Think I'm going to try a Tintin book next, and actually make more of a concerted effort to learn all those useful words I kept having to look up. The only one that seems to have stuch is sanglier, which I can't see me using in everyday conversation.
The other aspect of brilliance in the book is the uncertainty and ambiguity over whether the World State is Utopian or Dystopian — certainly the majority of the citizen are happy and contented, and the little malcontent is much more subtle than in George Orwell's 1984.
The plot is gripping, the characters varied, and the "universe" Iain creates is fascinating, convincing and detailed. If you like sci-fi, then you'll love this.
p.s. Good though this is, I've decided that I've got a bit ingrained with my reading habits. Too many of the books I read in the last year have been by Terry Pratchett or Iain (M.) Banks. If anybody has some suggestions of things I books that might expand my horizons a bit I'd be interested (particularly if you can do it without spoiling the plot and message of whatever book it is). I've just started Brave New World by Aldus Huxley, which is a bit more of a classic and has a much more serious message, but it's still definitely sci-fi.
I wasn't really expecting much, but somehow I seem to have demolished the 300-odd pages in less than a week. It isn't a book that's going to change the world, or even change anybody's life, but it's quite fun, and doesn't suffer in the way `teen coming of age' movies do, in that they left the sex and drugs in.
To be critical, the book is annoyingly American, not so much in the cultural sense (which is obviously part of the book) but in the language of the book itself.
Probably wouldn't pay more than £3 for it, or even buy other books by the same author, but I can think of a few people who'd enjoy it as a light holiday read.
I picked this up for a fiver in Fopp, during one of my occasional rash spending sprees (I think I bought I couple of CDs and a DVD at the same time), but having read it, I feel guilty for having paid so little for such a good book. I'm a pretty big fan of Iain — both his sci-fi and his more mainstream stuff (although I think the distinction is pretty blurred, especially with things like The Bridge and Walking on Glass), and one thing I particularly like is his ability to generate a whole new 'universe' with each new book.
By contrast to his earlier 'Culture' universe, this civilisation is much less advanced, being restricted to STL (slower than light) travel and communication, and the outlawing of AI (which were so prominent in things like Excession).
If I were to criticise this book, I would have to say it leaves me wanting for more, particularly a desire to know what happens to some of the well developed, but under utilised characters in the book.
Anyway, I loved the book, and am planning on rereading Excession in the next few weeks.Rating: 4/5
I got this book for my birthday from my Sister, and was initially sceptical due to the lead character being a PhD student who is sadly delusioned about how good is thesis is. However, the book is a pretty light read, and has provided more than it's share of escapism. The plot is compelling, and Stephen Fry uses an interesting combination of styles to tell the story.Rating: 4/5