What to say? What to say? What to say, about a book that is nearly sixteen years old? I have been reading, or rather re-reading, Iain M. Banks’ Culture novel-that-is-not in preparation for an online discussion with Adrea at LittleRedReviewer, Kamo at this is how fight she start, and Brittian with Two Dudes in the Attic.
One of the things that has always perplexed me about INVERSIONS is how Banks got away with leaving so many dark, mysterious sub-plots, twists and or turns unresolved with this book. Don’t mistake me, I’m not saying that the book fails to deliver. Rather, what I’m describing is the very rich, textured and ultimately fulfilling fabric of drama that Banks managed to cram into the piece.
The Culture contribution and more often the focus of all the mystery, romance, deceit, and betrayal is Dr. Vosill. While it’s not obvious that she has a culture ship waiting patiently in orbit above, it’s there. When you read the bits in the book description which suggest that Vosill “is much more than she seems” that’s what they’re hinting at. And right there is the heart of one of my biggest problems with the story to date. Why, if there is a Culture ship circling above does Vosill put up with some much bullshit from the king, his sexists servants and advisors, spies, assassins and so forth? That mission profile is a story in and of itself I imagine. And it is a shame that Banks never got around to writing it in my opinion.
Okay, so I must suspend my disbelief for a little, or better, imagine a whole new parallel plot for Vosill and the Culture Battle Group “Nobody’s Fool in Creamy Butter Sauce”. And maybe that says more about me than it will ever say about Banks’ writing. The story sucks me in easily and while I’m probably behind my peers above in reading to the end (yeah, only Chapter 7) I still want to read what happens next. Last night I put down my writing, in fact, even though I’m feeling very close to selling a story series on spec, so that I could read INVERSIONS just a little bit more.
Right now I’m really hoping that King Quience gets his act together.