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Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1)
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Monthly Read: Themed > June 2013 Themed Read-Consider Phlebas

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Trax | 11 comments Consider Phlebas is upon us. It is indeed June.


John Doez | 38 comments I was waiting to start reading Consider Phlebas. Here we go!


message 3: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1274 comments Mod
I read this book last year and loved loved loved it!


Jonathan (jg_1978) | 14 comments Finally the thread!!! Anxiously waited to start this...I even started on the last day of May. Looking forward to discussing with you guys!


message 5: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
I read this a while ago and loved it. looking forward to reading what people think!


Todd | 17 comments Been looking forward to reading this book for awhile, it looks like a series with which I'll enjoy very much getting started. Always love a good series.


Jonathan (jg_1978) | 14 comments Dang, I have been burning through it...Almost halfway through!

So much to mention....I like how this book is very easy to read. I am not bogged down with descriptions and histories (although I love when 'hard SF' authors can do that engagingly). Banks tells us what we need to know at just the right places and gives us just the right amount.

His writing carries us along at a nice pace!


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 260 comments This is a long one! I'm between a quarter and a third done and an awful lot of action has already transpired! I don't yet understand why Horas does not like the Culture - is he anti AI?


message 9: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
he is anti the Culture's rather patronizing and bland culture of safety and no real risk for its human citizens.


message 10: by Mickey (last edited Jun 05, 2013 06:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mickey | 580 comments As one who has repared his own "drained" septic tank. I can really emphasize with Horza. However, I did have a disposable rubber suit and respirator and still hoping no one flushes the toilet in the house. It was still nasty from the smell of the suit and even accidentally touching the scum off the suit caused a nasty rash.

Starting off with memories of a miserable past life... Thanks :)


message 11: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1274 comments Mod
the whole scene at the bottom of the latrine was so vivid...many disgusting scenes in this book!


Mickey | 580 comments Maggie wrote: "the whole scene at the bottom of the latrine was so vivid...many disgusting scenes in this book!"

And yet you stated "Read this Last year and Loved Loved Loved it",
And to the many disgusting scenes in this book!

Oh my, Am I looking forward to finishing this book :)


Mickey | 580 comments So how should this thread go?
Discuss the book as we go that can have spoilers for those that are behind others? Discuss the book towards the end of the month? Wait for cues from the moderators?

Just curoius on how to proceed, I have developed views on where this book is going after the third chapter. So far kinda reminds me of the tv show Babylon 5 as far as the plot goes.


Jonathan (jg_1978) | 14 comments Good point...I was wondering about our agenda withis thread, myself..

.I do like sharing thougHts about the writing without spoiling plot...


Mikael Lindberg | 1 comments Halfway through now, intriguing world for sure though I'm a bit surprised by how the story is told. Lots of pages devoted to story arcs seemingly unrelated to the initial plot regarding the ship wrecked Mind, not sure what to make of it all yet.


message 16: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1274 comments Mod
I'd say you should put a comment in spoilers if it's very far along in the book at all.
For instance, (view spoiler)


message 17: by Dan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dan Ross (d_ross) I agree that spoilers should be hidden...I will probably not start the book until a week or two from now...but I still enjoy reading some of the comments


Andreas | 61 comments Somehow, I missed Banks when I read more SF back in the 80s. Now that I heard of his cancer, I searched for a group reading him. Voilá, this is my first entry here.

What a start to a space opera! High speed and nice, visual language. Interesting start to a series: Telling from the viewpoint of the enemy. Well, I'm just at the start but I won't lem this one :)


Mickey | 580 comments I am one that is in the habit of predicting how things are going to proceed in a book. If my predictions are correct I do not enjoy the book as much and I hope I am wrong. After the first 3 chapters this is how I see it.

Like other stories lines, the age old argument:
Chaos / Evolution / Survival of the fittest / Top of the Food Chain: Idiran
Vs
Order / Technology / Team Work / Symboitic with Enviroment: Culture

This is the ideological theme that I see going on, I hope it is more than this.
Idirans think nothing of nuking cities, super long life spans... Chaos.
Technological (Mind), Comfortable Living, Dislike of Violence... Order.
And while we are at it a race that is some where in between that has to choose a side... Schars World.

I hope I am wrong about this, an ideological debate.


message 20: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
the ideological debates underlying all of Banks' books are the reason i love Banks' books!


Mickey | 580 comments mark wrote: "the ideological debates underlying all of Banks' books are the reason i love Banks' books!"

So... By that statement, it is about "Chaos Vs. Order"!
Personally, I prefer order in my life and chaos in other peoples lives. I like books that are unpredictable, I hope there is a twist somewhere in the book.
If you like Philosophy is Sci-Fi then you will also like:
Rite of Passage


message 22: by mark, personal space invader (last edited Jun 08, 2013 09:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
i think that is certainly a big part of it (Chaos vs. Order). but in some ways i think it is also just the beginning of what makes the novel so rich. as far as what the novel is concerned with (thematically, ideologicallly, etc), i think it is a starting point rather than the overall message.

i'm not so sure i agree with your breakdown of Chaos vs. Order. i think that Chaos can be considered a part of nature, as something organic and life-supporting. however i think that a possible Idiran end point - in their refusal to co-exist peacefully with others - is life-negating destruction. if anything, they embrace too fully their own concept of 'Order'. i also think that Order when considered alongside Technology is anti the chaos of nature and the environment, and so it is hard for me to lump in symbiosis with nature in that silo. it is particularly hard for me to lump the Culture in that silo, when they embrace a kind of anarchy in their culture - which of course is more allied with Chaos. so... not so black & white.

great suggestion about Rite of Passage! i enjoyed that one. however i do actually prefer Consider Phlebas.


message 23: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1274 comments Mod
also, the idea of balance.

Culture might believe in technology and the importance of Artificial Intelligence, but they let the minds do all the work and beleive they live in Utopia. Is it? Is there such a thing? When they do any work, are they really doing something or are the minds just letting them think they are?


Mickey | 580 comments I have no problem with robots that does everything for me. Where is my piña-colada and my Cherry 2000. But also those extra pleasure glands that those cultured women have, sounds good to me :)

You can have the suffering Iridan worlds, pirates included.

I will say, Iain Banks is an excellent writer that flows along. The character and world building is also very good. But the story line so far is ok. It just does not have that wow factor yet, but I have not finished and only quarter way through. Things could change.


message 25: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
Mickey wrote: "I have no problem with robots that does everything for me. Where is my piña-colada and my Cherry 2000. But also those extra pleasure glands that those cultured women have, sounds good to me :)..."

ha! Like.


message 26: by Mickey (last edited Jun 11, 2013 07:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mickey | 580 comments I have now read about one third of this book and yes I read about his Iain Banks passing. However, I am having doubts about this book. The book so far, is a very dark book, the Ceptic Tank, The Death Fight on the ship Cat, Deaths at the Temple of Light, the Deaths on the Megaship and now the Eaters...

This book is just what? How many fictional ways to die book? Does this many ways to die continue? Does it let up and change direction? Are all culture novels about 1000 ways to die (oh wait, that TV show does exist).

I see the "MIND" now just a "Gadget" like in many stories that different groups are after and the "Path" is the actual story.

I will finish the book in the hopes it will change. But I am one third the way and only a small story about a robot friend of a culture woman. So far this is about Horror / Space Opera.

Let the arguments... I ment discussions begin :)


message 27: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
well i'm not going to be arguing with you! we are all entitled to our opinions. where some see meaning and style and intelligence, others see a parade of death scenarios and gadgets. i think it is clear where i stand on this book.


Mickey | 580 comments I admit I am not a fan of the darker side of literature, I do prefer an upbeat story. As I have not yet finished this book, my views could change.

One book that comes to mind is "Gateway by Fredrick Pohl". Most of the book was about a constant struggle for survival, then the ending had a fantastic twist in the end that made it most enjoyable and memorable.


message 29: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
then you should be warned: Consider Phlebas only gets darker. this may not be the book for you.

i don't know if you like gargantuan space operas, but if you do, you may want to check out Peter Hamilton.

definitely avoid Alastair Reynolds!


Mickey | 580 comments Thanks, I do have one book from Alistar Reynolds "The Prefect", that I have not yet read, I will save it for last.

However, i did enjoy the "Leviathan Wakes / Calban's War by James Corey". It does have a dark side to it as most wars do, but not on a personal scale.


message 31: by jaw (new) - rated it 3 stars

jaw | 4 comments I just finished this book yesterday and I think I joined this group 2 days ago or so. How lucky of me to stumble on a group read without knowing it was a group read. And I haven't introduced myself yet.

I must say that I did not enjoy this book. Banks is a good writer and I liked certain aspects of it but I feel like the book starts in shit and then just goes down from there. Not quality wise but event wise - I think this is a pretty dark book. Plus, I never got behind Horza. He was rather unlikeable as was everyone else except Yalson. Though I did buy into Horza's stance on the Idirans vs. Culture. I would back the Idirans over Culture every time.


message 32: by Dan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dan Ross (d_ross) mark wrote: "i don't know if you like gargantuan space operas, but if you do, you may want to check out Peter Hamilton."

Agreed! I am currently in the middle of Judas Unchained, and loving it. It is sooo long though, I am trying to finish it up in time to get to Consider Phlebas this month.


message 33: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1274 comments Mod
As someone who has read several of the Culture novels, I want to defend them a little bit.
I think of these books as telling great stories WITHIN the ever-ongoing war of philosophies. Some are darker than others. The writing is ALWAYS great, and thought provoking, though the actual subject matter usually is dark.
I think one thing we should notice in this book is the 'State of Play' chapters. There is a description in the first one about the Cultures reliance on its minds, with the exception othe Referrers, those genius humans. She is the one who figures out what the lost mind is doing here. She also has a fascinating drone who seems to have a crush on her. With these two actions, Banks creates anomalies to the purely rational state of Culture, thus humanizing them in a way.
Kind of fascinating how he managed that!


Jean-Michel Smith (j-ms) | 16 comments mark wrote: "definitely avoid Alastair Reynolds!"

I couldn't disagree more: Alastair Reynolds is excellent. If you want something interesting and not as dark as some of his stuff, check out "House of Suns". Not all light and unicorns, but pretty upbeat despite some of the disasters, treachery, and conflict that arises, and a nice twist at the end.


message 35: by Ric (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ric (ricaustria) | 20 comments Tanj, was holding, holding off on this book, and now this thread has started and am in catch mode.


message 36: by mark, personal space invader (last edited Jun 12, 2013 11:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
Jean-Michel wrote: "mark wrote: "definitely avoid Alastair Reynolds!"

I couldn't disagree more: Alastair Reynolds is excellent. If you want something interesting and not as dark as some of his stuff, check out "Hous..."


oh i hope my comment didn't come across as critical of Reynolds, who i think is great. my comment was really about Mickey not wanting to read dark narratives.

so far i've read Revelation Space (pretty damn dark) and its sequel (still dark, but less so) and enjoyed them both.

interesting about House of Suns. perhaps Reynolds lightened his stories over time. although i sorta hope not because for me the darkness was a big part of Revelation Space's appeal.


Jean-Michel Smith (j-ms) | 16 comments "House of Suns" has darkness, but not nearly as much as "Revelation Space," "Consider Phlebus," or "Use of Weapons." I'm really enjoying re-reading Consider Phlebus. I wouldn't want to hang out with the sort of people who linger on a doomed Orbital, much less join Special Circumstances or fight on the front lines of the Idiran war. That said, I'd take life in the Culture, good with the bad, over that as an Idiran, or frankly a 21st Century Earthling (see "The State of the Art" novella for a Culture visit to 20th century Earth :-) ).


Jonathan (jg_1978) | 14 comments Maggie wrote: "As someone who has read several of the Culture novels, I want to defend them a little bit.
I think of these books as telling great stories WITHIN the ever-ongoing war of philosophies. Some are dark..."


In reference to these (curious)"State Of Play" chapters..
I have been wondering how this Fal character fits in and WHO she is...

It seems that she is my view into the Culture's perspective (pov), although she appears to be battling with a number of things...I am curious to see how She will fit into the plot as a whole...


message 39: by Ric (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ric (ricaustria) | 20 comments Maggie wrote: "the whole scene at the bottom of the latrine was so vivid...many disgusting scenes in this book!"
Cistern torture is so over-rated as a shock device.


message 40: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
it's so last millenium.


Andreas | 61 comments Ric wrote: "Maggie wrote: "the whole scene at the bottom of the latrine was so vivid...many disgusting scenes in this book!"
Cistern torture is so over-rated as a shock device."

And he kind of repeats himself, cf. the scene on the orbital with the feeders. I wouldn't want to read that at breakfast time.


message 42: by jaw (new) - rated it 3 stars

jaw | 4 comments Actually, I think that's on purpose. I think the violence is progressive. It's a downward spiral.

(view spoiler)


message 43: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (happy-end-of-the-world) | 1273 comments Mod
jaw, that is an excellent analysis.


message 44: by Ric (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ric (ricaustria) | 20 comments jaw wrote: "Actually, I think that's on purpose. I think the violence is progressive. It's a downward spiral ..."
Thanks for marking off the spoiler text. I haven't made it through a fourth of the book yet.


message 45: by jaw (new) - rated it 3 stars

jaw | 4 comments @mark - Thanks! I'm glad my English degree is good for something. :D While I did not enjoy the book, I know that it is well written and merits some discussion. There's plenty more I noticed about the books.

@Ric - I can't tell if that's sarcasm or not? :/ My apologies if I ruined anything for you. I see [spoilers removed] on my phone but I hope the spoiler tags are working - I'd feel awful if they weren't.


message 46: by Ric (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ric (ricaustria) | 20 comments jaw wrote: "@Ric - I can't tell if that's sarcasm or not? :/ My apologies if I ruined anything for you...."
No sarcasm intended. I enjoy this thread but sometimes spoilers slip through. I'm glad you were being considerate.


message 47: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1274 comments Mod
mark wrote: "it's so last millenium."

lmaoooooooooooo


Mickey | 580 comments So when will a good time be for posting a more in depth opinion? Last day in June or first day in July or earlier.

I am almost half way through the book and it is getting a little better because I think, not sure, until done with the book where it is going.

I am now seeing, guessing, why all of the violence in the book is necessary for the story. But will post my opinion towards the end of the month. So far a 3 out of 5. But may boost it by one more point when done.


Andreas | 61 comments Mickey wrote: "So when will a good time be for posting a more in depth opinion? Last day in June or first day in July or earlier. "
Anytime, but not in this thread, please. Just make up a new thread with *SPOILERS* in the title.


message 50: by Ric (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ric (ricaustria) | 20 comments Reading Horza and Balveda argue their positions is like watching the author play a chess game against himself.


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