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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Banks' versatility proven once again, 9 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Look To Windward (Hardcover)
I only gave this book four stars because I don't think it's Banks' best. But if I had enjoyed it as much as I generally enjoy good books by other authors I'd have given it a two. I just can't get over how fantastically versatile this man is. In his sci-fi books alone he has covered almost every form of storytelling, action, adventure, intrigue, romance, humour. The consistent element is that they are all highly intellectual, and thought-provoking.
Look to Windward is slower paced and more descriptive than the others. Banks plays with the deepest philosophies and shows us, as he often has before, how difficult it is to find simple answers. My head swimming with the fantastic images conjured by the descriptive passages, there was only just room there to be fascinated by the fleshing-out Banks has brought to the Culture's history, and astounded by the new concepts that he introduces as in every novel (I particularly liked the idea of the airspheres and the giant floating sentient behemoths for whom the lifetime of an entire civilisation is a mere blip).
If you want to get into Iain M. Banks, read Feersum Endjinn first, then get into the Culture with Player of Games and Excession. I seriously recommend saving this one until you've read several Culture books because it answers a lot of questions and I think would be a lot more satisfying as a result.
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Initial post: 28 May 2014 22:43:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 May 2014 23:10:23 BDT
"If you want to get into Iain M. Banks, read Feersum Endjinn first, then ..."

Totally disagree. The phonetic spelling of Feersum Endjinn was a struggle to read and I ended up reading other things instead, and I was already an established reader of Banks' novels, particularly his SF.

The basic premise of your advice is false. Newcomers to Banks should read the books in the order he wrote them if they have a choice; why make this more complicated than it needs to be?

Sometime in the mid 1990s, I went to a book reading by Banks at Waterstones in Leeds where he was reading from his new book "Whit", the main character being a rather delicious and clever, if naive, young women raised in a cult run by her uncle or grandfather and sent Outside on a mission of his devising.

Having just tried and ceased reading Feersum Endjinn I asked him how it was writing all that phonetic stuff. He laughed and said it was hell working with the spelling checker.

Sadly missed and regrettable that the entire Culture civilisation must now remain in stasis instead of moving towards Sublimation....

In case Iain Banks hasn't yet been mentioned in the same text as Christopher Hitchens I would like to do it now. Both impressed me with their erudition and ability to play with ideas. I don't know if they ever met or what they would have thought of each other had they done so, but as someone who knew them thru their writings I was entertained, inspired and provoked by them both in exhilarating ways.
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