List (Click to show)
1. Hicksville2. Slaughterhouse 5
15 Consider Phlebas16. The Amber Spyglass17. The Liar's Key
4. Snow Leopard
5. The Rehearsal
7. Solo Faces
9. The Internet is Not the Answer
10. A Sport and a Past Time
11. White Teeth
12. The Bell Jar
13. The Invisible Man
14. The Subtle Knife
18. 1000 Splendid Suns
19. The Windup Girl
20. Fire Colour One
21. The Player of Games
22. The Buddha of Suburbia
23. Prince of Thorns
24. King of Thorns
25. Emperor of Thorns
26. Oryx and Crake
27. Use of Weapons
28. The long way to a small angry planet
27. Use of Weapons
I think someone recommended this book to me earlier in this thread. It's an Iain M Banks SF novel that, overall, I found quite good, but not great. The novel essentially follows a character whose employed to be aggressive - fight and win wars, instigate them, control them - by the peace-minded Culture, a galatic empire that is, more or less, the force.
Dragged out of a semi-retirement Zakawle has to try and locate a politically important recluse and evacuate him before war blows up in a distant galaxy. Along the way (and this is where I felt the book falls down) there are two flashback sequences told alongside the present story. The first is the story of Zakawle's childhood - how it shaped and affected him. The second is the story of his recovery after a nearly fatal incident. The latter was important for the plot, but was tedious and didn't really create the tension it needed, in my opinion.
I'm getting to think that Banks, as a SF writer, seems to always just miss the mark for me, there's always just 5-10% I don't like. Which sucks!
28. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
This book was excellent. Rosemary is a character who has paid all of her savings to forge an identity and escape some troubles. she finds work on the Wayfarer - a ship that is involved in the construction of inter-galactic transport gates as a clerk. As she arrives she begins to integrate with each different member of the crew - all of whom have a voice as the narrator and all of whom have their own back stories.
The world building is done almost exclusively through character backstory, and the world building in excellent. There is so much that's unique to this novel, but really clearly thought out, so many competing and complex elements that don't clash, don't contradict, that just work as interesting and synchronised aspects of the novel. And there's nothing superfluous, at least as far as I could tell.
This novel represents something that is really needed more in SF or Fantasy: it's a simple story where the characters are what makes it great. The story is essentially that the ship has been hired to do a long job - a year or so, and that's it. So the characters and their experiences carry the story.
As much as Space Operas - with their massive plots and their our of control technology and their 'we must do this or we all die!' events and their cowboy action are great (and they are), I've found that those sorts of stories are harder to find satisfying - almost fatiguing in how they are written: the pace, the action, the coincidence. That's what's so satisfying about this novel: nothing really matters, except to the characters, who I bought in to.
There's joy, pain, affection, family, meaning, despair, acceptance, distance and a range of other thoroughly meaningful and well-written themes. It's an incredibly successful debut novel and one, I hope, will be the genesis of lots more books from Becky Chambers.