Consider Phlebas – Iain M. Banks

So you might know I’m trying to read all of Jeeves and Wooster; I’m also reading Culture. I figure it’s a big chunk of SF writing, especially British SF, and it’s kind of just good enough to keep me interested.

So I will pick up a book when I see it in the shop and then I’ll read it and then I’ll be… hmm. It’s undeniably less stuffy than a lot of other science fiction, and it’s not less imaginative than a lot of other stuff, and the action is action-y and the characters are interesting and the writing is good enough. But it doesn’t make me think “man, this is some really good stuff right here” at any stage.

This one is the one with the war against the Idirans, who are a three-legged race of reptile types, who are fighting the Culture because – I can’t remember why – and the Culture has engaged a dude who is able to imitate any other humanoid (I think that’s the extent of his abilities) and has poison glands and stuff as an assassin type or something, and he is after something that is hidden on a planet somewhere that the Culture isn’t supposed to be allowed (and prevented from accessing by a further advanced civilisation) and… yeah. It’s OK. There are some sad bits, some disgusting bits (really horribly disgusting), some happy bits and some mildly amusing bits. It’s decent, but it’s not like you have to read it.

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