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Matter (Culture) Paperback – February 10, 2009
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.22 pounds
- Paperback : 624 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316005371
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316005371
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.25 inches
- Language: : English
- Publisher : Orbit; Reprint Edition (February 10, 2009)
- Best Sellers Rank: #409,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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At this point in the series, there is a lot of background that the writer no longer strains to provide and I think it would be less engaging without the previous stories. Here we have the story of a civilization living on the 9th level of a 'shell world' mysteriously left behind by a long lost society. The story is about their king rising above all on the 9th level and then subduing the neighboring 'world' on the 8th level. They exist in a medieval to early industrial age, but the ruling class is fully aware of the levels of civilizations above them metaphorically, technologically and physically. A ridiculously immense archaeological digging interferes into everyone's plans, requiring the involvement of all the societies including Culture. One of the book's core and intriguing themes is this interplay of vastly different civilizations.
For all that, it's one of the best written Culture novels: it held my attention to the end. I would have liked a clearer denouement, but we can't always get what we want.
This book is similar in style as Bank's book titled "Feersum Endjinn", another great read. I own the book "Matter" in paperback, yet Amazon had a one day sale of this book for $1.99, so I purchased it to add to my digital library.
When I finish reading a "Culture" series book, I always spend a couple of days working the story through my mind's eye."Matter" is a great read.
Iaim M. Banks has passed on, so there will no more forthcoming books.
The writing is uniformly excellent and often humorous especially when coming from the pragmatic Holse. It's another classic entry in the Culture series even though I had some reservations with the ending.
Top reviews from other countries
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have read all of Iain M Banks Books and this one Matter #8 in the Culture series is a good strong tale of familial strife set against the background of impossible planet sized structure.
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.
The tale of Matter is the tale of a strange homeland called a Shellworld. This is described on p63 as:
The Shell Worlds are mostly hollow. Each had a solid metallic core fourteen hundred kilometres in diameter. beyond that, a concentric succession of spherical shells.
Each of the shells forms a level of the Shell world, and distinct civilisation live on each including water worlds, gas worlds, fixed stars and moving stars. The levels are connected by vast lifts, and sometimes the custodians of the Shellworld allow the inhabitants of different levels to pass from one to another, sometimes with evil intent.
As always with Banks culture stories e have an amazing unthought-of science fiction setting, and this is just the start. A prince is falsely accused of fratricide, who has to flee... So starts a long journey to find a long lost sister and ultimately to save his world.
I really liked this book. I liked the artefact at its heart. I like the way it is only partly understood, and quarrelled over by great powers of the galaxy. I loved the story of the innocent fleeing finding himself on the most amazing pan-galactic road trip.
Banks has written some great female leads, but the medieval-princess-turned-SC-agent is not one of them. Holse could have been interesting - I spent most of the book wondering if he was some kind of well-hidden spy - but by the end he's just a wafer-thin character who uses future technology as a crude magic wand. The shellworlds are a nice idea and could open up all kinds of possibilities for a story, but the implementation here feels... simplistic.
Read "Against A Dark Background" instead, or "Use Of Weapons", or something like that. If you've already read them, that's fine; read them again instead of reading Matter.
We come to Matter.
This isn't Banks' best. In fact it's poor.
I think he's aiming to show the wide range of alien's, with blatant emphasis on the starfish alien. It doesn't work.
Nothing's that amazing.
The characters are dull and mostly unlikable . There's a lack of the usual wit. The plot is a disappointment; considering the ending is to be the death of a world I had difficulty caring.
It's a disappointment.
Saying that, Matter didn't improve on the reread. And, my first impression was correct in that it is the weakest of the full length Culture books.
I'm not advising you to avoid it. Just don't judge the others on this one if it's your first.