- Series: Culture
- Paperback: 1472 pages
- Publisher: Orbit; 25 Box Anv edition (November 6, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316225088
- ISBN-13: 978-0316225083
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 3.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,683,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Culture Boxed Set: Consider Phlebas, Player of Games and Use of Weapons Paperback – November 6, 2012
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"Banks' ability to combine humor and horror, the cosmic and the human, as he builds an action-packed story on a moral framework, as well as his wonderfully original characters and, of course, the lavish descriptions of weapons and spaceships, makes Surface Detail all you could ask for in a space opera. Nobody does it better." --- Times (UK)
"This is an engrossing novel of ideas ornamented by fantastically cinematic set-pieces." --- The Guardian (UK)
"Surface Detail is the type of widescreen space adventure we've come to expect from Banks, full of elaborate games, spellchecker-busting names, salty dialogue and, above all, a thrilling sense of the limitless scope SF affords an author's imagination." --- Financial Times (UK)
"Iain M. Banks' new novel, Surface Detail, is some of the best work he's done in his galaxy-spanning Culture universe." --- io9.com
"Banks' labyrinthine and devious ninth Culture space opera novel...adeptly shifts perspective between vast concepts and individual passions." --- Publishers Weekly
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A bit reminiscent of Asimov in the "ideas are the true solution" slant, but with enough galactic battles to satisfy.
It is interesting to speculate that when Iain M Banks wrote these story he definitely was not thinking about a series or a trilogy,and for us Iain M Bank purists it is entertaining to see them boxed up in this way, because in all honesty, Iain M Banks only ever wrote stand alone novels.
My point being that this is not a trilogy, you don't have to read the books in any particular order, and you can read one and never read the other two or vice versa.
To recap The ten books of the Culture are: Consider Phlebas, 1987; The Player of Games,1988; Use of Weapons, 1990; The State of the Art, 1991; Excession, 1996; Inversions, 1998; Look to Windward,2000; Matter,2008; Surface Detail, 2010; The Hydrogen Sonata, 2012.
To summarise each of these books:
Consider Phlebas is the story of anti-hero Horza who fight against The Culture
The Player of Games is about Gurgeh a bored Culture citizen who is blackmailed into fighting a very unique kind of game war on behalf of the Culture
The State of the Art is about three siblings who from a golden childhood see their lives descend into the murder and cruelty of civil war. The Culture wants to intervene to help them but... Things are never what they seem.
Personally I like the Player of Games the best. To my mind with its echoes in contemporary game culture it is the most accessible of iain M Banks texts, and I love the civilisation of Azad which has so many echoes of our own world.
However once you get started on The Culture novels, once Iain M Banks voice start to speak to you, you will be hooked for life, and eternally grateful that there in fact 10 distinct novels in this series to enjoy.
It isn't strictly necessary to read the Culture novels in the order they were written, since they don't depend heavily on each other, but this order might work well: start with _Player of Games_ in this set before _Consider Phlebas_, then read _Use of Weapons_.
If you're now hooked, branch out from this set and read _Look to Windward_, _Against a Dark Background_ (which is not strictly a Culture novel, but good), the story collection _The State of the Art_, _The Algebraist_ (also not strictly a Culture novel but set in a similar science-fictional universe, and also good), and _Surface Detail_.
_Excessions_, _Inversions_, and _Matter_ I'd consider second-tier, and optional. If you love all things Culture, you can always go back and pick them up later. _Feersum Endjinn_, another not-Culture science fiction book by Banks, is... odd and challenging. I haven't really made up my mind about it yet, or even been able to finish it.
I have not read _The Hydrogen Sonata_ yet and so can't comment on it, but If you're all caught up I'm sure you will make the right decision!