On the one hand, Consider Phlebas is a smart, fast-paced opener for The Culture books, an acclaimed science fiction series by Iain M. Banks. On the other, there are two stereotypes all tied up in one villain package. One of the villains is a Jabba the Hutt knockoff who invites us to equate corpulence with corruption. Then audiobook narrator Peter Kinney comes along to give him the voice of an effete homosexual. Banks strikes me as an intelligent writer, and Kinney is one of my favorite narrators, so I am mad at both of them.
And before you go telling me how Things Were Different back then, the book's pub date is 1987. The moon landing was old enough to vote.
So to enjoy this book, you'll need to have tolerance for some unfortunate stereotypes, and you'll need to have a stomach made of steel, because there is one scene that is revolting. I have a high tolerance for reading disgusting things and I about lost my lunch.
If you're still with me, this is a fun space opera. I see why it endures on Best Of lists, and I expect I'll continue sampling from The Culture books. This is not the kind of science fiction that makes you contemplate your own humanity. It's the other kind. the SPACE LASERS kind.
When Covid first hit, I started doing book talks on social media as a way to keep in touch with people. I never got out of the habit. I don't discuss books by my clients, and if I don't like a book, I won't discuss it at all. While I will sometimes focus on craft or offer gentle critical perspectives, as a matter of professional courtesy, I don't trash writers. Unless they're dead. Then the gloves come off.