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Search tags: Iain-M-Banks
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review 2019-10-08 04:00
The Wasp Factory
The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

This takes place on an island in Scotland, with a wild cast of characters. The beginning was quite compelling, and I could tell early on that I would like the author's style. His prose and imagery is beautifully horrific.

 

Frank's perspective is fascinating. He spends his days performing a sort of personalized magic. He kills things for his sacrifice poles. He names his tools and imbues them with power by covering them with his blood and urine. He has an altar decorated with various powerful things, tokens from different important life events. He holds his crotch and closes his eyes while repeating secret catechisms. The eponymous Wasp Factory is a tool he uses for divination.

 

It's interesting contrasting Frank with his brother Eric. Before the start of the book Eric has become a delusional lunatic. Frank thinks he went crazy after a traumatic event--he was too sensitive, "thought too much like a woman." Eric, who was clever and kind as a boy, is overly aggressive and nonsensical as a man broken by the world. Frank, on the other hand, has never left the island and is a different kind of mad. He overcompensates for his lack of a dick by "out-man[ning] those around me...I became the killer, a small image of the ruthless soldier-hero almost all I've ever seen or read seems to pay strict homage to." He believes killing "is what men are really for. Both sexes can do one thing specially well; women can give birth and men can kill." The twist ending, however, makes all this incredibly ironic. I won't say more than that. But it's amazing.

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text 2019-10-07 03:46
Reading progress update: I've read 158 out of 185 pages.
The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
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text 2019-10-06 00:27
Reading progress update: I've read 87 out of 185 pages.
The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
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review 2019-07-10 17:17
Weapons, war and masculine pursuits
Use of Weapons - Iain M. Banks

I love Iain Banks as an author and as a human being (may he rest in peace) and it is only my usual dislike for science fiction (with a few feminist exceptions) that discouraged me from picking up this book earlier.

 

I should not be surprised that it's a book about weapons, war and masculine pursuits - it says so on the tin. It took me a while to become engaged with the story, but the narrative achieved an unexpected result - I cared about the barbaric soldier at its centre and I empathised with his feelings of guilt and regret.

 

The full extent of the chair and warship images doesn't become clear until near the end, and the time shifts frequently threw me so I had to work hard to keep abreast of the action. The payback was worth it and although I may not grab any more of Iain M Banks' sci-fi, I am glad I read this one.

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review 2019-06-03 21:03
Excession / Iain M. Banks
Excession - Iain M. Banks

In Excession, the Culture's espionage and dirty tricks section orders Diplomat Byr Gen-Hofoen to steal the soul of a long-dead starship captain. By accepting the mission, Byr irrevocably plunges himself into a conspiracy: one that could either lead the universe into an age of peace or to the brink of annihilation.

 

When I intially approached Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels, I was unconvinced that I was going to like them. Now, here I am, finished number 5 and I am a total convert. There was a lot going on in this one and I maybe didn’t love it all, but the Affront made up for it.

Yup, it was all about the revolting tentacle beasts! They are unremittingly patriarchal, violent, militaristic, all about meat eating, cruel, and anything else that the Culture stands against. Not only do they know that they’re an affront (hence their name) to the Culture, they are proud and loud about it. They are the villains that you can love to hate--such a caricature of the bad guy that they’re hard to take seriously. They’re so revolting that they’re adorable.

Add to that an espionage plot carried out almost entirely by super-intelligent AI spaceships, various people stored in one ship’s memory banks (are they dead or not in this state?) and an alien object apparently from another, older universe (the Excession of the title). However, I don’t care if you’re just a glimmer in some machine’s memory banks, I don’t think any woman would write a character who has chosen to stay 8 months pregnant for 40 years! I call bullshit on that, Mr. Banks. 

Unfortunately, we lost Mr. Banks in 2013. I’m glad I still have a number of his novels as yet unread and can look forward to more time spent in the Culture.

Book 319 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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