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Consider Phlebas (Culture) Paperback – March 26, 2008
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Paperback : 544 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316005388
- ISBN-10 : 031600538X
- Dimensions : 5.45 x 1.7 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : Orbit (March 26, 2008)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #54,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Let's start with The Culture: Extremely advanced utopian conglomeration of pan-humans, aliens, and machines enjoying all life has to offer facilitated by the most advanced AI's in the galaxy. There's many goings-on.
Consider Phlebas is the first of the Culture series, and I feel the most experimental. Banks shows us the peace-loving Culture at what they subsequently consider the worst part of their history, during a galactic war with aliens who are bent on domination. This book shows you the Culture through the eyes of an outsider, which is why this review is titled "An appetizer..." as the Culture is much broader than is stated in this novel. The main character has their own agenda and doesn't like the Culture very much. This causes some friction.
This book is not the best one of the series in my opinion, however it gives you an introduction to the Culture and the events which shape discussion throughout the rest of the series. There's many interesting plot points and situations that the main character gets into, of different varieties. One feature I appreciated about this book, is how it takes place in the far future, however does not alienate the reader with unexplained strange terms or technologies. In addition, people still behave like people, have human thought-processes, and are relatable. This is not to say there isn't unique, interesting, and enjoyable strangeness. Some will tell you to skip this book, or start with another. I'd say read them in published order for an interesting experience. Before beginning this series, I had no idea what to expect, however the rave reviews from fellow Sci-Fi fans brought a copy to my door, and led to reading all 10 books in succession (or Excession??).
Next up is the second book, "The Player of Games" which really starts getting into the Culture, its wonders, and a smaller than galactic-scale but still interestingly thorny issue.
So, despite what I did not like about the story itself, I could see that the author has a great world imagination, and he is actually a good writer, with a proper balance between description, and dialogue, and explanation. So I think the author does a good job, but the material is a little weak. I peeked into the second book in the series, "A Player of Games", and within a few pages I can see a much more interesting story. So start the series there....unless like me, you can't stand skipping the first in a series, despite the warnings!
Top reviews from other countries
This novel introduces the concept of the Culture which is why I’ve marked it slightly higher than I think it deserves. The main protagonist is a an unlikeable character whose hatred for the Culture just never rings true ( and once you’ve read further Culture novels his view of the Culture is even more unsustainable).
Before getting to the meat of the story there are a number of ludicrous and at times tedious escapades thatour “hero” goes through and in fact it all feels in the end like a damp squib. The ancillary characters are somewhat underdeveloped.
It’s saved a bit at the end by some notes on the Culture/Idiran war which gives you more of a hint about the Culture and things to come.
Anyone coming to Banks for the first time may find this story disappointing but fear not..the next book in the series “Player of Games” is Banks and the Culrure at the top of their game.
He’s by far my favourite sci-fi writer and whilst this isn’t his finest moment, check him out. Perhaps start with Player of Games though. There’s no real connection between the two books so no risk of spoilers.
There are one or two David Brin novels that have a similar sense of the plot fulfilling a destiny - to me that lifts this book into the realm of fable. Like fables that survive hundreds of years this book should remain relevant a long long time
I thought I ought to start with the first of the Culture series. Several reviewers (and my son too) have suggested that this is not necessarily the best way as you only really get an outsider's view of the Culture.
That wasn't my gripe. I don't really like battle/fight scenes and there were too many and they were too long. It was Sharpe in space (yes, I once read a Sharpe book because I had bee given it and never again) This was much better when it got into the interplay between characters and species. The drone was a hoot.
I am now thinking about whether I want to read "The Player of Games" It will have to be really cheap on Kindle