Consider Phlebas (Culture Series #1)

Consider Phlebas (Culture Series #1)

by Iain M. Banks

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316005388
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: 03/26/2008
Series: Culture Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 74,704
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.37(h) x 1.50(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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Consider Phlebas 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 474 reviews.
Halykan More than 1 year ago
I'm a fan of Iain M. Banks, and this is the book that made me such. It's an odd novel, detailing the efforts of a member of a genetically engineered race to aid his employers in a war against the Culture, largely by finding the AI of an enemy ship that was thought destroyed. The setting is extremely high-tech - the Culture is post- Age of Scarcity, and there's a lot of rather spectacular bits of engineering along the way, but they're not the real focus of the novel. This is, like most good books, one driven by the characters. For those of you who are already Banks fans, you might have divided opinions about this book. I personally like it because I see the Culture as a dystopia, not a utopia, and of all the novels he's written about them this one comes the closest to reflecting that sentiment. It's also a rather depressing book, so if you're looking for a bit of light reading to brighten your day this is not the one you need. It's a thought-provoking novel, the sort that'll still be in your head days after you finish it, and well worth reading in my opinion. Banks is one of the best SF writers alive right now; this novel will show you why.
Pica13 More than 1 year ago
I'm really trying to give Iain a chance. I just got done reading this book and I have read 2 others of his books and one thing really holds true with this author...he screws up the ending. No Im not looking for a love conquers all or I am the one neo- esque ending but his ending are so blah as to make the rest of the book meaningless...He does the same thing as dean Koontz does...he build up this great story with cool characters and different plots twisted in. You become embroiled in it and then he just poo poos the ending out and your like "Huh?" "What?" "Wait that's it Iain/ That's all you got buddy? That's all your gonna give me? It's like he got bored with his own story and just stopped being an amazing author...sigh...I digress...can't beat 99 cents though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is what happens in life, especially war. We learn to care about people experience their lives and emotions while reading. However, this book define, in a sense, ourselves. Perhaps that is why so many find it uncomfortable. Looking in a mirror is not always pleasant. It shows the best the worst and the mundane. This is not escapist,it brings up emotions and makes you think. If you chose to read it superficially as entertainment only I suggest you read it again on abdeeper level.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The vast majority of the book flows rather well, and the characters get you fairly involved in the story. The ending was fairly depressing, but entirely possible given the circumstances within the novel I suppose...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is the first in a chronological series by Banks known as the Culture Novels. This series explores, in essence, what it means to be. Simply phenomenal writing and a vast complex universe with a rich cultural heritage from all forms of life are woven into a rich tapestry that implies we can become more than we are as humans and as beings. Did I mention the writing? Banks is a true master, so much so that distinguishing this as genre fiction is a disservice. I highly recommend this book as the jumping off point to the Culture series as this novel is, in many ways, an introdiction to Banks grand society.
Sapphire-Blue-Chrys More than 1 year ago
First 90% was a good book. End sucked in a meaningless, no point to it, complete let down, way. Like another reviewer said, I wanted to throw my nook across the room. It was not artistic, it was like he just got tired of writing. I will never ever read another book by this author.
The_Old_Spoke More than 1 year ago
From my experience reading five of his books and checking Goodreads and other Internet sources, it seems likely that all of Iain Bank's writing has distinct elements of torture and cruelty in it. So I'm not sure I need to buy any more of his books. His ideas on The Culture in the latest (Hydrogen Sonata) don't seem any more evolved than what I just read in the first Culture novel (Consider Phlebas). He has lots of interesting ideas but I may have seen all the good ones already.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first Iain Banks book, and I have to say I was disappointed. I haven't read much Space Opera of this sort, but I just could never get hooked on this glacially paced novel, with hard to like or even dislike characters. I am unlikely to read further in this series.
drakevaughn More than 1 year ago
I’m usually a great fan of Iain M. Banks, so I was thrilled to see Consider Phlebas for sale for only a buck. And indeed, the first chapter was thrilling, exactly what I have come to expect from Banks. The problem occurred after the initial rush when the book began to drag on, drag some more, and then just kept dragging. Even the final action-packed chapters were a bore, lasting far too long, and really, by that point, I hardly cared about the outcome. It was only by sheer will that I was able to finish the book. According to Banks, this was a rewrite of a novel he’d done early in his career. I’m sure he gave it a good polish, but the excess baggage shows. Frankly, it moves at a snail’s pace, including the action sequences. However, the biggest flaw was the underdevelopment of the protagonist Horza. Almost superhero-like in his abilities, it was impossible to find any empathy for his cause. His struggle was as meaningless as the war between the Culture and the Idiran empires. There was a lot of blustering philosophical talk, and it came off as a battle of ideas, rather than divergent cultures. So instead of a story with heroes, antagonists, struggles, etc…the book was more of a metaphysical debate. And that’s my greatest pet peeve about sci-fi, philosophy trumping the narrative. All in all, it’s obvious that Consider Phlebas was one of Banks’ earlier works. From the lethargic pace, underdeveloped characters, and overuse of philosophy, the book never quite hits the mark. I’m just thankful Banks was able to overcome these flaws in his later works and become the author I adore today. So, unless you’re a hardcore fan, I suggest skipping this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It poses a couple of interesting questions but at times this looks more like an action novel than a sci-fi novel. Unnecesarily long descriptions of battles and fights that add litlle to the plot or to the few interestinf ideas posed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Picked up this book when it was on sale for 99 cents and still feel i got ripped off. Borring dialog, borring descriptions, borring characters, borring plot, borring story. I think u get the message, had to skip through most of the book to find any intersting parts, which were very few. Dont waste your time or money on this one. ZERO STARS!!!
Alisa Beatty More than 1 year ago
Another book that i had to force myself to read and didnt get very far into. Glad it was only .99.
RMacGegor More than 1 year ago
Decent story for a vignette but 430 pages when it would be best suited to 100. I bought this for 99 cents having never heard of the author. I would not consider myself an avid SF reader, but certainly an avid reader. The author spends considerable energy setting stages that don't ever get used. I don't know if he planned or executed further novels in his Culture series which use any of the information, but if you read this plan on spending significant time reading pages of information to set a scene where a two line conversation occurs - then its off to set another scene. Interesting ending but it falls flat and there is no hook to engage the reader in further investigation of the story arc. Who's Phlebas? Still not sure...
Winterlight00 More than 1 year ago
I got this after seeing it on Nooks Author Spotlight. The blurb was hilariously over the top. Theres some great sf here but it gets drowned in dragged out scenes, top heavy plotting and a non-ending thats just aweful. Great backdrop of societies but really poorly implemented. If your a fan of the series you'll go for it, if not, save time and money by passing this one.
1Christian More than 1 year ago
Like another reviewer wrote, it was like the author got tired of writing and just quit. It held my interest until then. I won't read any more in the series.
RBeffa on LibraryThing 5 hours ago
This novel is now 25 years old as of 2012. It is the first of Iain Banks Culture novels, and is huge in scope and ideas. I should love a novel like this but for me this just doesn't rise into the great range. There is some great stuff in here, especially the ideas behind the Culture, the evocative description of a huge orbital, and just the huge space opera sense of it. But there is also enough stuff in here that disappoints me, erratic story pacing, a disappointing ending and one very extended scene on a cannibal cult island that just seems terribly out of place and gross. It adds nothing to the story and in fact creates some of the problems with it, an internal inconsistency. Banks clearly has a fondness for gross and disgusting things that I do not share.The lead character Horza is not a very likeable fellow, and it makes it hard if not impossible to root for him through his adventures. In fact I couldn't really care what happened to him. I give the novel props for starting the whole Culture series but I can only rate this as an average book for me. I'm honestly a bit disappointed.
ChrisRiesbeck on LibraryThing 5 hours ago
Disappointing, not because it's awful, but because my expectations were high, given how often Banks is listed in discussions of authors to read, and given I dimly recall enjoying a different entry in the Culture series. This is classic modern British space opera, with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies, and nothing particularly outstandingly different. It combines Stapledonian philosophizing about cultural development, a tour of some galactic backwaters, and a pulpish countdown cliffhanger climax, but never blends them into a unified story or theme. There was no resonance between elements, no unifying subtext or theme, and no justification for the many digressions and resultant length. One of those digressions, "The Eaters," was so deliberately unpleasant that I assumed the author had some ultimate payoff for its presence, but there was none that I could see. The concluding action chapters managed to be exciting and impossible to put down, but also mechanical and contrived, and extremely cliched. Unlike some of the other LT reviewers, I did not find the protagonist unlikable. Unfortunately, he was the only character given any real development. The other actors were mainly props. As in classic American space opera, the signposts said "welcome to the far future," but the inhabitants, human, alien, and computational, were straight from the 1940's.
billmcn on LibraryThing 5 hours ago
I wanted to read something from the Culture series because I was interested to see how the idea of a post-scarcity society could be explored. Consider Phlebas was disappointing on this front. The novel is not about the utopian Culture itself but is rather a space opera that takes place amid an intra-Galactic war between the Culture and another species. The plot concerns a race to capture a damaged Culture supercomputer, a MacGuffin that could have just as easily been Death Star plans or a jewel-encrusted falcon. Along the way there are a couple of great set pieces about a horrific desert island religious cult and the galaxy's most decadent poker game, but there are also a few too many laser gun firefights, and the dramatic tension of the final act is too reliant on bad judgement on the part of characters who are supposed to know better. (Word to the wise: when the murderous nine foot tall non-humanoid military fanatic complains that the wires you've tied him up with are hurting his wrists do not loosen them!)Banks does touch on interesting ideas about utopianism and fanaticism, which unfortunately come in the form of chunks of explication not fully integrated into what is otherwise a fairly generic chase story. Well, it's a long series, so maybe it takes him a while to warm up.
llasram on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Highly enjoyable. A friend recommended Banks and specifically /Look to Windward/. I saw that /Look to Windward/ is vaguely connected to /Consider Phlebas/, and it's the first of Banks's Culture novels, so I decided I might as well start here. There are some interesting ideas here -- nothing revolutionary, but intriguing enough to make me want to read more. I was a bit distracted by how the Culture universe has sentient AI without the sort of mutability of consciousness I consider a necessary result, but Banks's writing is good enough to allow suspension of disbelief. Some of the action scenes got a bit choppy, but Banks kept the overall flow going strong. Solid genre SF.
lithicbee on LibraryThing 3 days ago
While this book was full of lots of interesting ideas and some fun action sequences, I found the main character unlikeable and that brought the level of enjoyment down quite a bit for me. Horza--and those around him--go through one hellish scenario after another. Since I wasn't rooting for Horza (or even his side in the Idiran-Culture War), I found it a difficult slog to get to the end of this one. Bottom line: some interesting concepts, but overall depressing. Underneath the bottom line: It is a book about the pointlessness of war, so the reader is probably not supposed to like either side in the war or feel good about the events in the book. Maybe if I had known this going in, I would have been able to appreciate the book more for what it is.
MartinSloan on LibraryThing 3 days ago
A heavy weight read, its meaningful and worthy not just of any sci fi library, but of any library, period. Sci Fi fans may not like it because it's too slow, literary fiction fans may not like it because of the sci fi label. For the sci fi fans, I say this: it is wierd enough. For lierary fans, I say this: it is intelligent, if you look behind the sci fi wal. I've only just started reading, so I 'll ad more later on, but I can highly recommend it.
rbrohman on LibraryThing 3 days ago
After recently finishing Allistair Reynolds' Revelation Space novels, I've been searching for another space opera type series with plenty of books. Hearing good things about Iain M Banks, I gave this one a shot.I never really got hooked into this. It took me a LONG time to finish it as I'd pick it up for a few chapters and get bored. I think that "The Culture" has the potential to be really interesting, but this novel just didn't really have the big galaxy spanning storylines that I enjoy. Hopefully the next book in the series is better.
majkia on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Consider Phlebas felt like a space opera the more I read it. A main character who wasn't exactly a hero, but who certainly was willing to give his all for a cause.It was hard to figure out who the bad guys were, and certainly the main characters struggles never answered the central question, was he really on the right side or the wrong side?Fascinating concepts: shape changers, galactic-size space battles, intelligent machines, species whose concepts, beliefs and desires are not necessarily obvious.Nor, I might add, is the meaning of it all.
tronella on LibraryThing 3 days ago
This is the first of Banks' Culture novels, following a Changer (humanoid shapeshifter) working for the Idirans (three-legged aliens) who are fighting a war against the Culture (various human-like species, but as the book is apparently set in 1300-something, I guess they aren't humans really) on a mission to capture a Mind (sentient computer used to run a spaceship) which is hiding in a Planet of the Dead (a planet where the whole population killed themself in a war, protected by some god-like energy being that won't let most people land there).So yeah, it is a space opera. I liked it a lot, especially the ending. I'm not sure it was supposed to seem hilarious to me, but never mind.
Zare on LibraryThing 3 days ago
¿Consider Phlebas¿ is story of one man (well, let us say humanoid :)) against what he thinks is unnatural order of things ¿ famous Banks¿s Culture and everything Culture represents. Culture is at war with alien civilization from planet Idir ¿ ruthless warriors bend on destroying all ¿lesser¿ beings and civilizations. War has escalated quickly from small border skirmishes into full scale conflict engulfing entire star systems. Horza is a Changer, shape shifter, covert agent working for Idirans on task to retrieve one of the Culture¿s famous Minds on an isolated sacred planet protected by mysterious alien race that nobody wants for the enemy. Soon he will face what seem to be insurmountable odds. Great story (although sad one) with great characters. Recommended.