The Spin: a vast artificial star system providing the stage for political and other power games. The Hive – a portmanteau of High Value, but equally a true hive – houses a population of slaves forming the economic base of an entire society.
These and other examples of what we would call bizarre practises are the decor of the Culturesque story Bannister is delivering: the theft of an enormous space cruiser changes the political reality in The Spin. The cruiser is a ten thousand year old decommissioned war ship with its own ideas and agenda.
Bannister is describing events from first persons’ views: the thieves; the slaves; political leaders; and people in a declining society, who have made a religion based upon the old war ships, taking them for gods.
The scifi in this story is essential: it is not just an action or war story with robots. In my opinion this is a mark of good scifi. Apart from that Bannister creates interesting, sneaky, deliciously gruesome, humane, cute and fun characters, credible aliens and delicious plot twists.
Take the ‘hollowed races’: athletes whose entrails have been reduced to the absolute minimum in order to bring their weight down and their running speed up. For life support they depend on machinery they bring along in a kind of floating balloon. Just before the race they are flooded with oxigen and stimulants for optimal performance, after which they must hurry back to their life support balloon.
Iron Gods is nominally the second installation of a trilogy but it is just a separate story set in the same universe. It is not a sequel to anything and can be read stand-alone. In my opinion Andrew Bannister’s The Spin is the heir to Iain M. Banks’ Culture series. Like with part one we must not compare one to the other but it is definitively safe to say that if you like Reynolds’ and Banks’ space opera you will absolutely massively enjoy Bannister’s The Spin books.
Criticism on Bannister’s space opera sometimes is that the book is overly long but I think the different points of view and the characters’ background stories are contributing a lot to The Spin’s resolution, its credibility.