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Previous BotM--DISCUSSIONS > 2009-08 Consider Phlebas - Characters

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message 1: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments To me it seems (and this may be one reason the novel suffers in comparison to other Culture books) that the only fully developed character is Horza. Do you feel the same way? Are there other characters you liked more? Are there ones you liked less but who were striking? Do the sentient machines (Unaha-Closp, the hidden Mind and/or the antique drone with Fal N'Geestra) work for you as characters? Are you surprised when the prissy Unaha-Closp uppercuts the Iridan in the tunnels? Do you find yourself rooting for the machines, or like Horza accept them "as long as they know their place"?



message 2: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 2499 comments Mod
I don't think I was rooting for the machines (except maybe Unaha-Closp, who I thought was a great character), but I found it easy to accept them as full characters in the story.

I liked both Balveda and Yalson. SPOILER ALERT!

They are both more fully revealed as characters when they are in the Command System tunnels--Balveda as she discovers that striving to understand your enemies has consequences when you are in sustained close contact with them, and Yalson as she reveals her pregnancy to Horza.

I thought the interludes with Fal N'Geestra didn't fit with the rest of the story, even though I found her drone, Jase, to be an intriguing character. What was it with Fal and the mountain climbing obsession anyway?

Wubslin was the only other character I felt we got to know very well, again because of the events in the tunnels of the Command System.


message 3: by William (new)

William (williamjm) | 67 comments Kathi wrote: "What was it with Fal and the mountain climbing obsession anyway?"

Being obsessed with some hobby or other is a common trait among the Culture citizens in Banks' various books. I think the idea is that since they live in a utopia where they are not likely to encounter any personal challenges or hardships in day-to-day life, a lot of the Culture's citizens decide to set their own challenges to themselves to ward off boredom.



message 4: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 2499 comments Mod
That makes sense. I've not read any of the other Culture books, so I didn't have that perspective.


message 5: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine I was fascinated with the Mind in the opening scenes of the book; the appeal dropped off for me as the book went on. I will keep the idea of the Mind being less than its full self while in realspace, being able to access that self only while in hyperspace. That fits with an idea which intrigues me, that we as humans cannot remember our full selves, past lives, life plans, while incarnated, incarnation to us being much the same as realspace is to the Mind.

Unaha-Closp had a liveliness which none of the other characters had; I liked it for that reason. I wasn't surprised when it attacked the Idiran; from its entrance in the book, draped with wires, I knew it had it in it. I wish English had a neutral pronoun which would designate "person" without having to specify gender; "it" doesn't work for me with sentient beings. I'm glad U-C recovered. I wonder what happened to the plan to study paratheology?

Of the other characters, Balveda was the most interesting to me. She had depth that we got to see explored. She had challenges to meet that couldn't be met by blasting and killing.

I was fascinated by the Damage game and the people involved in it. I would like to see more of that in another book, perhaps.


message 6: by Ron (new)

Ron (ronbacardi) | 302 comments Yes, Unaha-Closp felt well-realized to me too, maybe because Banks is good at portraying exasperation.

And yeah, wouldn't you love to see Zaphod Beeblebrox at the Damage table? Or maybe Miles Vorkosigan?


message 7: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine The game does have possibilities for all kinds of representation, comic included. I haven't met Miles yet, although I have met his parents, but I think Rincewind might come off not too badly in a game of Damage. Could you see Discworld's Death as a player? Every time anyone else lost a life, he'd gain one.


message 8: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new)

Kathi | 2499 comments Mod
Peregrine wrote: "Could you see Discworld's Death as a player? Every time anyone else lost a life, he'd gain one. "

What a great idea! In fact, assorted characters at Damage games would be great fan fiction scenarios...



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