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Use of Weapons (Culture #3)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  30,596 Ratings  ·  1,314 Reviews
Called back from early retirement by Special Circumstances, the elite weapon of the Culture's policy of moral espionage, Cheradenine Zakalwe reluctantly returns to work, but his fatal flaw could cost them the battle. Reprint.
Mass Market Paperback, 389 pages
Published March 1st 1992 by Bantam Books (NY) (first published 1990)
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Arius I had the exact same experience! I really enjoyed Consider Phlebas, was totally blown away by Player of Games, and the formatting and content of Use…moreI had the exact same experience! I really enjoyed Consider Phlebas, was totally blown away by Player of Games, and the formatting and content of Use of Weapons was just too... I dunno... ethereal. Dreamlike. Which, with the reveal, makes lots of sense, but it was a bit of a struggle to get through.

That said, while I was in the midst of any given sequence, I liked it. But then it would shift radically through time and space and I'd have to reorient every single time.(less)
Norman Neubauer Yes, the book can be read on its own. At least as far as the preceding books are concerned, the only overlap is in the universe and themes Banks…moreYes, the book can be read on its own. At least as far as the preceding books are concerned, the only overlap is in the universe and themes Banks created. The characters are unique and the narrative self contained.(less)
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Feb 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Stars were barely visible through the tiny oval. The reader looked up from his novel, blinked. Checked his watch -- still hours to go. His wife sat slumped next to him, still asleep. Some people could sleep on planes. Some people couldn't.

"What are you reading?" asked the man on the reader's left.

The reader checked himself before the sigh escaped him. He hated it when people talked to him on planes. Especially when he was trying to read. Especially when he was reading a book with a space
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolute masterpiece. I don't think I really have anything else to add that others haven't already said. Read it.
mark monday
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WATCH OUT, SPOILERS! but I will try to keep things vague.

the name of the game is Influence. you're a good progressive super-society, you don't want to interfere too much, just enough, in the small but important ways that will put this little not-so-super-society onto the right path. on the path towards respect for life and individual liberty, on a path away from domination and plutocracy. you want to work from the outside of it all, subtly, whispering in this ear, supporting that action, slowly
This is a rather surprising novel. I mean, on the one hand, it is filled with glorious ultraviolence, satisfying all atavistic tendencies, but on the other hand, it's almost poetry, devoted to all the ideals that the Culture is known for. Peace, objectivism, minimalistic good, and respect.

Where does war really fit? Well, in the end, there's always a niche for everything, and, indeed, everyone.

So what was so damn surprising?

I can't, I won't, tell you.

*sigh* It's a long story, full of daring-do,
I'd prefer to sit on the floor, thanks. No, really! I'll feel more comfortable that way.

I'm sorry? Oh, just something I read. It doesn't matter. To be honest, I'd rather not talk about it.
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably Bank's best science fiction novel and one of his best works generally. Cheradinine Zakalwe, Diziet Sma and Skaffen Amiskaw are, together, his most interesting group of characters.

The structure of this novel makes it worthy of note on its own. Written in interwoven chapters, it is made up of two alternating narrative streams - one indicated by Arabic numerals and the other by Roman ones. One moves forward chronologically, while the other moves in the opposite direction; yet both are abo
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
June 9, 2013

It's a sad day for me. I won't speak for anyone else on the passing of Iain (M.) Banks. I will only speak for myself, and for myself this is a sad, sad day.

I came to Banks circuitously. A close friend of mine was teaching Wasp Factory in a class he'd designed about serial killer literature, and of all the books on his syllabus he told me to read Wasp Factory, so I did, and I loved every page. And then I drifted away from Banks for a good long while until my sister moved to Scotland
May 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ian Banks is one of the most overrated authors in science fiction.

Allow me to qualify that. He is not a *bad* writer. (This book is just about interesting enough to complete.) It's very sad that he is currently dying of cancer. I guess it's good that he attracts fans of the literary genre to read sci-fi. But the god-like reverence with which he is praised is entirely unjustified.

I had read Consider Phlebas years ago and dismissed Banks as uninteresting. The recent news of his impending death bro
ode to zakalwe

when all life is violence
rooted, bound, inescapable
everything is a weapon.

this cannot be overstated.

memory, worship, flesh, love
inhibition, action, demand, care
shoelace, knife, gun, nuke
blood, shame, slinky

the gas chamber kills more than
the good books kill more than
the chemical weapons kill more than
the pamphlet kills more than
the meltdown kills more than

no. never more than us,
for we are these weapons all.

the mind, our mind, our minds
the weapon, our weapon, our weapons
death? it's i
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There are two stories, but you know most of one of them. I’ll tell them at the same time; see if you can tell which is which.”
The hyper-advanced civilization that calls itself "The Culture" views itself as thoroughly utopian: post-scarcity, anarchistic yet pacifist, honest and easy-going, giving equal respect to all, whether mortal or machine. Out of beneficence--or boredom--the Culture has set itself the task of bringing a little of its enlightenment to the surrounding civilizations--but of co
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Science Fiction A...: * Book 3: Use of Weapons 17 56 Nov 23, 2015 12:34PM  
The sad demise of Iain Banks 7 159 Jun 24, 2015 08:06AM  
50 SF- och fantas...: Majboken 7 10 Jun 10, 2015 08:49AM  
Space Opera Fans : [BOTM] - READER PICK - Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks 8 54 Oct 15, 2014 08:54AM  
Iain Banks / Iain...: Use of Weapons 27 124 Oct 05, 2014 06:34AM  
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Iain M. Banks is a pseudonym of Iain Banks which he used to publish his Science Fiction.

Banks's father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater. Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, li
More about Iain M. Banks...

Other Books in the Series

Culture (10 books)
  • Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1)
  • The Player of Games (Culture, #2)
  • The State of the Art (Culture, #4)
  • Excession (Culture, #5)
  • Inversions (Culture, #6)
  • Look to Windward (Culture, #7)
  • Matter (Culture, #8)
  • Surface Detail (Culture #9)
  • The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture #10)
“Zakalwe, in all human societies we have ever reviewed, in every age and every state, there has seldom if ever been a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this simple fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots.” 85 likes
“I just think people overvalue argument because they like to hear themselves talk.” 58 likes
More quotes…