Book Review – Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

Cover of "Surface Detail"

Surface Detail

I recently finished Surface Detail, a Culture novel from Iain M. Banks – entertaining but not up to his usual high standards.

The overall plot concept had great potential, but I think it suffered poor implementation and editing – in particular it has a couple of seemingly important characters who weren’t really explored in any detail and were mostly irrelevant to the story. Banks also did a bit of a Gemmell – wrapping everything up in the last 5 pages. The anti-hero felt bland and a bit stereotypical of the villains in Culture novels (e.g. Matter, The Player of Games).

The positive was the Culture, we got a quick but interesting look at the 3 specialist branches equivalent to Special Circumstances, and the ships were great – especially the Picket Ship Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints just awesome.

Overall 3/5

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2 Responses to Book Review – Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

  1. rictic says:

    Agreed, The Falling Outside was the star of the show, and it chewed the scenery whenever the narration was nearby. I enjoyed the time Lededje spends in the Culture proper, it was nice to get some more view into what life is like for the everyday Culture citizen. The War in Heaven was compelling for me too.

    Really the only part that fell flat was Yime Nsokyi’s story, but it fell very flat indeed for me. It’s been a couple months since I read it and it’s hard for me to remember what impact, if any she ended up having on any of the other plotlines.

  2. amd says:

    The War in Heaven was very interesting subplot – really enjoyed that one.

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