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10 thoughts on “Use of Weapons

  1. unknown unknown says:

    PrologueStars were barely visible through the tiny oval The reader looked up from his novel, blinked Checked his watch still hours to go His wife sat slumped next to him, still asleep Some people could sleep on planes Some people couldn t What are you reading asked the man on the reader s left.The reader checked himself before the sigh escaped him He hated it when people talked to him on planes Especially when he was trying to read Especially when he was reading a book with a space PrologueStars were barely visible through the tiny oval The reader looked up from his novel, blinked Checked his watch still hours to go His wife sat slumped next to him, still asleep Some people could sleep on planes Some people couldn t What are you reading asked the man on the reader s left.The reader checked himself before the sigh escaped him He hated it when people talked to him on planes Especially when he was trying to read Especially when he was reading a book with a spaceship on the cover Oh, just a sci fi book, he muttered What, like a Star War the man asked, his eyes now bright with attention My kids love that Clone Wars show This time the reader wasn t quick enough to stop himself.OneThe man looked up from the small gray device in his hand He rubbed his eyes, tired from spending the last several hours staring at a text readout on the object s dull display He sighedAt least there wasn t any glare I could have read that in direct sunlight Not that I have been outside today His finger lingered over a small button on the right side of the device Somehow he felt like clicking that button didn t offer the air of finality he wanted after such a sustained period of concentration His mind wandered over what he d just read It had been, intermittently, a powerfully moving experience It had also been a bit tedious from time to time, but in that it was like his lifeAt least I had a comfortable chair A chair He rose quickly, twisting around and nearly knocking over his small desk chairMade of metal Good He sighed, relieved.IVIt had been a good meeting, Joel thought The group members had really seemed to enjoy China Mi ville Good It had been nice to see them respond positively to a book he d loved, especially after the mixed reaction to The Player of Games.That still seemed strange, Joel thoughtHow could anyone not love that book I could read 10 Culture books just to getof the drones and talking spaceshipsPerdido Street Station seemed a better candidate for a divided audience, longer,violent, anda fantasy novel than sci fi But everyone had loved it David Brin had a hard road ahead of him if he expected to top it Even with the talking dolphins.Talking dolphins It had seemed like such a good idea at the time Hugo Award Nebula too But after sentient cactai and slake moths, intelligent marine life didn t seem as novel.Joel scanned his bookshelves, quickly calculating A month until the next meeting Plenty of time to fit in a different book before moving on His eye wandered to his sci fi collection, which had been growing rapidly as of late, a good sign as any that It was behind him.He made a snap decision why not read an entire book just fordrones and talking spaceships He picked up Use of Weapons and studied the cover.Two That was really quite an interesting novel, the man said later The drone looked at him blankly, emanating an orange sheen the man had come to understand was the drone s way of communicating indifference I quite enjoyed it Iain M Banks Culture universe is always fun to play around in I love the fact that you never really know where the book is going This one switches main characters halfway through while telling separate, linked stories across multiple time frames A prologue and an epilogue that both take place after the end of the book One of the story threads is even moving backward Really, just on a simple narrative level, it was quite ambitious Meow, said the drone SmartassSometimes I could really do without these drones IIIJoel drove in silence For once, no audiobook was playing over his car s stereo He hadn t even turned on the radio.The book club meeting had been a disaster He should have known Why was he expecting this time to be any better, after that Philip Roth fiasco, after trying to discuss the complexities of One Hundred Years of Solitude in a noisy pub with six people who hadn t finished the book, who wereinterested in their fish and chips.But this time why had he even bothered James Joyce Really Who starts a new book club by reading Roth, then Marquez, then Joyce But he knew a sad pseudo intellectual girl who couldn t stop talking about the single year of a graduate program in literature she d managed to complete STOP TALKING ABOUT YOUR PROGRAM Joel shouted to the empty Prius YOU DIDN T EVEN FUCKING FINISH, AND IT WAS AT NORTHERN He hadn t wanted to join the group The name had been warning enough Serious Readers of Oak Park He didn t want to read something serious He wanted to read but no He couldn t allow himself to think of It A man, his shirt torn, a small gun in his hand Already, revulsion was coiling in his stomach He cast the memories aside, and focused on his anger I mean really, who just DECLARES that everyone will have to read Moby Dick for June Can we not VOTE He pounded the steering wheel, which meant the car threatened to go into a spin when he reflexively slammed on the brake In the middle of the road, and just feet from his bumper, illuminated in the beam of a single working headlight, stood a woman She was dressed strangely, in a skin tight black suit, wearing a collar trimmed with white fur Even in the dim light, Joel could see that was holding a book, a trade paperback Joel, she said He could hear her clearly over the silence of his engine, which had shut itself off dutifully when the car came to a stop I have been looking for you I understand you are a special man, a man of discriminating taste She held up the book Even in the dim light, Joel could just make out the title The Player of Games.The woman smiled Let s talk ThreeDays later, and the man was still thinking about the book He found it hard, in fact, to continue on with his reading of another interesting sounding novel that was nevertheless utterly failing to grab his attentionHow can you make talking space dolphins dull While making dinner, he pondered the meaning of what he d read, ignoring the insistent bleats from the two drones winding around his legs There was that title Use of Weapons So many possible interpretations There was the obvious answer, having to do with the different tools the protagonistWell, one of them, Zakalwe, used to accomplish the goals of his missions on behalf of the Culture Then there was the way the Culture itself used Zakalwe, who had been recruited to the cause rather than born a citizen of the Machine controlled utopian society, as a tool to impose its will upon the universe s lesser races.There were also subtler, perhapscompelling interpretations as wellIain Banks really goes above and beyond what you would expect from the ghettoized stigma of the genre writer,the man musedIt isn t just the thematic richness on display, but also the deft precision of his prose Why, take the masterful twist ending, in which we learn AUGGGGH The man tripped over one of the squawking drones, the smaller one It shone black and white in alternating blotches, indicating amusement.IIJoel stepped out of the sun and heat and into the full force blast of air conditioning The weight of exams was finally off his shoulders He had a full week before he had to head home and figure out what he was going to do with his summer He needed something to read.He wanted the aisles, picking up titles from the display tables, looking for something long enough to last him several lazy, responsibility free afternoons Infinite Jest No Perhaps too long Also, rather pretentious for a college student to be seen with that one, no And anyway, he had a copy on his shelves at home, in the small bedroom where It had happened, all those years ago Someday, maybe, he would go back and retrieve it Not today, but still no reason to spend the money.His eye fell upon a promising looking paperback, perched on an endcap The cartoon cover called out to him The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier and Clay He picked it up, glanced at the backComics sounds fun Won the Pulitzer Cool His eyes wandered to the rest of the display He gasped and stumbled backwards, dropping the book LITERARY GENRE CROSSOVERS proclaimed the banner, but that wasn t what had filled him with fear It was the small list of words below it Fantasy, Horror, Graphic Novels, and Sci FiSci fi No No, it s too soon I can t I thought I could but Joel ran from the store, pushed out again into the sweltering Chicago sunshine.A clerk walked by, glared at the discarded book with annoyance Customers, she grumbled The roll of her eyes was almost audible.FourThe man settled into a warm bath, moving gingerly in deference to his sore muscles, his knee bruised where he had banged it against the kitchen cabinetFucking dronesAs he let the heat wash over him, leeching the ache from his joints, he considered the fact that, in his experience, it was the presence of drones and all the other trappings of the Culture that he was really looking for in an Iain M Banks novel Even after three books, there was still something undeniably amusing about super intelligent machines that nevertheless had snippy, all too human personalities It was also funny how they were constantly making fun of their flesh and blood counterparts in the Culture Obviously the drones and the Machine Mind overlords that control the Culture didn t really need humans They just allowed them to stick around, because the Culture, what, found them amusing Clearly, judging by a few brutal action sequences, it would take a single drone only a few minutes to disable even the best human fighterKnife missiles Good thing that orange one doesn t have any knife missiles IA silent hallway Three doors, one closed A man paced nervously, rubbing his temples He started as the door nearest him began to open A tired looking woman emerged, closing the door silently behind her How is he doing the man asked I don t know, the woman sighed He seems the same He keeps muttering to himself and staring blankly into space His mind just seems to be broken Let me go in, the man said I have to try The woman looked at him with eyes empty of all but grief I don t know if it will do any good Steeling himself, the man turned the shiny gold knob, letting himself into the room It was dim, the only light entering through cracks at the edges of a heavily curtained window The air stank of regret.The man looked down at his son, folded into a ball on the bed He hadn t moved since they d found him that way, clenched and shivering, a day before Doctors had been called, but the roads were still impassable Joel he whispered Joel, I m here Already, he was choking back a sob rising in his throat, threatening to escape He sat down in a small chair by the bed, suddenly weary If only we knew what happened he mutteredWhat were you doing that caused this Leaning forward to rest a palm against a small, clammy forehead, he felt his shoe brush against something heavy that had fallen, unnoticed, under the bed He bent and picked it up A book A big book He turned it around and peered at the cover, which featured a bare chested hero holding a laser gunBattlefield Ear The man felt a strong jerk on his forearm He almost dropped the book right into the lap of his son, who was now sitting up in the bed, ramrod straight, clutching his father s wrist so tightly his fingers were bone white Don t Don t the boy cried.FiveReally, he thought, all of the Culture novels had been variations on a theme the merits of interventionist politics What right do we have to intervene in the affairs of another culture If we see wrong being done, must we correct it Is it our place to say which side is even in the wrong We like to think of ourselves as the good guys, but the answer is rarely as easy as the world would like us to think Probably that was why Iain M Banks novels were fascinating but hardly ever as fun as he wanted them to be These are dark books, with weighty themes.But, the action sequences But, the wholly creative worlds and worldview But, the mouthy robots.Yes But But, how manyvariations on a theme could there be The man sighed Lost in his thoughts, he didn t notice the small drone, still radiating black and white, flashing toward him, twin multi bladed knife missiles extended.Epilogue Wow, are we landing already Closing his book, the reader glanced at his wife, attempting to stretch her limbs in the cramped confines of her seat After folding his tray table, he slid the novel into the seat pocket in front of him, scratched absently through his shirt at the raised scars that covered his back Yep, you were out like a light the entire trip As the plane touched down, the cabin filled with activity, the sounds of passengers yanking their carry on bags from under seats, turning on their cell phones to reconnect with the world on the ground.There was no activity in the seat to the reader s left Even as the couple squeezed past him to retrieve their bags, the man remained motionless, his head lolling, his chin pressed to his chest The woman regarded him quizzicaly as they moved down the aisle Man, that guy must have taken something strong, he said He didn t budge His seat belt was still on I noticed, the reader said Oh, I almost forgot here s your pillow I borrowed it while you were sleeping Oh, were you able to nap at all Nope It was nice and quiet I decided I d finish my book instead The reader smiled Full of StarsPrologueAdam Palmer wandered the aisles of the bookstore Oraccurately, what had once been a bookstore the shelves, where shelves had not been removed, replaced by gaping holes of gouged plaster, held only a meager supply, the tattered remnants of an everything must go sale that had long gone Adam, already discouraged after fighting through a teetering wall made up of dented copies of America By Heart and A Shore Thing, held out little hope for finding much better at his ultimate destination the barran wasteland that had once been Sci Fi Fantasy.It was, indeed, not a pretty sight He d thought himself prepared still, he stumbled as he rounded the Horror shelves, where a battered copy of a Dean Koontz Frankenstein novel lay, forlorn and forgotten The shelves were in ruins Asimov, Clarke, Brin, even Bova the first section was entirely bare In the distance, he could make out crushed boxes that had once held various installments of The Wheel of Time though lacking true substance, those empty, yet weighty volumes had been consumed by hungry readers seeking sustenance Curiously, a whole shelf of Goodkind sat pristine and untouched, save for a single missing copy, clutched in the bony hand of a withering corpse Curiously, there was no stench of decay The books seemed to be calling to him, their bright covers promising Adam turned quickly away.He rounded another corner and gasped How could this be There, in the tie in section, an entire row of torn, but still readable Star Wars books His joy quickly dissolved as he scanned the spines A Truce at Bakura Shadows of the Empire Children of the Jedi He grimaced Not much But it might be enough to last him to the next shuttered Borders It was just a few miles A soft laugh behind him Adam jumped and whirled around, heart hammering, still holding something with a cover so creased he could barely make out the name Kevin J Anderson There was a woman standing just a few feet away, dressed in a strange, skin tight black suit, wearing a collar trimmed with white fur She was holding a single thick novel, a trade paperback se of Weap was all Adam could make out Adam Palmer the woman said Yes I have been looking for you I understand you are a special man, a man of discriminating taste Adam smirked Maybe What s the point, these days Unless you want to get an e reader Or order online It is true, she agreed Still, I think I have something you ll be interested in Where I come from, we have a different way of doing things But you ll have to trust me She turned and began walking away Adam caught another glimpse of the book in her hands A Culture Novel Intrigued, he began to follow Wait The woman had stopped suddenly, turned You ll need to leave that here, she said, taking the Star Wars book from Adam s hands He gripped it for a moment, surrendered You won t be needing it She smiled Let s see if we can t find you a proper science fiction book


  2. Kevin Kelsey Kevin Kelsey says:

    It s better for me to say nothing other than This is an absolute masterpiece Read it 2020 reread edit Yep, it still stands On a second read there are just an amazing number of subtle nuances throughout this thing that I didn t pickup the first time through.


  3. mark monday mark monday says:

    WATCH OUT, SPOILERS but I will try to keep things vague.the name of the game is Influence you re a good progressive super society, you don t want to interfere too much, just enough, in the small but important ways that will put this little not so super society onto the right path on the path towards respect for life and individual liberty, on a path away from domination and plutocracy you want to work from the outside of it all, subtly, whispering in this ear, supporting that action, slowly WATCH OUT, SPOILERS but I will try to keep things vague.the name of the game is Influence you re a good progressive super society, you don t want to interfere too much, just enough, in the small but important ways that will put this little not so super society onto the right path on the path towards respect for life and individual liberty, on a path away from domination and plutocracy you want to work from the outside of it all, subtly, whispering in this ear, supporting that action, slowly moving and manipulating things in just the right direction so that things end up just the right way you can t do it yourself of course, that would be too obvious so you employ an agent you have suspicions about this agent but in the end it does appear that your goals align but what you don t know is that the agent in question is playing his own game, and the name of that game is Self Abnegation if you are about to read this book please keep in mind this note about its structure Use of Weapons employs two narratives in alternating chapters the first narrative moves forward in time the second narrative is composed of flashbacks in reverse chronological order plus a prologue and two epilogues that occur entirely outside of the narrative.SECRET RAMBLINGS view spoiler I have this sick side of me that I rarely let out of its locked room much like The Culture, I m a good progressive, against violence and pro humanism, let s talk it out, let s understand the context, let s realize that there are no true binaries and we are just humans and we should all be moving forward together yeah yeah yeah, I truly do believe that and yet this sick side of me lurks there, wanting to not just be a decent human being but also wanting to smite my reactionary foes and not just smite hurt I want to punish them for the things they ve done and I want that punishment to be painful and emotional and physical and fucking traumatic at the very least as traumatic as what they ve visited on their victims and then I want to kill them that s not too attractive in general, so I m rather shy about letting these thoughts surface in public instead I just donate annually to places like The Center for Justice Accountability, which is all about punishing these motherfuckers who think they can torture and slaughter at will and then just slink away into the shadows.Iain Banks definitely understands this side of me because he clearly has this side to himself as well and I m going to persist in referring to him in the present tense because authors are immortal as far as I m concerned this side of Banks has popped up in every novel I ve read by the man he wants to be a righteous, bloodthirsty avenger too fortunately he knows that nothing is ever simple and straightforward and if a person feels this way, wants to do these things, wants to break the unjust upon the wheel of justice then maybe there s something about them him me that is broken too Banks is definitely not the type of host who is going to make you your favorite cake and then let you eat it too he ll let you have a few bites but then he ll smash your face right into it.so when that intelligent, charming drone goes on a berserk killing spree and horribly slaughters those brigands intent on rape and murder and sexual slavery, he will make sure all of my pleasure buttons are pushed they will die in horribly graphic and bloody ways, and deservedly but he ll also make sure I realize just how sick it is that people even have those sorts of buttons indulging in those sorts of pleasures feels good but it is just about the opposite of human growth hide spoiler okay, the novel itself in a word brilliant the characters are interesting and sympathetic the structure is absorbingly complex nearly half of the novel is composed of separate mini adventures in a variety of locales with a changing set of premises and characters these almost short stories are wonderful to read, in particular if you can slow down and take them as they are separate adventures but they are all a part of a whole their inclusion is not random they share similar themes on such topics as the futility of trying to achieve true justice, the futility of understanding human nature, the futility of trying to find meaning in either the movements of history or the actions of an individual that s a lot of futility, but Banks makes these little adventures so thoughtful and moving and often ambiguous that the futility is masked by the pleasure a reader can take in witnessing an author at the height of his powers construct a multi leveled story that is telling many stories simultaneously the overarching narrative itself is quite compelling but rather half baked as well Banks clearly doesn t have much interest in creating a story that is all about satisfying resolutions and triumphant climaxes he creates a thesis and then explores it, expands upon it creating a cohesive or emotionally satisfying story is a subordinate goal his theses will always dominate his narratives at the end of Use of Weapons, the reader learns that everything is cyclical and so will be happening again and again and again societies will hurt their citizens and societies will hurt other societies individuals, even the bravest, the cruelest, the most righteous are simply that one individual in a whole universe of individuals and so what can one individual truly do human nature is fucked up all weapons will always be used, especially the human ones and so I closed this rich wonderful book with all of its amazing adventures and I felt deflated, melancholy, depressed Banks doesn t make it easy for anyone not his characters, not his societies, and certainly not his readers


  4. Manny Manny says:

    I d prefer to sit on the floor, thanks No, really I ll feelcomfortable that way.I m sorry Oh, just something I read It doesn t matter To be honest, I d rather not talk about it.


  5. Bradley Bradley says:

    This is a rather surprising novel I mean, on the one hand, it is filled with glorious ultraviolence, satisfying all atavistic tendencies, but on the other hand, it s almost poetry, devoted to all the ideals that the Culture is known for Peace, objectivism, minimalistic good, and respect Where does war really fit Well, in the end, there s always a niche for everything, and, indeed, everyone So what was so damn surprising I can t, I won t, tell you sigh It s a long story, full of daring do, This is a rather surprising novel I mean, on the one hand, it is filled with glorious ultraviolence, satisfying all atavistic tendencies, but on the other hand, it s almost poetry, devoted to all the ideals that the Culture is known for Peace, objectivism, minimalistic good, and respect Where does war really fit Well, in the end, there s always a niche for everything, and, indeed, everyone So what was so damn surprising I can t, I won t, tell you sigh It s a long story, full of daring do, future feeling, peace striving effort.It s also a story told backward, a reflection of now told one scene in the past going further and further back, fleshing out and building the character of the One Who Uses Weapons, eventually ending the book where he began sigh I m sorry This was and exhausting tale, thrilling and surprising I just have to sit down a moment Thanks, Manny, for the beautiful notion This book, like all that I ve ever read by Iain M Banks, is brilliant By all rights, it shouldn t be It s full of action, smart dialog, and overt messages That should be enough for most tales But no, he always goes that one extra step and pulls a twist Bravo A virtuoso performance It s a real art.This chair isn t really that comfortable, but I did have to sit I think it ll go very nicely in my living room


  6. Dirk Grobbelaar Dirk Grobbelaar says:

    The Minds did not assume such distinctions to them, there was no cut off between the two Tactics cohered into strategy, strategy disintegrated into tactics, in the sliding scale of their dialectical moral algebra It was allthan they ever expected the mammal brain to cope with.Okay, so this gets off to a rocky start the early chapters in this book are a bit odd, almost as if they were written by someone other than Banks Or is it just Banks being Banks, and giving the reader the old one The Minds did not assume such distinctions to them, there was no cut off between the two Tactics cohered into strategy, strategy disintegrated into tactics, in the sliding scale of their dialectical moral algebra It was allthan they ever expected the mammal brain to cope with.Okay, so this gets off to a rocky start the early chapters in this book are a bit odd, almost as if they were written by someone other than Banks Or is it just Banks being Banks, and giving the reader the old one two because he was known to do just that But once it becomes clear that you re dealing with a rather unique linear forward and linear reverse story structure it is somewhat easier to start putting things in perspective Or is it Let s see What we have here are two stories being told, in alternating chapters, one moving forward in time to its conclusion and one moving backwards in time to its conception They re related, mind, so things make sense once you get into your stride In fact, they are inextricably linked, because the one is concerned with the main story as per any normal novel while the other is concerned with the emotional state of the protagonist In other words who is Cheradenine Zakalwe Or something like that A dark crop of stars reached out towards him, picked him up softly between vast fingers like some delicate ripe fruit In that immense enfolding he felt deliriously sane, and understood then that in an instant any instant, and with only the most minute of efforts he might understand everything, but did not desire to He felt as though some awesome galaxy quaking machinery, always hidden under the surface of the universe, had somehow connected itself to him, and dusted him with its power.This, the third third Culture novel is an extremely good book, but not the easiest to digest both in terms of subject matter and narrative It is upheld as one of the finer Culture novels by many, and deservedly so, but it certainly isn t the most entertaining one so far, for me, that distinction still goes to Consider Phlebas He opened the cottage door wide You could see anything in the rain The individual drops became streaks with the slowness of the eye they merged and re emerged as cyphers for the shapes you carried inside you they lasted less than a heartbeat in your sight and they went on for ever.He saw a chair, and a ship that was not a ship he saw a man with two shadows, and he saw that which cannot be seen a concept the adaptive, self seeking urge to survive, to bend everything that can be reached to that end, and to remove and to add and to smash and to create so that one particular collection of cells can go on, can move onwards and decide, and keeping moving, and keeping deciding, knowing that if nothing else at least it lives.And it had two shadows, it was two things it was the need and it was the method The need was obvious to defeat what opposed its life The method was that taking and bending of materials and people to one purpose, the outlook that every thing could be used in the fight that nothing could be excluded, that everything was a weapon, and the ability to handle those weapons, to find them and choose which one to aim and fire that talent, that ability, that use of weapons.A remarkable book with an interesting paradox at its centre.4 stars


  7. Tim Tim says:

    Probably Bank s best science fiction novel and one of his best works generally Cheradinine Zakalwe, Diziet Sma and Skaffen Amiskaw are, together, his most interesting group of characters The structure of this novel makes it worthy of note on its own Written in interwoven chapters, it is made up of two alternating narrative streams one indicated by Arabic numerals and the other by Roman ones One moves forward chronologically, while the other moves in the opposite direction yet both are abo Probably Bank s best science fiction novel and one of his best works generally Cheradinine Zakalwe, Diziet Sma and Skaffen Amiskaw are, together, his most interesting group of characters The structure of this novel makes it worthy of note on its own Written in interwoven chapters, it is made up of two alternating narrative streams one indicated by Arabic numerals and the other by Roman ones One moves forward chronologically, while the other moves in the opposite direction yet both are about the central, tragic character, Cheradinine Zakalwe Despite being the third of Banks Culture science fiction novels to be published, he wrote a muchcomplex version of this story in 1974, before any of his books saw print He later said it was so complex it was impossible to comprehend without thinking in six dimensions He credits fellow Scottish author Ken McLeod with getting him to sort this baroque novel into a publishable form Zakalwe is a rogue, a military genius, an assassin, a sad case and an utterly sympathetic character all at the same time A mercenary shaped by his experiences as the perfect soldier, he s taken, refined and utilised by the supposedly benign and pacific Culture for their nastier dirty tricks operations The moral ambiguity and ethical contradictions of this are not lost on Zakalwe himself or on his Culture handler, the Special Circumstances operative Diziet Sma Gloriously grostesque, sharply observed, bleakly satrical and written with Baink s unique ability to make the most vile aspects of war and violence lyrically beautiful and richly ironic at the same time, this is the great Scottish master at his finest A book to loan to anyone who thinks science fiction is dumb


  8. Richard Richard says:

    Ian Banks is one of the most overrated authors in science fiction.Allow me to qualify that He is not a bad writer This book is just about interesting enough to complete It s very sad that he is currently dying of cancer I guess it s good that he attracts fans of the literary genre to read sci fi But the god like reverence with which he is praised is entirely unjustified.I had read Consider Phlebas years ago and dismissed Banks as uninteresting The recent news of his impending death bro Ian Banks is one of the most overrated authors in science fiction.Allow me to qualify that He is not a bad writer This book is just about interesting enough to complete It s very sad that he is currently dying of cancer I guess it s good that he attracts fans of the literary genre to read sci fi But the god like reverence with which he is praised is entirely unjustified.I had read Consider Phlebas years ago and dismissed Banks as uninteresting The recent news of his impending death brought out a lot of fans online, and many admitted that Phlebas was not great, but the majority recommended Use of Weapons as their favourite Culture book.Maybe the Culture was pretty groundbreaking in the 80s It s hard to judge now It doesn t feature any ideas that would excite a hard sci fi fan in 2013 The focus is on the characters rather than any technology, but only the protagonist s character is actually interesting, and even that is achieved mostly by the cheap method of making him a cypher who is slowly revealed by flashback sequences throughout the book Some of these stories within a story are good, but there is also a huge amount of waffle that could have been cut by a good editor.Really the only reason to plough through the boring narrative to the end is to get the flashbacks for the full revelation of the protagonist s past But it makes me suspect most of the preceding dull story was invented just as filler to provide the final twist I guess Banks is making the point that all wars are the same and blur together, and it doesn t really matter which side wins But a book where all the plots are the same and the outcomes don t matter is not interesting to read Even the final revelation is unsatisfying we finally get a complete list of the events of his life, but we still don t know his motivation or understand exactly why he did any of those things We can guess I suppose literary readers like to read between the lines and speculate so they can feel clever but I think that is the author s job


  9. Manuel Antão Manuel Antão says:

    If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Dark Underbelly of Utopia Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks From the moment I picked up the Culture books eons ago they changed the way I viewed the natural world around me, adding a layer of mysticism to every tree, every rock and every hill along with a wonderment of what untold stories each has born witness too think it s often a combination of the book itself and the moment it comes into your life I was one of those textbook ca If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Dark Underbelly of Utopia Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks From the moment I picked up the Culture books eons ago they changed the way I viewed the natural world around me, adding a layer of mysticism to every tree, every rock and every hill along with a wonderment of what untold stories each has born witness too think it s often a combination of the book itself and the moment it comes into your life I was one of those textbook cases I had read just about everything by Enid Blyton in English as a child, and had never managed to make the jump and what a jump it was to anything else, with a very tiny vocabulary Then when I was 16, an older friend who I thought was super cool and would have done anything to impress said that I should try Heinlein I promptly got Have Space Will Travel and read it, not really understanding what I was reading but at the same time fascinated and excited by the twisted tale It was at that point, I realise now, that I vowed to try and find out what literature was all about Many years and many hundreds of books later, I m still on that wonderful journey, and I m thankful for having come across him at just the right moment in my life It was this fact that allowed me, many years later, to discover Banks It was just happenstance without that I wouldn t be here writing these words


  10. Brad Brad says:

    June 9, 2013It s a sad day for me I won t speak for anyone else on the passing of Iain M Banks I will only speak for myself, and for myself this is a sad, sad day I came to Banks circuitously A close friend of mine was teaching Wasp Factory in a class he d designed about serial killer literature, and of all the books on his syllabus he told me to read Wasp Factory, so I did, and I loved every page And then I drifted away from Banks for a good long while until my sister moved to Scotland June 9, 2013It s a sad day for me I won t speak for anyone else on the passing of Iain M Banks I will only speak for myself, and for myself this is a sad, sad day I came to Banks circuitously A close friend of mine was teaching Wasp Factory in a class he d designed about serial killer literature, and of all the books on his syllabus he told me to read Wasp Factory, so I did, and I loved every page And then I drifted away from Banks for a good long while until my sister moved to Scotland and told me she d bumped into him at her Borders, so I picked up Complicity and loved it and drifted away from Banks again until China Mi ville kicked me in the ass and told us all, in his list of fifty works all good socialists should read, to read Use of Weapons, so I did, and Ithan loved it it became a part of me, and my drift away from Banks was over I ve been devoted to his work ever since His books are always looming over my head in the stack beside my bed, butimportantly they are always hovering in my mind, working on me in my deepest recesses, making me ponder the world around me in ways I didn t before Use of Weapons is probably the book of Banks that has affected me most Zakalwe is not a man I would like to be, like Ursula LeGuin s Shevek, but he islike the man I am I get him, I empathize with him, and I work on me the way he worked on himself It s a funny relationship that I have with Zakalwe, because it is a relationship I also had with his creator I never knew Banks, not really, and he never knew me although he knew me all too well , and now we will never know one another But my non relationship with Iain Banks exemplifies what I think matters about writers, their writing and their readers In his way, Banks meant as much to me and who I am every day as my parents, my ex wife, my wife, and my kids and all those others I ve loved Just like my teachers and coaches and priests and friends, Iain Banks was my family We were metaphysical blood I will miss him until I die I wish the Culture had uploaded his consciousness today I wish they d made him the Mind of a General Systems Vehicle GSV called In Search of the Perfect Dram Then I could climb aboard and mess with some alien races for Special Circumstances and join in the search for the perfect whiskey That would be heaven Fantasy aside, I hope you are resting in peaceful oblivion, Iain I loved you You will be in my mind always


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Use of Weapons ❮Reading❯ ➵ Use of Weapons ➭ Author Iain M. Banks – Thomashillier.co.uk The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military actionThe woman k The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military actionThe woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thoughtThe drone known as Skaffen Amtiskaw knew both of these people It had once saved the woman s life by massacring her attackers in a Use of Kindle - particularly bloody manner It believed the man to be a lost cause But not even its machine could see the horrors in his pastFerociously intelligent, both witty and horrific, Use of Weapons is a masterpiece of science fiction.