Iain M. Banks. 1987. Consider Phlebas London: Orbit edition, 2008. 471 pp.

First read this in 2009 but although I’d first encountered The Wasteland in 1980 I’ve no recollection of connecting the two then.

Re-reading in 2020, the desolation of The Wasteland is prominent, re-created in a virtuoso science fiction epic and ripping yarn with deep philosophical undercurrents.

Even though I now know it was not T.S. Eliot’s intent, the bits of The Wasteland that I can comprehend still seem to me to be a response to the desolation of the First World War, and it is hard not to see Consider Phlebas also to be partly a commentary on war. But a greater theme of the Culture novels, the humanity and morality of artificial intelligences, is instantly alive in this, the first.