Skip

Transition
February 1, 2011 3:27 AM   Subscribe


 
Cool, looking forward to watching these later. Nearly finished Surface Detail - loving the OU fucking shit up.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:49 AM on February 1, 2011


Interested parties can read my review of Surface Detail here.

No biggie or anything, but seems a better idea than just slamming it (or some version thereof) down in a comment.
posted by Wolof at 3:56 AM on February 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


The STV links are broken. Mods? [1] [3] [4]

Also, when I grow up, I want to be Iain Banks.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 3:59 AM on February 1, 2011


Haha got to say I was also slightly confused by the use of "OU" in the post. An OU (rather than the OU) interviewing IMB would be something indeed.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:00 AM on February 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


About 30-odd minutes into the OU interview, Banks mentions that someone chose the Culture novels as a specialist subject on Mastermind. A quick google turns up an edition of the fanzine "The Banksonian" (pdf), which has the questions and answers. As a long time fan, and having read the Culture novels several times, I'm ashamed to say I only managed 3.
posted by Jakey at 4:29 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, the Mastermind questions are hard. Only got 7.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:44 AM on February 1, 2011


3 for me too. They're none too easy, but at least now I know what CREW stands for. Celebrity Mastermind let someone answer on the Back to the Future films recently. Pitiful.
posted by biffa at 4:47 AM on February 1, 2011


On my way to collect Surface Detail from the library after work tonight so v timely - thank you!

Also, 5.
posted by dmt at 4:57 AM on February 1, 2011


EndsOfInvention? Geez, how many Culture ships do we have as Metafilter members anyway?
posted by Justinian at 5:24 AM on February 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter as a nursery for liberal AIs that like to be aware of everything? The idea has merit.
posted by duncan42 at 5:53 AM on February 1, 2011


Geez, how many Culture ships do we have as Metafilter members anyway?

ROU_Xenophobe
Zero Gravitas
I Said, I've Got A Big Stick

There's also Feersum Endjinn (a non-Culture IMB book) and Bora Horza Gobuchul (which is both a character in a Culture book and subsequently a Ship named after the character).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:02 AM on February 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I only got six. :^(
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:22 AM on February 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter as a nursery for liberal AIs that like to be aware of everything?

The multi-ship conversations in Banks books -- particularly in Excession -- always remind me of Metafilter. Something about the constant, friendly, but mildly exasperated bickering.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:49 AM on February 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


I only got six. :^(

I hope one of them was the CREWs question, otherwise we might have to look into VFP-ing you...
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:54 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kiss My Ass is my favorite Culture ship. Make of that what you will.
posted by Mister_A at 7:37 AM on February 1, 2011


You can take the CREWs, just leave me the gridfire projectors. And this paddle-ball game. And this remote control.

(yes, I know that Xenophobe was already demilitarized by UoW. Or at least... it said it was... but so did Limiting Factor.)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:42 AM on February 1, 2011


Seven. Couldn't remember/guess the C in CREW.
posted by permafrost at 8:01 AM on February 1, 2011


Interested parties can read my review of Surface Detail here

Oh, well you can read MY response to your review in a famous newspaper TOO, Mr. journalism man!

I've just written down my reaction to your review in the space below the chess column in today's Times, and left it on a park bench in Red Lion Square, Holborn, London.

I'd hurry up and check it out as soon as possible, as it is raining here and my densely argued paragraphs - which prove beyond any reasonable doubt that your review WOEFULLY misunderstands the 5 major thematic climaxes and 63 sub-climaxes of the novel in question - are getting a little soggy.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:20 AM on February 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm clearly in a tiny minority here, but I've never been able to get into his science fiction - although I'll happily accept that enough people really like it that there must be something there. Quite enjoyed his early fiction though: for me the Wasp Factory was the best thing he ever wrote.
posted by rhymer at 8:36 AM on February 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


stv are the al-jazeera of scottish parochialism.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:50 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kiss My Ass is my favorite Culture ship.

My favourite is Ultimate Ship II.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:57 AM on February 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've always thought Killing Time was very apropos, given an ROU's centuries of inactivity punctuated by a few milliseconds of frenetic misbehaviour.
posted by bonehead at 9:26 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Got 8 out of the mastermind questions, but I'm counting the car, even though I forgot the exact model. (I knew the color and make.)

Have to take off soon, going to download the audio and listen to it.

I've been reading a bunch of conservative scifi authors lately, so running into this is a really nice breath of fresh air. (Especially as they don't consider themselves particularly conservative. At least the leftist writers I read know where they stand politically.)
posted by Hactar at 9:29 AM on February 1, 2011


Hopefullly next they will interview Iain M. Banks. Now that guy can write!
posted by Aquaman at 10:40 AM on February 1, 2011


In the Open University interview, around 5:57, it looks like he's being buzzed by a knife missile.
posted by jiawen at 10:40 AM on February 1, 2011


Woo-hoo! I got 8! I blame not having read Inversions and Look To Windward more than once and it being about six or seven years ago that I read Consider Phlebas. And I hummed "Space Oddity" arbitrarily as I answered them too :P
posted by longbaugh at 11:32 AM on February 1, 2011


(also it was Ultimate Ship The Second not Ultimate Ship II. I'd have disallowed your answer ;) )
posted by longbaugh at 11:33 AM on February 1, 2011


Here's another Iain M. Banks quiz for yese:

Say a person has read Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games. Say this person liked the latter better, but thoroughly enjoyed both. Which Iain M. Banks novel should this person read next?
posted by Mister_A at 1:02 PM on February 1, 2011


Use Of Weapons, then the rest of the Culture novels (all good IMO).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:28 PM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


(also it was Ultimate Ship The Second not Ultimate Ship II. I'd have disallowed your answer ;) )

I couldn't remember how it was written out, and the iPod with the book on it was all the way over there so I couldn't be bothered to go get it. Plus I had a headache. And it's a cold day. And, uh, I'm drunk.

Say a person has read...

Seconding Use of Weapons: to me it feels like the book where he finally nailed down who he wanted the Culture to be and how they fit into the wider galaxy. It took him until Matter to fully populate his galaxy with Involveds on the same level as them, though.

Surface Detail is my favourite right now, but that's probably also because it's the most recent. I shot through it twice in quick succession; it could be ten times the length it is and I'd be happy.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:40 PM on February 1, 2011


I'm clearly in a tiny minority here, but I've never been able to get into his science fiction
posted by rhymer at 4:36 PM on February 1


Well, you're not alone. I have always much preferred Banks's non-SF to his SF. I thought "Consider Phlebas" was pretty good and then it all started to slide into too much geekery and fussiness. Everyone raved about "Excession" and I struggled to finish it once I realised it was basically going to nick the basic idea from "2001".

The Culture is certainly a great idea and he has worked it pretty well - I'm not saying I dislike his SF - but for me it's the best of his straight stuff that's most engrossing and affecting. "The Crow Road" is a goddamned marvellous read, and stuff like "Complicity" and "The Bridge" are wonderfully gripping and dark.
posted by Decani at 1:43 PM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hopefullly next they will interview Iain M. Banks. Now that guy can write!
posted by Aquaman at 6:40 PM on February 1


You know that in the UK he uses "Iain Banks", sans "M", for his non-SF stuff, right?
posted by Decani at 1:45 PM on February 1, 2011


I've not got around to reading either Matter or Surface Detail as yet due to other reading commitments but they are in the pile awaiting my attention. Why do I have to spend 8.5 hours a day at work* when I could be reading dammit! That's a third of the day gone to waste.

I've never met anyone** who didn't enjoy Excession either so I'd heartily recommend that.

*spent reading MeFi...
**only about three or four of the folks I know IRL actually read anything other than those relentlessly depressing "Child Called It" exploitation books so take that with a rather large serving of salt.
posted by longbaugh at 1:57 PM on February 1, 2011


MUST. PREVIEW. POSTS.

I also loved Crow Road, Complicity and Song Of Stone in his non-sf guise. The Business was a bit wanky however. The Bridge is excellent for learning how to speak Scotch correctly.
posted by longbaugh at 1:59 PM on February 1, 2011


As a huge Banks fan I have to say I'm very envious of his glasses. I've been looking for frames just like that for some time now and haven't found anything quite right. Anyone recognize them?
posted by bswinburn at 2:23 PM on February 1, 2011


Say a person has read Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games. Say this person liked the latter better, but thoroughly enjoyed both. Which Iain M. Banks novel should this person read next?

I think Use of Weapons is one of the best two or three novels Banks has written, M or no M, so this is a no-brainer. On some days I'd argue it is the best he's written, full stop, but I do think a case can be made for like The Crow Road. But UoW is certainly my favorite Banks.

Surface Detail made me very happy though. I enjoyed it greatly. More than anything he's written in quite a while.
posted by Justinian at 4:39 PM on February 1, 2011


I'd argue that Use of Weapons is one of the best two or three novels ever written by anybody. It is absolutely brilliant and pitch-perfect in its delivery.

Player of Games is the quintessential starter Culture novel. It is not as deep as any of the others but neither is it as hard to understand as most of them can be.

Once you have Weapons and Player under your belt, Consider Phlebas is a darker and richer look at the Culture from an outsider's perspective. Definitely not to be attempted before Player if you can avoid it.

I found Excession very contemporary and shallow. I was very disappointed that he abandoned the magic hand-waving for the excessive detail of nanohandwaving. I think what he was trying to do was to humanize the ship Minds, but I don't think it worked.

Matter was OK but built around the kind of gimmick kids make out of Lego. OK, I read Ker-Plop too.

Surface Detail was pretty good. I liked it more than either Matter or Excession. It still suffers from Trying Too Hard syndrome in some ways the earlier novels didn't, but he seems to be finding his center again as far as the Culture goes.

Meanwhile, The Algebraist wasn't Culture but was probably the best SF he's ever written other than Use of Weapons.
posted by localroger at 6:40 PM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Definitely not to be attempted before Player if you can avoid it.

I dunno, CP is where you're supposed to have been introduced to the Culture. Without, unfortunately, ever having heard of the Culture before. Which is difficult for a SF reader these days so perhaps that ship has sailed, but it's a shame because CP is a far deeper and more moving tale if you come to it fresh.
posted by Justinian at 7:57 PM on February 1, 2011


The Bridge is excellent for learning how to speak Scotch correctly.
posted by longbaugh at 9:59 PM on February 1


ScottISH. When Mr Banks (and indeed, I) speak scotch we're talking whisky. :-)
posted by Decani at 5:15 AM on February 2, 2011


Thank you Decani, but as a native of these British Isles I am familiar with the correct term for a Scotsman, in much the same way that I am familiar with their descriptive term for an Englishman, viz. "cunt". I find that I often descend into incomprehensibility when drinking whisky and am thus able to communicate with the Scotch a lot much more betterly.

Some of my best friends are black Irn Bru drinkers &c.

(Yep, I did just use viz. as well as &c. What a pretentious bastard I am).
posted by longbaugh at 2:42 PM on February 2, 2011


the Hell parts of Surface Detail were really traumatic to read, but to counter that, three pages from the end of the book I guessed what was coming and it was totally awesome ; )
posted by memebake at 3:06 PM on February 2, 2011


three pages from the end of the book I guessed what was coming and it was totally awesome ; )

I thought it was possible that was what was going on pretty early in the novel. I was sure of it about 2/3 of the way in though I didn't know if it would be made explicit. Actually I thought the last line was unnecessary and would have preferred it had been left out.
posted by Justinian at 2:43 AM on February 3, 2011


Actually I thought the last line was unnecessary and would have preferred it had been left out.

Ah, possibly, but then people like me wouldn't have got it, and that would have been a shame.

Rot13 spoiler: V nyfb pbzcyrgryl zvffrq gung Inghrvy jnf na nantenz bs Yvihrgn
posted by memebake at 6:42 AM on February 5, 2011


I actually missed that as well, primarily because it has been so very, very long since I read the relevant novel. But the meeting scene in which one of the ship minds says that you-know-who probably doesn't even remember what he actually believes anymore is a dead giveaway.
posted by Justinian at 1:22 PM on February 5, 2011


« Older There is great chaos under heaven – the situation...   |   Night Watching at Home Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post