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  • Mass Market Paperback
  • 405 pages
  • Inversions
  • Iain M. Banks
  • English
  • 09 November 2018
  • 1857239067

10 thoughts on “Inversions

  1. says:

    I definitely understand those that see Inversions as an inferior Culture novel, but I absolutely disagree with them This is a view of the Culture from below, through all kinds of obfuscation.It s definitely the most subtle of the Culture novels so subtle that I think a lot of readers aren t grasping the scope of what it s about I would suggest only reading Inversions after having read a few other culture novels in close succession it is very, very subtle but absolutely brilliant.Told from th I definitely understand those that see Inversions as an inferior Culture novel, but I absolutely disagree with them This is a view of the Culture from below, through all kinds of obfuscation.It s definitely the most subtle of the Culture novels so subtle that I think a lot of readers aren t grasping the scope of what it s about I would suggest only reading Inversions after having read a few other culture novels in close succession it is very, very subtle but absolutely brilliant.Told from the perspective of two very different characters, one a personal account, the other an amalgamation comprised of a dramatization of events prior and a memoir, it is a story about the brutalities of man, war, sovereignty, and progress.If you re left scratching your head after finishing it, as I have been both times I read it, I highly recommend picking up the Culture Series of Iain M Banks A Critical Introduction by Simone Caroti He brilliantly analyzes and clears up a lot of details in Inversions


  2. says:

    I must preface my review with my surprise I just took a look at the responses to this book from my goodreads friends and the star ratings are only fair to middling It makes me wonder if my love for this book is, perhaps, a little misguided Either that or I am adiscerning reader than everyone else Yeah that s probably it So here s my review Iain M Banks books are packed with big, way out there moments Grandmas explode, people wake up in rooms full of shit, ships run intentiona I must preface my review with my surprise I just took a look at the responses to this book from my goodreads friends and the star ratings are only fair to middling It makes me wonder if my love for this book is, perhaps, a little misguided Either that or I am adiscerning reader than everyone else Yeah that s probably it So here s my review Iain M Banks books are packed with big, way out there moments Grandmas explode, people wake up in rooms full of shit, ships run intentionally aground, hermaphrodites apply to mechanized killing temples to help them make decisions His work is big and brash and in your face, and extended subtlety is not something Banks often employs But he can.Inversions his non Culture Culture novel is all subtlety It is a delicate double tale unlike any other he s told Two journals, two narratives run parallel in an unnamed world experiencing a sort of Renaissance A doctor cares for her King A bodyguard protects his country s Protector They are two stories that intertwine in only the subtlest ways, providing meditations on the meaning of perspective and how the smallest differences in perspective can alter everything The Culture elements that exist in Inversions enrich an already rich story, suggesting a whole universe beyond the confines of the world only recently discovered to be round instead of flat and its people, but this time the story doesn t focus on the Culture Culture s Contact is at the heart of the novel It s two main characters are part of the Contact organization, but we don t hear the tale from their perspective, and so Contact remains a subtle thread in a greater tapestry or a lesser one, depending on one s perspective.Inversions is about love hate, revenge forgiveness, selfishness selflessness, men women, illness health, healing wounding, peace violence, and countless other inversions, but none of these pairings are black and white None are simple There is no easy judgment between these potential opposites, no good or bad, they simply are, and what one might want to know about them is likely not put into words within the confines of the story Banks makes us work by making us fill in the blanks This is the primary tool of his subtlety But perhaps it is this silence, the silence of the things that are missing, the subtle hints Banks gives us, that say everything that needs to be said.This book is beautiful I ve described many Banks books in many ways, but beautiful is a new descriptor for me I want to share the beauty of this book with everyone, but as I learned before writing this review, I may be the only one who sees the beauty of Inversions That makes methan a little sad


  3. says:

    Rather than focus on a grand scale space opera, I think Banks wanted to dump us into a backwater gravity well and let us have a sense of what it would be like to tour as a doctor, perhaps Culture trained, among the crude creatures of a Medieval period.Mind you, I didn t quite pick up any definitive proof of actual Culture interference, mind you, because our PoV is actually from the apprentice to the good doctor who hailed from foreign parts, but I think the guess is a very good one, anyway So Rather than focus on a grand scale space opera, I think Banks wanted to dump us into a backwater gravity well and let us have a sense of what it would be like to tour as a doctor, perhaps Culture trained, among the crude creatures of a Medieval period.Mind you, I didn t quite pick up any definitive proof of actual Culture interference, mind you, because our PoV is actually from the apprentice to the good doctor who hailed from foreign parts, but I think the guess is a very good one, anyway So what of the story Actually, this one shares in the great reversals of our understanding, just like the other Culture novels We go along with interesting tales only to have a reveal that shatters our understanding of what we read That stuff is fantastic, by the way In this case, meet a doctor who befriends the King and practically ALL of the court and the nobles mistrust and plot against her If feels like one hell of a romance, honestly I got into all the characters and loved the banter, rooted for the good guys and hoped all the others would get their just deserts It s a simple tale on the surface, yet there s always past horrors to work through and there happens to be a certain Captain of the Guard from where the good doctor came from who is out to bring her back or to justice, traveling all the way across the country What exactly is going on Well that is a great deal of this book s charm, from the opening scene with a torturer to the end where everything gets inverted Do you fancy a bit of standing on your head I m very impressed by the tale even if there isn t that much SF or Fantasy to hang your hat on It reads mostly like a Medieval tale With some rather interesting outcomes, I might add It s well worth the read


  4. says:

    Still waters run deep within Inversions, concealing strange schemes and fierce ambitions, reservoirs of grief, questions on the nature of humanity, longings for death and for love In terms of setting and scope, this is an intriguing outlier in the Culture series Yet it has all of its masterful author s hallmarks ironic and emotionally detached prose, an eye for the small thing symbolic of greater things, a fascination with systems of power and individual culpability, and an ease with ambiguit Still waters run deep within Inversions, concealing strange schemes and fierce ambitions, reservoirs of grief, questions on the nature of humanity, longings for death and for love In terms of setting and scope, this is an intriguing outlier in the Culture series Yet it has all of its masterful author s hallmarks ironic and emotionally detached prose, an eye for the small thing symbolic of greater things, a fascination with systems of power and individual culpability, and an ease with ambiguity in the slow unwinding of his mysteries and in portraying the compelling opacity of personalities carefully holding themselves restrained.Inversions is a medieval historical saga rich with courtly intrigue that is actually a challenging speculative work of futuristic fiction, that is actually one small link in a glittering and ornate space opera chain that spans galaxies, that is actually an intimate chamber piece tracking important moments of personal change and psychological development, that is actually two parallel stories that detail the sociopolitical impact caused by two very different change agents, that is actually a tense and tightly wound mystery about hidden pasts and hidden plans and hidden agendas, that is actually an empathetic feminist tract, that is actually a classic Banks critique of the successes and pitfalls that occur when a technologically superior culture engages with a less advanced culture, that is actually a cheeky yet highly intellectual experiment in illustrating cultural relativity versus individual responsibility and morality and the always painful collision between the two This is an objective book about subjectivity I guess what I m trying to say is that the book has levels.Unusual for Banks, there are also twin love stories Both are subtle and understated, never taking charge of the plot One starts slowly, moving from awe to lust to admiration to a despairing devotion the other is rendered so discreetly that it is fairly disguised, until suddenly the masks are off and love becomes the reason for swift and necessary movement.4.5 stars, may go up to 5 after I finish all of these wonderful Culture standalones and contemplate which were my favorites This one is quite high in the ranking


  5. says:

    Spoilers Banks Culture series so far has been, what I will refer to as, hard sci fi Gargantuan megaships which house billions of people, immensely advanced Artificial Intelligences independently managing entire worlds, tiny drones with the ability to kill several people in a matter of seconds, Orbitals 3million kilometres in diameter, ships capable of travelling at hundreds of thousands of times the speed of light, tiny weapons with enormous destructive capabilities which can shrink down to Spoilers Banks Culture series so far has been, what I will refer to as, hard sci fi Gargantuan megaships which house billions of people, immensely advanced Artificial Intelligences independently managing entire worlds, tiny drones with the ability to kill several people in a matter of seconds, Orbitals 3million kilometres in diameter, ships capable of travelling at hundreds of thousands of times the speed of light, tiny weapons with enormous destructive capabilities which can shrink down to a false tooth or brooch when not in use, galactic warfare, assassins, and an array of bizarre and wonderful alien species His imagination in the series is seemingly limitless, almost boasting of what science fiction is capable of, in all its pomp and excess Inversions is the exact opposite As Banks has described, it was his attempt to write a Culture novel that wasn t , and as such all of the common motifs that I have grown to love in the series are completely absent Described as science fiction as fantasy, the book takes place on a world which closely resembles medieval Europe, with castles, palaces, kings, emperors, military generals, balls and banquets Indeed, the entire locale could be medieval Earth, if not for the binary system in which the planet is located and the descriptions of the two moons in the sky Where the book is similar to other Culture novels however, is the fantastic twist at the end which if you know of beforehand, I imagine would ruin the book somewhat The book takes the form of two alternating narratives, one told in first person concerning a woman named Vosill, physician to the King of a nation named Haspidus The narrator is a man named Oelph, appearing to be the doctor s assistant, but giving every indication that he is actually a spy for some unknown character referred to as Master Haspidus is a typical medieval style society in which the country has a King, lands are ruled over by lords and nobles, a caste system is in place, women expected to be nothingthan wives and mothers, and the poor are looked upon with disdain and even disgust by the ruling classes, used to perform menial labour, farming etc and nothingSome of these ingrained prejudices are presented through Oelph, as he is insulting to the poor, acquiescent in regards to the nobility, and at times highly judgmental whenever the doctor does something considered unwomanly On the other hand, it is revealed that the King whom the doctor serves has a very progressive attitude for the time, as he enacts reforms which take power away from the country lords and hands it over to the people, allowing them to own their own land, create city councils, and have greater independence from the tyranny of the nobility Additionally of course, there is the fact that the King has employed a female doctor, who he places a huge amount of trust in and openly treats as an equal, asking her opinion on matters of politics, cartography, and obviously medicine, which supposed experts in these matters snuff with overt scorn, believing that women have no place to have any opinion at all Because she is held in such high regard by the King, Vosill has many enemies in the Court, and as Oelph narrates the events of the story, a conspiracy is in which dukes, high ranking officials, and other characters plot to dispose of her Whenever one of these figures comes close to carrying out such actions however, they are conspicuously murdered, and it becomes obvious that Vosill is in fact an agent of Special Circumstances, working on behalf of the Culture It is possible to deduce that considering the King s progressive direction, that the Culture has placed Vosill in Haspidus in order to keep the King alive as he brings about radical changes and drives the state towards aequal society something which would be greatly hindered if the existing nobility which surround the King were allowed to instill their influence or, muchprobably, dispose of the King as he begins to change the status quo which they hold so sacred.The fact that the characters who seek to do Vosill harm are all killed leads one to the assumption that, although never actually appearing in the course of the novel, Vosill is accompanied on her mission by some sort of Culture device which is able to provide aid and protection as required Our attention is frequently drawn to a battered old dagger which the doctor carries everywhere The hilt of the dagger is embedded with a number of small jewels, as well as many empty spaces where jewels once were Since it is never explicitly stated what this dagger is, we must draw our own conclusions, but it seems fairly obvious that it is some sort of drone or knife missile, able to quickly despatch of any threats on command, and that the jewels could be bugging devices that the doctor uses to spy upon the various conspiracists Indeed there are a couple of sections which are written as a transcript, which hints that some sort of recording device has been used to uncover the plots being made by Vosill s enemies The other story tells of DeWar, chief bodyguard to Urleyn, the Protector of Tasassen, a ruler who gained control of the land after the downfall of the pervious Empire DeWar is in every sense a loyal servant to Urleyn, and it is frequently mentioned that he never lets his guard down, remaining alert and suspicious at all times, in close proximity to Urleyn in order to step in whenever any threat presents itself DeWar is obsessive to the extent that he cannot eve play simple board games without his duty being reflected in his gaming style It would initially seem that the Protector is theprogressive of the book s two rulers, disposing of titles such as King, Emperor etc in favour ofpositive and or neutral titles, such as Protector, as well as being responsible for the downfall of the previous Empire It becomes apparent however, that Uleyn is not the entirely benevolent leader he appears to be, still retaining various militaristic and oppressive stances Notably, as a direct contrast to the King of Haspidus, when the leaders of a nearby land named Ladenscion desire greater autonomy from Protectorate control, Urleyn responds by denying their requests and threatening war The barons of Ladenscion initially supported Urleyn s revolution, apparently wishing for freedom from the previous monarch, and now wish for complete independence A large number of DeWar s chapters see new problems and threats to the Protector as they present themselves An assassin almost manages to kill Urleyn, but is closely prevented from doing to by DeWar the Protector s son Lattens is stricken with a mysterious and debilitating illness, the war in Ladenscion escalates, forcing Urleyn to leave the capital and lead the attacks against the enemy And overshadowing all this is DeWar s suspicions that there are spies within the court, betraying the Protector s plans to Ladenscion and helping them win the war.Another character who makes frequent appearances throughout the book is the Protector s confidant, an ex Concubine named Perrund Her relationship with Urleyn and her deep friendship with DeWar signify that Perrund an important figure in the narrative, not least because she once saved Urleyn from assassination and was crippled as a result There is also another contrast here between Urleyn and the King, in that while King Quience has a degree of respect for women, Urleyn is depicted as a womaniser, frequently visiting the palace brothel, and with a sun but no mention of a wife These subtle hints at Urleyn s character served to generate a growing dislike for him, a man who had such potential for greatness at the onset of the book, but frequently displays unfavourable opinions and actions It isn t long after the Protector leaves to take control of the war that he is forced to return home as his son s condition worsens Urleyn completely fails in his leadership as he locks himself away and refuses to speak to any of his advisors and generals, who begin to question and mock his position In the final chapters, the suspicions that DeWar has had through the book come to fruition, as he works out that Lattens is being poisoned, and the great twist, that Perrund is responsible, and has also killed Urleyn In a tense confrontation, the negative attributes of the Protector s character and leadership come together as Perrund explains how he and his squadron once raped her and her family, killing her parents but allowing Perrund to escape Banks very cleverly presents a complete evolution of both Perrund s and Urleyn s characters, as the Protector appears at the beginning as an idealistic harbinger, who then shows signs of being prejudiced and somewhat despotic, now revealed to be a rapist and murder wearing a guise of altruism There is a point in Vosill s story in which the King learns about the Protectorate s war with Ladenscion which dispelled some of my suspicions that the two narratives may actually have happened at different times Although the King clearly does not support the Protectorate, he states that he must make every effort in seeming to whilst taking the opportunity to move against Urleyn as it presents itself I thought nothing of these comments when reading them I will admit, thinking that it was just simple political banter But as Perrund reveals her history, we learn that she is in fact the opportunity the King is referring to, having escaped to Haspidus after Urleyn killed her family, and acting on the orders of the King to kill Urleyn, but not before bringing about his utter ruin I am beginning to thoroughly enjoy the enormous twists that Banks employs in most of his novels It isn t quite on par with Use of Weapons, but it was certainly a good one As Banks stated, this is his Culture novel that wasn t really a Culture novel, and I admit that I was in fact expecting at least some explicit clarification toward the end, with a drone or a hips appearing, or one of the characters explaining who they are and who they work for None of this happens, and after a little mulling over, I have decided that I actually prefer this ambiguity and subtlety The fact that Inversions is so completely different from the other Culture novels, and in fact, that each Culture novel is so unique, establishes Banks as a brilliant writer Rather than just give it all away at the end, he decided to use a tale that DeWar tells concerning two children who lived in a country far away, and who disagreed on whether an advanced society should handle primitive cultures, the girl believing in intervention, and the boy believing they should be left to their own devices It is clear the children are Vosill and DeWar, and that Vosill joined Special Circumstances to continue with her philosophy of instigating change within primitive cultures, whereas it can be guessed that DeWar is a kind of exile from the Culture working by his own means Inversions is a beautifully written novel, expertly constructed and never giving awaythan it needs to to keep the reader guessing, using subtle hints and references to maintain that this is in fact a Culture novel, whilst exploring a world with a totally different aesthetic Since the previous book I read was Excession, Inversions was a welcome relief from the intense concentration required by that book, whilst still being incredibly thought provoking, tackling certain issues of equality and prejudice with wit and humour One of the most memorable scenes involves a ball in which Vosill and Oelph are invited, to mingle with the upper echelons of society, where one noble lady suggests that when the King grows bored of Vosill she may hire her as a wet nurse or something similar , and Oelph reacts be saying that this would be demeaning to the doctor s talents The lady is gravely offended that her opinion has been questioned, and when she discovers that Oelph was an orphan, she is further mortified The entire scene explores the notion that the privileged classes believe themselves deserving of respect, better than the poor, no matter how useless they may be by comparison The lady, I gathered, is the wife to some lord, has no education, no career, and nothing better to do than attend society balls, but still believes herself better than the doctor, despite the doctor being a highly educated and intelligent medical professional Amusing as this scene is, it is still a distressingly accurate portrayal of society even in the 21st century Overall, Banks succeeds in creating a non Culture Culture novel that is every bit as exciting, intriguing and memorable as the others, and may well stand out even further for being so unique


  6. says:

    Banks is in fine form, weaving a wonderfully somber tale full of personal discovery, tormented relationships and intrigue Rather than a Culture sci fi story as I was expecting, this has the feel of historical fiction, with a setting akin to war torn medieval Europe There are only subtle hints of the Culture and really no sci fi to speak of The themes are some that recur frequently in the Culture series, focusing particularly on the human and emotional costs of war, self discovery, and especia Banks is in fine form, weaving a wonderfully somber tale full of personal discovery, tormented relationships and intrigue Rather than a Culture sci fi story as I was expecting, this has the feel of historical fiction, with a setting akin to war torn medieval Europe There are only subtle hints of the Culture and really no sci fi to speak of The themes are some that recur frequently in the Culture series, focusing particularly on the human and emotional costs of war, self discovery, and especially the dilemma of interference vs non interference That is, the question whether advanced societies have a responsibility to aid and guide those who are less developed, or instead leave them to develop naturally That s a hot topic in the Culture, and while generally they choose not to interfere, at least overtly, there are frequently exceptions Matter, a later Culture novel, shares these themes as well as a similar setting, yet tiesdirectly into the Culture, and I think was aenjoyable read because of that Still, another fine tale, well told by Mr Banks


  7. says:

    I have to say, first off, that every single review I saw of this book online even ones as short as a single line gives away something you are not supposed to know until the very end, if you figure it out at all These details that they spoil are not exactly essential to the plot, but one was spoiled for me and I think the novel lost some of its tautness as a result and the one that was not spoiled I was very glad wasn t spoiled because it was a minor mystery I spent the first half of the nov I have to say, first off, that every single review I saw of this book online even ones as short as a single line gives away something you are not supposed to know until the very end, if you figure it out at all These details that they spoil are not exactly essential to the plot, but one was spoiled for me and I think the novel lost some of its tautness as a result and the one that was not spoiled I was very glad wasn t spoiled because it was a minor mystery I spent the first half of the novel picking at so again, I suspect the novel would have lost some of its appeal had I known the answer to the riddle All of which is a very roundabout way of saying that if you want to come to the book unspoiled, avoid all online information about it like the plague.I say right now that I will endeavor to do better than that, and give a truly spoiler free review.The difficulty is that without those two bits of information that so many others cavalierly spoiled, there s very little way to talk about the book Even saying that it is a Culture novel gives you a clue to what one of the pieces of information is, but I felt that was something I could include because Banks himself gave that away Without spoiling any, I will be forced to speak circuitously, which I must beg your forgiveness for Inversions is set on a planet with a roughly Medieval level of government and medicine, and which is just beginning to experiment with gunpowder but still relies mainly on crossbows and swords It is narrated by one of the characters, but the narrator does not tell which character he or she is, though that conceit is broken down by about the halfway point This mysterious narrator relates two parallel tales, one of the King s physician named Vosill in a country called Haspidus, and one of the General Protector s bodyguard called DeWar in a country called Tassasen, across the mountains from Haspidus The countries are not at war with one another, but they are uneasy about each other because the world has just suffered a planet wide disaster which has upset all of the old systems of government.That, then, is the set up The chapters alternate between the Doctor s story, which the narrator relates through her assistant Oelph, who is reporting clandestinely to another Master and the Bodyguard s story, which the narrator relates through a third person omniscient voice that is kept relatively confined to DeWar s perspective, but not entirely As I mentioned above, it becomes clear who the narrator is in these stories about halfway through, but Banks handles that gracefully, not with a big reveal, but by slowly letting the mask the he or she is wearing at first slip away, almost as if unconsciously.There is little for me to say about the two stories being told very little happens This novel, muchthan other Banks novels I have read, is a character study, a portrait of two individuals in positions of power at a time of momentous change on this world There is intriguing against both the Doctor and the Bodyguard, for they are foreigners to their lands and not trusted as a result there is a touch of romance, mostly unrequited there are surprising philosophical passages that take on greater weight as events unfold There is a startlingly vivid hunt scene, and a botched assassination attempt, but otherwise the only action comes in a mock war complete with catapult that DeWar has with the General Protector s son There is ugliness, because Banks never shies from that, and there is quite a bit of witty repartee between the Doctor and her King and between the Bodyguard and the General Protector s favorite concubine There is also a tale of a land called Lavishia, and two cousins that lived there, that is the only real clue to the bit of information that was spoiled for me.Ultimately, the stories end, but as with the other Culture novel I have read, the ending is pretty damned emotionally unsatisfactory But that, too, is a stylistic choice on Banks part, and one that I respect They end unsatisfactorily because, unless all of humanity is obliterated, no story ever has a real ending There will always be loose ends, people who disappear leaving only questions behind them, events that are understood imperfectly, and whose full effects still haven t been seen It is actually a happier ending than that other Culture novel, I think at least, the people within the story seem happy with it The philosophical questions raised are never answered, because how could they be They have no right answers I m looking at you again, Prime Directive Instead, we are left to muddle through day by day, doing the best we can, trying to hold onto the best parts of ourselves and make good decisions with imperfect information, just as all the people in Haspidus, in Tassasen, and even in Lavishia in this story do.And that s where Inversions left me, a tad frustrated but again, I think that was deliberate , a tad philosophical, and fairly impressed I do believe I succeeded in writing a spoiler free review, but I m not sure I managed to say anything at all, lol I would definitely recommend this book, but you must accept that nothing happens, there is no real ending, and there isn t even a message to it all That said, Inversions is still one of the strongest books I ve read in a while


  8. says:

    My favorite book by Iain M Banks, who is one of my absolute favorite authors It s in his Culture series of novels, but that s only shown by a couple of minor details It s fully a stand alone novel sci fi with a fantasy feel to it I stayed up late late late last night finishing this it was a GREAT book I was really impressed by the way all the little clues fit together without giving it all away too soon


  9. says:

    Inversions, like so many of Banks books, is slippery Every time I think I have a hold on it, it slithers out of my grasp It s this element that keeps drawing me back in to the Culture series, as strange and frustrating as it often is I keep trying different techniques to pin these books down, thinking at some point I will find the right angle from which to sneak up on them I hope I never find it.The plot of Inversions is fairly straightforward the book is really two interweaved novellas Inversions, like so many of Banks books, is slippery Every time I think I have a hold on it, it slithers out of my grasp It s this element that keeps drawing me back in to the Culture series, as strange and frustrating as it often is I keep trying different techniques to pin these books down, thinking at some point I will find the right angle from which to sneak up on them I hope I never find it.The plot of Inversions is fairly straightforward the book is really two interweaved novellas, called The Doctor and The Bodyguard, which both take place on the same medieval planet The Doctor follows Dr Vosill, personal physician to King Quience of Haspidus, who raises suspicions at court because she is a woman, and a foreigner, and because her treatments are strangely effective The Bodyguard follows DeWar, chief of security to General Urleyn, the leader of the Tassasen Protectorate, halfway around the world from Haspidus Like Vosill, DeWar is a foreigner and therefore inherently suspicious, but his devotion to the General has placed him above reproach The world itself is in turmoil meteor strikes a generation ago had killed thousands, altered the climate, and destroyed a global empire, leaving fractured states like Haspidus and Tassasen to battle for dominance As Vosill and DeWar tend to their charges, the leaders prepare for war Inversions, therefore, reads like a fantasy light on magic, but heavy on court intrigue and battle plans It s not immediately clear how the book fits into the Culture series, which is about an intergalactic utopia filled with decadent aliens, hyperintelligent spaceships, and smartass drones Nor is it obvious what the two novellas have to do with each other, despite the assurance in the introduction that they belong together These mysteries resolve in the bedtime stories DeWar tells the young prince, Lattens, about a faraway land called LavishiaIn this land there lived two friends, a boy and a girl who were cousins and who had grown up together They thought they were adults but really they were still just children They were the best of friends but they disagreed on many things One of the most important things they disagreed about was what to do when Lavishia chanced upon one of these tribes of poor people Was it better to leave them alone or was it better to try and make life better for them Even if you decided it was the right thing to do to make life better for them, which way did you do this Did you say, Come and join us and be like us Did you say, Give up all your own ways of doing things, the gods that you worship, the beliefs you hold most dear, the traditions that make you who you are Or do you say, We have decided you should stay roughly as you are and we will treat you like children and give you toys that might make your life better Indeed, who even decided what was better This, then, pretty clearly lays out the premise of the book, and invokes a common theme in the series the Culture s ambivalence toward colonialism which I talked about in my review of the first book, Consider Phlebas, too Vosill seems to be championing an interventionist approach, while DeWar adheresto Star Trek s prime directive.Where the book gets slippery, though, is in the outcomes who was right, in the end, if either of them were Inversions has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, several rogue variables that knock everything out of alignment In the end, is this world better for having been visited by Vosill and DeWar Are they better off for having done so I know better by now than to expect straightforward answers from Banks His characters just settle in my mind, asking their questions, smiling inscrutably at every answer I propose


  10. says:

    This book goes to show what a sophisticated writer Iain Banks was I was looking forward to another Culture novel, but a few chapters in, I was confused The tale is told as two intertwining stories, set in two rather mediaeval societies There are no AI minds, no sentient space craft, no Cultured humanity swanning around I set my misgivings aside and just enjoyed the interplay of the two tales, at least until I arrived at the final chapters Suddenly, things became clear The stories that th This book goes to show what a sophisticated writer Iain Banks was I was looking forward to another Culture novel, but a few chapters in, I was confused The tale is told as two intertwining stories, set in two rather mediaeval societies There are no AI minds, no sentient space craft, no Cultured humanity swanning around I set my misgivings aside and just enjoyed the interplay of the two tales, at least until I arrived at the final chapters Suddenly, things became clear The stories that the body guard DeWar told to Lettens came into focus The Doctor, with her extraordinary attention to cleanliness and her omnipresent dull old knife I won t spoil things for you You deserve to put the pieces together at your own speed in your own way I m sure many people figured things outquickly than I This is a very subtle novel, much different from those that preceded it I m betting that Banks was looking for a change and this is a refreshing one I kind of want to go back to the beginning and re read the book with my new found realizations informing the experience However, it is far too soon for that I can see eventually wanting to re read the entire series, but first I must finish it Book number 367 of my Science Fiction Fantasy Reading Project


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InversionsIn The Winter Palace, The King S New Physician Has Enemies Than She At First Realises But Then She Also Has Remedies To Hand Than Those Who Wish Her Ill Can Know AboutIn Another Palace Across The Mountains, In The Service Of The Regicidal Protector General, The Chief Bodyguard, Too, Has His Enemies But His Enemies Strike Swiftly, And His Means Of Combating Them Are TraditionalSpiralling Round A Central Core Of Secrecy, Deceit, Love And Betrayal, INVERSIONS Is A Spectacular Work Of Science Fiction, Brilliantly Told And Wildly Imaginative, From An Author Who Has Set Genre Fiction Alight


About the Author: Iain M. Banks

Iain M Banks is a pseudonym of Iain Banks which he used to publish his Science Fiction.Banks s father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, living in Edinburgh and then Fife.Banks met his wife Annie in London, before the release of his first book They married in Hawaii in 1992 However, he announced in early 2007 that, after 25 years together, they had separated He lived most recently in North Queensferry, a town on the north side of the Firth of Forth near the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge.As with his friend Ken MacLeod another Scottish writer of technical and social science fiction a strong awareness of left wing history shows in his writings The argument that an economy of abundance renders anarchy and adhocracy viable or even inevitable attracts many as an interesting potential experiment, were it ever to become testable He was a signatory to the Declaration of Calton Hill, which calls for Scottish independence.In late 2004, Banks was a prominent member of a group of British politicians and media figures who campaigned to have Prime Minister Tony Blair impeached following the 2003 invasion of Iraq In protest he cut up his passport and posted it to 10 Downing Street In an interview in Socialist Review he claimed he did this after he abandoned the idea of crashing my Land Rover through the gates of Fife dockyard, after spotting the guys armed with machine guns He related his concerns about the invasion of Iraq in his book Raw Spirit, and the principal protagonist Alban McGill in the novel The Steep Approach to Garbadale confronts another character with arguments in a similar vein.Interviewed on Mark Lawson s BBC Four series, first broadcast in the UK on 14 November 2006, Banks explained why his novels are published under two different names His parents wished to name him Iain Menzies Banks but his father made a mistake when registering the birth and he was officially registered as Iain Banks Despite this he continued to use his unofficial middle name and it was as Iain M Banks that he submitted The Wasp Factory for publication However, his editor asked if he would mind dropping the M as it appeared too fussy The editor was also concerned about possible confusion with Rosie M Banks, a minor character in some of P.G Wodehouse s Jeeves novels who is a romantic novelist After his first three mainstream novels his publishers agreed to publish his first SF novel, Consider Phlebas To distinguish between the mainstream and SF novels, Banks suggested the return of the M , although at one stage he considered John B Macallan as his SF pseudonym, the name deriving from his favourite whiskies Johnnie Walker Black Label and The Macallan single malt.His latest book was a science fiction SF novel in the Culture series, called The Hydrogen Sonata, published in 2012.Author Iain M Banks revealed in April 2013 that he had late stage cancer He died the following June.The Scottish writer posted a message on his official website saying his next novel The Quarry, due to be published later this year , would be his last The Quarry was published in June 2013.