Tim Giauque's Reviews > Consider Phlebas

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
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's review
May 22, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi

Consider Phlebas, the first in Iain M. Banks's series of Culture novels, is one of those books where the protagonist and his quest are introduced early on, and then the author spends a few hundred pages meandering in every direction but the one that wraps up the plot. I've read a lot of novels that have this kind of structure, but unlike most of them, I really liked this book.

The world of the Culture is rich with, well, culture, and I found myself intrigued by Banks's larger-than-life ideas. Every chapter has some new idea and I really found myself enjoying the divergent plot. Usually that bugs me, but I liked Banks's writing and I just enjoyed going where he led me.

His outsized imagination is really evident in some of the novel's action setpieces – for example, one scene is set aboard an abandoned, miles-long cruise ship sailing on a ringworld's ocean. The novel also features planet-slicing lasers, godlike ghost aliens, shape-shifters, tripedal aliens, and a cannibal cult that has to be one of the most horrifying, grotesque things I've ever read. Very vivid work, Mr. Banks. Yeesh.

There are a number of other Culture books, and sadly, as Mr. Banks has recently revealed that he's been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has maybe six more months to live, there will likely only be one more. As I understand it, however, this isn't yet another gigantic ongoing saga; the books are set in the same universe yet are unrelated. Based on my experience with Consider Phlebas, I'm definitely interested in checking out more of them.

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Reading Progress

May 22, 2012 – Shelved
March 14, 2013 – Started Reading
March 17, 2013 –
30.0% "Interesting so far, and well-written to boot."
March 24, 2013 – Finished Reading
April 11, 2013 – Shelved as: sci-fi

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