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Surface Detail (Culture) Paperback – May 12, 2011
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.
It begins with a murder.And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.
Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.
Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful thought it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful - and arguably deranged - warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war - brutal, far-reaching - is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality.
It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the center of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.
SURFACE DETAIL is Iain M. Banks' new Culture novel, a breathtaking achievement from a writer whose body of work is without parallel in the modern history of science fiction.
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Banks' writing is hugely imaginative, fun to read, full of fanciful images, gripping action and very cool concepts.
If you need your Sci Fi to be grounded in known theory or reasonable extensions thereof, some of Bank's flights of fancy will give you cause to look askance. But he puts such craft into his imaginings it is easy to forgive.
Surface Detail did not turn out to be my favorite book of the Culture series, but it got me hooked.
Surface Detail is not easy reading but it's fast paced, exciting, suspenseful, darkly funny in spots, vicious, torturous, and contains several surprises. Basically there is a war going on between those who think a moral obligation falls upon its citizens to create a Hell to punish evil doers, fighting against those who believe that the Hells created by people are cruel and immoral, and should be abolished. Banks doesn't hold back, he usually doesn't, so you get a free tour of HELL, but be forewarned, it ain't pretty.
I will read this again soon, right now I am re-reading the other Culture books I have around the house (remind me to order the ones I gave away 10-15 years ago, I want them back!). The word "Genius" possibly gets overused but Banks is a true genius for his complex plots, unique style of writing, depth of characters, creation of powerful alien technology, and for pleasant and unpleasant surprises. I haven't always liked his non-SF books (some are slow, easy going affairs - maybe it's Banks fault for writing to the other extreme so well), his non-Culture SF novels are fine though, more than fine, excellent (The Algebraist, Against a Dark Background are not to be missed). I enjoy The Culture novels best of all the types he writes, with their in-your-face Drones, Minds, Ships with names like Xenophobe and I Blame The Parents. I have pre-ordered The Hydrogen Sonata and can't wait!
There are forces which can best a Ship, and do, so there's not the Superman-without-Kryptonite problem. And the sub- or super-plot of the Dead and their Hells (which I wouldn't mention, except it's in all the blurbs) is like a Klein bottle: which is the inside, and which the outside?
Most recent customer reviews
This story is an awkward one to read. It's got a lot of rape in it. And torture.Read more