Against a Dark Background

Against a Dark Background

by Iain M. Banks

Paperback(Original)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316036375
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: 07/01/2009
Series: Culture Series
Edition description: Original
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 504,329
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Iain Banks came to controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. Consider Phlebas, his first science fiction novel, was published under the name Iain M. Banks in 1987. He is now widely acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation.

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Against a Dark Background 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fun book, even considering that it was quite heavy reading at times. The novel takes place exclusively around one star, and the couple of earth-like planets and moon-colonies that revolve around it. The novel would become heavy reading when the star-system's rich history is insinuated. Quite randomly, it seems, would the reader get clues and fragments of the violent and glorious past of this handful of worlds. That's very similar to what the main characters were doing - researching the past trying to hunt down ancient artifacts. This was a society, that, while able to travel to every planet in the system, was really in the middle of a dark age. The Holy Grail of artifacts, the LAZY gun(not LADY gun, as the official review states), is beyond their technology's ability to reverse engineer. The main characters are not always likable, but they are always interesting. Maybe this is not one of Bank's more well known books because it lacks a certain polish. That's just a stab in the dark, however. I stumbled across a dog-eared mass market copy in the early nineties, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I stumbled across ANOTHER dog-eared mass market copy two or three years ago, and enjoyed it even more. I've only read two other of Bank's Sci-Fi creations: Player of Games and Look to Windward. This is still my favorite. Oh, BTW, this is not a `culture' novel at least there's no obvious connection to the culture story-line. I'm currently in the middle of The Algebraist, which prompted me to look up `Background'.
clong on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Against a Dark Background was my first Banks, and I came to it with high expectations (because of glowing praise for Banks on another book site which I follow). I would have to say that this book was a pretty big disappointment. Sharrow is one of the least sympathetic protagonists I can remember; in fact of all the characters only the android is mildly interesting. The plot meanders with little rhyme or reason; people do stupid things with little reason but to move the plot from one dead-end to a new tableaux. The final confrontations of the last 100 pages or so are reasonably entertaining, but hardly sufficient payoff to compensate for the rest of the novel. All in all, I'd say skip this one. Fortunately, I have gone on to other Banks' books, and found them generally quite a bit better.
name99 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Vicious stuff; the kind of thing you expect from Banks. The man is just amazing, an imagination more fecund than anything else I've ever encountered. Like Use of Weapons we have the destructive sibling rivalry, like Consider Phlebas we have a grand tour, meeting strange and marvellous things along the way. But most important, in the background we have the *large* theme.In the end, like the Culture novels, this is a book about the point of life. The setting is a planetary system millions of light years from any other star and thus incapable of expanding beyond a very finite space. Given this limitation, civilizations have risen and fallen countless times. The current system is an extreme version of the 20th century west mixed with the medieval --- wealthy corporations as more powerful than states, excessive bureaucracy and legalism --- but the specific details are not that important. The important issue is the question of should it be changed? And if so, too what? If it should be changed, how much suffering is justified in doing so? And what's the point of change, anyway; the new system will be just one more regime like countless regimes that have gone before. What makes Banks so interesting (and so unpalatable to many readers) is that he has no answers to these questions, and that he doesn't have much faith in the stock answers society provides. IMHO, for the most part his SF books, including this one are arguments by example against the pat ways in which society answers these questions when they arise.This book is especially upsetting in that he doesn't even offer up the hedonistic comfort of the Culture books, the idea that man is optimized for pleasure and might as well concentrate on that. All we get is a very Buddhist endless cycle of suffering with no escape.
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Another great work by a master sci-fi writer.
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