``Opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.''
WARNING, WHOPPING SPOILERS AHEAD. I write these pages as notes, records
and reminders to myself of books I have read. You are welcome to peruse these
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|By far and away Banks' best ever. This is my second most favorite book of all time (after Frankenstein), and contains all the elements top-notch sci-fi needs: rock hard science fiction, fast-paced action, emotionally engaging human dilemmas, and a range of backdrops from surface-borne to ship-borne and interstellar space.
On top of that this book magnificently spans and manages to connect a breathtaking range of scales. Suddenly, one day, a black sphere re-appears in the cosmos (before you ask, this is nothing like 2001: A Space Odyssey). The book then explores the effect that this inert object has on a fleet of ships, individual ships (in Banks' Culture universe, ships have souls, remember), ship's avatars, ship's crews, and on individual human beings caught up in circumstances that only Banks' imagination could have invented. It's a wonderfully rich universe of eccentric ships and forty-year suspended pregnancies, human/human mixed sex and human/ship and ship/ship conflicts.
Despite the out-of-this-world proportions, everything is plausible and believeable. The story flows along with Banks' usual lucid style.
Totally and utterly brilliant.
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