Look to Windward
my first experience with Iain M. Banks
i was very curious to read something by Banks, and i'm satisfied with this first book.i'm not completely sold on his universe, and i think that sometimes he wastes too much time in description or episodes that could be shorter and still
surely i'll read more by this author, but let me list what i have troubles with.
like some critic was writing about Banks' universe, the minds are 'too good'. i wonder why, after years, thousands of years of good minds, there are still humans around. they don't work, they don't need to, so usually this leads to decadence and either collapse/extintion or return to barbarism. the minds of course won't let either one happen, but why? they don't need men, and they'll probably be better off without.
the whole mind premise is based on cheap and endless energy. i don't know how this agrees with real physics. it is surely interesting to develop a story where energy is not a problem, nor it is dirty or hard to get. and it is interesting to see how, even without troubles with energy, man can find other way to get in trouble anyway. but is it sound?
let me give you 2 examples. in 'return from universe' stanislaw lem imagines a world without too many problems. people live without worry, and they seem to be in a state of frozen development. they don't need the stars, and they don't care.
they completely renounced their most dramatic human emotions, and live in a pampered world. no dangers, no pains.
here the compromise is evident and yet energy is not free, or endless.
in 'r.u.r.' karel capec imagines biological robots, conceived to save labour from humans. the main reason is greed, and the inevitable mistake will soon appear. again, an almost endless resource of energy is clearly not cheap and not without its problems.
neither capec nor lem imagined the development of information technology that is contained in banks' book, but banks seem to try to get past these past examples and projects his stories forward, in an unbelievable universe that seems closer to p.j. farmer 'makers of universes' than to hard core science fiction.
another thing is the 'star trek' fauna that inhabits the worlds. leaving aside drones and minds, the different creatures seem to come straight from an episode of star trek rather than from a 1990s science fiction masterpiece.
maybe i need to read more, but the descriptions i read so far of an orbital don't convince me so much, as jack vance's descriptions in 'the daemon princes'. that is still my measuring meter for planets and worlds.
nonetheless, the story has lots of surprises and i want to read more.