Monday, January 2, 2012

My review of Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks


This might be the first book I have finished and cannot think of a reason why I stuck with it to the end.

Consider Phlebas is the first book of the well regarded Culture series from Iain Banks.  It is about a small event that happens during a huge intergalactic war between the religious zealot race called the Idirans and the Culture who is an anarchist/socialist utopian society largely run by AI's.

The main character is a human(ish) who works for the Idirans because he feels that the Culture is philosophically wrong and a dead end for humanity.  He is to track down an AI that has hid itself on a dead world and is important to both sides.  While attempting to do his mission he gets side tracked into a variety of different adventures that allow us to see more of the universe and the insidious effects that the war has had on it.

The issue I have with this book is that it is essentially a ton of distracting side quests that I never felt really gave the reader much more insight into what was happening in the universe.  At the same time the bigger questions of why Horza, the lead character, is so anti-culture is never truly explored nor is the reason that the AI is so important.

I will admit that the writing is good and the book is fast paced.  For being Banks first scifi novel, it is a worthy effort.  But in the end i just can't recommend this book to anyone.  The big ideas that this book does have are great, but they are few and far between.  It is mostly a lot of running around that it just gets boring and repetitive.