REVIEW SUMMARY: Banks has written another very good book set in his Culture universe.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: See JP’s excellent review for a synopsis.
PROS: Great write-up with highly interesting characters and lots of good sci-fi ideas.
CONS: Hard to fault much, perhaps the ending was a bit of a surprise. It is deep in space opera concepts and so its hard to recommend to non-sci-fi fans.
BOTTOM LINE: Awesome book – science fiction fans of all types can certainly find a lot of like about this book.
JP did a great job writing about the book and his opinion of it, and I agree with almost everything he wrote, so I’ll let that stand.
However, I did find several aspects of the book interesting enough to comment on here. This isn’t a review, but more of a commentary on parallels I saw between this book and the real world. If you haven’t read the book, you might want to stop to avoid spoiling it.
A simple plot of regicide this isn’t, with the higher order being involved. However, I think I saw a parallel between what is going on in the world today with terrorism and Iraq and this book. OK, I might be chasing shadows, but stay with me a second. The theme of meddling in other cultures development felt like the US and Iraq today. Even if Banks didn’t intend it, you can’t deny that there is a sort of ‘we know what’s best for you’ between the US and Iraq and that this certainly is a part of the higher order civilizations in Banks’ books and they way they influence the lesser civilizations. Also, the idea that there was a race of beings bent on destroying the shellworlds – regardless of how many people they kill – over ideology, felt like terrorism to me.
All right, maybe I’m been smoking something, but I felt the need to comment on at least an unintended parallel I see in this book.