Dead Air, Iain Banks, ISBN 0349116644
I was quite disappointed by The Business, Banks' previous mainstream book (but much more happy with Look To Windward and while I have a couple of complaints about Dead Air it's definitely a return to form as far as I'm concerned.
Those complaints. Firstly the hero is, basically, a fantasy loony liberal. I mean this in the nicest possible way, but the lengthy lectures on the wrongs of the world get a bit trying after a while, even - particularly, rather - those that I agree with. Yes, I know all these things are terrible, can we get on with the plot, please? The one point where the characters actually look like they're having a debate, rather than a lecture, is the subject of Israel, as viciously divisive in the book as in real life.
Secondly, I don't really buy the ending. Perhaps I'm being overly sceptical, or excessively grumpy in failing to sit back and enjoy a ride meant for enjoyment, but I just don't quite believe how convenient it all is and how some of the characters act.
Although the blurb and cover hint strongly at connections to 9/11 it's never really much more than a background element; that's a strength, I think, anchoring the book in time in a way that many authors decline to do, leaving them freely floating some time in a given decade.
It all feels a bit more, somehow nitty-gritty than my memory of his other books, actually. I'm not sure whether that's just a fact about me or a genuine change. If the latter then it's certainly not a negative one though.
Anyway I read through this book very rapidly and really enjoyed it. Heartily recommended.
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