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The Algebraist Paperback – 4 Jul 2005
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There is now no British SF writer to whose work I look forward with greater keenness (The TIMES)
Confirms Banks as the standard by which the rest of SF is judged (The GUARDIAN)
Explosive (Sunday TIMES)
Gripping, touching and funny (T.L.S.)
An explosive new SF novel from the UK's bestselling writer in the genre.See all Product description
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I won't go into detail, but it is a complex book with many civilisations, planets, systems, cities and individuals touched upon. The search facility of the Kindle never was more useful. But if you can get over this complexity it's a cracking read.
A warning though for those faint of heart. The treatment by the book's "baddie" of his nemesis is stomach-churning - and to be honest it's not something I wish I had in my head.
So, having found Iain M. Banks to be a (nearly) peerless sci-fi writer, I returned to The Algebraist. And what a return! This is definitively my third favourite Culture novel (of those I have read so far), and stands behind 'The use of Weapons and 'Look to windward' in terms of quality. Further to this though, I would assert that it could be read as a stand-alone novel, where the others (mostly) shouldn't. So this is a good place to begin (if you don't want to begin at the beginning). There are none of the rough edges of a writer finding-his-sci-fi-feet here, as there are in Phlebas.
Banks' writing style is extremely visual. There is not a scene in his books which does not take place in some form of unique environment that is a feast for the imagination. His characters are compelling, and Banks' literary heritage is at work in his plot structures and character development in a way that sets him apart from other more pulpy sci-fi writers.
My only criticism would be of the dwellers themselves, sometimes Banks' creatures are a little too strange and hard to visualise, which hampers the enjoyment of his novels. I found it very difficult to fit these sort-of talking carts with tentacles into the scenes he was describing.
A niggle, though. Banks' sci-fi will be sorely missed.