Do you prefer Iain Bank's SF or 'normal' fiction novels?

gully_foyle

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Just finished Walking on Glass which typically ran separate story threads, one of them sci-fi come fantasy. The characters refer to archaic weapons and technology in a way that makes them sound like they are from The Culture. Doesn't hold a candle to his SF books, but I'm interested to explore. I have a copy of Dead Air in my TBR pile. Anyone read it? And I shall have to hunt down a copy of Crow Road. He seems to have a thing for crows I've noticed.
 

Rodders

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I personally prefer his SF works, although i have only ever read one of his non-SF books. (Of his SF, i much prefer the more accessable Culture Stories.)
 

Allegra

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Non 'M' books so far only read The Wasp Factory and Walking On Glass. I liked both especially The Wasp Factory. But, true, they are not at all as brilliant as the Culture books. And they gave me a strangely distant feeling. While I feel very much at home when reading the Culture books.
 

gully_foyle

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Non 'M' books so far only read The Wasp Factory and Walking On Glass. I liked both especially The Wasp Factory. But, true, they are not at all as brilliant as the Culture books. And they gave me a strangely distant feeling. While I feel very much at home when reading the Culture books.
I suspect he doesn't do the real world half as well as his invented worlds.
 

Rackon

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I don't know that I have a preference, and there is a bit of overlap besides. I suspect Banks has more fun with his SF, and that's contageous. But I enjoy both his literary and speculative work.

The thing is I like the way Banks writes, whatever genre he's working in. There are a couple books where I felt the rants got a bit in the way (e.g. Dead Air). Canal Dreams was just not that well done IMO, either, though I'm not sorry I read it.

The first Banks novel I read was The Bridge, which I loved then and which remains among my favorite books today. It's very well written, too...this stands as one his best MO, of either genre. I also read and liked The Crow Road, Complicity, Whit and Espadair Street. I haven't read Garbadale. The Wasp Factory...I don't know what I truly think of it, a thoroughly nasty, brilliant little tale with a great twist at the end, darkly comic, but rather distressing. In the US, Transitions is an "M" book. I liked it a lot, but it's very SF to me.

I can truly say with hand on heart that I haven't read a Banks SF novel I haven't enjoyed or liked, including The Algabraist and Feersum Endjinn. The Algabraist takes a little while to get rolling, but when it does it's a glorious read. I loved Feersum Endjinn...and I confess I enjoyed Bascule's dialect - in the end it was quite...touching.

I'm not as fond of Consider Phlebas as a lot of you, it doesn't seem as polished as his other SF. Use of Weapons is probably my favorite Culture book, but Player Of Games is prolly the easiest place to start for most people...naturally, I didn't start there, lol.

I haven't managed to read Excession and Look To Windward yet, they're next...and looking forward to Surface Details.
 

fightoffyourdemons

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I've only read the non-sci-fi ones so far as my local library's sadly lacking in anything in the science fiction vein. Anyone got any suggestions which sci-fi ones I should start with?
 

TheTomG

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I would recommend reading Excession after you read at least 2 or 3 other Culture books. It has such a focus on the Minds that I don't think it can be fully enjoyed until you have become familiar with The Culture first.

Favorite Culture novels are Player of Games, Use Of Weapons, Consider Phlebas and Excession.

I love both his SF and mainstream though. I like how he often gives breath and life to being Scottish in a way that few others do, and in a way that reminds me of Trainspotting. Scotland often only appears in literature as a place of history and clans, and I enjoy works that capture something of what it is to be a Scot in this modern world. I felt perfectly at home in many of his non-SF works too.

Favorite non-SF are The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road, The Bridge, Walking On Glass, Espedair Street, and Complicity.

The televised adaptation of The Crow Road was very good too. I saw The Wasp Factory as a play and really enjoyed that too, it was an interesting modern production using television sets and things.

By and large it is Banks' characters I like. They always seem very believable to me, full of all the flaws and nobility that I find in most people. Even the 'perfect' Minds are full of their flaws. And perhaps I feel so at home because his politics and world view are ones I can relate to - the concept of The Culture where everyone is free to do as they wish as there is no longer disease, money, and all that, is very appealing! And the Star Trek version of that seems kind of bland and banal in comparison to the vibrant canvas of The Culture where people indulge in all sorts of strange things, just like people would if given that freedom.

So, I actually like both of sides of his works. He does have some novels I don't much care for too, again on both sides. That said, though, he is one of only two authors where I own pretty much ALL their books :)

PS - been trying to find the movie of Complicity (renamed Retribution over in the US) for some time, but not tracked it down yet. Trying just to rent it rather than purchase it, just in case I don't like it that much! Anyone seen it?
 

Andrew Short

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Personally ive only been reading his Sci-FI and aslong as theres more to read ill be sticking to that but Ill be reading his Mainstream titles after that. So far reading the Sci Fi has been thoroughly enjoyable
 

Barracooda

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The Wasp Factory is amazing but apart from that I much prefer his Sci Fi. Can't believe there'll be no more Culture novels. Matter was supreme and great to see him on such good form after countless gems. Wasn't such a big fan of the Hydrogen Sonata.
 
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