Kristin's Reviews > Consider Phlebas

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
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's review
May 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: scifi-bkgrp-selection, science-fiction
Read from May 01 to 10, 2012

I've read this series out of order, but I don't know that it really matters in hindsight. If you are reading them in order (not as listed below) you might get a better feel for how the Culture universe matures.

April 2000 Excession
July 2003 Look to Windward
Jan 2007 The Algebraist
April 2009 State of the Art
Feb 2010 Matter
Nov 2011 Use of Weapons
Jan 2012 Surface Detail
May 2012 Consider Phlebas

While I did bounce off of Surface Detail (see review here), I thought Consider Phlebas was a pretty good - and fast - read. I will note right off the bat that this read a bit like a cross between a space pirate adventure, a space opera, and an action movie with a bit of heavy philosophy thrown in for good measure. Think if you will, on a grandiose scale as one man rages against the machine (the Culture) with a motley crew who got dragged into things because they were on the wrong ship at the right time. The ever present Culture agent gets to go along for the ride, but has no say and no capability to do anything. Which surprised me given the status afforded these agents in subsequent books.

And I don't know if this was intentional, but it was almost as if the book was a homage to other science fiction works - the space renegade/pirate comes first to mind, there was a chapter with a twisted version of Jabba the Hut, the decaying space Orbital reminded me of Larry Niven's Ringworld, and, the Man vs Machine theme. Just to name a few.

I'm really not capturing the essence of Consider Phlebas in this review. If you've read Banks, you'll understand my struggle.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Jeffrey (last edited May 17, 2012 08:08AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jeffrey My recollection was the book was pretty dense. Maybe when I have time I will consider going back and giving it another whirl. I think I read it after reading a book when the agents did more and when that failed to happen here, it was a letdown

Kristin I didn't think this book was as dense as some of his others, hence my comment about it being a fast read. Often I find that Banks takes some work to get through (The Algebraist being the worst) and that wasn't the case this time.

Definitely no agent activity in this book, which, after reading about all the meddling they do in the other books (ironically all those that follow) was a nice change of pace.

And even though this was the first book in the Culture series, I didn't get the impression that it was imperative to be read as a 'first' book. I think this book would fit in well anywhere in the series, if that makes sense?

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