Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks

Consider Phlebas book cover
Rating 8.0/10
An interesting introduction to Iain M Banks world of The Culture

The war raged across the Galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed.

Consider Phlebas tells the story of Horza Gobuchul, a changer, and his crew of mercenaries, both human and machine. There is a war between the Indirians, who fight for their faith and religion, and The Culture, a society run by machines. Within The Culture the humans have become soft and lovers of a lifestyle where their every need is catered to. The Culture, as a result is learning hard lessons quickly, and is losing this galaxy spanning war. Horza is despatched by the Indirians to recover a Culture Mind, which has become trapped on Schar’s World. Schar’s World is a forbidden planet of the dead, and both the Indirians and The Culture are not allowed to land on this planet. Horza is from a race that has the ability to change their appearance.....

This is the first of the Culture novels. When Iain Banks writes science fiction novels he inserts the M into his writing name. This is a well written first science fiction novel although it requires a lot of concentration due the depth of Bank’s fertile imagination and the technical nature of the novel. It is an interesting journey though by no means an easy ride. The characterisation is detailed and Horza, our lead character, has an edge of reality to him. The interaction between the characters works well and they are developed well enough that you begin to sympathise with most of them. The creation of The Culture galaxy is also vivid and innovative. It is a galaxy of robots, drones, cannibals, changers, enormous spaceships and minds of startling intelligence.

In conclusion, it is an interesting tale of space opera and introduction to Iain M Banks’ world of The Culture. It requires full engagement from the reader to fully enjoy it and promises great things for the future novels. This book was written in 1987 and as I already own the Iain M Banks novels I intend to read them all again and review them in the future on this site.

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