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Canal Dreams [Unknown Binding]

3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B002C0U0J2
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 987,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. He gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. Iain Banks died in June 2013.

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tic tic tic tic . . . Tiny noises of compression, sounding through her skull. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awkward thriller 3 Nov 2005
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
Canal Dreams concerns a cello player scared of flying, who during a trip through the Panama Canal unwittingly ends up caught between revolutionaries and American special forces operatives. The basic scenario of this thriller is a good one, and the plight of the hostages stranded in the Panama Canal should result in a tense novel, but for some reason Canal Dreams never really comes to life. Probably the main culprit is the heroine Hisako, whose status as both a concert cellist and a martial artist able to kill with one strike is a little unlikely. Banks seems keen to explore what happens to people under extreme pressure – do they go meekly to their deaths or fight? It’s a good angle for a novel, but unfortunately due to her background Hisako is a very cold unemotional character who never really connects with the reader, and for all the pyrotechnics the action scenes never really come to life. Canal Dreams isn’t a bad book – there are plenty of nice moments in Banks writing to keep the pages turning, but compared to his other novels this is a rather flat and unengaging work. For Banks completists only.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dream a Little Dream 1 May 2006
By Craobh Rua VINE VOICE
Iain Banks first novel, The Wasp Factory, was published in 1984. In the years since, he's won critical acclaim, topped best-seller lists and has even written Science Fiction books under the cunning nom-de-plume 'Iain M. Banks'. He's also seen this book, "The Crow Road", adapted for television by the BBC in 1996. "Canal Dreams" is his fifth non sci-fi book and was first published in 1989.

The book's central character is Hisako Onoda, a world-famous cellist. As the book opens, Hisako is en-route from Japan to Europe, where she's due to perform in a series of concerts. However, as she's terrified of flying, she's making the journey by boat. Having travelled to Honolulu on the Gassam Maru, she then boarded the Nakodo - which was due to take her to Rotterdam via the Panama Canal. Unfortunately, due to `civil unrest' in the region - armed conflict between guerrilla fighters and government forces - the canal has been closed. Fro the moment, the Nakodo and two other ships are essentially trapped on Gat¿n Lake. Although they are hoping for the all-clear to continue their journey soon, the conflict I, unfortunately, coming closer.

There are elements of a thriller to "Canal Dreams", but the strength of the book lies in telling Hisako's story. She is a very well-developed character, though her past in only gradually given away - the book jumps backwards and forwards, looking at some of the key events of Hisako's life. It's a method that may take a little getting used to - especially if you haven't read anything by Banks before. However, for me, I felt it really added to the enjoyment of the book. Hisako's travelling companions aren't so well developed, and little is told of their lives, thoughts or motivations. However, as "Canal Dreams" doesn't set out to tell their stories this really isn't a problem - and I would absolutely recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I have read all of Iain Banks Books, and unusually perhaps this one I have always enjoyed.

Canal Dreams tells the story of Hisako Onoda a Japanese Cello super star prodigy who when invited to play the major capitals of Europe refuses to fly, and instead chooses to take a ship from Japan. She travels as a passenger aboard across the Pacific, through the Panama canal then to the Atlantic and Europe. In the early chapters there is some mention of guerilla in Costa Rica, but this in no way prepares us for what comes next.

As she enters Panama the country is already descending into war, but caught in her world of music and plans for Europe Hisako is barely aware of this, and sleepwalks onwards despite entreaties to leave the ship and take the plane. So Hisako is still on board when the oil tanker Nakado when trapped with two other ships in the Panama Canal, becomes the subject of an attack.

I won't say more about the story, just to say this is the opening, and the tale itself is one of human frailties vis human cruelties. the female character Hisako, as with all of Iain Banks female protagonist is carefully drawn and immediately compelling. the action is as cruel and relentless as any terrorist film.

With flashbacks to Hisoka's youth in Japan and a detailed knowledge of the engineering and layout of a super tanker, this book offers both exotic locals and interesting technological details.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Physically draining! 29 April 1999
By A Customer
As with all of Iain Banks' novels, I sat straight down and started reading avidly. This is a very different novel at the start to his other works, at first I was thinking it a weak novel, but then I found that I was being lulled into a sense of peacefulness, but still half expecting something to happen.
When it happens, Banks managed once again to take over every emotion possible, and left me feeling completely drained. This is a masterpiece of writing, if it gets you the right way.
My advice - read it from cover to cover without stopping for anything - if you dip in and out, you'll loose the mood.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite up to Banks's best 11 May 2003
It’s often easier to approach an Iain M. Banks novel than one without the middle initial. At least with the “M” present and correct you know what genre you’re going to be reading, whereas his so-called “mainstream” work seems to take place in every conceivable genre plus a few he has created for himself.
Unlike novels such as “The Bridge” or “Walking on Glass”, “Canal Dreams” is based completely in reality. Unlike “The Crow Road” or “Dead Air”, you’d be forgiven for forgetting this fact. The story concerns a famous Japanese cellist who becomes involved in a hostage situation on board a ship unable to escape from the Panama Canal. Essentially, this book is a thriller, but because it’s Iain Banks, you get the suspicion that there’s a lot more going on under the surface than you’re actually aware of. Which is often a good thing, but in this case I couldn’t really make head nor tail of it.
I suspect, though, that “Canal Dreams” was more a satirical take on politics at the time of its publication, making it – at least to a degree – a little irrelevant here and now. Of course, you can just read this as a thriller, but to get more from this book perhaps you need to be older than me. Well, that’s enough of my naysaying – “Canal Dreams” is a very clear, often shocking, illustration of the way life can treat you in very unexpected ways, and just how fragile our lives truly are. Banks keeps the events described realistic right up until the end… without giving away what happens, just bear in mind that the central character’s final actions are completely impossible.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Iain Banks
One of the last three Banks novels required to complete my set. It arrived promptly and now I must drop everything and read it.
Published 2 months ago by derf
5.0 out of 5 stars Good - as expected
This is a good book. Start out slowly and building character. And then explodes with action and surprises. I do not want to spoil it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Gunnar
4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Travel Guide
I have always wanted to travel through the Panama Canal. The book started off well as a travel guide but after that got much more interesting.
Published 16 months ago by Pete D
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work, but still a decent read
Interesting setting and scenario for the book. Not sure I found the main character entirely plausible and there seemed to be no credible explanation for what gave her the drive to... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mainser
2.0 out of 5 stars Unconvinced To Say The Least
I'm a big fan of Iain Banks' work, but unfortunately this one just didn't do anything for me. Although it's a reasonably small book, getting through it was a real struggle. Read more
Published 21 months ago by WaitingForTheTide
4.0 out of 5 stars Darkly dreamy
Another classic from Iain Banks- evocative prose, dark twists and in Hisako, a fearsome heroine. I didn't put this down until the end.
Published 21 months ago by Nathalie
2.0 out of 5 stars A black mark on an otherwise outstanding career
As an avid Banks fan, I'm making my way through his entire works. This looks like the perfect little book to get through over the Christmas holiday. Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2011 by J. White
1.0 out of 5 stars Not impressed
My first Iain Banks. He has a strong reputation, presumably based on his other books.
Scene setting - dull
Dream scenes - dull and irrelevant
Characters - sketchy... Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2011 by Johnb
2.0 out of 5 stars Steven Siegal meets Yasunari Kawabata
This book would probably work better as a straight thriller, but is cluttered with flashbacks and dream sequences of the main character. Read more
Published on 10 April 2010 by D. Garland
2.0 out of 5 stars It's Colombia, stupid!
OK, so it was a while ago now and Iain Banks and/or his publishers would probably say that misspelling Colombia throughout with a 'u' was inexperience or something. Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2010 by Jennie
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