>>7612462 I liked player of games but couldn't get into consider Phlebas. There was an alien character that behaved like some subculture (Scottish? I forget.) which was just too cheesy for me to want to continue.
Of the three I've read Look to Windward, Inversions and some of Excession - I liked Look to Windward the most, Inversions I didn't like (predictable and generic) and Excession I lost interest in so I only read some of it which was ok.
His non-Culture sci-fi seems to be more adventurous and successful - Against A Dark Background and Feersum Endjinn.
>>7612451 They all end the same way. The whole book he pretends that whatever the protagonist is doing matters, and then at the end the race of godlike AIs saves the day and reveals that nobody was ever really in danger because they had everything under control. As a result there's zero stakes and zero tension.
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