Iain M Banks : Surface Detail

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  • Iain M Banks : Surface Detail
  • Premier Icon Harry_the_Spider
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    100 pages in… does it improve?

    sprootlet
    Member

    Definitely, stick with it.
    Wasn’t that keen on the Quarry though.

    z1ppy
    Member

    I was going to post some disparaging comments about H_T_S, for suggesting a Banks (sci-fi) book wasn’t very good… But actually remember struggling with that one myself @ the start, as per Sprootlet IMO it gets better, as the story threads join & interweave.

    JonW
    Member

    Just finished reading it. Not read any of the “Culture” novels before so it was a heavy going to start with but really enjoyed it. Will be trying another of the earlier books on the back of it.

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny
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    Definitely stick with it. It has 2 or 3 absolute classic banks ‘human spirit’ moments that make it very worthwhile reading. Enjoy.

    monkeyboyjc
    Member

    I think ive only ever enjoyed one Bsnks book – I try to avoid them but being a sifi fan I get given them regularly.

    Just finishing the Wool, Shift, Dust trilogy by Hugh Howey – picked up Wool in the supermarket last year and ive loved them.

    bencooper
    Member

    I’m not all that keen on Surface Detail – it’s okay, and ties neatly into the Culture universe, but it’s a bit bleak for me. His two non-Culture SF books, Feersum Edjinn and Against A Dark Background, are both outstanding.

    gordimhor
    Member

    I enjoyed it, I started on his Iain M books as I am running out of Iain Banks books to read. Took a while to get to grips with them but once you get a handle on The Culture it’s a lot better. Ken Macleod is also good.(Banks’ s pal)

    Premier Icon Speeder
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    I can’t think of a bad one. Some better than others obviously but enjoyed them all. Surface detail certainly gives a good indication of what hell could be like.

    Premier Icon bigjim
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    Yes it gets better. Matter is one that didn’t click with me though.

    nbt
    Member

    I read it last year, I struggled through to the end but it’s not really got me looking to read any more Banks books.

    Premier Icon convert
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    I enjoyed it, I started on his Iain M books as I am running out of Iain Banks books to read. Took a while to get to grips with them but once you get a handle on The Culture it’s a lot better. Ken Macleod is also good.(Banks’ s pal)

    Interesting. I’m slightly Iain M Banks curious as I’ve really enjoyed most Iain Banks I’ve read so far (about 30 pages to go on Stonemouth this evening) but never been in the slightest bit interested in Sci-fi in the past – a 10 page dip into a discworld novel put me off the whole genre for life.

    MrNice
    Member

    Surface Detail isn’t one of my favourites. Much preferred The Hydrogen Sonata.

    MrNice
    Member

    never been in the slightest bit interested in Sci-fi in the past – a 10 page dip into a discworld novel put me off the whole genre for life.

    but discworld is not sci-fi ๐Ÿ˜•

    gordimhor
    Member

    Feersum Endjinn was the first Banks scifi I read. Maybe a good introduction as it’s not part of the culture series but has some of the same themes.

    Premier Icon convert
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    but discworld is not sci-fi

    – isn’t it? What’s it called then – fantasy? Well, every days a school day (although I note wiki says at least one of the series won a sci-fi award).

    aP
    Member

    It’s one of the more complex IMB Culture books – but IMO is quite derivative of Dorris Lessing’s ‘Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta’.

    z1ppy
    Member

    Do you mean..

    The Prometheus Award
    Libertarian science fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that focuses on the politics and social order implied by libertarian philosophies with an emphasis on individualism and a limited stateโ€”and in some cases, no state whatsoever.

    So not really Sci-fi award then really.. as Discworld ain’t sci-fi, they’re (comic) fantasy novels, though his standalone novels “Strata” and “The dark side of the Sun” which are not ‘discworld’ are (comic sci-fi)

    Premier Icon convert
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    I was looking at the BSFA Awards prize for Pyramids in 1989 – probably about the time I gave it a go.

    But I’m all up for being corrected as it potentially opens up a whole bunch of potential reading I’d (stupidly) disregarded.

    It was the ‘comic’ element of Pratchett that most put me off – it wasn’t (to me at any rate).

    johnners
    Member

    I’ve enjoyed all the Culture novels, much more so than his non sf stuff. I have to say I’ve never taken to the Disc world books which is a shame, since there seem to be millions of the buggers.

    Premier Icon seadog101
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    nbt – Member
    I read it last year, I struggled through to the end but it’s not really got me looking to read any more Banks books.

    The Algebrist, Matter, Against a Dark Background and Use of Weapons are my favourites. Give them a go.

    MrNice
    Member

    Terry Pratchett isn’t to everyone’s taste. Some of it I like but it can be a bit not half as funny as it thinks it is. Not liking discworld doesn’t mean you don’t like other sci-fi. Also doesn’t guarantee you do like it but there could be something you get into. I’m a big fan of Alastair Reynolds’ stuff.

    z1ppy
    Member

    Reynolds is ace, though if Banks annoying slow starts put you off him (Banks), Reynolds definitely isn’t for you… I’ve often found myself ranting “goddam man tell me the fricken story” only to be amazed as to how well the intricacy’s pay off in the end.

    Greybeard
    Member

    The Algebrist, Matter, Against a Dark Background and Use of Weapons are my favourites

    Interesting… I tried Use of Weapons shortly after it was written, and failed to finish it, which is very rare for me. Two years ago I read the Algebraist and and thought it excellent, followed it up with Matter and liked that.

    From what you say, I’ll need to find my copy of Use of Weapons and try again.

    CountZero
    Member

    Just finished reading it. Not read any of the “Culture” novels before so it was a heavy going to start with but really enjoyed it. Will be trying another of the earlier books on the back of it.

    I can see the problem right there, as the background society, (the Culture), is already firmly established, along with some characters, and the major parts of the Culture, like the ship Minds, and their …idiosyncratic approach to names. There’s only one Banks Culture book I’ve only read once, and that’s Player Of Games, because the main character is such an unremittingly loathsome piece of shit, with not a single redeeming feature, that I can’t enjoy or read the book. All the others I’ve got as paperback, hardback, and the whole lot as ebooks as well.

    I was looking at the BSFA Awards prize for Pyramids in 1989 – probably about the time I gave it a go.

    But I’m all up for being corrected as it potentially opens up a whole bunch of potential reading I’d (stupidly) disregarded.

    It was the ‘comic’ element of Pratchett that most put me off – it wasn’t (to me at any rate).

    He’s had me standing in a bookshop, giggling like mad, but his humour you either get or not.
    The thing with SF is that it’s as wide in what is classed as SF as anything just classed as ‘novels’, in fact, one bookshop in Bath won’t even classify it’s fiction section, just lists them by author, because they feel using genre classifications restricts what people will pick up and read, which is a good point.
    Convert, as well as Banks, you might like to check out William Gibson. He invented the Term ‘cyberspace’ in one of his early short stories, possibly Johnny Mnemonic*, and his books have always had a gritty, noir-ish feel, with lots of futuristic, but recognisable technology. His books go in trilogies, but the latest three have dropped the futuristic bias, existing in a present day, but slightly shifted society, and involve cool-hunting, denim obsessives, military contract espionage, and are really very readable. Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History are those three.
    Charles Stross writes in a wide variety of styles, and he’s very readable as well, some of his books being police procedural stories set in an independent Scotland, (Halting State), others are a strange, but humour out cross between 007 and Cthulu mythology. He writes lots of books.
    *Good story, collected in Burning Chrome, crap film. Worth starting Gibson with this book, as it establishes style, and a number of characters who turn up in Neuromancer, his first, award-winning novel.
    I rather envy you, not being familiar with a very large, literary genre, because you can be discovering books for the first time that I first read twenty, thirty, forty years ago, many of which I still read to this day.
    Good luck, and enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜€

    The end of The Use Of Weapons is just utterly brilliant.

    Premier Icon matthewjb
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    The later one’s have not been quite as good as the really top Culture novels. Excession and Look to Windward are my favourites.

    But Surface Detail and The Hydrogen Sonata are worth working through. In these last two Banks seems to have repeated the theme of a Girl and her Ship.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
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    Yes stick with it….

    Having got through most of them I’d go with Player of Games, Excession and probably one other as my top 3.

    PJM1974
    Member

    Use of Weapons is excellent, as is Inversions (IMHO). I’ve got about seventy pages into The Hydrogen Sonata but I’ve not had enough time to read lately.

    Feersum Endjinn is on my shelf waiting to be picked up.

    simonhbacon
    Member

    Count Zero

    You failed to mention that your handle comes from Gibsons first trilogy:-).

    TBH I second all of your recommendations.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
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    about the same in to The Hydrogen Sonata PJM and rolling along nicely.

    In general with the books I find he spent the first 2/3’s building up and it can be heavy going and hard work but the pay off at the end is worth it.

    MrNice
    Member

    Another recommendation for those who like Banks (with or without the M) is The City and The City by China Mieville. I don’t like the rest of his stuff but that one is brilliant

    crankboy
    Member

    Just started rereading surface detail for the third time because of this thread. I can’t express an unbiased opinion on it as I first read it during my wife’s marathon labour with our son.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    Banks can be a bit up and down, I always say start with Consider Phlebas though I love Player of Games. Surface Detail didn’t make that much of an impression on me, I remember some characters just not really going off at all, have to give it another shot (though, I did like that last line, settled the first great internet argument I ever had, only about 15 years too late mind but I WAS RIGHT! Wooo!

    Re Pratchett, he’s also very up and down, IMO as a rule if Rincewind’s in it, it’ll be repetitive and slapstick and pastichey and, well, rubbish frankly. Sourcery was alright I suppose. If Sam Vimes or the Witches are in it, it’s much more likely to go well, (except Masquerade, urgh) he seems to take his whole tone from his characters, and some of them lead their own plots better than others.

    CountZero
    Member

    simonhbacon – Member
    Count Zero

    You failed to mention that your handle comes from Gibsons first trilogy:-).

    I’ve mentioned it before, I chose the name ten-eleven years ago, I’d change it if I could, bored with it now. Still love Bill Gibson’s books, though, especially the Bridge trilogy, and the latest Bigend Trilogy. Wondering what he’s going to write next; trouble is, his writing speed is as slow as his conversational speed, the pauses when he speaks you could fly an Airbus 380 through!

    Premier Icon matthewjb
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    Northwind – Member
    Surface Detail didn’t make that much of an impression on me, I remember some characters just not really going off at all, have to give it another shot (though, I did like that last line, settled the first great internet argument I ever had, only about 15 years too late mind but I WAS RIGHT! Wooo!

    It’s a great last line.

    How long ’til some one films Consider Phlebas? It could be a great sci-fi film. Just need an enormous budget. Except it would probably make 3 5 hour films.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
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    It would probably take a while but I remember it as one of the easiest and quickest reads of any of his books. It seemed to have a more linear time line and be faster paced from the start – didn’t ship it out with me so may need to buy it again and re read it…

    Most of the problem filming any of the books would be around making the aliens he describes and agreeing on how to pronounce any of the alien words….

    bencooper
    Member

    I remember when I was a kid thinking that The Lord of the Rings would make a stunning film but you’d never be able to make it – then CGI came along ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny
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    It’s all about the “minds” though, innit. Any of the books that feature those fabulous creations having a good old ding dong between themselves is just fantastic.

    What was the last one? Hydrogen Sonata? That was **** Epic. Truly spectacularly realised space battles.

    Sorry, getting a bit excited! :-0

    Premier Icon sandwicheater
    Subscriber

    Stick with it, blooooming brilliant. Hovered up all the culture books.

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