Gemma Thomson's Reviews > The State of the Art

The State of the Art by Iain M. Banks
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's review
Jan 20, 16

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi, own, the-culture, short-stories
Recommended for: Fans of the Culture and of Banks' sci-fi.
Read from October 04 to 07, 2010 , read count: 3

A thoroughly interesting read. "The State of the Art" isn't all sci-fi, and only a couple of the stories included here make mention of the Culture and its related technologies. There is also a rather chilling story to be discovered in "Piece", which I shall not spoil here.

I found that I enjoyed the short stories - of a misunderstood vegetable life-form, a traveller writing, a journey across a war zone, a Culture exile and clumsy interstellar bin-men - more than the title piece. They're admirably detailed pieces of short fiction, many of which highlight the best features of all Banks' writing.

"The State of the Art" itself felt like a tribute to L. Ron Hubbard. In it, Diziet Sma (from Use of Weapons) visits Earth of the 1970s, thus revealing that the Culture is a human civilisation far disconnected from our own. The story is essentially a study, examining our culture in a critical and satirical light. I'm usually turned off by such reality in my sci-fi, but I believe that Banks has handled the plot well.

The collection is a good one, and will shed new light upon Banks' work if you happen to be a fan; certainly, it has me putting his other works alongside The State of the Art and The Algebraist and speculating as only fanatics can about the Culture's unspoken origins.
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Quotes Gemma Liked

Iain Banks
“You know, when I was in Paris, seeing Linter for the first time, I was standing at the top of some steps in the courtyard where Linter's place was, and I looked across it and there was a little notice on the wall saying it was forbidden to take photographs of the courtyard without the man's permission. [..] They want to own the light!”
Iain Banks, The State of the Art

Reading Progress

10/04 page 83
37.0% "I started reading this in a coffee shop - something I've never done before, and the collection is perfect!"
10/05 page 67
30.0% "'So far, so brilliant. I love these short pockets of life in and around the Culture.'"
10/06 page 118
53.0% "'Oho, the return of Diziet Sma! I for one embrace this rare arcing of characters between books.'"
12/14 marked as: currently-reading
01/20 marked as: read
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