We’re back in the culture for probably one of Banks’ more divisive Culture novels. Like the rest, I think it’s very strong. Time after time going back into Bank’s Culture Universe is some of my most enjoyable reading. Matter is no different. There is plenty of greatness in Matter, which often highlights Banks’ wit and world building. My biggest complaint is that though I enjoyed the raising of the stakes at the end, I felt it at some level did a disservice to much of what had come before. The players within the Sarl who were the focus of much of the novel, just seemed far less relevant than they needed to be. I feel like this was intentional and I get what Banks was trying to do, but ultimately, I thought it could be handled better.
That said, the early betrayal grabbed me and made me care about the story. The way the story gradually expanded, the plot getting bigger and the stakes getting higher, was a credit to the story and world building. The shell world was a fascinating setting as were some of the ships visited throughout the story. I enjoyed all of the main characters, despite wanting a bit more payoff to some of the Sarl relationships. It’s firmly in the middle for me among Banks’ Culture novels. It has a few more flaws, but it has so much of what makes Banks great too.
(Felan’s Rescue Available in all formats August 19, 2022. E-book Preorders Available now)