The Algebraist The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a really wide ranging book filled with lots of interesting ideas and musings, some on what a species that evolved in a gas giant would look and act like, how an interstellar civilization would operate, etc. The downside was that most of the aliens weren't very alien, you'd see larger differences between different groups of humans than what you saw between the differing alien races. A mix of anthropology, politics and old fashioned science fiction it was well paced and worth the time.

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I read this a while back, still trying to figure out if I like it. Banks still seems to be searching for the right balance between subtle and textured (the unkind would say 'long-winded'; e.g., in Inversions, where the only evidence of the Culture was through sly references to a Knife Missile) and the bombastic (exemplified by Excession, an appropriate name on many levels). This book is a bit too much towards the former, I thought; his most recent Matter is a bit more balanced, although most of the action waits until the very end. Of course, I'm still eagerly awaiting his next effort...

Posted by Mark Nottingham on 2009-01-01