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Previous BotM--DISCUSSIONS > 2009-08 Consider Phlebas - initial thoughts *no spoilers*

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message 1: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Please let us know if you're still reading, or planning to read, this novel. No spoilers please!


message 2: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 626 comments I'm having an atrocious time finding this book. None of my local libraries in the KC metro area have it nor do the used book stores. And I'm not keen on ordering yet another book from Amazon. I may just have to skip reading this one.


message 3: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 3222 comments Mod
I am just starting this book.


message 4: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 971 comments As I get further into the book, I have to agree with those who say this book is excellent. I was unsure at first, and I understand the criticism that Banks disconcerts the reader by having so many characters come in breifly then disappear so early in the story. But it's my first "Culture" book and I am enjoying finding out about what the Culture consists of in a bit-by-bit fashion while at the same time getting to know two fascinating protagonists working in different parts of the Culture universe.


message 5: by Jane (new)

Jane (hippygoth66) | 101 comments I bought this book and started to read it after it was nominated the first time a few months back.
I couldn't get on with at all. I found the violence unnerving and couldn't see the point of it.
I don't have a problem with violence in books (love Richard Morgan's novels and they can be a bit violent).

The death by sewage at the start and the torture and murder on the island near the start of the book were both scenes that the author had dreamed up to turn the readers stomaches. They didn't seem to add to the story or have any impact on the characters involved.
It was only shortly after that I ended up tossing the book


message 6: by William (new)

William (williamjm) Jane wrote: "The death by sewage at the start and the torture and murder on the island near the start of the book were both scenes that the author had dreamed up to turn the readers stomaches. They didn't seem to add to the story or have any impact on the characters involved."

The bit on the island is certainly extremely violent and possibly gratuitously so, but it does have some thematic purpose as well. One of the main themes of the novel is the excesses of faith and fanaticism and the cult on the island is fanaticism taken to the extreme. Other examples of fanaticism would be the Idiran's motivations for war or the way that it becomes increasingly clear through the novel that Horza's vendetta against the Culture is based more on an irrational hatred of A.I.s than any other motivation.

I think Banks does also like to use violence to shock, he seems to include such a scene in most of his books.


message 7: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 626 comments I started reading this novel this morning. I'm not yet to the island torture scene so won't comment on it. The drowning by sewage didn't bother me too much.

I definitely like the pacing of the book thus far.


message 8: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 971 comments Jon wrote: "I started reading this novel this morning. I'm not yet to the island torture scene so won't comment on it. The drowning by sewage didn't bother me too much.

I definitely like the pacing of the..."


J., glad to see you reading this one after all. I agree with you on the pacing; some of the passages, especially near the mid point, are real page turners, at least to me. It's odd how the pacing effects people differently. The sudden disappearance (death) of some characters can be a jolt. But so far it has thrown our main guy forward into some off-the-wall stuff.



message 9: by Gaijinmama (last edited Aug 07, 2009 11:25PM) (new)

Gaijinmama | 4 comments Just started reading. I've been looking forward to this one. I found the prologue intriguing, and definitely don't recommend reading about a man drowning in poop right after lunch. I have a pretty strong tolerance for fictional violence, so I don't imagine Banks will turn me off too much. I can't watch the news on TV, however; now that is REALLY scary! IMO there's little in fiction that tops the horror of what humans actually do to each other.


message 10: by Random (last edited Aug 08, 2009 07:57PM) (new)

Random (rand0m1s) | 830 comments I'm about a quarter of the way into the book and I'm having a really hard time getting into it. I've yet to find a character that's grabbed me and I keep getting the weird feeling that we're seeing all of this from the wrong view point.

It's still early so I'll keep chugging, but I keep having to fight to keep my attention from wandering.


message 11: by Kelly (new)

Kelly (sisimka) Based on my previous experience with Iain Banks Matter (I tossed it), I probably won't pick this up. Simply not to my taste.


message 12: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments Completely understandable; we all have writers who just don't do it for us. One of mine happens to be Silverberg, last month's author. And I think "Matter" is a pretty good representation of Banks' work, so if you didn't like it there's not much of his that you would (I only mention that because I have in the past crossed authors off my list after reading books that turned to be just not their good stuff).


message 13: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments Random, I think you are on to something, I think that Banks is showing us the Culture from the outside, from the viewpoint of someone who really strongly dislikes it and may not fully understand why he feels that way, so you get a skewed perspective on the war, the Culture and the Idirans. The interstitial chapters called "State of Play" with Fal N'Geestra are I think meant to balance this in the book.


message 14: by DivaDiane (new)

DivaDiane | 176 comments I started the book a few days ago and have no idea how long it will take me to finish it. Probably a while. But luckily I can still read the discussion later! :-) I'm enjoying well enough so far, but Horza has only just jettisoned from the Idiran ship.


message 15: by Gaijinmama (new)

Gaijinmama | 4 comments I'm about 6o pages in and really enjoying Horza's voice and view of things. A really well-written protagonist, I think, with just the right touch of snark on the inside. I found his thoughts on his fellow pirates pretty amusing, all the more so because he knows better than to say them out loud and get himself killed.





message 16: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
I've decided to re-read this book after all. I asked Ron to lead the discussion because I have so many unread books that I felt guilty about re-reading, especially as I'm already re-reading the Vorkosigan books... but I just spent some time peering at my to-be-read shelf, and there's just not one other book on that pile that I feel like reading more than Consider Phlebas. So I should be jumping into the discussion soon after all!


message 17: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine I'm just over halfway in. It's taken me this far to have any coherent initial impressions. I was very taken with the opening, about the Mind. It was the memory of that which kept me going through some very gruesome, ugly scenes farther along. In terms of ideas, not much shocks me. In terms of physical violence, I'm easily turned queasy and disgusted. The bits about the Culture and the Idirans are fascinating to me, though, and I thought that Banks must be doing something with all that despite the chaos of the opening almost-half of the book. So I'll stick with it for the larger ideas and for the discussion in this and another group, and hope there aren't very many (any) more physical shocks. I'll need to recuperate in mythological fantasy for awhile after this, though.


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