This was another book that was purchased after going to a reading by the author in 2005. To be honest, the reading didn’t blow me away (though Mr. Banks is very personable and amusing), but I enjoyed the book a great deal - much, much more than I was expecting. I like science fiction, but “space opera” isn’t so much my thing. I guess that’s why I was surprised to be drawn into this book as much as I was.
It’s fun a romp through far-away galaxies filled with mysterious aliens and evil humanoids and space battles and secret manuscripts. The book is shot through with a good deal of humor and quite a bit of darkness as well (Mr. Banks has a pretty twisted imagination). Though I sometimes found it difficult to form a mental image of the creatures and places described in the book, I thought the writing was very good overall, which made the reading a pleasure. If you’re looking for pure escapist SF entertainment, you could do a lot worse than The Algebraist.