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3.8 out of 5 stars97
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 8 June 1999
Every chapter made me eager to read the next but one. I stayed up most of the night. Then, after these frantic nocturnal activities I was left with a feeling of emptiness. I've read all the other books, so I can see the culture hints, but I don't want hints, I want firm nudges and winks, and maybe a knife missile or two.
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on 15 August 2015
very good
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on 1 January 2014
I can never fault the authors culture books and it's sad there will be no more. If you have not read any of he's books before, these are hi tec sci-fi books with deep and twisting plots and are not without a little dry humour.
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on 24 September 1999
It's a beautiful book, and I simply love it. At first I've read it without knowing about its Culture background. After reading the whole Culture cycle (including The State of the Art, an 'inversion' to the viewpoint of Inversions), it revealed its true nature ... It is one of Iain Banks' most brilliant novels and one the greatest novels I've ever read (including Isaac Bashevis Singer, Albert Camus, Umberto Eco, Emily Bronte, Arthur Schnitzler etc). Don't miss it!
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on 5 November 2015
Good
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on 27 July 1999
Once again I eagerly swept up an Iain M Banks novel and was surprised. Against A Dark background was clearly non culture - but in this instance the tables are slightly turned against us. All previous culture novels are from within and refer to direct culture experience using contact, SC or other elements, these are usually weaved directly into the text or subtext and are obvious for the reader. Banks has turned all this upside down. It is almost as if during an idle afternoon in Fife, Banks thought "I wonder what it would be like to be a casual observer in a society in which the culture is meddling?" For sure they would hardly notice, but if the big picture is viewed and the evidence examined, the not so invisible hand of culture forces begin to emerge - slowly, subtly - but there nonetheless.
A great book, a really good refreshing read. Try asking - if the culture were here would we know ? Like all good Banks books it leaves you thirsty for more and with the brain buzzing. Minor gripes - a little long winded perhaps and I was actually looking forward to another space opera - but the inversion of "Inversions" will do for me. Looking forward to next one please Mr. Banks
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on 23 May 2000
When is a genre novel not a genre novel? When it's an inversion. Take a popular sci-fi context (Bank's futuristic galactic Marxists, "the Culture"), reduce its visible influence on plot to a minimum, and infiltrate it into a low-tech imaginary environment, where the driving story-force is distance-defeating love, intrigue, betrayal, torture and death. In Banks' book the sci-fi is inverted from its normal position, presented as a mysterious and almost invisible background to the non-genre foreground.
My good buddy William had never read a Banks' sci-fi novel, so when visiting me he read my copy of "Inversions" without any awareness of it's subtle sci-fi context. To him it was a low-tech but slightly mysterious fiction book, complete with castles, kings and catapults. He loved it. In fact, he was so enamoured with it that he forgot to return it to me and took it off to foreign climes with him to finish reading it! After some long-distance travel I got the book back and read it myself. I have read all of Iain Banks' deep and gripping "Culture" books, and had also heard hints that Inversions was a "hidden" Culture book. So I read it in a totally different context to my friend, but was just as enamoured and intrigued. The sci-fi is subtle, but detectable to Banks fans.
Banks' use of the non-linear story structure, also seen in his earlier sci-fi novels, reaches its skillful peak with this work. Two stories are told simultaneously, and the nature of where these stories come from is a story in itself, not revealed until the end of the work.
This was a compulsive read for me, even though the resolution did not have quite the same depth and intelligence as the book as a whole. This criticism, however, is insignificant for me in the light of this books ability to excite, intrigue and impress.
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on 22 April 1999
'Inverions' is a Culture novel. There, I've said it, spoiled the whole novel for you.
Not really, I haven't. If you are a longtime fan of Banks' Culture universe then the tell-tale signs are all present. If you've never read a Banks novel (SF or otherwise) then this is very fine introduction indeed.
This is more of an historical novel than anything. Iain 'H' Banks, you might say. It is set on a primitive planet, where two individuals in different countries are influencing those in power through various means.
They are in fact members of Special Circumstances, an elite portion of the Culture that involves itself with contacting and 'helping' civilisations more primitive than themselves.
Although this is less of a Culture book than his others, and the least SF of all his SF novels, it is still a great read and Banks still manages to be more inventive than almost all other novelists at work in this or any other genre.
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on 10 June 1999
Science fiction this is not. Inversions may not be set on Earth or involve Earthlings however the book is more medieval in design. One of its greatest attributes is that events potrayed seem to be plucked from a variety of different historical eras. The character UrLeyn, for example, is reminiscent of Oliver Cromwell, whilst the sparse glimpses afforded of the fall of the Empire speak more of the fall of Rome. This is an excellent book. It will keep you enthralled, make you think and keep you guessing. It is not as elaborate, gory or as plain weird as other Banksian novels. However the two separate, though linked, stories that comprise Inversions represent masterful story-telling and compelling reading from the master of modern fiction.
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on 5 July 2013
as a long time fan of Ians work in both scifi and classic this is my favourite of all his culture novels and gets re-read over and over. in this story all the elements of his many culture novels come together and peak in a vibrant exploration of the darker sides of sentience.

here he gives us the perfect mix of craggy characters, pithy dialogue and a mystery story with a dash of the space opera. His characterisations are appealing and unpredictable particularly the drone and ship personalities who are gifted with some great scripts.

a classic that any "Ian M" fan should have on their bookshelf and read often.
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