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review 2017-04-29 02:55
Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
Use of Weapons - Iain M. Banks

Series: Culture #3

 

Well that was disappointing. I was tempted to give it 3 stars overall while reading (before I got to the end) since although the present-day chapters were fairly interesting, the past chapters were duller and sometimes maudlin. Then I got to the “twist” at the end and was disappointed by it. I had caught the references to it earlier and was hoping I was wrong but… nope. If it weren’t Banks, I’d probably drop my rating lower, but I guess I’ll keep it at two stars.

 

The present-day chapters follow Cheradine Zakalwe as he’s recruited by Diziet Sma (I like her first name) to convince this old political to come out of retirement to put off a war. Zakalwe’s skill is winning wars, basically, so the “past” chapters show various scenes from his past, some of them boring and some of them brutal. These interleaved chapters make up the book. There’s also a drone called Skaffen-Amtiskaw who starts off as a bit of a jerk but becomes more interesting as the book goes along. Sma doesn’t have much of a personality, unfortunately, despite her cool name.

 

I read this for the Water Works square in booklikes-opoly since there’s water on the cover. It turns out that it’s a grounded battleship in front of a city on the cover and it seems like it was grounded in drydock in a shipyard so there would be water around it somewhere, so I think the stuff that looks like water is water. Hopefully that clears up some confusing elements of the cover (while opening a whole new can of worms as far as confusing context goes). Anyway, the book is 411 pages, so that’s another $5 for my bank, bringing my total to $48.

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text 2017-04-28 22:08
Reading progress update: I've read 277 out of 411 pages.
Use of Weapons - Iain M. Banks

Learn woodwork; metalwork; they will not make you a carpenter or a blacksmith any more than mastering writing will make you a clerk.

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text 2017-04-28 02:34
Reading progress update: I've read 123 out of 411 pages.
Use of Weapons - Iain M. Banks

The real reason why so many aliens are humanoid (said in a bar, naturally):

'Alcohol in the dust clouds. Goddamn stuff is everywhere. Any lousy species ever invents the telescope and the spectroscope and starts looking in between the stars, what do they find?' He knocked the glass on the table. 'Loads of stuff; but much of it alcohol.' He drank from the glass. 'Humanoids are the galaxy's way of trying to get rid of all that alcohol.'

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review 2017-03-23 19:33
Star’s End: An Inner Space Opera
Star's End - Cassandra Rose Clarke

Man, I really like Clarke's stuff. Not real flashy, but emotionally detailed.

 

My latest at B&N SciFi & Fantasy

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review 2017-03-16 03:01
On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard
On a Red Station, Drifting - Aliette de Bodard

I didn’t know what to expect from this novella, and I picked it up more or less on a whim, so I was understandably impressed.

 

We have Linh, a former magistrate from a provincial planet in this future Dai Viet empire, arriving on Prosper Station as a refugee to take advantage of family ties she has with the station’s administrative family. She’s also running from potential charges against the empire though, so things have the potential to get interesting.

 

There’s some low-key but intense family drama alongside a faltering AI that runs the station and Linh gets mixed up in all of it. It was raw but it also felt real. I was very satisfied with the ending, so I’m thinking I’ll go with a verdict of “very cool.”

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