The first ever collection of Iain Banks's short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, The State of the Art.
This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast.
The other stories in the collection range from science fiction to horror, dark-coated fantasy to morality tale.
All bear the indefinable stamp of Iain Banks's staggering talent.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages, 8pp b&w illustrations
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 27/05/1993
- Category: Science fiction
- ISBN: 9781857230307
Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.
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Review by imyril
I don't much care for Banks' short stories. They lack the flair of character that I enjoy in his novels, and as such failed to suck me in. Best in collection goes to Descendant, in which the survivor of a downed module must walk across a desolate planet in his sentient spacesuit. State of the Art (a play on words here, as a Contact agent muses on whether the Culture can create great Art without the inspiration of sickness, pain and tragedy) is practically polemic as a GCU observes life on Earth for a year and contends with the mixed reaction of its human crew. Sadly this is less effective than it could have been, as it feels like cardboard cut outs reading speeches rather than characters having real conversations - and Earth is so much less awful than other unContacted planets in the Culture's sphere that the arguments all fall a bit flat. Yes, we could be a better planet. No, we're really not as bad as it gets. There's hope for us yet.[NB plenty of non-Culture short stories here too - I just didn't enjoy them]
Review by name99
Oh god, horrible, horrible, horrible. The short stories are mostly pretentious literary crap. The novella feels like an Ayn Rand rant (not the content but the ultra-didactice style). If you avoid just one Iain M Banks book in your life, make sure this is it.
Review by isabelx
Review by m.a.harding
Some of the stories are perhaps a bit ropey. But 'State Of the Art' has to be one of the great SF novellas. And 'Piece' is a great mainstream short story.
Review by DRFP
These shorts feel a lot like throw away pieces. They're not bad but they feel too loose to have had any <i>real</i> effort put into them. Even the titular novella is lacking in surprises. It's a decent yarn but it ticks all the boxes you'd expect of a Culture story set on Earth without throwing up anything too unexpected (perhaps with the exception of it showcasing a rather nasty side to the Culture on occasion). The novella was interesting but felt rather by the book.As a result I'm not sure there's anything really "must read" in this collection, even for fans of the Culture. People wanting to dip their toe into the water and see if Banks is for them should try his novels which, even the flawed ones, feel more accomplished that this collection.
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