Wednesday, 8 October 2003

Inversions

Listening to:

Brahms, symphony #2 in D.

Just read:

Iain M. Banks, Inversions.

This novel is only just science fiction. It’s also only just a Culture novel, and I have liked Banks best to date when he’s written about the Culture, which is a marvellous invention. Certainly the term The Culture doesn’t occur anywhere in Inversions. On the other hand, if you have read a Culture story before, you’ll surely recognise its somewhat subtle presence here. And that’s probably the right way to characterise the whole story: subtle. Or, given that there’s still a fair bit of Banks’s trademark gore to be had here, perhaps understated would be a better term.

There are similarities with Use of weapons too in that the story is told in two strands. Here the two strands concern two different characters who never meet, and which take part in separate parts of the same world. There is a connection between the two characters, but again, it’s understated. Their two stories are similar in that both protagonists are valued side-kicks to absolute leaders, and both have an interesting relationship with another character. I liked both stories, and the way they developed.

Neither story has a particularly powerful climax, but I felt that both ended in reasonably satisfying ways. In one strand, there is a series of mysterious murders, and it wasn’t clear to me, even at the end of the book, who or what had done them. This was the only really unsatisfying note in the whole story. Perhaps, as with my incomprehension over Use of weapons, I’m just too stupid to be reading Banks. (I didn’t find anything on the web to suggest that UoW’s Twist was hugely meaningful either, BTW.)

To review next:

Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl: the Arctic Incident.

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