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Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
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Consider Phlebas (original 1987; edition 1987)

by Iain M. Banks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,936136928 (3.75)1 / 293
Member:SubEuclid
Title:Consider Phlebas
Authors:Iain M. Banks
Info:London : Orbit, 2005, c1987.
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:science fiction, The Culture

Work details

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks (1987)

  1. 60
    Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds (voodoochilli)
    voodoochilli: As good as the Revelation space series, so if you want more check out Banks Culture novels.
  2. 40
    The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (EatSleepChuck)
  3. 30
    Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds (nik.o)
  4. 20
    The Waste Land and Other Poems by T. S. Eliot (sturlington)
    sturlington: To understand the title allusion.
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English (131)  Italian (2)  Romanian (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (136)
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
Iain Banks consistently breaks the golden rule of Sci Fi: It's ok to invent stuff, but you have to stay consistent.

If you keep inventing stuff just in order to keep the plot going, and if following up on what you've invented already contradicts what you're writing next, then what you have is fantasy. A space opera.

Some people like this kind of stuff... I don't. ( )
  meekGee | Jul 6, 2015 |
There is too much science in my life for me to really enjoy science fiction anymore, but a novel like this, much like its author, does very well at transcending genre. You might like this novel if you appreciate questions like What is life, What is worth killing/dying for, Which love is more important, or What is that thing way smarter than the rest of us really thinking? ( )
  randalrh | May 25, 2015 |
Consider Phlebas was just not the right book for me. While I thought it was well written and appreciated some of the ideas, the end result left me cold.

Consider Phlebas is a long space opera set against the background of an epic war between two civilizations, one based around artificial intelligence and the other around biological organisms, both fighting because of their differing ideologies. Instead of being about the people running the war, the story focuses on a mercenary, Horza, who seems to be drifting through it.

A sentient AI, the Mind, becomes trapped on a planet of the dead. Both sides want it, and one hires Horza to go after it. This end goal is set up in the first two chapters, but it takes Horza three hundred pages to get to the planet.

I feel like some of this should have been cut. I particularly disliked chapter six, which was a very gross foray into cannibalism that I don’t think was at all necessary. The book also kept cutting to a woman who lived in the Culture, the AI based civilization. She was not at all related to the plot and never interacted with any of the other characters, so I guess her sole purpose was to illuminate the theme of the novel by reflecting on the war? I don’t think her chapters were necessary, and it would have made for a tighter novel if Banks had found some way to weave her observations into the main story thread.

A lot of Consider Phlebas deals with the idea of the war and the death and destruction being pointless and inane. Due to this, it’s no surprise that the characters drop like flies. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel anything or even care when these people died. I kept forgetting that some of them existed or who they were. Most of these characters felt like little more than names, and I never became attached to even the protagonist.

On the positive side, the prose was excellent and there were some imaginative ideas, even if they weren’t as explored as they could have been. The war and ideological conflict was fascinating. The game played in places about to be destroyed was very interesting. In general, the world building was quite good. The book also had enough drive to keep me reading it, which is worth something.

However, overall Consider Phlebas just felt dull. When I finished, I wondered why I’d read it. Plenty of people love this series, so there’s obviously something I’m missing. Still, I have no idea who I’d recommend this one to.

Originally posted on The Illustrated page. ( )
1 vote pwaites | May 24, 2015 |
A marvelously satisfying read on many levels - as a classic quest, as hard SF, as social commentary, as pure adventure, as an anti-war book, and full of well-turned metaphors.

From the “Appendices: the Idiran-Culture war”
Historical perspective
A small, short war that rarely extended throughout more than .02% of the galaxy by volume and .01% by stellar population. Rumors persist of far more impressive conflicts, stretching through vastly greater amounts of time and space…. Nevertheless, the chronicles of the galaxy’s elder civilizations rate the Idiran-Culture war as the most significant conflict of the past fifty thousand years, and one of those singularly interesting Events they see so rarely these days.

Statistics:
Length of war: forty-eight years, one month.
Total casualties, including machines (reckoned on logarithmic sentience scale),
medjel and non-combantants: 851.4 billion (+/- .3%).
Losses:
ships (all classes above interplanetary) - 91,215,660 (+/- 200);
Orbitals - 14,334;
planets and major moons - 53;
Rings - 1;
Spheres - 3;
stars (undergoing significant induced mass-loss or sequence-position alteration) - 6.
  maryoverton | Apr 27, 2015 |
Yes, but Kindle.
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
The choice of name was definitely not an attempt to gain literary credentials or he would have ditched the ‘camp aliens and laser blasters.’ He has acknowledged the similarities to the poem in that the main character in Consider Phlebas is drowning and later undergoes a ’sea-change’ – this being a motif running through The Waste Land – but that is far as it goes.
But there are a number of parallels between the two works, whether deliberate or not on Iain’s part. To prove my point I will take a brief look at Consider Phlebas and then at The Waste Land, followed by examples of how the latter informs the former.
added by elenchus | editJohn Black blog, John Black (Oct 4, 2012)
 

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Banks, Iain M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hopkinson, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keynäs, VilleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll,PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Idolatry is worse than carnage."

The Koran, 2:190
"Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you."

T. S. Eliot,
'The Waste Land', IV
Dedication
to the memory of Bill Hunt
First words
The ship didn't even have a name.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031600538X, Paperback)

"Dazzlingly original." -- Daily Mail
"Gripping, touching and funny." -- TLS

The 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:47 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The 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. Consider Phlebas - a space opera of stunning power and awesome imagination.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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