The first of the Culture series, which I originally dipped into in a later volume. Banks's universe is endlessly inventive, but this book became a choThe first of the Culture series, which I originally dipped into in a later volume. Banks's universe is endlessly inventive, but this book became a chore to read as the end approached. Sometimes you can just tell that things are going to end badly for the characters, and that no one is going to get out unscathed, if they get out at all. This is that kind of book....more
I really wanted to like this book. Rip-roaring space adventure? Check. A spunky, no-nonsense heroine? Check. Talented first-time novelist? Check. AttrI really wanted to like this book. Rip-roaring space adventure? Check. A spunky, no-nonsense heroine? Check. Talented first-time novelist? Check. Attractive cover art? Always a plus.
The problem is, about halfway through the book it really started to feel like the author was just making it up as she went along. As a result, plotlines are started then discarded abruptly. Some of the individual "episodes" in the book are good, but there's no cohesion to the novel as a whole. And in the end, instead of everything leading toward a resolution that derives from the choices and personalities of the characters, an entirely new character is introduced in the last 30 pages who essentially shows up and solves everyone's problems for them.
Also disappointing was the romantic element of the storyline. Romance and sci-fi action can mix well to great effect (see: Catherine Asaro) but here the two elements almost cancel each other out. What surprised me was that Aguirre used an SF cop-out that I would normally expect from a male writer: give your romantic leads a telepathic connection so they have total communication and can skip all the messy bits of relationship-building. Also, her male lead (who we're supposed to believe is deeply in love with the heroine) has the personality of a brick.
This was a first novel, so I'll probably give Aguirre another try. I think there's definitely room for improvement, though....more
2016 Re-Read: Imagine Return of the Jedi if all of Jabba the Hutt's dialogue had been written by Noam Chomsky.
I remember being puzzled by this book wh2016 Re-Read: Imagine Return of the Jedi if all of Jabba the Hutt's dialogue had been written by Noam Chomsky.
I remember being puzzled by this book when I first read it back in high school, and coming back to it now I can certainly see why. The effect is like that of listening to a very long philosophy lecture while a science fiction movie plays in the background with the volume turned all the way down, so you can see all the cool images without having the slightest clue what's going on.
Having said that, I get what Herbert was going for - Leto II had some horrible vision of the extinction of humankind and saw that the only way to avoid it was for him to sacrifice his own humanity and perform a CTRL-ALT-DELETE on human civilization by imposing thousands of years of enforced peace and tranquility. When we join the story, that empire has been going on for a while and all Leto really wants at this point is to explain himself - in the most circular, cryptic, and unhelpful way possible.
Herbert does right by taking the seeds he'd planted in the original Dune Trilogy and following them through to their ultimate conclusion, but somewhere along the way he seems to have lost sight of what makes for a good story....more