Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

My review of Iain M. Banks's latest Culture novel, Surface Detail, appears today at Strange Horizons.  My reaction to this book is almost the exact opposite of my reaction to X-Men: First Class--if the film frustrated me by suggesting that the desire for vengeance is never justified, the book is so busy decrying what it views as greater evils that it stakes out a positive attitude towards killing for revenge that I ultimately found quite disturbing.

If you're interested in my other reviews of Banks novels, they can be found here.


Another Original by Tamara said...

Hi - Interesting Blog. I'll keep following. Have a great day!

Adrienne said...

So what would be the lesser evil in this case, the book or the movie?

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Do you mean which one do I ultimately prefer, or whose message I find less objectionable? If the former, then probably the film, because it's the first good entry in a moribund franchise, whereas Banks has written much better books in the Culture sequence. If the latter, then probably the book, because "it's OK to kill someone who has hurt you if there's no legal recourse against them and you don't torture them first" is a less objectionable message than "wanting to kill the Nazi scientist who murdered your mother in front of you is wrong."

Shoteh said...

Hi Abigail! I got interested in your choice of what is most objectionable of the to scenarios. I'm from Scandinavia and I'm inclined to think opposite of you. Since you are from Israel It's possible that you are Jewish? Or you're probably raised in a Jewish culture, like I'm raised in a Christian culture. I'm not religious, but my upbringing is still Christian since i live in a Christian culture. You've probably seen where I'm going with this by now... To what degree do you think your cultural upbringing has influenced your judgment in this dilemma?

Abigail Nussbaum said...


Though I'm sure that my religious background affects many of my opinions and judgments, in this case I'm influenced more by my politics. As I wrote in my review of the film, what I sense at its core is a rejection of moral outrage, which I find much more problematic because it's an echo of something that happens in the real world, whereas Banks's revenge fantasy is more easily recognizable as such.

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