Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Nolanator »

A5D5E5 wrote:
Nolanator wrote:
A5D5E5 wrote:
Nolanator wrote:You're welcome. :D

It's probably time for me to have another read of Player or Inversions.
Thanks. :D

Both good, but I'm really looking forward to Excession and Use of Weapons. And Look to Windward, and Surface Detail. Happy times ahead.
I read Excession, LtW, Surface Detail and the Hydrogen Sonata relatively recently. UoW a bit before them. Probably due Matter again, another that I really enjoy that one.

I pretty much remember everything that happens in them, though, do I leave it a good while between reads. Read the Algebraist recently, too. That's just brilliant.

Yeah, think Player is the next Banks book on the end of the list.
I thought Matter was a bit too contrived when I first read it - in fact, I worried that he had run out of ideas for how to create any tension in Culture novels as they were just too damn powerful. Thankfully Surface Detail and Hydrogen Sonata proved me very wrong (and so sad that they ended then). Will be interesting to see if I feel the same about Matter this time round.

I will go back to his non culture novels once I've finished the culture (and possibly after re-reading the Revelation Space novels as I haven't read those for years, and I noticed that Alastair Reynolds published a new book in the universe last year that I haven't read yet.)
Well, being uncharitable the main narrative arc in Matter is very straight forward. Non-Culture person has issue with home planet (well, Shellworld), between various events ends up with elements of the Culture, goes home to correct the Big Problem, Bigger Problem arises and makes the former one insignificant, shit hits the fan, and ultimately a bit of Mind Ex Machina to wrap things up with a slightly bittersweet conclusion. Various of those elements and tropes are present in many other of his books, Culture or otherwise.
Still, I really enjoyed the creative aspect of Matter, though. The concept and descriptions of stuff like the Shellworld and the Morthanveld Nestworld were really compelling. I just love a bit of creative sci-fi, and the general badassery of militarised Culture ships.
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A5D5E5
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by A5D5E5 »

Nolanator wrote:
A5D5E5 wrote:
Nolanator wrote:
A5D5E5 wrote:
Nolanator wrote:You're welcome. :D

It's probably time for me to have another read of Player or Inversions.
Thanks. :D

Both good, but I'm really looking forward to Excession and Use of Weapons. And Look to Windward, and Surface Detail. Happy times ahead.
I read Excession, LtW, Surface Detail and the Hydrogen Sonata relatively recently. UoW a bit before them. Probably due Matter again, another that I really enjoy that one.

I pretty much remember everything that happens in them, though, do I leave it a good while between reads. Read the Algebraist recently, too. That's just brilliant.

Yeah, think Player is the next Banks book on the end of the list.
I thought Matter was a bit too contrived when I first read it - in fact, I worried that he had run out of ideas for how to create any tension in Culture novels as they were just too damn powerful. Thankfully Surface Detail and Hydrogen Sonata proved me very wrong (and so sad that they ended then). Will be interesting to see if I feel the same about Matter this time round.

I will go back to his non culture novels once I've finished the culture (and possibly after re-reading the Revelation Space novels as I haven't read those for years, and I noticed that Alastair Reynolds published a new book in the universe last year that I haven't read yet.)
Well, being uncharitable the main narrative arc in Matter is very straight forward. Non-Culture person has issue with home planet (well, Shellworld), between various events ends up with elements of the Culture, goes home to correct the Big Problem, Bigger Problem arises and makes the former one insignificant, shit hits the fan, and ultimately a bit of Mind Ex Machina to wrap things up with a slightly bittersweet conclusion. Various of those elements and tropes are present in many other of his books, Culture or otherwise.
Still, I really enjoyed the creative aspect of Matter, though. The concept and descriptions of stuff like the Shellworld and the Morthanveld Nestworld were really compelling. I just love a bit of creative sci-fi, and the general badassery of militarised Culture ships.
True, though I found them harder to cope with in Matter than in his other books - will be interesting to see if I still feel the same on a re-read.

No argument about the militarised Culture ships though - absolutely awesome. And why Excession is my favourite Culture novel.
Nolanator
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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A5D5E5 wrote:No argument about the militarised Culture ships though - absolutely awesome. And why Excession is my favourite Culture novel.
Yeah, absolutely. Possibly why I really like Mistake Not... from Hydrogen Sonata so much. Not just the ship itself, but even the way the avatar, Berdle(?), acts during firefights is just fun to read. Plus, the name is very cool, in hindsight.
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Yourmother
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Yourmother »

Nolanator wrote:
A5D5E5 wrote:
Nolanator wrote:You're welcome. :D

It's probably time for me to have another read of Player or Inversions.
Thanks. :D

Both good, but I'm really looking forward to Excession and Use of Weapons. And Look to Windward, and Surface Detail. Happy times ahead.
I read Excession, LtW, Surface Detail and the Hydrogen Sonata relatively recently. UoW a bit before them. Probably due Matter again, another that I really enjoy that one.

I pretty much remember everything that happens in them, though, do I leave it a good while between reads. Read the Algebraist recently, too. That's just brilliant.

Yeah, think Player is the next Banks book on the end of the list.
Loved the algebraist. Great read. Was my first and favourite Ian M Banks.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Jimcardiff »

I have started listening to scifi audiobooks on my comute ,just started Dune , the journey seems a lot shorter.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Jimcardiff wrote:I have started listening to scifi audiobooks on my comute ,just started Dune , the journey seems a lot shorter.
My dad just finished listening to them up to Children of Dune. Said he hadn't read them in ages, but didn't really have the energy to get through them. Audiobooks seem like a great idea for longish commutes.
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A5D5E5
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Jimcardiff wrote:I have started listening to scifi audiobooks on my comute ,just started Dune , the journey seems a lot shorter.
It will start seeming a lot longer again if you move onto the prequels. *shudders
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Started reading Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation (Southern Reach trilogy). That's some crazy shit. Much more insane than the movie (which was brilliant). Sort or a cross between Heart of Darkness and David Lynch at his weirdest. Quite something.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by danthefan »

Chuckles1188 wrote:The void books are considerably shorter than most of his others - 800 pages apiece versus over 1100 each, on average, with TND.

They are long but that's because he wants to show his working. If you're not interested in lengthy descriptions of quantum entanglements and nano-tech weaponry you're reading the wrong author.

I will say that accessing PFH via audiobook seems like madness to me, but I'm not huge on audiobooks in general
I gave up on the audiobook and read the rest of it, wish I'd done that from the beginning, lesson learned. Finished Pandora's Star anyway, it's excellent so I'll definitely keep going.
tc27
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by tc27 »

At the risk of repeating myself I cannot recommend Neil Asher's Polity novels enough.

Similar to the Culture in so far as most of the protagonists are from an AI ruled society - the antagonists are human 'separatists' a race of crab like genocidal aliens (the Prador) and the left overs of previous civilizations that could have crushed the Polity like a bug.

Its decent and accessible hard sci fi.

Good place to start.

https://www.amazon.com/Prador-Novel-Pol ... oks&sr=1-2
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lorcanoworms
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by lorcanoworms »

Keep the tips coming lads, I am reading the new David Baldacci at the moment :blush:
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sorCrer
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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tc27 wrote:At the risk of repeating myself I cannot recommend Neil Asher's Polity novels enough.

Similar to the Culture in so far as most of the protagonists are from an AI ruled society - the antagonists are human 'separatists' a race of crab like genocidal aliens (the Prador) and the left overs of previous civilizations that could have crushed the Polity like a bug.

Its decent and accessible hard sci fi.

Good place to start.

https://www.amazon.com/Prador-Novel-Pol ... oks&sr=1-2
Read them all. Very good.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by tc27 »

sorCrer wrote:
tc27 wrote:At the risk of repeating myself I cannot recommend Neil Asher's Polity novels enough.

Similar to the Culture in so far as most of the protagonists are from an AI ruled society - the antagonists are human 'separatists' a race of crab like genocidal aliens (the Prador) and the left overs of previous civilizations that could have crushed the Polity like a bug.

Its decent and accessible hard sci fi.

Good place to start.

https://www.amazon.com/Prador-Novel-Pol ... oks&sr=1-2
Read them all. Very good.

He's just released another one - second book in the 'Rise of the Jain' series.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Pat the Ex Mat »

tc27 wrote:
sorCrer wrote:
tc27 wrote:At the risk of repeating myself I cannot recommend Neil Asher's Polity novels enough.

Similar to the Culture in so far as most of the protagonists are from an AI ruled society - the antagonists are human 'separatists' a race of crab like genocidal aliens (the Prador) and the left overs of previous civilizations that could have crushed the Polity like a bug.

Its decent and accessible hard sci fi.

Good place to start.

https://www.amazon.com/Prador-Novel-Pol ... oks&sr=1-2
Read them all. Very good.

He's just released another one - second book in the 'Rise of the Jain' series.
see previous page or you will be cored!
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sorCrer
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by sorCrer »

tc27 wrote:
sorCrer wrote:
tc27 wrote:At the risk of repeating myself I cannot recommend Neil Asher's Polity novels enough.

Similar to the Culture in so far as most of the protagonists are from an AI ruled society - the antagonists are human 'separatists' a race of crab like genocidal aliens (the Prador) and the left overs of previous civilizations that could have crushed the Polity like a bug.

Its decent and accessible hard sci fi.

Good place to start.

https://www.amazon.com/Prador-Novel-Pol ... oks&sr=1-2
Read them all. Very good.

He's just released another one - second book in the 'Rise of the Jain' series.

Cheers, I'm straight onto that.
carlos_c
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by carlos_c »

Have recentlty got all of the Culture books on Audible - and most have Peter Kenney reading - reads really well - brings out the humour quite well
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by de_Selby »

I've just been starting through the culture series too. I'm part way through Use of weapons (just passed the part where Skaffen-Amitskaw gave the present of a hat to Zakalwe after he'd been decapitated and was being rebuilt :lol: )

There really are some great characters, so much so that it's disappointing when they die. I loved the Irdians, I'm secretly hoping that they might feature again at some point..

I found state of the art a bit tough going though, I don't think his style suits short stories - the story ends just when you get to know the characters. It's it worth sticking with? I moved on from it about 1/3 of the way through
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Nolanator »

With the short stories some are better than others, so you won't miss as much reading them all.
Do read the story State of the Art, it's an actual Culture story. Nice little story in its own right and gives some back story to Diziet Sma. It's the only time a central protagonist appears in more than one book.
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Boobs not Moobs
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Boobs not Moobs »

So reading Tchaikovsky's Children of Time. Has great reviews but I'm struggling. I'm up to where the shuttle has crash landed and Portia has succeeded in the mission dressed as a Beetle.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by ukjim »

Nolanator wrote:With the short stories some are better than others, so you won't miss as much reading them all.
Do read the story State of the Art, it's an actual Culture story. Nice little story in its own right and gives some back story to Diziet Sma. It's the only time a central protagonist appears in more than one book.
[nerd]Zakalwe says hi[/nerd]
Nolanator
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Nolanator »

ukjim wrote:
Nolanator wrote:With the short stories some are better than others, so you won't miss as much reading them all.
Do read the story State of the Art, it's an actual Culture story. Nice little story in its own right and gives some back story to Diziet Sma. It's the only time a central protagonist appears in more than one book.
[nerd]Zakalwe says hi[/nerd]
Surely you mean Vatueil? The absolute bastard. (I did say central protagonist :P )
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sorCrer
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by sorCrer »

tc27 wrote:
sorCrer wrote:
tc27 wrote:At the risk of repeating myself I cannot recommend Neil Asher's Polity novels enough.

Similar to the Culture in so far as most of the protagonists are from an AI ruled society - the antagonists are human 'separatists' a race of crab like genocidal aliens (the Prador) and the left overs of previous civilizations that could have crushed the Polity like a bug.

Its decent and accessible hard sci fi.

Good place to start.

https://www.amazon.com/Prador-Novel-Pol ... oks&sr=1-2
Read them all. Very good.

He's just released another one - second book in the 'Rise of the Jain' series.
Found an uncorrected proof copy of Asher's The Departure this morning. Well pleased.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Zakar »

tc27 wrote:At the risk of repeating myself I cannot recommend Neil Asher's Polity novels enough.

Similar to the Culture in so far as most of the protagonists are from an AI ruled society - the antagonists are human 'separatists' a race of crab like genocidal aliens (the Prador) and the left overs of previous civilizations that could have crushed the Polity like a bug.

Its decent and accessible hard sci fi.

Good place to start.

https://www.amazon.com/Prador-Novel-Pol ... oks&sr=1-2
That link is 395 bucks
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message #2527204
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Zakar wrote:
tc27 wrote:At the risk of repeating myself I cannot recommend Neil Asher's Polity novels enough.

Similar to the Culture in so far as most of the protagonists are from an AI ruled society - the antagonists are human 'separatists' a race of crab like genocidal aliens (the Prador) and the left overs of previous civilizations that could have crushed the Polity like a bug.

Its decent and accessible hard sci fi.

Good place to start.

https://www.amazon.com/Prador-Novel-Pol ... oks&sr=1-2
That link is 395 bucks
Tc selling his book :lol:
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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I just found out Gene Wolfe died in April. I'm a little taken aback at just how much this news has upset me.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by flaggETERNAL »

Hellraiser wrote:I just found out Gene Wolfe died in April. I'm a little taken aback at just how much this news has upset me.

Wait what? That is bad news. :((
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Hellraiser »

flaggETERNAL wrote:
Hellraiser wrote:I just found out Gene Wolfe died in April. I'm a little taken aback at just how much this news has upset me.

Wait what? That is bad news. :((

I can honestly say that there are only two occasions where literature has changed my life. The first was when I read Lord of the Rings in my mid teens; the second, and probably more profound, was when I read The Book of the New Sun in my early thirties.
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flaggETERNAL
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by flaggETERNAL »

Hellraiser wrote:
flaggETERNAL wrote:
Hellraiser wrote:I just found out Gene Wolfe died in April. I'm a little taken aback at just how much this news has upset me.

Wait what? That is bad news. :((

I can honestly say that there are only two occasions where literature has changed my life. The first was when I read Lord of the Rings in my mid teens; the second, and probably more profound, was when I read The Book of the New Sun in my early thirties.
Can't say the same on hearing this news besides shock but I completely understand how you feel. Felt similar when Terry Pratchett passed.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Was going to say, just that. I was quite upset wihen Pratchett passed. The main author through my teenage years through to now. Still get a bit upset when I see discussions about him on Twitter etc. So many people for whom his works genuinely mean something special.

Was a bit upset when Iain Banks passed, too. He's the author next after Pratchett who's works I read the most and enjoyed the most through my formative years.


Those to men had some visions of "ideal" society that I can completely endorse, plus some fairly scathing criticisms and observations on our current society.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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This thread put me onto Peter F. Hamilton and have to say I'm a huge fan now. Read Great North Road first, will be finished up Commonwealth in the next couple of days, and think I'm just going to go straight onto Night's Dawn.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Finished a rereading of Consider Phlebas 5 minutes ago. Damned good. Going to read them all again.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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danthefan wrote:This thread put me onto Peter F. Hamilton and have to say I'm a huge fan now. Read Great North Road first, will be finished up Commonwealth in the next couple of days, and think I'm just going to go straight onto Night's Dawn.
Night's Dawn is excellent and weird. :thumbup:
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Bindi »

Just finished The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch. Brilliant book. This bloke is a major new talent - up there with the best of the modern sci-fi authors based on this effort. Totally original, which is a rare thing nowadays. Quite an interesting take on time travel, along with horror elements.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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:thumbup:
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sorCrer
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Bindi wrote:Just finished The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch. Brilliant book. This bloke is a major new talent - up there with the best of the modern sci-fi authors based on this effort. Totally original, which is a rare thing nowadays. Quite an interesting take on time travel, along with horror elements.

Cheers. I'm onto that. Just read a great review.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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Nolanator
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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sorCrer wrote:Finished a rereading of Consider Phlebas 5 minutes ago. Damned good. Going to read them all again.
Finished Player of Games recently. Hadn't read it in a long time and was possibly only my second read-through. The epilogue pure Banks. Literally the last two words of the book throwing the entire story into a different context.
The Culture is always in the driving seat and playing several moves ahead of everyone else in the Galactic Game of Thrones. :thumbup:
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

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:thumbup:
That's class. Missing the bit with Prax and Dr. Strickland.
-You're not that guy........I am that guy.


Amos is probably my favourite character. Having read through the novels and all the novellas and origin comics, he's one of the more fascinating personalities. He also has some of the most fun one-liners. Worthy of The Hound.
"OK, I'm gonna need my gun back".
Wes Chatham does a great job, IMO.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Brazil »

Nolanator wrote:
sorCrer wrote:Finished a rereading of Consider Phlebas 5 minutes ago. Damned good. Going to read them all again.
Finished Player of Games recently. Hadn't read it in a long time and was possibly only my second read-through. The epilogue pure Banks. Literally the last two words of the book throwing the entire story into a different context.
The Culture is always in the driving seat and playing several moves ahead of everyone else in the Galactic Game of Thrones. :thumbup:
What was that? Edit: Scrap that, I was confusing it with Use of Weapons.
So reading Tchaikovsky's Children of Time. Has great reviews but I'm struggling. I'm up to where the shuttle has crash landed and Portia has succeeded in the mission dressed as a Beetle.
I really enjoyed Children of Time, it's very well thought out. Need to find the sequel, which for some reason the Leadenall Waterstones doesn't have.
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Re: Best Sci-Fi Novels

Post by Nolanator »

Brazil wrote:
Nolanator wrote:
sorCrer wrote:Finished a rereading of Consider Phlebas 5 minutes ago. Damned good. Going to read them all again.
Finished Player of Games recently. Hadn't read it in a long time and was possibly only my second read-through. The epilogue pure Banks. Literally the last two words of the book throwing the entire story into a different context.
The Culture is always in the driving seat and playing several moves ahead of everyone else in the Galactic Game of Thrones. :thumbup:
What was that?
Serious spoilers.
Spoiler: show
In the book, Gurgeh is beating everyone in their giant board game which decides how their society plays out in the Azad Empire. He's ready to beat the sitting emperor in the final, but the emperor goes off the reservation and tries to kill everyone. The small drone Flere-Imsaho, which was assisting Gurgeh, turns out to be an SC agent and goes all pew-pew-pew and saves him. Fairly standard Mind (well, drone) ex Machina in the climax of a Culture novel.
Then, in the epilogue, the F-I reveals that the Culture manipulated Gurgeh into playing the Game in order to bring the Empire crashing down as they disapproved of the social structure. The final two words reveal that F-I actually posed as the psychotic ex-SC drone which early in the novel manipulated Gurgeh into cheating and then blackmailed him into reaching out to SC to do it a favour. That set the entire plot into motion.

The Minds that control the direction in which the Culture develops are many moves ahead of everyone else.


Similarly, the epilogue in Surface Detail revealed that Vatueil, the soldier fighting in the simulated War in Heaven, is actually Zakalwe from Use of Weapons.* In Surface Detail the Culture are at pains to claim no involvement in influencing this simulated war in a different civilisation, but in the end they're right up to their armpits directing other societies to what they feel is a better set-up.

*Vatueil is an anagram of the half-sister, Livueta, he mutilated in UoW (I had to look her name up). The reveal that Zakalwe is actually not the half-brother you think is itself another revealed in the epilogue of UoW.

It's trick he used a lot to completely turn the story you've just read on it's head. Character motivations etc are all under a totally different light now.
He used it a lot, but I've always enjoyed it.
That was a lot longer and more waffly than I intended when I started typing. :lol:
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