Consider Phlebas

{4.5/5} “They’re on the side of life — boring, old-fashioned, biological life; smelly, fallible and short-sighted, God knows, but real life. You’re ruled by your machines. You’re an evolutionary dead end. The trouble is that to take your mind off it you try to drag everybody else down there with you. The worst thing that could happen to the galaxy would be if the Culture wins this war.”

The Culture is at war with the Idirans. The Culture has Minds, incredibly advanced artificial intelligences. One of these Minds barely escaped a battle and is now on a planet. The Idirans can’t go there themselves, so they want Horza to go get it. Horza is a Changer, someone who can change his shape — but it takes time and effort. On his way there Horza is abducted by pirates. Of course, that’s just the start of his adventures.

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks was published in 1987. It was his first science fiction novel, and the first in his Culture series.

The story grabbed me right away. Much of the book is from Horza’s point of view, but we occasionally get other views including the Mind.

One aspect of the story concerns Damage, known as the most decadent game in history — it’s a card game with lives in the balance.

In terms of the authors I’ve read lately, this is closest to Alastair Reynolds with its galaxy-spanning action.

Banks’ writing style is not too simple, not too complex — just right.

I liked this book a lot and I’m reading another Banks novel already.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 at 9:12 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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