Posts Tagged ‘Iain M. Banks’

Inversions by Iain M. Banks

Inversions (Culture, #6)Inversions by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not your typical Sci-fi book. If you are not familiar with the “Culture” Series by Iain M. Banks then you probably won’t even notice the science fiction that is going on behind the scenes. If you are familiar with the series then, like me, you will probably find this book simply brilliant. “Culture” often meddles with less advanced worlds, helping them evolve into a more advanced civilization.

Since the story is told from the point of view of person from the less advanced world there is no direct mention of the real story, because “culture” helps without the people they are helping having any knowledge.

If you are not familiar with “Culture”, you still get a get an enjoyable story (but will miss the sci-fi aspect of the story). If you are familiar with the “culture series”. You get 2 stories, the one that is told and the one that your insight will allow you see. Brilliant!

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The Quarry by Iain Banks

The QuarryThe Quarry by Iain Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Iain Banks being my favorite writer, this being his last book, and the circumstances (Banks finding out he was dying of cancer after he wrote the book). “The Quarry” holds a little more meaning for me than most books I have read. On the Surface “The Quarry” is about a man dying of Cancer and one last weekend spent with his friends. For me the story is about more than dealing with dying it’s also about the living and life going on. All the character in “The Quarry” are complex and real. Most are not likable and all are flawed. Guy (the one dying) sort of blackmails his friends to visit him by mentioning an old video that would be embarrassing to all, he mentions they might want to look for it before he dies. The story is mainly told through Guy’s adult son/caregiver who is slightly autistic or has asperger’s syndrome. A point of view that allows you to see the situation from both the inside and the outside. The story from the inside is about his dad dying and what it’s like to deal with it up close and personal, the outside is watching how his dad’s friends (several are “A” holes) deal with it and with each other. I liked “The Quarry” a lot and really enjoy the depth of the characters and their flaws.

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Matter by Iain M. Banks

MatterMatter by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out of the dozen or so books by Iain (M.) Banks that I have read, Matter is my least favorite, and it still received 4 out of 5 stars.

It took about 70 pages or so to get into the story, but once I did the book was hard to put down. All of the “Culture” books that I have read have an epic story with layers and layers of content and undercurrents of many subjects, some subtle and some not so subtle. Yet, they are still character driven stories with enough advanced and wondrous technology that will satisfy even the most ardent science fiction fan.

The beginning of the book goes into great detail about “shell worlds” an ancient technological device (some questions remain about the purpose for which they were created). Kind of a “species” made hollow planet with different layers (floors), each floor has been settled by a different life form. Some life forms are more advanced than others.

The description of the shell world was so detailed that for a moment I was convinced I could build one or at the least draw up a blueprint to have one built. So much detail made the story drag a bit, but it also gave me a great understanding to the world the characters lived in.

The flow of the writing style in Matter changes throughout the book. There are plenty of detailed descriptions of technologies, species, characters … etc., parts felt like a well written suspense/thriller, and there are a few speeches that felt reminiscent of Shakespeare. I feel that this changing flow will annoy some readers.

I still found this to be a great read, but if you have never read a “Culture” book, I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point. The only drawback to “Matter” for me was that the ending didn’t meet my expectations for the usual Banks standard (but it was still excellent). So far, it is the only book by Banks that I figured out the ending before I got there.

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The Bridge by Iain Banks

The BridgeThe Bridge by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So far I have thoroughly enjoyed every book by Iain [M.] Banks I’ve read. ‘The Bridge’ is no exception.

The Bridge was a strange and surreal ride. It starts with an auto accident and a man falling into a coma. In the coma he finds himself in a strange world (living in a city on a bridge), not knowing who he is or of life before the bridge. The bridge lies between the city and the kingdom. His life is filled with strange happenings, bizarre dreams all the while reality is bleeding through. The story takes you through parts of his life before the accident, his life in the coma and his dreams which are more like nightmares. The different story lines all have elements from his real life. Regrets, choices made, choices that need to be made and the internal battle he must fight. When I was finished reading the story I was totally satisfied and happy to be alive.

This is another book that I would only recommend to adults not just because of the sex and violence but because Iain [M.} Banks is such a good writer he can make you feel the desperation, hopelessness and horror on such a deep level it will leave some readers feeling a bit uneasy (until you finish the book). Several of the books I have read by Banks have been dark and emotionally straining at times but he (Banks) always manages to have the perfect ending (some happy, some not so happy) that leaves me with a feeling of awe and a desire to read more.

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Walking on Glass by Iain Banks

Walking on GlassWalking on Glass by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m kind of in the middle of a Banks binge, trying to get a few of his non M books read (Iain Banks = fiction, Iain M. Banks = SciFi).

This is the first non M book that I think could have been an “M”. Walking on Glass has three stories that come together towards the end. The first story is about a man walking to the house of the woman he loves to tell her how he feels. Along the way he recalls moments he spent with her and how he felt at the time, he is walking on air. The second story is about a man that just quit his job before they could fire him. He knows they are out to get him. His tormentors are relentless. He has to avoid their microwave guns and the lasers in the axles of cars. He knows that if he tells what he knows they will lock him up (in a hospital) to keep him quiet. The third story is about a couple who have been locked in a castle until they either kill themselves, or until they can answer a riddle. To give an answer to the riddle they have to figure out the rules to a game and play it to it’s conclusion, games like Chinese Scrabble or spotless dominoes. The riddle they need to answer is: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Iain Banks does a wonderful job of putting the reader inside the head of the characters, so you don’t just feel for them you feel with them. Walking on Glass is on the dark side and contains adult situations and some suffering.

As I was reading I knew what it was like to be each of the characters. To be in love, to understand what it would be like to believe there are tormentors out to get you, or to be frustrated with trying to learn a game just so you can try to solve an impossible riddle.

Towards the end of the book there were times that the suffering was so intense that I felt physical pain and could not stop reading for fear that the pain would stay with me. The stories come together and the ending was perfection that left me completely satisfied and happy that I read this book.

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A Song Of Stone by Iain Banks

A Song of StoneA Song of Stone by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Song of Stone is brutally dark. The writing is beautiful and poetic. The subject matter is horrific. The story takes place during a no name war in a no name country and is told from the view of Abel as a first person narrative.

Abel and his lover Morgan are nobles. They attempt to abandon their castle and flee to safety disguised as refugees when they are captured and taken back to their castle by a lieutenant and her band of soldiers. This is where the cat and mouse game begins. The story contains graphic violence, sex, incest, rape and human cruelty at it’s worse.

The further I got into the story the more it seemed to have a hold on me. The closer I got to the end the more I felt a need to finish it. By the time I got to the last chapter I wanted it to not end I no longer wanted to know, but still I had a need to know.

When I finished reading A Song of Stone it felt as if my psyche was savagely beaten and bruised, it may take weeks for my mental health and well being to recover, if ever.

When I closed the book I immediately wanted to read something else but I’m not sure if it’s to dilute the feeling A Song of Stone left me with or if it’s because the writing was so good (and deep) that it ignited something in me that makes me want to read and read and read.

I would recommend to ADULTS ONLY that have read the reviews and are still interested. Not recommended as a first Iain (M.) Banks read.

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Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks

This book wasn’t the easiest book to get into or to read. Each chapter is divided into 4 parts (except the last chapter it has six parts,) each part is the story of a different character. One of the characters, Bascule, was my favorite but his story was also the hardest for me to read, it’s written phonetically (which my brain has trouble translating).

The story takes place on Earth (way in the future) where people live their lives, die, then are transferred into a digital world where they live (like “the matrix” but everyone can be Neo) until they are reconstructed and get to live again (8 lives) Krypt time is faster than base reality so a second of reality equal hours in the krypt. The world is ending and the authorities are fighting to stay in power and save themselves.

The story is full of adventure, conspiracies and a world that only Iain M. Banks could have come up with.

I really liked this book but I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone. It’s not a book you can pick up read a few pages and know what’s going on. You discover more and learn what’s going on right up until the last sentence.