Wednesday, 6 February 2002

Excession, Waitangi Day

Listening to:

Arnold, symphony no. 7, op. 113.

Just read:

Iain M. Banks, Excession.

This is another of the Culture novels. I think I preferred it to Consider Phlebas, but it's pretty similar in style and tone. CP probably had more engaging ideas (the bunker/train system on the dead planet, the extended discussion of life on a Ring, the whole Changer species), but I didn't like the plot and the violence. The Culture's Minds also didn't seem to play as much of a role. In Excession, the Minds and the space-ships they tend to inhabit play a much greater part. A few more consequences of what it might be like to live in such a galaxy seem to have been thought through. The fact that the Minds are independent entities with their own agendas, rather than part of some monolithic, over-arching government is well thought out.

There are occasional neat ideas. The ship that creates massive historical tableaux in its innards with people in suspended animation, for example. The Affront culture is perhaps a little too similar in feel to the Idirans of CP, but still seems reasonably fresh and vivid.

On the other hand, I'd have to agree with almost all of this review's criticisms too. It demonstrates that the book isn't perfect.

Today is Waitangi Day, New Zealand's national day, but it is also the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne (which happened when her father, George VI, died). I suspect it is the latter rather than the former which explains all the flags flying atop various colleges in town.

I recently found another comic on the web. It's called PhD, standing for Piled Higher and Deeper. A couple of nice samples: