Surface Detail New Culture book

biodroid

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#62
Re: Surface Detail

J-WO - Yes it's very good so far, if not a bit confusing but thats ok. The only thing stopping me from reading enough is my heavy eyelids after a days work at the office. If that was not the case I would try and read a lot more.
 

biodroid

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#63
Re: Surface Detail

Please tell me this book gets better, it's just dragging now. On page 200 of the hardback version and I still fail to see what is happening with the plot.
 

HareBrain

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#64
Re: Surface Detail

I'm struggling with it, I have to admit. I'm on about page 220, having been slowly grinding to a halt for the last few days
Please tell me this book gets better, it's just dragging now. On page 200 of the hardback version and I still fail to see what is happening with the plot.
Looks like you still have 20 pages of dragging to get through, Biodroid! I found it did pick-up after that, but not long-term. I abandoned about page 500, but you might not.
 

biodroid

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#65
Re: Surface Detail

Thanks HareBrain, I will stick it out for another 50 pages or so if not then there is no hope for me, hopefully his other books aren't like this.
 

Joel007

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#66
Re: Surface Detail

I've just started reading this, I like the premise and the concept of shifting theology in the face of evolving technology.

I've read almost all of Mr Banks' Sci-Fi, and this one is thus far living up to the high standard.
 

dnunn0

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#69
Re: Surface Detail

MOOOOOOOOONNBAAAAAAT!!!!!!!!! (or anyone else)

I'm struggling with it, I have to admit. I'm on about page 220, having been slowly grinding to a halt for the last few days, and the only sections so far I've really enjoyed have been Vateuil(sp?)'s and the very first one. Coincidentally or not, these seem to also be the only sections where anyone actually does anything. Otherwise it's just page after page after page of chattily written backstory, fine in small doses but less engaging en masse. Does the book overcome this (for me) problem, or is it pointless for me to carry on?
Holy Smokes! That's the most insightful comment I've read about *any* book in I don't know how long. If you haven't finished the book, then this may not make any sense. If you did finish the book, you may not have HareBrain's excellent insight to see just how awesome a job Banks did on this book. What Subtlety! What Deception!
 

Dave

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#72
Re: Surface Detail

I've been a bit naughty and looked at the last page yesterday.
Please don't skip to it.
I just finished this book yesterday. I've been really wanting to read the whole of this thread for weeks but after reading just a few posts I held back in case it ruined the book for me. In actual fact it is not so great a spoiler really.
What do you think?
All that final sentence hints at is that the Culture were not neutral in the war between the pro-Hell and anti-Hell, as they claimed they were, and that SC most likely planned large parts of this affair, if not every single event. That would be par for the course with SC and is totally believable.

I'm on about page 220, having been slowly grinding to a halt for the last few days, and the only sections so far I've really enjoyed have been Vateuil(sp?)'s and the very first one. Coincidentally or not, these seem to also be the only sections where anyone actually does anything. Otherwise it's just page after page after page of chattily written backstory, fine in small doses but less engaging en masse. Does the book overcome this (for me) problem, or is it pointless for me to carry on?
If you did finish the book, you may not have HareBrain's excellent insight to see just how awesome a job Banks did on this book. What Subtlety! What Deception!
That is a really interesting observation by dnunn0 actually, and HareBrain, you must go back and finish if only to understand your own insightful comments. Personally, I didn't find Vatueil's exploits to be that exciting, nor did I reach the same stalling somewhere around 200 pages in.

Incidently Vatueil is an anagram of 'Livueta', sister of the real Cheradenine in Use of Weapons.

Enjoyed this as it brought me back to the earlier feel and reading of Ian M Banks.
This was a marked improvement on Matter and while there were a few moments of wondering "what the virtual hell is going on?" it all tied together at the end.
Total agreement. I couldn't put his books in any order but this would be near the top of the pile while Matter was just a pile....

Ian, I read your Blog and I think I see your point of view, but don't agree. I think the idea that no one would suspect the substrate for the Hells to be hidden under Vesper's precious estates to be quite conceivable. You also say that "there is no ethical or moral argument which can be used to justify the existence of the virtual Hells", and that" Banks attempt to have a pro-Hell Pavulean senator do just that to Prin" was "empty blustering." But he did justify them all the same, and as you say, "either Banks is spoofing the empty rhetoric of the right-wing when they attempt to rationalise military adventures like the invasion of Iraq. Or, he is showing that there is no acceptable argument for morally repugnant acts." Or, that he is spoofing religion more generally. It is an argument that the 'afterlife' was a technique by Medieval nobles and religious leaders to regulate the behaviour of their subjects. The Hindu concepts of life after death, planes of existence and reincarnation, certainly have a parallel within Bank's Culture.

The descriptions (early on) of Pavulean Hell are brilliant and the book follows Bank's best culture novels with several separate strands being woven into one galaxy spanning tale.
I agree with you on the Hell descriptions, but there were too many strands and characters for my liking. Rather than the usual Banksian two or three stands, this was a little like that film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with everyone racing cross-galaxy to the prize hidden under the gardens of the planet Sichult.

Veppers was a bit of a pantomime character for me.
I wondered if Banks had based him on anyone in particular - some rich industrialist, the Russian Mafia or a certain newspaper magnate, for instance. Maybe its his agent! I guess if I mentioned any names that would be libellous. Maybe it is because he is such an amalgam of everything bad that he just seemed pantomime to you. No one is quite that bad.

Demeisen as the avatar of the Abominator Class war ship "Falling Outside Normal Moral Constraints" was truly a delight.
Demeisen is awesome.
Demeisen steals the book!
 

HareBrain

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#73
Re: Surface Detail

That is a really interesting observation by dnunn0 actually, and HareBrain, you must go back and finish if only to understand your own insightful comments. Personally, I didn't find Vatueil's exploits to be that exciting, nor did I reach the same stalling somewhere around 200 pages in.
Eh? I have no idea how they were insightful -- I assumed dnunn0 was being sarcastic. Can you explain? (Maybe in a short PM if it would need too many spoilers for this thread -- I really don't think I'll go back to the book anyway after this time).
 

iansales

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#74
Re: Surface Detail

Ian, I read your Blog and I think I see your point of view, but don't agree. I think the idea that no one would suspect the substrate for the Hells to be hidden under Vesper's precious estates to be quite conceivable. You also say that "there is no ethical or moral argument which can be used to justify the existence of the virtual Hells", and that" Banks attempt to have a pro-Hell Pavulean senator do just that to Prin" was "empty blustering." But he did justify them all the same, and as you say, "either Banks is spoofing the empty rhetoric of the right-wing when they attempt to rationalise military adventures like the invasion of Iraq. Or, he is showing that there is no acceptable argument for morally repugnant acts." Or, that he is spoofing religion more generally. It is an argument that the 'afterlife' was a technique by Medieval nobles and religious leaders to regulate the behaviour of their subjects. The Hindu concepts of life after death, planes of existence and reincarnation, certainly have a parallel within Bank's Culture.
It wasn't that the location of substrate was implausible, it was the sudden reveal of its location that I found unconvincing.

And yes, Banks could have been - and probably was - spoofing religion. But religion is based upon formalised moral frameworks, and if you attack those frameworks you are by definition attacking religion.
 

Dave

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#75
Re: Surface Detail

And yes, Banks could have been - and probably was - spoofing religion. But religion is based upon formalised moral frameworks, and if you attack those frameworks you are by definition attacking religion.
Banks would have no problem with that, being a committed celebrity atheist and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.
YouTube - Iain Banks: 'I'm an evangelical atheist'

I realise that this book was written last year, but the pro-Hell Pavulean senator's claims that Hell is a requisite to keep people living good lives, I think parallels quite well those 2010 Christmas messages from Church leaders that have attacked “aggressive atheism” and their claims that one cannot have a moral code without the backing of a Faith and its formalised framework.

But I would agree with you that if Bank's intention was attack those formalised religious frameworks, it was a rather poor attempt, an attack against a "straw man" argument really.

And Harebrain, just finish the book. If you are up to page 500, then the most action packed parts are still to come. I assume you have also read Use of Weapons with a double or triple agent who never really knows what side he's supposed to be on or even who he really is.
 

HareBrain

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#76
Re: Surface Detail

And Harebrain, just finish the book. If you are up to page 500, then the most action packed parts are still to come. I assume you have also read Use of Weapons with a double or triple agent who never really knows what side he's supposed to be on or even who he really is.
I only got to around 350, so that's several hours' reading time I really need to use on other things. And no, I've never read Use of Weapons. Please, tell me! I'll pay!

(See, I'm so desperate I'll even make ridiculous promises I've no intention of keeping.)
 

Dave

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#77
Re: Surface Detail

Harebrain, read this thread: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/foru...eradenine-zakalwe-spoilers-read-use-of-2.html
People have started to talk about Surface Detail towards the end of the thread (which makes the question of spoilers a doubly-difficult one now.)

The comments you made about enjoying the exploits of Vatueil are interesting because you don't know who he really is. (But then he doesn't really know who he is either.) dunn0 might have been being sarcastic, but I took him to mean that had you finished the book (and also read UoW) then your feelings toward Vatueil might be slightly different, and as such, that is an indication of the writing abilities of Banks. Also, every bit of that info-dumping and "chattily written back story" does actually come into play later.
 

HareBrain

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#78
Re: Surface Detail

Thanks for explaining, Dave. Now you've done so, I don't see at all why dnunn0 used the word "insightful" -- all I said was that I liked Vatueil's sections (plus whatsername's first) partly because they were the only ones where anyone seemed to be doing anything. I don't see how who he turns out to be has any bearing on that comment.

Anyway, my curiosity is satisfied, ta.
 

pramoda

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#79
Your posting a nice cultural book. I would like know the continuation of this book. Surface detail, Is it a title of the book? Can you give that book edition?

Thanks for the historical cultural book,

Regards.
 

Vertigo

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#80
I think you may have missed the use of the word Culture there pramoda. The "Culture" is a the name of a fictional future civilisation in a series of science fiction books by the author Iain M Banks, rather than a book on historical Culture. Surface Detail is just one book in that series.
 

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