Thursday, March 20, 2008

Banks is being re-published

Orion Books is republishing Consider Phlebas, my favorite of the Iain M Banks Culture novels. All of the Culture books are excellent reads and should be on the reading list of every sci-fi fan, but I think Consider Phlebas is Banks at his most interesting. Banks is one of the greatest of the world creators and his creativity goes to 11 in this book.

The Culture is Banks' liberal socialist paradise. It is an economy without scarcity and a political system with near total freedom. This makes for a rather boring place for stories, so most of his stories take place on the fringes of the Culture. Despite his admiration for the Culture, Banks is skeptical of power and the powerful Culture is happy to meddle in other societies in hopes of making them more like the Culture. Consider Phlebas is told from the side of the religious Idrians which finds the Culture anathema and fights it in a titanic struggle.

You can read the book as an great story or you can read it as meditation on politics. Either way, this is a must read and it is wonderful that is will be widely available again.

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