Consider Phlebas

by Iaian Banks (1987)


What a big, bloated, sloggy slab of nothingness. I was with it for the first half, until after the escape from the Orbital, but then nothing. . . happened. . . for. . . the entire 2nd half! There was no character development! I didn’t know or care about the protagonist one whit! The badass potential female lead got converted into a hyper-sentimental baby-incubator! Why did it take so long to resolve itself?!

The world was cool, I guess, and it was interesting to read after Dan Simmons’s Hyperion — the Culture in many ways parallels his “Hegemony” in spirit and defects, though the Idirans have little in common with the Ousters besides their belligerence. But it felt way more superficial than Simmons’s world, and the characters were exponentially paler. I suppose it could be cool to explore Banks’s world a little further in other books, but I really have no desire after this one.

So yeah. Maybe I just don’t like SF as much as I thought I did. That or I’m getting burned out and need to take a break. Still on the lookout for the superior SF that I love forever and ever amen. I’ve read a lot of ’em but they’re all pretty damn flawed. What is the perfect SF novel? Let me know in the comments if you please.


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