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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
I really enjoy Ian Banks and his culture novels but this one was frankly tedious. It is a long, needlessly drawn out story with a bit of a twist at the end. Read morePublished 5 hours ago by susan sinclair
Very well written novel that takes place within the Culture universe that Banks has created. The book is a great stand alone novel and the character development is worthy of any... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Shiidon Hawley
All the novels in this series are a bit terse and requires a bit of concentration to follow, but this one is probably the worst of the few Culture novels that I've read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Yiding
My favorite of Banks's SciFi and one of my favorite SciFi novels ever.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book but hard to get into a flow because of chapter structure. Still would like to re-read it.Published 2 months ago by Michael