Thumbs down for Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks. Science fiction.
It hurts to give a thumbs down to a writer as excellent as Banks, but this book is TEDIOUS. It is merely one incident after another: frying pan, fire, frying pan, fire, repeat ad nauseum for 500+ pages. I very much enjoyed the nearly identical MacGuffin chase in Banks’s Against a Dark Background (my review) but that was because I was interested in the characters; no such luck here. I did not hate Horza or the others, but after spending hundreds of pages trudging along with them on their pointless adventures, I was quite looking forward to the inevitable and protracted carnage of the denouement, in which I knew that basically everybody would die in horrible ways (I don’t think that’s a spoiler, if you’re at all familiar with Banks). Good riddance.
The final cabin was shared by Lenipobra and Lamm. Lenipobra was the youngster of the Company; a gangly youth with a stutter and garish red hair. He had a tattooed tongue which he was very proud of and would display at every possible opportunity. The tattoo, of a human female, was in every sense crude. Lenipobra was the CAT‘s best excuse for a medic and was rarely seen without a small screenbook which contained one of the more up-to-date pan-human medical textbooks. He proudly showed this to Horza, including a few of the moving pages, one of which showed in vivid color the basic techniques for treating deep laser burns in the most common forms of digestive tracts. Lenipobra thought it looked like great fun. Horza made a mental note to try even harder not to get shot in the Temple of Light. Lenipobra had very long and skinny arms, and spent about a quarter of each day going about on all fours, though whether this was entirely natural to his species or merely affectation Horza could not discover.
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