Not 'fun'??? -I think they're hilarious!!!
I guess I'm used to a more breezy, plot-focused style whe I'm reading space opera. Banks has a much greater interest in setting up the scene and dawdling on details and letting plot unfold organically in the background - which is all, you know, not bad
, but I'm not exactly eating these up as I was with Bujold last year, where it almost felt like I blazed through an omnibus sometime before breakfast.* Banks can be genuinely interesting in his massive Big Ideas being thrown around - there's decidedly cinematic imagery in Consider Phlebas
- but I'd be lying if I said I found it as engaging. That's why I'm just pegging it as a 'fun' gap, as it'd sound kind of weird to complain that a writer is giving attention to detail to things in his book.
And yeah, the names of the ships are cool as is their attitude (and again the general anarchic-government-by-haphazard supercomputer whim is one of the best parts of these books, and I'm particularly liking how Excession
is going into that at greater length then previous novels), but I wouldn't call these books particularly funny. Even ignoring the unfair comparison of Douglas Adams, John Scalzi has waaay
more jokes in his Old Man's War series and they sparkle.
*It'd be fair to say that Bujold has an extremely narrow focus on her plots. You can sometimes almost list the named characters on one hand, and there's rarely a stray scene that doesn't either give character development to a key principal or furthers the plot in some way. It can lead to the books feeling altogether a bit too
tidy, but I'll be damned if they weren't addictive as all hell.
PS: Just... what is it with Banks and the word escarpment, anyway? Just when I thought he was using it a little much he goes ahead and makes it a class of starship too.