« Yosemite
Children of the Sky »
Look to Windward

(This entry cross-posted from our media review blog.)

"Look to Windward" is the seventh (arguably) book in Iain M. Banks' "Culture series". Despite Wikipedia calling it a "sequel", I found it to be a self-contained story with about 5 main-ish characters that need no introduction and that are not important in later books. The story takes a while to come together, but it all makes sense in the end; as a result, I enjoyed the final 100 pages much more than the first 400. Hard to say more without spoilers. :)

As with other Culture books, the settings and worlds are the centerpiece of the text. But since most of this book takes place on a single world, the scenery is a bit less varied than "Use of Weapons" and "Surface Detail".

My strongest complaint of "Look to Windward" is about the hundreds of pages spent on how Culture citizens pass the time. There are pages upon pages of cocktail parties, hiking trips, hunting trips, hang gliding, concerts, and chit-chat. I think Banks is trying to convey the frivolity and existential emptiness of an immortal life without want in the Culture's idyllic future, but it is damned boring. Slashing 100 pages of descriptions of guided tours of beautiful landscapes would be a big help.

On the bright side, I enjoyed the complexity of the characters in this book: there were funny side characters, despicable protagonists, likable villans, tragic heros, and surprising but believable motives that carry the story to its conclusion.

Overall I would call this a lesser Culture book, but perhaps worth your time if you've read all the rest and are still wanting more. Just skim the hang-gliding scenes.

blog comments powered by Disqus
The views expressed on this site are mine personally, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.