Iain M. Banks
Orbit Books, 2008
Last year, during a game of Diaspora, Banks’ Culture novels came up during the evening’s proceedings, and Consider Phlebas, the first of the Culture novels, has been languishing on my “to read” list ever since. Originally published in 1987, Consider Phlebas was re-released in 2008 by Orbit books when Banks revived the Culture series with Matter after an eight-year hiatus.
Consider Phlebas takes place amid a war between the alien Idiran empire, a war-like monotheistic race, and the vaguely human Culture, a post-scarcity sort of utopia-gone-wrong, an anarchic civilization driven to interfere in “lesser” cultures in order to maintain its own sense of moral purpose.
Continue reading Review: Consider Phlebas
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
Pantheon Books, 2010
“When it happens, this is what happens: I shoot myself.
Not, you know, my self self. I shoot my future self. He steps out of a time machine, introduces himself as Charles Yu. What am I supposed to do? I kill him. I kill my own future.”
Time-travel technician Charles Yu has found himself stuck in the very kind of predicament he is employed to help others extricate themselves from: Yu is trapped in a time loop, initiated by shooting his own future self. With only TAMMY, his time machine’s overly apologetic operation system, and Ed, his “nonexistent but ontologically valid dog,” for company, Yu sets out to unravel the mystery of his present difficulties, the key to which seems to be a book he received from his future self.
Continue reading Review: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe