Notes on re-reading Iain Banks: Consider Phlebas. When I first read this, I wasn't prepare for an intriguing modern space opera intrigue-and-adventure tale to become an epic tragedy. This time I was, and you know? It's still a wallop. The complex converging flaws that make the climax flow so naturally from all the decisions before are beautifully delineated. I find that even the Idirans are...not sympathetic, but capable of evocation some identification in the sense that I can look at the constraints of their biology and culture and think some about the constraints that lie on all of us, and on me. It works.
Which isn't to say that it's perfect. Banks always has some problems with genuinely gratuitous overkill. Maybe the Eaters on Vavatch Orbital would have worked better if they'd gotten a scene's worth more development, some more obvious-to-me connection to developments elsewhere in the war zone, the way that the Damage game does. (I suppose you can read them as a satirical microcosm of the conflicts all sentient beings subject them to, but that only occurred to me after reading, and it seems a bit strained.) I'd also have liked a bit more from Balveda's perspective to better set up her fate as described in the Dramatis Personae section. And so forth and so on.
Nonetheless, it's a darned fine book and I'm happy to have read it again.
- Re-Reading Iain Banks: Consider Phlebas