Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Lost in Space

I'm reading a sci-fi book again. Or rather... trying to. And it's a shame but I can't get into it.
The book is "Against a Dark Background" by Iain M. Banks. And I thought that I really liked Banks, but...

I know that I've read the book before, and I remember enjoying it. I don't remember the plot too well so I thought - hey I'll give it a go again. But this time I just can't get lost in it. The characters are really starting to annoy me. They seem thin and schematic. I can't see them or feel them. And I'm struggling in a welter of exotic settings, names and broken time sequences.

Why am I so disappointed? Or do I mean- disconcerted? I thought of Iain M. Banks as a really good sci-fi writer. (And yes, I know that he also writes straight fiction as plain old Iain Banks. And is therefore no slouch in the writing game.)

I'll have to dip into another one, won't I? To find out if I have irrevocably lost the taste for Banksian sci-fi; or if it is just that this particular book doesn't stretch to a rerun.

It might mean that I can't revisit other old favourites: Sheri Tepper, C.J. Cherryh, Ken McLeod, Colin Greenland, William Gibson...

Maybe I need to try some sterner stuff. Some classics. Bradbury, J.G. Ballard, Lem. I've read Bradbury and Ballard, years ago - and keep meaning to try Lem's "Solaris". (Owned and praised by The Old Man. Who doesn't like sci-fi - so don't know where that leaves me there.)

What do you do when one of your favourite snacks loses its lip-smacking delight? Where do you turn when your booky comfort food leaves you fat and flat?


David R. said...

Against a dark background is definitely not the best - my favourite would be Use of weapons. If you're trying Lem, I recommend the Cyberiad - I read it as part of my philosophy degree and still love it. I've read William Gibson's recent stuff and it's very good.

Little Grey Doll said...

Thanks, David R. Good to know I had not lost my marbles re: Against a Dark Background. You've reminded me that the Banks SF I most enjoyed were those in the Culture series (as is Use of Weapons) Have just got myself a copy of JG Ballard - Vermilion Sands, but will maybe return to Gibson as well.