So I finally started reading an Iain M Banks novel

I’ve read a few of his other writings (as Iain Banks without the M) - notably The Wasp Factory which I found deeply disturbing and I’ve read a few of his short SF stories in a collection called The State Of The Art - a couple of which were ‘culture’ based.

Anyway, I chanced upon a copy of Use Of Weapons in a charity shop and I’m about 1/4 of the way through (no untagged spoilers please). I particularly like the way that the machine intelligences are nutty and the machines use silly names for their spaceships (like Bad For business or It Was Like That When I Got Here).

It is also a sign of good writing that, even though the technology should make the culture practically omnipotent, the story does not suffer from it - the characters still face trials and challenges.

I’m not a huge fan of Iain M. Banks, but Use of Weapons is definitely a classic. Just wait til you get to the ending. Just you wait…

It was, in fact, the first of his Culture books I read. The ones after that started to irritate me and/or bore me more and more. I love bits and pieces, here and there, but the Culture is, for me, an essentially annoying civilization. They’re so damn smug.

Weapons was the first Culture novel I read also. And I agree with Fiat Lux about the ending. Drop back by when you hit it; there is one scene at the end that haunted me for weeks.