www.theguardian.com/books/201...rdian-bookclub

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    Quote Originally Posted by charismatic megafauna View Post
    We never learn Zakalwe's actual role or involvement in the whole affair. Whatever it was, it's clear from the book that Zakalwe carries the incident like a millstone around his neck, something he can never forget or forgive himself for. Not very serial killer like.
    A real serial killer kills out of bad habit for his/her self-gratification, Zakalwe kills to achieve his military/political objectives, but turning a cousin into furniture makes him a war criminal or a regime enforcer.

    While I still regard it as a great book, IMO it rates behind Excession, LtW, and THS, and maybe Matter and SD too.
    Banks' more recent Culture novels seem to be relatively disliked next to Excession and Use of Weaposn (the book that compelled me to read the rest of Banks' sci-fi output).
    Last edited by Big Orange; 05-10-2014 at 03:00 PM.
    'Poverty is not an injustice. There is no such thing as causes for poverty, only causes for wealth. Poverty is not a wrong, but taking money from those who have it to equalize incomes is basically theft, which is wrong.' - Typical Randroid

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    My point is we never learn the exact involvement he has in her death. Did he order her death? Did he murder her? Did she die of wounds suffered previously, and thus become available for this ploy? It's obvious he's carrying a shitload of baggage about this event, but what was his actual involvement? I'm not trying to minimize his guilt, but we just don't have all the facts surrounding the event.

    I know most of the last three Culture novels were not as well received as those up to Excession, and maybe LtW. According to our poll UoW leads with 21 votes, closely followed by Excession with 20, with PoG at 11, LtW 7, and CP 6. As I've mentioned elsewhere I now find the first three CP, PoG, and UoW embryonic Culture novels, good but not great. The first three are all hero's journeys, following a single protagonist. To me, Excession marks the first fully mature Culture novel, which LtW expands upon. They deal with a less than perfect utopia and the problems of doing the right thing. Inversions is a quirky tangent. The last three Matter, SD, and THS are Banks, with all his marvelous writing gifts, working at the height of his powers. In particular, I now think THS is the second best Culture novel, and as far as ideas (the lifeblood of sci-fi) go, it probably ranks first. I don't know if Banks had harbingers of his imminent death, but reading THS certainly gives one the opinion he was thinking deeply about the meaning of life and the transition from living to some other state of (non)existence. Any who respect the man and his lifework should give THS the kind of perusal it deserves. It's not an easy read, but the payoffs are immense.

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