Another broiling, sprawling, witty, hard-SF adventure, filled with the truly alien
There was a lot of digression into stuff that never quite seemed important - the fate of the human colonists - I never really cared that much about them, because they were never really developed as characters. Putting them then in peril didn't really grab me that much.
But some excellent technology, and for the first time he explores the motivations of the various AI denizens of his universe, although the Polity is starting to resemble the Culture quite markedly - not bad thing in some ways, but Banks skirts the border of Deus Ex Machine very closely at times, and not many authors could do that without stepping over the line.
This book is at its best when in the hard science mode - some of the technology ideas are excellent and could be explained even further.
Overall an enjoyable read, but not up to the standard of 'Consider Phlebas', or even Asher's early 'Gridlinked'.
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