Use of Weapons by Iain BanksUse of Weapons by Iain Banks

Use of Weapons

byIain Banks

Paperback | March 26, 1992

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The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks or military action.

The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.

The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman's life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a burnt-out case. But not even its machine intelligence could see the horrors in his past.
Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, THE WASP FACTORY, in 1984. He has since gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels.
Title:Use of WeaponsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:434 pages, 1.15 × 5 × 7.75 inPublished:March 26, 1992Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:185723135X

ISBN - 13:9781857231359

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good The Culture is a fictitious, galactic civilization; a hedonistic, socialist utopia, which is populated with intelligent, biological species, but overseen by sapient machines called Minds, which not only rule the Culture, but also control massive star-ship-colonies that house billions of beings. The Culture books form a ‘series’ of stand-alone novels, written by Iain M. Banks (aka Iain Banks, without the M., when he isn’t writing science fiction, e.g.: The Wasp Factory). The Culture, managed by the machine Minds, sometimes needs difficult, non-Culture-related tasks taken care of, which come under the auspices of Contact. The most sordid activities are directed to Contact’s Special Circumstances branch. The Culture utilizes psychological and political schemes to ‘persuade’ other civilizations to adopt the Culture’s philosophy as a means to assure the Culture way of life is not endangered; many times, persuasion leads to war. I’ve read three of the Culture novels. I have obsessive-compulsive tendencies, so I began with the first Culture novel published (Consider Phlebas (1987), which I didn’t like much), then I read the second Culture novel (The Player of Games (1988), which I did like), and I just finished the third Culture novel, Use of Weapons (1990), which I think is the best so far, by a country kilometer. Use of Weapons unfolds in alternating-chapter plot-streams: one plot moves forward in time (chapters one through fourteen), and the other stream flows backward in time (from XIII to I). The forward moving chapters reveal the current activities of Diziet Sma (to be precise, Rasd-Coduresa Diziet Embless Sma da’ Marchehide), Special Circumstances agent, in her latest assignment as the handler of Cheradenine Zakalwe, a non-Culture, human-norm Soldier-of-fortune/General who does the Culture’s dirty-work. Zakalwe has dark, hidden memories that haunt him, and these memories are motivation to fight for the ‘good guy’, but Zakalwe is forever questioning the tactics of the Culture (do the ends justify the means?), and I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I suggest that Zakalwe is one of the weapons being used. The chapters that flow backward in time move resolutely toward an event that Zakalwe would rather forget. This book includes graphic violence in several sections, and Mr. Banks’ imagination has a morbid steak, but I enjoyed this book more and more as the plot moved along. The ending was well set-up and presented, and the revelation sent reverberations back through to the beginning of the novel. If you can manage your way through the plasma-guns, spaceships, and graphic violence, the book is quite enjoyable. Recommended
Date published: 2012-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have seen the enemy, and he is us Hilarious, dark, and ambitious. Zakalwe is skilled but unstable, haunted by his past--he is both a user of weapons, and a weapon himself, in the hands of the Culture. In the opening scene he and a companion are the defenders of a fortress under heavy bombardment. They are both drunk. It's a madcap funny scene, it's a metaphor for the Culture, and it's a metaphor for our own culture... who's running this show? Oh, wait, is it us? Since when are we sane and capable enough to be in charge? The novel shuttles backward and forward in time, lighting on Zakalwe's victories and defeats, and painting a portrait of the Culture as a civilization whose sophistication and achievement are underpinned by moral compromise and denial. Over and over, Banks pulls off the masks and shows us very familiar monsters.
Date published: 2007-11-14

Editorial Reviews

In many ways his best yet... rich, vivid and great fun.-VECTOR