I’ve read all the Culture novels. Took me some years.
So it took me some years because it’s written pretty slowly. Or it reads that way, how do you say it? That’s the style and you’d best try to like it, or it takes you years to finish the books.
I don’t think the Culture novels are Art, or Literature. I think they mostly excel in the world buillding.
I’ll now list the novels from favorite to less favoritd. Disliked even. The list is losely in my head before writing this and I can say the main thing I’m scoring on are world building, Ideas (philosophies) and joy of reading.
The Player of Games. I don’t know if it’s the best. It’s the first I read, happily accidently the first one I’d recommend anyone to read first. I’ve gifted it to many people, I suspect no one read it, hehe. I think it’s rude to ask someone if they’ve read your gift. Also if they’ve read and liked it, they’ll tell you. So I’ve only asked my brother, he read one chapter.
So the Player of Games reads very easily. It’s because you get swept up in the competition: The Game. I liked the book, but it’s a bit like candy: yummy to indulge in, not *that* much substance. Though that substance, the message did leave an impression. The world built, left an impression on me. The world that carried the name of the Game (the name is on the tip of my tongue… Also I like the Culture decided: fuck this world (the society on it, rather), it needs to come down.
Consider Phlebas. The second one I read. Maybe I’m just terrible with lists. So this one took me a year or something. I read many books before finally finishing it. It. Is. So. Slow. The last part, with the tunnels are so slow.
All these things I can’t stop thinking about, after, now, many years, so are good:
The orbital being disintigrated.
The Game (better than the game in that other book?)
The scene around the game, really dark.
The wonderful sad story of a love lost, on the ice planet.
The fight of the mercenary group.
The one mercenary accidently dropping to his death because he used an anti gravity suit, on an orbital, which doens’t have gravity, just spin.
Use of Weapons. This is the worst one. I hated it. No interesting world building. The literary component, which many think makes it the best, I thought lame and badly written.
(This isn’t a list that’s in order. I’m going through the Wikipedia list.)
The State of the Art. I didn’t read this, just the first story. I’m not big into short stories, which is a shame, really, I admit.
Excession. I really have to reread this one, because I didn’t get it at all.
Inversion. Didn’t read this, but it’s not an Culture novel. I want to read the Algebraist as well, this non-Culture novel, which I believe is on a gas planet as well, just like Look to Windward, or maybe it deals with sublimation, something like that.
Look to Windward. I didn’t like it too much, but maybe that’s because Culture novels don’t make for the best holiday reading. I read it in the US. The story and concepts are good, but I didn’t enjoy reading the book. I can’t seem to figure out, if this the book with the gas planet. That was the most impressive thing in the whole series. Maybe that was Excession?
Matter. It was pretty great, but didn’t read *that* inspired. The shell planet, and the way that you discover it reading, was incredibly awesome.
Surface Detail. Okay-ish. The hell and the joy with which Banks wrote it, are great. As are the (in simulation) battles, for instance between the amoebe.
Hydrogen Sonate. I just finished it, so I’m not totally sure, but I think it’s pretty average. It was nice to get *some* more detail on the subliming and also it was nice to get to know some ships (and their Minds) better.
Okay, list, then:
Player of Games, Consider Phlebas, Use of Weapons... I’m too lazy to really make a list. Which one is with the gas planet?!