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Consider Phlebas [Paperback]

Iain M Banks
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 26 2008
"Dazzlingly original." -- Daily Mail"Gripping, touching and funny." -- TLSThe war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender. Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

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From Library Journal

In the midst of a war between two galactic empires, a shapechanging agent of the Iridans undertakes a clandestine mission to a forbidden planet in search of an intelligent, fugitive machine whose actions could alter the course of the conflict. Banks ( Walking on Glass ) demonstrates a talent for suspense in a new wave sf novel that should appeal to fans of space adventure. For large sf collections. JC
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Banks is a phenomenon: the wildly successful, fearlessly creative author of brilliant and disturbing non-genre novels, he's equally at home writing pure science fiction of a perculiarly gnarly energy and elegance' William Gibson 'There is now no British SF writer to whose work I look forward with greater keenness' The Times 'Poetic, humourous, baffling, terrifying, sexy - the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more' NME

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By monicae
Really it's 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the book, though it took me quite some time to get through it. I did find it episodic with gimmicks to keep the protagonist engaged. I have always wanted to read a sci fi novel with a secret agent bent to it so this was my wish. Horza is James Bond w/o the pannache.
I tend to like my sci fi with great characterization and with some kind of philosphical message on the way of the world. This really had neither element to any great degree. It was a straight forward story with some not entirely successful proclaimations on humanity and the pursuit of perfection. Idirans were religious fanatics blind to anything but their own purpose. The culture basically were bored hedonites. One wonders what would have happened if the Idirans hadn't declared war.
I guess the worst thing I can say about this book is that after I finished the last page, I didn't find myself thinking about it's implications at all.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I was turned onto the writing of Iain Banks by a friend of mine who is a brilliant biological scientist who works in the same dpeartment at the University as me. Banks is his favourite author and science-fiction, as for many other career scientists - myself included - his favourite genre.
Scientists are notoriously hard to please when it comes to sci-fi, because we deal in the inner workings of the universe on a daily basis. We are hyper-critical of sci-fi in general, and most of us tend to agree on what is good sci-fi and what is utter drivel. While we get entranced by strange, futuristic worlds and weird non-human characters, we do not want a Star Trek-esque space soap-opera.
So where does Iain Banks fit into this? Well, to put a fine point in it, his work is paper-bound flawlessness. The concepts buzzing through that man's head would sear the brain of many a lesser author and probably each and every reader out there. He is not one of those who makes up new words to try to convey a thought to us; rather, with a few deft sentences, he transforms the concept he sees into something which you can easily visualise and appreciate.
The various locales of Consider Phlebas - and I'm not sure who/what a Phlebas is; the term comes from a line of a poem by TS ELiot, as I recall - are likewise mindblowing in concept; particularly the Vavatch Orbital which is pictured on the cover; and I'm pretty sure that's where the idea for the SpacePort in Disney's Treasure Planet film came from.
Well, what about the story? Alternatively subtle and punch-in-the-mouth direct, exhilirating and depressing, humorous and bleak, it contains aspects of something for everyone. The main characters are exceptionally vividly detailed; character arcs are well-defined and never veer off course.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I must have read a different book... Aug. 15 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
_Consider Phlebas_ is one of the few books I have thrown against the wall upon finishing. The ending is sort of a grand "f*** you" to the reader and characters.
While Banks has a lot of nifty and neat ideas, there are lots of dumb people doing dumb things throughout the novel. (E.g. "I know you're not really the captain, but rather an eerie doppelganger, but that's ok with me.") The motivation of some of the main characters is confusing and/or absent. It was frustrating because while some aspects of the Culture were neato (i.e. interesting but ultimately unrealistic) I could never connect with the characters.
I was very disappointed in this book. (Sorry.)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Sept. 21 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Overall an entertaining book, however I didn't like the end of the book as much as I thought I would. I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wicked, Haunting SF! April 27 2004
I spent some time after I read this book trying to justfy whether the truly incredible and unforgettable conclusion to this novel made up for what I felt was a meandering, directionless beginning. It does. Ten times over.
As a science fiction novel it is an excellent work. For a man who hadn't previously written science fiction this is a truly a revelation.
The book opens in prison with a man drowning in the faeces and urine of his captors. It is claustrophobic and compelling as only drowning in human waste can be. From there it seems to lose its way, as the main protagonist moves from one unrelated and bewilderingly extensive action scene to the next. Characters are introduced in some detail, developed or left veiled in portentous mystery, only to be forgotten. I found myself asking, where is this going? What is happening?
And then somewhere, about half way through, almost indentifiable to a particular page, the world changes. The whole book, the chararcters, the description and the plot come abruptly to life. It is as though Banks has had an epiphany.
The narrative follows the actions of Horza, an enigmatic and withdrawn secret agent, as he attempts to capture a Culture Mind lost in forbidden territory.As Horza finally gets round to the task at hand the tension suddenly and dramatically mounts. Darkness falls and the subterranean base on the polar world in which this book is, for the last part at least, set vibrates with intensity and drama.
The final 200 pages or so are some of the most vivid and exciting I have read, leaving me with images and memories which I will not forget for a long, long time.
The novel is not necessarily provocative or philosophical.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Jinmoti of Bozlen Two,
Iain Banks was born in Scotland in 1954 and published his first book - "The Wasp Factory" - in 1984. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2008 by Craobh Rua
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely horrible
I can't believe some would enjoy wasting their time reading this... book.

Unimaginative, dull, unattractive characters, stumbling through all of... Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2006 by ET
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Dated; Still a Good Read
Compared to all the top notch SF out there, Consider Phlebas is middle of the road. But taken for what it is, it's pretty good. And what is it? Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by furioustyle77
4.0 out of 5 stars Consider _Look to Windward_.
Another reviewer suggested a 3.5 rating. I'd mostly go along with it. 4 stars seems to be too much, while 3 is overly harsh. Read more
Published on June 17 2003 by Jane Avriette
5.0 out of 5 stars action, ideas, character ... somewhat dark
An excellent book, full of compelling drama. If you like action and great space opera, this is one of the best. Read more
Published on March 4 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice book
This was the first book I read by Iain M. Banks and I truly liked it and have tried to read them all since then. I love the Culture concept and would sure like to live there :-)
Published on Aug. 1 2001 by Frimann Stefansson
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 actually. Well worth reading, but ...
I first read Consider Phelbas about 8 years ago, and I just reread it for the 2nd time.
CP is Bank's first "Culture" science fiction novel. Read more
Published on July 22 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best books ever written
It is extremely unfortunate that Mr. Banks is not better known in the US, as this is indeed a masterpiece of science fiction. Read more
Published on June 17 2001
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