Every new Culture novel by Iain M. Banks is welcomed by a whoop and I like to read them as soon as possible. Hugely enjoyable, so fabulously imagined, just a great little bit of escapism – although they tend to be quite heavy (physically) so perhaps ‘little’ not the best word to describe them. Having purchased The Hydrogen Sonata a couple of months ago, I’ve finally read it. This is the best bit of Christmas holidays – the amount of time I have for making friends with sofa, blanket and books.
The book, by the way, was very enjoyable and well imagined, funny too in places, just not quite as fabulous as some of the others. I do love it when Culture novels heavily feature ship Minds, which The Hydrogen Sonata did, just thought perhaps the story was a tiny bit weak. Not a disappointment by any means, just not one of the best. Have also realised that I’ve never read Use of Weapons, which seems to be a favourite with many Banks Culture lovers so have got that too. Won’t be reading it straight away though as ‘pile of shame’ of unread books has grown quite a bit with some lovely Christmas presents.
The other book I’ve also just finished but not posting separately is Niall Ferguson’s Colossus about America and (un)imperialism. Had it for ages (‘pile of shame’) and it bore some relevance to the course I’m doing at the moment so I thought I might as well read it. It was pretty good too.
I planned a ten mile walk yesterday, worked out the route and transport to and from and then it rained, rained, rained. So instead, I spent the day on the sofa re-reading Excession by Iain M. Banks.
Why Excession when there’s a new Culture novel out? Well, to be honest, I looked up the new novel on Amazon and the reviews and, some Banks fans posted that Excession was one of their favourites and I knew I’d read it before but could not remember what happened in it at all. So I read it again. Getting yourself lost in a Banks Culture novel is a very indulgent way of spending a Sunday, I love the worlds, the various creatures/ life forms and their ways of life but I think, above all, I love the imagination and the eccentric ship Minds. So, Excession was fun to read again.
Over the years, I’ve read most Culture novels, now I buy them pretty much as soon as they come out in hardback for the sheer joy in being immersed in these alien worlds. Can’t quite decide whether to get hardback or kindle version of the new one though and, it turns out that there is one other Culture novel I’ve never even read… Not quite sure how that happened and will have to be corrected. At the same time, my rather large ‘pile of shame’ (books it’s taken me ages and ages to read) is only being reduced at a very slow rate even though I’ve been reading loads over the past few months. This is what always happens, I show best intentions to get through all these books but am very easily distracted into making yet more lists of books I ‘need’. Guess I better make a deal with self – if I can read a Penelope Fitzgerald (have 2 waiting) and the Kate Summerscale divorce scandal one along with finishing Niall Ferguson and at least getting through some of of Michael Wood’s Conquistadores (both of these are ‘helpful uni reading’) then I can do an Amazon order at the end of the month and get lost in another Culture novel. Ambitious…