Excession by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This happens to be exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. I wanted intelligent galaxy-spanning space opera with a handful of baseline humans getting caught up in an existential conundrum that the far-superior AI Ships (and Main Characters) had to face.
And we even get a BDO to spark an enormous intergalactic war. Woo Woo! Of course, the BDO (big dumb object) is nothing of the sort. In fact, it might be smarter than all of them combined. Who knows? I loved the speculation.
Life, love, sex, conspiracy, extremely high stakes, this novel really pretty much had it all, but I think I had the most fun chuckling over all those damn ship names. "I Blame Your Mother", "I Blame My Mother", "Use Psychology", "Jaundiced Outlook", "It's Character Forming", "Unacceptable Behaviour", "Serious Callers Only", and "Meat Fucker" just to name a quick few that tickled my fancy.
This novel kept my attention much better than the previous novels, but honestly, I think I liked those previous ones better on the re-read than the first shot. Maybe I'm just getting used to Banks's writing, at long last, or all my fancies were tickled in just the right measure in just the right times.
These are of a higher quality Space Opera than practically anything else out there, but it's of a very particular sort. Tongue-In-Cheek? Absolutely. Out to prove that a beneficent galactic society can still have some real humdingers for stories despite the apparent lack of conflict? You bet.
It's like a master's course in Proving It Can Be Done despite all the doomsayers. It's nothing like any kind of Space Opera I've ever read, again. Still. Continuing on. It's pretty damn awesome.
I want to continue these Culture novels like something fierce, but I have so much on my plate already. I'll schedule them for one a month from now on, and savour them in delight. :)
View all my reviews