Matter: Book summary and reviews of Matter by Iain M Banks

Matter
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2008,
    608 pages.

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Book Summary

In a world renowned even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one brother it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one - maybe two - people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she'd thought abandoned forever. Only the sister is not what she once was; Djan Seriy Anaplian has changed almost beyond recognition to become an agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances section, charged with high-level interference in civilizations throughout the greater galaxy. Concealing her new identity - and her particular set of abilities - might be a dangerous strategy, however. In the world to which Anaplian returns, nothing is quite as it seems; and determining the appropriate level of interference in someone else's war is never a simple matter.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Beautifully written and filled with memorable characters and startling technology, this tale of intricate politics and interstellar warfare ably demonstrates that Banks is still at the height of his powers." - Publishers Weekly.

"Writing with a flowing and optimistic style and with much humor, the author portrays a fully imagined utopian future made possible by technology and a benignant world view, which contrasts with the many worlds depicted still struggling with war, famine, and disease." - Library Journal.

"The story's superbly kinetic endgame, meanwhile, seems a little squeezed. Here, Banks gleefully mashes together tropes from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the matériel of his universe works at maximum efficiency: combat drones work offstage magic and talking combat suits helpfully emit expository info-bursts. The story's highly intriguing last act could perhaps have been fruitfully expanded into a greater space, and the long setup could have been compressed. Having front-loaded the novel with so much talky scene-setting, Banks might have ended up relying slightly too much on his (and our) favourite gadgets." - The Guardian (UK).

"I have returned repeatedly to the early Culture novels, particularly Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games. This is a major sequence for anyone who cares about science fiction, and I recommend it to all but those seriously allergic to spaceships." - The Telegraph (UK).

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Author Information

Iain M Banks Author Biography

Iain (Menzies) Banks was born in Fife in 1954, and was educated at Stirling University, where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology.

He came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984.

His first science fiction novel, Consider Phlebas, was published in 1987. He continued to write both mainstream fiction (as Iain Banks) and science fiction (as Iain M. Banks).

He was acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation: The Guardian called him "the standard by which the rest of SF is judged". William Gibson, the New York Times-bestselling author of Spook Country described Banks as a "phenomenon".

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