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Use of Weapons, Iain M. Banks, Orbit, 1990, ISBN 0-356-19160-5, f12.95

If I ever write a critical summary of Banks’ novels, I would have to title it “Beyond the Twist,” for it is exactly that which is Banks’ work. Where another author might come up with some of the same details, Banks makes each book his own by embodying a twist in it. This is most apparent in The Wasp Factory, where the entire novel hinges on a single fact about the narrator that is hidden from reader and narrator until the end. Similarly, Use of Weapons also relies on such a twist, but here it is hidden from the reader and the other characters; the protagonist knows the secret, and it is this that drives him and makes him complex–as well as providing for the story.

On rec.arts.sf.written they were discussing a particular description in this story, calling it the single most disgusting thing they had ever read. I don’t know if I’m jaded, but I didn’t find it so. Disgusting, yes, and nothing that I would want to see, but it was fictitious (although possible). I can think of any number of things that actually occurred in the last year that I would consider more disgusting, possibly because they weren’t fiction. And I guess that’s my dividing line.

[Finished 17 April 1993]


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