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IAIN M. BANKS – MATTER – The Shellworld Review — yeah it’s long but it’s another awesome Culture novel October 7, 2010

Posted by showmescifi in ShowMeSciFi.com.
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We just finished reading Ian M. Banks massive tome Matter and like most culture books, it has made us think about alot of things.

As we’ve experienced before with Banks, there are some amazing SciFi constructs – in this book we’re introduced to the concept of a Shellworld, with layers of diff civilizations living on each and are introduced to the Mothanveld, an Optimae species nearly on par with the Culture.

At the beginning until nearly the end, we thought this would be a book about revenge – and even thought that was Ferbin and Djan’s goal – that didn’t quite happen did it?

But the ending was entirely satisfying and typically Banks. No, there wasn’t a major revelation at the end of this massive book, but it did makes sense and did leave us with the same sense we get whenever we get to the end of a Culture book.


The deeper level of meaning in this book – about Matter – that there are levels within levels and it’s never clear who is being played by whom, is weaved so brilliantly into this book – it’s the very fabric of the multiple plots and subplots.

Sure, we ran into some sections that were over-written and sure we skipped over graphs here and there, that just went on and on and on. But the story, the characters, the new tech and the intense drama of wanting to know what would happen next makes Matter an awesome read.

Our fav Culture book still remains the first – Consider Phelbas, the ending of Use of Weapons still remains the greatest twist, the Special Circumstances sub-plot in Look to Windward is still better as is SC’s devious game playing in The Player of Games.

Matter fits well into the Culture canon – giving us a new look into the larger Galaxy, SC and a new type of world view.

Banks is the greatest SciFi writer of this generation and he continues to deliver with Matter. Yes the size of the book might look intimidating, but it’s worth the effort.


1. Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks – REVIEW – A solid Culture tale but a bit overwritten « Show Me SciFi - February 22, 2011

[…] basic plotline is similar to Matter in a way (which we recently reviewed) where there is a woman coming back to her home planet to […]

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