I consider Banks to be one of the finest writers I've ever read, full stop. While I enjoyed this book, it had a number of confusing exchanges and the plot itself was more complicated than the majority of fiction I've read. An open mind comfortable holding many separate threads of activity in apparent orthogonality will be required to enjoy this book fully.
Novel is the word which comes to mind for this book and perhaps the series which follows. Not driven by a single character or plot, it's more like Foundation on Mars. The most in-depth book I've ever read on colonization in the future, the details on the progression of the Mars colony is simply stunning. Clarke said it should be required reading. I'd say it's a challenging, but ultimately rewarding, read for advanced sci-fi enthusiasts.
Another space opera, but completely different in almost every way. This book is well known for its unique choice of almost entirely female pronouns which initially sounded quirky but was executed quite purposefully. It also had the most dialog of probably any book I've read, which was quite the departure from the action heavy plots in recent reads. This book took home the triple crown of awards, so it's definitely worth the read.
The Paper Menagerie, Mono no aware, and The Litigation Master and the Monkey King are all very powerful stories, capable of evoking strong -- mostly sad -- emotions. I'm especially impressed with the titular story, very well done.
Reading Banks, Ken Liu, and Chiang at roughly the same time makes for an interesting foray into short fiction. Comparitively, Chiang tends to focus more on idea tales; developing a concept to a rational extreme and then arguing for an interpretation of the outcome.
I’ve been trying to wrap my head around short stories lately. Mostly, if not entirely, based in his Culture world, Banks tells several smaller tales and one larger one that range from really weird to quite good. Ultimately I was awed again by his writing skill and fascinated by his concept of the future as embodied in the Culture themselves. Since it builds on an existing world, it’s difficult to compare to other collections. It also struck me as very experimental in form, like Banks just had to do something different with each story.
This was an excellent space opera, fun to read, engaging and entertaining. That it's also the start of a series makes it even more exciting as I have more to look forward to in the future. Critically I have some points which I felt could have been improved, but that could be said of almost every book. If you're looking for a big story set in the context of the solar system, I think you'll enjoy this.
A collection of short writings organized by themes which eloquently describe some of the challenges of dealing with words all day long. Enjoyable.
Well, this one was a bit befuddling. The choice of structure, where the storyline proceeds forward on odd chapters and backwards on even -- while clever -- ultimately made the book more difficult to appreciate.
Writing is simultaneously a delightful and agonizing experience. Anne captures this duality and provides perspective that only experience and hard-fought wisdom can procure. Plus, she's quite funny.
A longer review will be required at some point, as it's difficult to sort out a simple characterization of the book.
Fundamental. Foundational. Many of the other books I've read on writing must have cribbed from this one.