|Submitted by Anonymous|
(Mar 27, 2000)
'Diplomat Byr Genar-Hofoen has been selected by the Culture to undertake a delicate and dangerous mission. The department of special circumstances - the Cultures espionage and dirty tricks section has sent him to investigate the sudden disappearance of a star fifty times olderr than the universe itself.'
Thus opens the blurb on the back of this novel.
In truth, it was what attracted me to read the book in the first place. A good hook. In fact it is the least part of this novel. A mere starter. In fact this proves somethong that I have long suspected. That blurb writers rarely if ever read beyond the first chapter of a book.
For the strength of this book lies not in it's plotting or in its 'hooks', both of which are adequate but unastounding for a book of this type.
This novels strength is the ease in which Banks manages to convey the sense of wonder which in recent years has become a little hard to come by. After all we are all now used to computers, space travel (by proxy at least), and all of the other stuff which used to be speculation but is now fact.
Banks trancends this problem by inventing a future where machines have self awareness... and rather than simply sitting there, he puts them in vast ships, kilometers long and populates space with them.
A future where light years are coverable in days, where your protective clothing could become less effective if you have an argument with it.
A future where a slightly deranged artificial intelligence can spend years recreating a battle scene from deepest history in order to provide a suitable artistic storeage medium for organic life forms 'hibernating' for a few years.
That is what kept me turning the pages. Not the plot, which was for me, merely there to provide a framework on which to hang Banks's amazing visions of what his future might be like.
This book has restored my sense of wonder and can be recommended for that alone.
Visit the author of this review