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I suppose the inclusion of M in the authorial designation broadly indicates the novel falls into the space opera category, while the others are more generally imaginative or speculative. There is discussion of all the Culture novels as well as the Culture itself. The early novels, so imaginatively written, so well structured, even concise, attract the greater part of the discussion. These are not discussed in anything like the same depth as the earlier ones, even though they are all much longer, perhaps because Banks himself could not take the logical step of ending the series, just as his construct, the Culture, could not take the logical step of ending itself through the process of subliming.

The Culture is described as an atheistic paradise and the writer discusses at length the problem about all paradises and heavens — the constant risk of eternal boredom! Apr 25, David Nichols rated it really liked it Shelves: sci-fi , biography , reviewed.

Modern Masters of Science Fiction: Greg Egan

The Culture is a huge, very powerful, incredibly rich civilization dedicated to the proposition that life should be fair. Its billions of citizens want for nothing, except the one thing a genuine post-scarcity society cannot fulfill: the human desire to be needed. As in the equally utopian Star Trek milieu, the Culture resolves this problem by meddling in the affairs of crueller, less enlightened societies, like the Idirans or the Azadian empire or the Affront.

I disagree; I think they instead showed Banks trying to complicate his original vision by introducing new possibilities for conflict, both physical and ideological. Nov 01, Col rated it it was amazing. A comprehensive analysis of the themes and structures of Banks' novels in the context of SF. Because of that, its coverage is very uneven, with the bulk of the book devoted to the Culture novels and his three other M.

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Banks novels. The no-M novels get some attention, but mostly in places where they're clearly in dialogue with his SF, like his first three 'mainstream' novels. Others such as Crow Road and Complicity are barely mentioned. Mixed in is appropriate biographical context, commentary on A comprehensive analysis of the themes and structures of Banks' novels in the context of SF. Mixed in is appropriate biographical context, commentary on his interactions and influences within the SF community, and brief review of his writing's reception.

No space is wasted, though I wish it did have a little more breathing room. As it is, he focusses mostly upon Banks' non-linear structural devices and recurring themes of plot, such as divided selves, civil war, and utopia. It proceeds mostly chronologically, but there is appropriately a good deal of jumping around as Banks' novels reverberate off of each other.


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Kincaid obviously loves Banks' writing, but he's no fanboy. He's quite harsh in his evaluation of the last three Culture novels, especially in comparison to the earlier ones. Kincaid makes a strong case that the divide between the M. Banks' first three released novels are all supposedly mainstream, and all three contain devices and effects which are distinctly fantastical, Kincaid fitting them in varying degrees into the milieu of what he calls the "Scottish Fantastic". He definitely convinced me to check out many of Banks' 'mainstream' novels, as well as Alasdair Gray's Lanark.

May 27, Stephen Graham rated it really liked it. Kincaid does a good job of reviewing the themes of Banks' science fiction and tying those themes into his literary output. That is an essential step to take in analyzing Banks as an author.

While you can consider just the Culture novels or the literary novels, the fundamental struggle with power, whether conventional state or business examples or families, runs through the work. My fundamental complaint with the work is that it isn't more thorough in reviewing the literary novels, only consideri Kincaid does a good job of reviewing the themes of Banks' science fiction and tying those themes into his literary output.

My fundamental complaint with the work is that it isn't more thorough in reviewing the literary novels, only considering about half of them. Jul 01, Doug rated it liked it Shelves: hugo-reading , sf.

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Hugo reading. The provided excerpt was chapter 2 which discussed the themes and plots of the Culture Series. Regretfully, I haven't read of the Culture books, but Paul Kincaid does a good job exploring the plots and providing a discussion of the themes and Banks' thoughts.

Not quite an academic deconstruction, not quite a fan-rave about some excellent books, this book sets out to show why Iain M Banks was so important to the resurgence of science fiction.

Modern Masters of Science Fiction: Iain M. Banks

Definitely one for those who have already read the books being discussed, as it doesn't stop before the endings, but if you are and if not, why not!? Full review on my blog. This is a good survey of Banks' work--science fiction and not, set in a biographical context of Banks' feeling about religion, experience growing up in Thatcherite Britain, fascination with the Forth Bridge in Scotland, and his personal relationships.

For fans of his work, this is a useful guidebook to seeing them as a whole, or an introduction for new readers. Daniel Newburger rated it liked it Aug 28, Robert Bowles rated it really liked it Aug 31, Andrew Shultz rated it it was ok Mar 05, Joseph rated it really liked it Jul 11, Steve Wright rated it really liked it Apr 20, Steve rated it really liked it Nov 19, Mark rated it it was amazing Jan 16, Anand Athavale rated it really liked it Sep 07, Ozy Frantz rated it liked it Aug 22, Oscar rated it really liked it Mar 10, Jonathan rated it it was amazing Dec 28, Paul Goodison rated it it was amazing Jul 20, Bob rated it liked it Jan 14, May 02, Andreea Infinite Text rated it really liked it.

This book has been written with so much passion. Kincaid writes an in-depth analysis as a product of very detailed close reading. Kincaid is a life-long critic of science fiction.


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He has reviewed hundreds of science fiction works, been featured in sci-fi magazines, and has contributed to critical anthologies. Butler by Gerry Canavan.

jatethathyver.ml Greg Egan by Karen Burnham. William Gibson by Gary Westfahl. Frederik Pohl by Michael R. Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Harlan Wilson Iain M. Entertaining and broad in scope, Iain M.

Banks offers new insights on one of the most admired figures in contemporary science fiction. Paul Kincaid has done an admirable job with this book, presenting us with the first really comprehensive survey of Banks' work across all his literary modes. Insightful, detailed, fair-minded, as generous as it is bracingly honest, it's a work that demands the attention of anyone with a real interest in this much-beloved author.

A thorough, focused, and very useful study of the works of Iain Banks A warmly appreciative yet acutely critical survey, clear, concise, and well-judged.