Iain M. Banks

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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Deep_Thought » Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:49 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
Spoiler:
I never got the impression that we were supposed to hate Cubbish. The other aspects you commented on are matters of taste, but I'm interested about this one.

Spoiler:
It's a combination of things, but mainly I get the impression from most of Banks' work that he is fairly left wing and does not have high opinions of capitalism. His invention of the Culture with its lack of money is one hint in this direction, and the rant at the end of The Steep Approach to Garbadale is another. I hence tend to suspect that ardent right-wingers in his books are often there mostly as straw-men.

Specifically for Cubbish, he gets several multi-page soliloquies about his point of view, and you don't often do that as an author unless you really agree or disagree with what's being written. Then there's the scene in the bar where the girl shoots him down by saying how he reminds her of her father. Finally, there's his death at the end. When I read it my reaction was "Am I supposed to cheer at this point? Because I don't want to", which is what convinced me that Banks' tried and failed to make me dislike Cubbish. Banks' spends what, three pages? describing how Cubbish amazingly defies the markets, cashes out just at the right minute, and seems to have everything in life. Then he kills him in a road accident. Either that's lazy writing, or Banks' is trying to make some kind of a point. Perhaps it's about how even the best of us can be killed in accidents. But I can't shake off this feeling that actually it was supposed to be karma finally paying Cubbish back for, in Banks' view, being an asshole. Which he was - but a likeable one! Or maybe there was a more subtle point about financial markets being pretty superfluous to real life, as Cubbish does all this great trading and only features in the main plot for two brief moments. But by this point I'm clutching at straws and probably just confirming my own biases.

Your thoughts?
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:15 pm UTC

Spoiler:
I thought that the soliloquies were because he was a motor-mouth coke-head. :mrgreen: But it's been a while since I read it, and I don't really remember the writing about his death in any detail. I'd have to re-read it to get back to you on that part. I might end up agreeing though, in that case.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Deep_Thought » Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:47 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
Spoiler:
I thought that the soliloquies were because he was a motor-mouth coke-head. :mrgreen: But it's been a while since I read it, and I don't really remember the writing about his death in any detail. I'd have to re-read it to get back to you on that part. I might end up agreeing though, in that case.


Hmm, your interpretation is also logical. This is the best and worst thing about literary criticism, you can end up reading just about anything you want to into things!

Still, like I said, I bothered to finish it so I must have enjoyed it mostly. Just a couple of odd points that bug me about it.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:44 pm UTC

As with any book, really.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby jestingrabbit » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:30 am UTC

Re Cubbish.

Spoiler:
Yes, he was intelligent, and he made some money. But, when confronted with a profound experience, he didn't do anything much to try and understand it. He didn't do any innovation based on some insight garnered from his experience, he didn't pursue study to attempt to formulate some reason or theory behind what happened. He just looked at how it effected his bottom line and continued in much the same way as he had before. He looked at women not as someone to relate to, to have genuine emotional and intellectual intimacy, not someone to share his dreams with or anything like that. They were just there to be fucked. The person he had his longest association with was barely a friend, simply someone who could help him move from illegally making money to legally making money. I didn't find him likeable in the least. btw, he didn't die in some arbitrary car accident. He died trying to protect his things, and died rejoicing about the survival of his things, (having caressed the cheek of a terracotta warrior, thinking it his guardian angel) and died crushed by his things.

If you find that likeable, good for you. I think you're nuts.

Why was he in the novel? Perhaps Banks wanted someone to represent the fragre of the world as he sees it. He says of Adrian, in the prologue, "If Adrian were to have a symbol, it would be a mirror." A big part of the novel for me was imagining other histories, other possibilities. I think that to do that you need some baseline from which to speculate, something to inform you about the happenstances of our world. I should think that the moment that corporations were allowed to enter contracts and have their liabilities partitioned from the liabilities of their investors, we would have markets and they would have people like Cubbish as the agents within them. Perhaps people like Cubbish were inevitable anyway, but empowering them, defining their notion of success as the notion of success, that is what our world has done. That is our fragre. That you found him likeable is the clearest indicator of that there can be, save that quote I cited.


Re The Philosopher.

Spoiler:
I think that the philosopher was critical to the plot. To illustrate that, let me ask you two questions: why was d'O in the wrong and Mulverhill in the right? and what was the point of the Concern?

Using the philosopher like d'O does seems wrong to me. He was psychologically, emotionally and physically broken at the time that she made him an offer, and she kept him doing things that had led to his psychological infirmity in the past. So its wrong to use him like that, to make him an offer he can't really refuse, and then continue to wear him down.

And what she uses him for, what he does, torture, is wrong, at least the way he does it, imo. Banks certainly views it as effective and I think that it can be. I find myself agreeing with the attitude of the philosopher's hero. Maybe torture is morally right and practically necessary in some circumstances, but it must still be legally forbidden and punished. But d'O views it as just another tool to be used, and often.

And I think that this is why d'O is wrong, or more specifically, why her leadership is illegitimate. She wants her edicts to not be subject to process, and she wants to use force in a manner that is ultimately capricious, and just about how she feels. Regarding the purpose of the Concern, it should be to do her bidding according to d'O, and that will include hideous violence and violations done at her whim, whereas the Concern should be about stopping things like that from happening, across multiple realities. So, the philosopher makes d'O's failings and wrongness evident.


My take on it, how I experienced it etc.

Spoiler:
Firstly, I spent many months reading it. I took a long break when the torturing started. I can't read that and just shrug it off. That stuff has been going on under the aegis of western governments. Its not an abstraction that I can ignore, and I don't mind at all that the novel asked us to think about it. That a novel is about real issues isn't a failing imo. I liked that victims were real people, that struggles were real, that the goodies and baddies were easy to identify, but that right and wrong were a lot harder to put my finger on.

The centre of the novel, as I read it, is this. We're at a moment of transition: environmentally with climate change, economically in that china will be the largest national economy in less than 2 decades in all likelihood, and culturally, in that we seem to have become okay with torture and indefinite detention as our response to terrorism.

Are we really okay with that? Me, not so much. I don't want to just take a path of least resistance through this. So what should we do? Should we transition from what we are to something without really thinking about it, or should we think about other possibilities, other histories, other futures, and maybe have some sort of discourse about what would be better than what we have.

So to me, it was a novel that was about ideas. It wasn't an easy read, it evoked both thoughts and feelings. Actions? Not so much. But I think it might inform my actions at some time in the future.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Deep_Thought » Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:39 pm UTC

Okay, I've just spoilered my entire post, rather than trying to do lots of small ones!

Spoiler:
jestingrabbit wrote:Re Cubbish.
...snip... btw, he didn't die in some arbitrary car accident. He died trying to protect his things, and died rejoicing about the survival of his things, (having caressed the cheek of a terracotta warrior, thinking it his guardian angel) and died crushed by his things.

If you find that likeable, good for you. I think you're nuts.
...snip...
Why was he in the novel? Perhaps Banks wanted someone to represent the fragre of the world as he sees it.

Please note, I did say he was an arsehole. I wouldn't like someone like Cubbish in real-life, but I am quite capable of liking a fictional anti-hero, which Banks seems to set him up as. I mean he's on the good guy's side right? Banks paints him as this market-driven monster, but when asked he still helps out Oh, no questions asked, at the drop of a hat. The guy is not completely without merit. I think you're right that he's in there to try and represent the 'fragre' of our world, I'd just have liked him to have slightly more to do in the actual plot. And yes, I don't like defining success how Cubbish sees it either. It's empty and shallow and pretty horrible.
Re The Philosopher.

I think that the philosopher was critical to the plot. To illustrate that, let me ask you two questions: why was d'O in the wrong and Mulverhill in the right? and what was the point of the Concern? ...snip...

The Concern's point is whatever the person in charge of it wants it to be. d'O was in the wrong because her methods were brutal and her aim for the Concern was simply power in itself - her's and her's alone. As to why Mulverhill is in the right, well mainly it's because she opposes d'O and shows some self-restraint. I was actually half-expecting a plot twist towards the end where we find the sides are swapped. Remember that Oh, who is ostensibly a good guy in the end, keeps you guessing which way he will jump and is a trained assassin who murders people at the drop of a hat.
The Philosopher is there to act as a soap box for Banks and is not critical to the main plot - you could re-read the book and skip every section headed 'The Philosopher' and it still make sense. That's what I was complaining about with regards to Cubbish and Philosopher - they are mainly there just for Banks to discuss various philosophical issues. That's fine, and I agree with much of what he and you have said. I just think it should be edited down a bit, that's all.
And what she uses him for, what he does, torture, is wrong, at least the way he does it, imo. Banks certainly views it as effective and I think that it can be. I find myself agreeing with the attitude of the philosopher's hero. Maybe torture is morally right and practically necessary in some circumstances, but it must still be legally forbidden and punished. But d'O views it as just another tool to be used, and often.

I don't think Banks does view it as effective. There's points where the Philosopher himself seems to realise this. The trouble with Banks discussing torture is that he seems to revel in gory scenes of all natures. I'd be interested to know how many of his novels you've read? You could claim he was making a point of how disgusting it is to inflict those things on another human, but I can think of about three books he has written that don't have a similar scene. The man can have a pretty sick imagination when he wants.
And I think that this is why d'O is wrong, or more specifically, why her leadership is illegitimate. She wants her edicts to not be subject to process, and she wants to use force in a manner that is ultimately capricious, and just about how she feels. Regarding the purpose of the Concern, it should be to do her bidding according to d'O, and that will include hideous violence and violations done at her whim,

Yes. See above.
whereas the Concern should be about stopping things like that from happening, across multiple realities.

Why? Why should the Concern not just keep itself to itself and organise fabulous parties all day long?
Firstly, I spent many months reading it. I took a long break when the torturing started. I can't read that and just shrug it off.

See my above note on Banks' other work.
That stuff has been going on under the aegis of western governments. Its not an abstraction that I can ignore, and I don't mind at all that the novel asked us to think about it.

Yes, it has been going on. I don't agree with it. I think it's shit. I'm going to skip the rest of your thoughts because I agree with most of them. I wasn't critiquing the messages in Transition, but rather the structure and style which could use a bit of work. I obviously read it in a very different way to you, especially given the length of time we each took. The other problem is that many of the points, particularly the fiscal ones, are either retreading ground that Banks has been over before or treated at a pretty superficial level.

Blimey that took a while to write.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Thadlerian » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:17 pm UTC

Anyone read Surface Detail, the latest Culture book?

I couldn't help noticing that
Spoiler:
Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints is called "Meatfucker" by two other ships on one occasion. The same name as Grey Matter's nickname in Excession. Same ship? Surely same temper.

But I've never seen this possibility discussed anywhere else.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Deep_Thought » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:30 pm UTC

I've just finished it, and
Spoiler:
Hmm, it's a possibility, but Excession implied that "meatfucker" was a generic derogatory term for any Mind that regularly messed around in people's heads. On a similar note, I was actually a bit disappointed with the big reveal at the end. I didn't think working Eletheomiel/Cheradenine into the story added anything more than a cheap nod to a previous book. I literally exclaimed "Oh Iain" at that point (my girlfriend will vouch for this).

Still enjoyed it though :)
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby dubsola » Mon Nov 14, 2011 5:49 pm UTC

Is it better to start with the first Culture book, or is it possible to dive in anywhere?
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby PAstrychef » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:53 pm UTC

They aren't all that connected, so you can start anywhere. Players Of Games and Consider Phlebas are the ones most people start with, and are both very nice. There is an Iain Banks website that breaks down the chronology, as best it can.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Shifter » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:06 pm UTC

For what it's worth. The main character in Player Of Games is a citizen of The Culture while Consider Phlebas is mainly from the POV of someone who is an enemy of The Culture. So you do get a better idea of what The Culture is all about and how Special Circumstances operates in Player Of Games and so for that reason I suggest starting with Player Of Games.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Adacore » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:10 am UTC

The first one I read was Excession, which I liked as an introduction to the Culture, but some people don't really rate it, I believe. As others have said, Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games are probably the two most sensible starting points, but Use of Weapons (which was the first actually written, although the third published) and Excession are both reasonable too. It would possibly be unwise to read Look to Windward before Consider Phlebas, but even there it doesn't matter all that much.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby raudorn » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

Okay, time to put this thread into the oven and warm it up!

I just picked up my copy of Hydrogen Sonata from the post station and started digging into it. And so far, we DO get treated to a lot of new information about Sublimation. That was my main concern, that Banks offers a shoddy explanation, but so far it looks good. And yay for more four-armed ladies!
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby thalia » Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:58 am UTC

stevenf wrote:Ideally, read the whole lot - but in the right order. I started with Excession which I found hugely and joyously imaginative. The story telling style, especially the ships names and the exchanges between them, was truly innovative.


Excession is one of my favourite books for these reasons. I fell in love with the ships and how they communicated, not to mention the story arc about which they were communicating.

And about what someone said before about Excession & surface detail:

Spoiler:
Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints is called "Meatfucker" by two other ships on one occasion. The same name as Grey Matter's nickname in Excession. Same ship? Surely same temper.


I think somebody already mentioned this, but "meatfucker" is a term for a Mind that invades a sentient being's private thoughts. It's considered a great insult and the ship is ostracized, but again, the ethical implications needing to be weighed against consequences of NOT doing it.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby ahammel » Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:26 pm UTC

Just finished Consider Phlebas. A good read on the "spaceships and explosions" front, but I found the plot a bit...odd. Where the hell did the Eaters epsidoe come from? Really intriguing universe, anyway. I'll give Player of Games a go.

I really don't understand the people who wanted the Idirans to win.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Adacore » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:37 pm UTC

I'm half way through Stonemouth; so far I'm finding it enjoyable, but not on the same level as some of his other non-scifi work. Unless the second half is really awesome, it's not going to be up there with The Crow Road or Espedair Street, for me. I guess it feels most similar to Dead Air, which isn't my least favourite Banks book, but certainly isn't near the top of the list either.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby raudorn » Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:13 am UTC

ahammel wrote:Just finished Consider Phlebas. A good read on the "spaceships and explosions" front, but I found the plot a bit...odd. Where the hell did the Eaters epsidoe come from? Really intriguing universe, anyway. I'll give Player of Games a go.

I really don't understand the people who wanted the Idirans to win.


Haha, true. The Eaters island thing was plain weird. Overall, the plot and structure of CP is more like space opera than the other books. I guess Banks was still figuring out where to go with the Culture after the first book. If you liked the Culturverse, you will love PoG.

The Idiran-Culture war had two sides. The one side was simply defense by the Culture against the invading Idiran. The other thing the Idiran sympathizers mentioned in CP is picked up in later books. It boils down to the Culture's tendencies to meddle in everything. Some of the Culture splinter groups even acknowledge that the Culture tries to convert everyone else to civilizations like them. Not by force, but by influence, covert operations, example, money, resources or (semi-serious) threat. The Idirans offered "true freedom", as long as you were okay with being a third-class citizen in their religious caste system.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby ahammel » Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:39 pm UTC

raudorn wrote:[The other thing the Idiran sympathizers mentioned in CP is picked up in later books. It boils down to the Culture's tendencies to meddle in everything.

Ok, but on the other hand the Idirans were cheerfully genocidal religious fanatics, at least if Xoxarle is to be believed.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Adacore » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:17 am UTC

Finished Stonemouth.
Spoiler:
I really wish the Grier subplot had been wrapped up, rather than just left mostly unresolved. I kinda assumed that she had some grand master plan (and possibly engineered the whole dramatic showdown at the end - based on what I knew about her, I was almost certain her phonecall to Stewart on the beach was staged, but it turned out it probably wasn't), possibly ending with her taking over the family business, but then the book just ended.

The Stewart/Ellie plot was entirely predictable, so I was hoping for some more spark from the resolution of the '5 years earlier'/detective stuff subplot.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby emceng » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:18 pm UTC

I've read three of his books. Player of Games was good, Use of Weapons was...good, and something. Can't think of the right adjective. Excession. Eesh. Slow, and boring. It was a slog, and I really didn't give a damn about anyone in the whole book. I think I have Consider Phlebas and The Algebraist on my shelves waiting to be read, but after Excession I haven't had a desire to read anything by him.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby maybeagnostic » Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:10 pm UTC

I recently read Player of Games and I thought the book was... um, mostly okay i guess. There was a bit too much telling instead of showing when it came to describing the cultures and the supposedly very alien society described didn't actually feel alien in the slightest. I know there were supposed to be a lot of parallels between them and our culture but they just felt forced and preachy rather than thoughtful. Overall I didn't feel much emotional investments in the outcome of the story or any of the characters and I saw all the plot twists coming a long way off. The first part of the book, while I was still trying to figure out what is happening and learn about the Culture, was quite interesting but it really went downhill a little after halfway through.

I know this sounds pretty negative but I actually found the book entertaining and I am not sure if I should try reading another of his Culture books. A friend recently read The Hydrogen Sonata and he said the end was a little disappointing but he felt it might have been intentional. Do all of his books lose steam towards the end?
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Kewangji » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:04 pm UTC

I found Use of Weapons to be the most satisfying out of the books of his I've read, maybeagnostic. I also really loved The State of the Art, the short story (~100p) in the short story collection by the same name. I was already familiar with the culture when I read The Player of Games, so that might have made us experience the books differently; I found the pacing very good and finished it in about a day.

Next I think I shall read Consider Phlebas, but it'll be a while.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby ElWanderer » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:46 am UTC

Sad news, Iain Banks' next book is likely to be his last after being diagnosed with late stage cancer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-22015175
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby AvatarIII » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:57 am UTC

I just made a thread for this news, before seeing you had already posted it here, where do you think the best place to have it would be? here, or it's own thread? I'll delete my thread if people think here would be better
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Gravitas Shortfall » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:29 pm UTC

I saw the news just after getting in to work this morning, and I've barely been able to get anything done all day. There's simply no other writer that can match him for imagination, wit, and emotional impact, and he deserves so much better than this for what he's given the world.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Jumble » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:02 pm UTC

I'd argue that we keep this here - its neater.

I'm genuinely cut up about this. I met him when he did a book reading at Verulanium and I've enjoyed his work for years. You really start to feel old when your heroes are either dead or dying. Particularly poignant that he proposed to his partner by asking if she would do him the honor of being his widow. I hope your story has a good end, Iain.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby dubsola » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:51 am UTC

Very sad news.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Adacore » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:43 am UTC

Yeah, I was having a pretty good day yesterday, then I saw this news and it put a real damper on it. As the BBC comment says - we're losing two of Britain's best authors.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Apr 05, 2013 9:01 am UTC

I'm going to miss both of them.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby thalia » Fri May 31, 2013 11:32 am UTC

I'd like to add my voice to the rest of yours', expressing how awful I think this is.

He has a guestbook page up where you can say goodbye to him, but by now it's so full I hardly think he's going to spend his time reading all of them. (Some hilarious comments in there, though, where people go on a tangent about their own views on life after death.)

He has really, really brought me so much joy in the world of sci-fi. I am so sad about this.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby charliepanayi » Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:35 pm UTC

He passed away today :(
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby ElWanderer » Sun Jun 09, 2013 4:28 pm UTC

*sad panda face* :(
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby jestingrabbit » Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:06 pm UTC

There goes my favourite writer...
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby markfiend » Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:29 am UTC

I'm gutted.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby |Erasmus| » Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:11 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:There goes my favourite writer...

This... Was pretty depressed when I read about this the other night.

Neil Gaiman wrote a pretty cool blog about him too: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2013/06/i ... out-m.html
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby no-genius » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:55 pm UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:
Spoiler:
I never got the impression that we were supposed to hate Cubbish. The other aspects you commented on are matters of taste, but I'm interested about this one.

Spoiler:
It's a combination of things, but mainly I get the impression from most of Banks' work that he is fairly left wing and does not have high opinions of capitalism. His invention of the Culture with its lack of money is one hint in this direction, and the rant at the end of The Steep Approach to Garbadale is another. I hence tend to suspect that ardent right-wingers in his books are often there mostly as straw-men.

Specifically for Cubbish, he gets several multi-page soliloquies about his point of view, and you don't often do that as an author unless you really agree or disagree with what's being written. Then there's the scene in the bar where the girl shoots him down by saying how he reminds her of her father. Finally, there's his death at the end. When I read it my reaction was "Am I supposed to cheer at this point? Because I don't want to", which is what convinced me that Banks' tried and failed to make me dislike Cubbish. Banks' spends what, three pages? describing how Cubbish amazingly defies the markets, cashes out just at the right minute, and seems to have everything in life. Then he kills him in a road accident. Either that's lazy writing, or Banks' is trying to make some kind of a point. Perhaps it's about how even the best of us can be killed in accidents. But I can't shake off this feeling that actually it was supposed to be karma finally paying Cubbish back for, in Banks' view, being an asshole. Which he was - but a likeable one! Or maybe there was a more subtle point about financial markets being pretty superfluous to real life, as Cubbish does all this great trading and only features in the main plot for two brief moments. But by this point I'm clutching at straws and probably just confirming my own biases.

Your thoughts?


Spoiler:
I thought that Cubbish's death was so unsubtle (crushed to death by his valuable possessions), that it seemed like it was a joke. If Banks had wanted to make that point, he could've made it in a way that was more believable, so it seemed like a positive choice that he didn't do it like that.

Also, if you remember how Madam D'O takes her septus, that makes the whole 'tandeming' thing make a lot more sense.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby markfiend » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:36 pm UTC

A couple of links re Consider Phlebas.

The novel is based, at least in part, on T S Eliot's The Waste Land. See here for an essay on the subject, and clicky for the poem itself.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby setzer777 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:46 pm UTC

One thing I'm a little unclear on in the Culture universe is what most non-Culture ships are like. I know that the Culture is basically the only major power with full rights for non-organics; but it seems like most advanced civilizations have sentient ships. Do they have some sort of constraint that prevents disloyalty?
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby Adacore » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:38 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:One thing I'm a little unclear on in the Culture universe is what most non-Culture ships are like. I know that the Culture is basically the only major power with full rights for non-organics; but it seems like most advanced civilizations have sentient ships. Do they have some sort of constraint that prevents disloyalty?

I believe this is touched on a few times in some of the books. Some of the ships run ultra-fast AI-assisted versions of human consciousnesses, some use restricted AI without the expansive consciousness of a Mind. And I think a few have their own Mind-equivalents (only their personalities and preferences are more tuned to the cultural norms in their respective civilizations).

I don't think Culture ships have any specific restriction to prevent disloyalty, but a combination of things keeps them in the Culture. Their personalities and design is naturally intended to be a fit for the Culture; there's an inbuilt assumption in Banks' Culture-verse that any intelligent entity that is a part of the Culture would be highly unlikely to wish to leave, because it is the 'best' civilizational option except possibly subliming (the more intelligent, the less likely they'll want to leave, and the Minds are the most intelligent things in existence); finally, there's the idea that defecting would be a colossal betrayal of Culture technology/intelligence, and is just unconscionable for most Minds: even if they were to defect, they'd probably voluntarily give up much of their ultra-advanced technology.
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Re: Iain M. Banks

Postby setzer777 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:30 am UTC

Yeah, the loyalty mechanisms I meant for non-Culture minds. Seems like defection would be a serious concern (and we know at least a few do) in a society where they don't have equal rights to organic beings.

Edit: Also, I don't think he makes the Culture quite that Mary Sue-ish. There are lots of minds who leave the Culture to join the Zetetic Elench or the Peace Faction, or join only partially integrated factions such as the AhForgetIt Tendency.
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