Iain M Banks : Surface Detail

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  • Iain M Banks : Surface Detail
  • torsoinalake
    Member

    Surface Detail is alright. The Algebraist is hard work.

    I love Consider Phlebas, and agree it would make a great film. Dirty hand-held weapons that kick the shit out of everything, and anti-gravity suits. What’s not to like?

    However, I do sometimes picture the Idirans as looking like this:

    aP
    Member

    I do like the full name of the ship Mistake Not My Current State Of Joshing Gentle Peevishness For The Awesome And Terrible Majesty Of The Towering Seas Of Ire That Are Themselves The Milquetoast Shallows Fringing My Vast Oceans Of Wrath in Hydrogen Sonata. If nothing else IMB had a great turn for names of stuff.

    WackoAK
    Member

    Surface Detail is one of my favourites, for any Culture geek how can you not smile when “Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints” is introduced?

    In fact, the Guardian has this to say in the review:

    ” In Surface Detail the stand-out character is a sadistic Abominator class ship called the “Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints”. The warship’s barely concealed glee when, after centuries of waiting, it finally gets to blow some other ships up, is hilarious”

    I like Ian M. Banks books, but they suffer from the fact that you know the Culture is usually going to come out on top. That’s why Excession is my favourite, as none of them really has a clue about what’s going on. Thre Hydrogen Sonata is second favorite as it links back to Excession and includes a lot of bored super intelligences that, in the end, achieve nothing.

    I’ve just been reading some books by Paul Mcleary set around the moons of Saturn and Jupiter. The first book is called The Quiet War. I like them because they are full of fallible humans and almost believable technology.

    IA
    Member

    They’re all good. But:

    Against A Dark Background

    Yes. +1

    I really enjoyed the hydrogen sonata too, read a bit like some of the earlier culture stuff, and made me very sad that there will be no more 🙁

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Surface Detail blew me away. Just awesome. Left me speechless.

    slowjo
    Member

    made me very sad that there will be no more

    +1

    I got the impression that he knew his number was up when he wrote the Hydrogen Sonata.

    Its a sort of “no matter how exciting the journey, nothing you do makes any difference in the end” story.

    And the whole civilization disappearing by metaphorically clicking its heels and saying there no place like home?

    rusty90
    Member

    A fan tribute from the time which I found rather moving :

    GCU Read ‘Em and Weep to GSV Does My Mind Look Big in This?: A mutual friend says it’s time to go. Do you have any associates near [i]system ID[/i], some time in the next dozen megaseconds?
    GSV Does My Mind… to ROU Not Just a Pretty Face: Fancy a detour to [i]system ID[/i], since you’re passing? There’s some baggage to collect: [i]target designator[/i]
    ROU Not Just… to GSV Does My Mind…: It would stretch my schedule. What makes you think I’ve got the legs for that?
    GSV Does My Mind… to ROU Not Just…: A little bird told me about your refit. Go on, you’re just itching to try it out.
    ROU Not Just… to GSV Does My Mind…: “Bird”? “Itching”? Have you gone native? Oh, all right then, since you’re twisting my arm.
    GSV Does My Mind… to ROU Not Just…: Look who’s talking: you’re the one with “arms” and “legs”. Bet you can’t do it in five megaseconds.
    ROU Not Just… to GSV Does My Mind…: Aren’t I’m supposed to say something like “Let’s see the colour of your money”? Anyway, watch this.
    GSV Does My Mind… to ROU Not Just…: I’m waiting. … OK, that really is rather nice. Next time you’re nearby I’ll send you an avatar to perform an appropriate low whistle.
    GSV Does My Mind… to GCU Read ‘Em and Weep: Our friend should make his farewells, and be ready for displacement by ROU Not Just a Pretty Face at time [i]timestamp[/i]. Are there any countermeasures in place?
    GCU Read ‘Em and Weep to GSV Does My Mind… and ROU Not Just…: Much obliged. No countermeasures, I’m afraid: it’s all a bit stone axes. They still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. No displacement, either: the Arbitrary doesn’t want us frightening the horses. Scan-and-forward, if you please. The usual cover story is in place.
    ROU Not Just… to GCU Read ‘Em and Weep and GSV Does My Mind…: Sigh. I’ll put my toys away then. A pity: it’s an attractive system, but I always think those little blue planets look better with a ring. Or a really big crater. Who is this guy anyway? I’m dying to meet him. Or maybe I’ve got that the wrong way round. … Scan complete. Oh, it’s him. Let me know when you decant him and I’ll drop by to pay my respects. Here you are: [i]entanglement scan stream[/i]

    bencooper
    Member

    Nice nod to Douglas Adams there too.

    CountZero
    Member

    @bencooper; yes, it made me smile the first time I read that, not long after IMB passed away. Nice subtle little detail.

    WackoAK – Member
    Surface Detail is one of my favourites, for any Culture geek how can you not smile when “Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints” is introduced?

    In fact, the Guardian has this to say in the review:

    ” In Surface Detail the stand-out character is a sadistic Abominator class ship called the “Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints”. The warship’s barely concealed glee when, after centuries of waiting, it finally gets to blow some other ships up, is hilarious”
    😀

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Subscriber

    I’ve tried and failed to get into his science fiction, which is odd, as I’ve loved all his other work.

    Premier Icon kcal
    Subscriber

    Against a Dark Background I found quite hard to read – but might revisit it. It’s the one that goes backwards in one direction whilst forwards in another?

    Odd as the more I read of his mainstream (IB) stuff, the more I felt it was treading water — flashes of really good imagination, humour — but just felt it was covering same ground really..

    Premier Icon thepurist
    Subscriber

    It’s the one that goes backwards in one direction whilst forwards in another?

    That’s Use of Weapons, whose themes & main character pop up elsewhere too (no spoilers!). Against A Dark Background is the one with the Lazy Guns, set outside the Culture.

    Premier Icon matthewjb
    Subscriber

    I like Ian M. Banks books, but they suffer from the fact that you know the Culture is usually going to come out on top.

    I love those bits. When the big Ship finally gets bored of being pushed around and shows what it can do.

    But the books where the Culture can’t fix things are best. That’s why I like Look to Windward

    I got the impression that he knew his number was up when he wrote the Hydrogen Sonata.

    I don’t think he did. I think he was diagnosed halfway through writing the Quarry. After he’d decided the main protagonist would have cancer.

    The last TV interview contained a tantalising suggestion that if he lived long enough then the next book should be a huge Culture novel. I got the impression he didn’t think The Quarry was a big enough bang to go out on. Sadly he didn’t get time.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    matthewjb – Member

    I love those bits. When the big Ship finally gets bored of being pushed around and shows what it can do.

    I loved the bit in Excession where the Killing Time discovers it’s accidentally failed to commit suicide, and coincidentally has won the fight it was trying to gloriously die in, and feels a bit embarassed about it all.

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