Use of Weapons, by Iain M. Banks

Got this sci-fi recommendation from several friends — took me a long time to read & get into, though. Finally finished it this weekend, and liked it enough to read more of his books, although not right away. This book is in an interesting context, with an unusual narrative structure that’s pretty disorienting to start with, but in hindsight makes a ton of sense. Banks’ work is mostly set in the same context — they’re all called “A Culture Novel,” where the Culture is a group of, you know, thingys. So not my favorite ever, but I enjoyed this one well enough to try to understand Banks a little bit more.


  1. I’d recommend picking up one of his non-Culture novels, Feersum Endjinn. Great stuff. Approximately 1/3 of the novel will drive you insane (you’ll see).

  2. His Culture novels are brilliant. I enjoyed Use of Weapons, and Feersum Endjinn is also great – but I would read it last, as Grant said it can be a tad frustrating 🙂 I would recommend starting with “Excession” for a light-hearted fun read, or “Against a Dark Background” – dark, but brilliantly written and his best work IMO ( I also thoroughly enjoyed “Consider Phlebas” and “Look to Windward”.

  3. “Against a Dark Background” isn’t a Culture book though.

    “Use of Weapons” is my favorite of the Culture books. It and “Consider Phlebas” were the first two that i read and amongst his earliest. I would definitely recommend it. His latest work, “Matter,” was fairly good as well, in my opinion.

    “Use of Weapons” is a bit darker than some of his work but hardly the darkest.

    He also writes non-Science Fiction as “Iain Banks.” If nothing else, you should read one of his first works, “The Wasp Factory,” which is included in a collection by the same name.

    Banks is one of my favorite Science Fiction authors, along with Ken MacLeod.

  4. I’ve read more of his non-scifi books, written under the name Iain Banks (without the M). Many of these are very good too…The Crow Road, and Steep approach to Garbadale are two of the finest books you will ever read…