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Use of Weapons (Culture) Paperback – July 28, 2008
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From this point, the novel progresses in two main directions. The main branch of the story follows Sma forward in time, as she pursues and eventually finds Zakalwe, and as Sma and Zakalwe accomplish, in general terms, the mission on which the SC branch has sent them. This involves convincing a retired politician who supports the "right" side (anti-terraforming, pro-Machine Intelligence) of a conflict in an unstable star cluster to return to the arena and forestall a coming war, and then also involves some intervention in a "brushfire" which has broken out as a precursor to the war. This story is exciting and enjoyable, with plenty of Banksian action, Banksian scenery, and Banksian humor, the last as usual particularly embodied in the character of Sma's drone assistant, Skaffen-Amtiskaw. (Banks' machine characters are inveterate scene-stealers.Read more ›
The structure and pacing of this novel is quite similar to that of Banks's first book, The Wasp Factory. The ending twist is not as well handled, but the horror event that precipitates is every bit as disturbing, perhaps even more horrific, than the one in The Wasp Factory, and mercifully the twist in Use of Weapons is left doubly ambiguous. We may never know who was telling the truth. And that's probably for the best.
Use of Weapons is a literary masterpiece, Banks can draw pictures of misery, horror, indulgence and excess with a minimum of effort, and he succeeds somehow in making it all fit together. It's not the clockwork mastery of Bujold, but something more organic, more humane, even while you realize that his underlying themes are as ruthless, vicious, and inhuman as any you can imagine.
A lot of Banks's later works, like the almost irrelevant Excession, don't deserve much attention. But Use of Weapons is Banks at his best. The Wasp Factory had a happy ending, of a sort; I can't say that about Use of Weapons. The Wasp Factory stayed with me for a long time, though, and made me feel depressed and horrified at the state of the world, despite the discoveries its plucky and interesting protagonist went through. I highly recommend Use of Weapons for the same reason I recommend The Wasp Factory, but be prepared to be depressed for a long time afterwards.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Probably one of the best climaxes to a sci-fi story that I have ever read. Banks does an amazing job creating and exploring two colorful, diverse, and diametrically opposed... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Philip Keegan
One of the best sci-fi books I've ever read. The Culture series has been a blast so far. I can't wait to read the rest.Published 19 days ago by C J Williamson
Real Sci-Fi star. His books make you think and always a good twist at the end.Published 24 days ago by Jim Hilgenbrink
If you intend to read all of the culture novels definitely read this one. However, as a stand alone novel it is weaker than the others. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Papa Pajamacat
This is a slightly challenging read, the chronology is odd, an that i th only negative thing that can b said about it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sqeaky
I've read the first four Culture Series books and this is my least favorite but it's still very good. Read morePublished 1 month ago by C. Scott
This is one of my all time favorite Banks books. Let's just say the Big Reveal at the end of the story is a real shocker.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
The first 3/4 of the book are not very good...maybe a 2.5/5 stars. But the final 1/4 of the book and its conclusion is absolutely fantastic. Read morePublished 2 months ago by lzk222