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back to article Use of Weapons declared best sci-fi film never made

Our poll to name the best sci-fi film never made has returned Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks as the book Reg readers would most like to see projected on the silver screen. useofweaponsnovelcover The 50 candidates attracted a whopping 27,088 votes, with the winner securing 10,032. Runner-up was Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle' …

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Pint

Mr Staberinde, I presume?

That would be an epic movie but people would have to have larger bladders than they needed for Titanic.

Maybe an anime series?

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Grenade

Anime?

Chances are that the anime producers would probably come up with a better adaptation that wHollyWeird ever could. Having said that, they could turn it into a -mon series or, worse still, a Magical Girl series! ARRRGH!!!

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FAIL

Anime?!

Yeah, 'cos that story is just crying out for loads of tentacle-rape and paedophilia...

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LOL

The stereotypes aren't entirely unfounded, it's true.

OTOH try watching something like Ghost In The Shell sometime, I'd recommend the Stand Alone Complex series. No suspiciously young girls, no tentacle rape. Also no spoon-feeding every little story detail like western media, it leaves a bit more to be figured out and thought about.

I enjoy them, once in a while. They do sci-fi very well.

When they're not drawing a 200 foot tall monster destroying tokyo with it's hundreds of giant prehensile penises that is.

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Review

One of you 10,000 voters should go edit the wiki page for Use Of Weapons, because I just read the summary and it sounds like a pile of steaming...

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de gustibus non est disputandum

but that doesn't alter the fact that you're wrong.

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Grenade

The (demilitarised) ROU

Xenophobe would like you to know that it's only targeting you with its secondary weapon arrays because it doesn't want to appear overly aggressive...

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Forget the wiki

Read the book.

And if you don't understand whats happening it's Ken Macleods fault.

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Coffee/keyboard

I have to agree...

...this sounds like a horrendous book. Banks whilst obviously a clever chappie sometimes tries too hard for his own good (or for the good of his readers). I fail to see how this book could ever be made into anything vaguely watchable. So it must be a prime candidate for Hollywood!!

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Stop

So that book you've never read...

Would you say this book you have never read is better or worse than the other books you have never read?

I sometimes think partial ignorance is worse than total ignorance when it comes to making ill-informed statements about artistic endeavours.

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Brad Dourif in the lead role!

Says it all about the mental state of the lead character.

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Wait...

...Babylon 5 - "Passing Through Gethsemane"? Yep, that'd do...

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Happy

Iain M Banks FTW, not my favorite though

Personally after reading 'Consider phlebas' and 'The Player of games' (which is brilliant!!) I was underwhelmed by 'Use of Weapons'.

I'd love to see 'Consider Phlebas' as a large scale Galactica style TV series though, as I don't think a film could squeeze it in.

I've not been able to make a dent in any of the other Culture books, I really struggle with them after the first three...

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Try Excession

That's a nice easy reading Culture novel...

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Agreed,

though I'd put Player above Consider.

It's worth making the effort for Excession though.

<QUOTE> Ulver laughed. 'It looks,' she snorted, 'like a dildo!'

'That's appropriate,' Churt Lyne said. 'Armed, it can fuck solar systems.'

</QUOTE>

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Consider Phlebas would make a better film.

The CAT flying through the GSV.

Raiding the gigantic on a collision course with the edge of the oribital.

The command system.

What would be the good scenes in UoW? The "hero" carving "HELP" in birdshit with his ruined body?

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My favorite is excession

Damned if I can see a way of taking a story mostly constructed from the interior monologues of the unimaginably powerful shipminds, and converting it into a watchable movie.

How the hell do you get a shipminds visible manifestation, and multi-kilomiter long ships hull, probably concealed by layer upon layer of 'fields', to emote in a fasion an audience can appreciate?

Or a drone, for that matter?

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I consider it the best.

Consider Phlebas is a fantastic book, but if you're going to read any others can i suggest Excession it is without doubt a fantastic read.

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Simples

"How the hell do you get a shipminds visible manifestation, and multi-kilomiter long ships hull, probably concealed by layer upon layer of 'fields', to emote in a fasion an audience can appreciate?"

It's simple. Ever seen Tank Police?

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Pint

Great choice.

Use of Weapons would be an epic - you really need short stories for films, which tells you something.

If we're not talking Sci-Fi then "What good is a glass dagger" would make an excellent movie.

Still discerning choice from El Reg's readers. Have a pint on me.

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Never read this one....

But thinking about it.

What would be the recommended gateway book to Iain M Banks.

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Read them in any order

There isn't anything linking the various "culture" novels (apart from the fact that they are all set in the same "universe"), so any order is fine.

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Two options

1. Chronologically (ie date of publication)

2. Out of 'order'.

You can do either. As pointed out, the books don't have any real dependencies on one another.

I tend to read authors chronologically unless they have a work that stands out amongst others, a 'Must read' if you must.

In Banks case, the books are all good imho. Can't really pick a 'Must read' but Excession tends to stand out a bit more because of the Mind dialogues and all the intrigue and oh.. Feersum Endjinn (Not a Culture novel) for reasons that will become very obvious when you first pick it up (and others as you get deeper into it).

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Feersum Endjinn

Feersum Endjinn is the only Ian Banks book that I found impossible to read, well not impossible but running the continual phonetic to word translation in my head was more work than fun. I gave up about 1/3 through as I just wasn't enjoying it.

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Consider Phlebas First

I think Consider Phlebas is a good introduction to the Culture. As others have said, Excession and Use of Weapons are the two stand-out books in the series.

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Use of Weapons

I read Use of Weapons first and it's been my favorite and most memorable first read of an author since.

But you can read them in any order.

Also...

I voted for this one!! WINNER!!

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Well...

I'd read "Consider Phlebas" before "Look to Windward", since LtW is a sort of follow-up, but I don't think there's a real dependancy; you'll just get more out of it that way.

But really, all of them, in any order, are very good. Excession is fan-flippin'-tastic but utterly unfilmable; the images are much better in your own head...

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Tim
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@Irish donkey - gateway books

Start with The Player of Games. It's a single story, rather than the epic space opera stuff in the larger books (Consider Phlebas etc.) but it's still very rich in detail. The concept is interesting and the story is brilliantly paced and plotted. I found it to be the perfect introduction.

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The white chair......

makes my hair stand on end when I think about it.......

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Agreed

I have to admit that freaked me out when I first read the book - Banks always manages to put at least one "eeewww" scene in his novels...

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One small flaw

The plot twist that makes Use of Weapons so cool relies on you not realising the details of the Zakalwe/chairmaker situation until right at the end.

If you can see the actors, that won't work.

Additionally, I think it would be beyond challenging to keep track of and show all the flash forwards/flashbacks/reverse chronologies in a film.

Fantastic book, abysmal film potential.

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This is true.

They're all quite hard to make into films, some more than others.

I wouldn't think translating Banks to the silver screen would be impossible though, it's just the matter of picking the right material and the right people to do it.

At risk of heresy, I actually thought LOTR was pretty well done, considering the bulk of the work.

And... contrast that with something apparently written for the silver screen. Inception. Brilliant plot/story line, special effects.. but oh my god, why was it so badly implemented in just so many ways? Totally killed a great story, imho.

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Happy

Re: One small flaw

Piece of piss.

Just ensure that both of the two actors playing the parts in the flashback sequences look sufficiently like the older chap playing Zakalwe for it to make sense when the bombshell drops.......

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Go

Don't even have to do that

Appearance is pretty malleable in the Culture anyway, and IIRC Special Circumstances aren't above altering someone beyond recognition to more comfortably fit local circumstances.

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@One small flaw - Wouldn't be too hard

to introduce cosmetic surgery in the plot. Especially in the Culture's context, where people can will themselves to change sex.

You're right the flash back/forward would be tricky, but just the kind of stuff good films are made of. Overall, I think the chair makes it way too creepy though - Mountains of Madness's R rating sunk that project.

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Well crafted book

The (main) twist effectively happens on the ambiguity of one sentence in the middle of the book (I'm not going to say which one for spoiler's sake). I remember thinking "but wait! he said..." and going back and realising what it really meant!

I don't think the flashbacks would be too challenging these days (Lost had a recognisable incidental noise to alert you to flashbacks), and Slaughterhouse 5 is surely the daddy of all mixed chronology stories and still made a great (if odd) film.

Having said that, I'd prefer to see Matter or even Inversions as a film.

Recommendation for Culture entry point: Player of Games.

+1 for the hat special edition idea!

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They made a film of Slaughterhouse 5?

Will have to try and pick that one up

Trafalamadorians FTW!

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Grenade

Bastards

I read that as "Use of Weapons declared best sci-fi film ever made", and was wondering how the hell I missed it. Saying that, maybe it's for the best as I tend to be let down by films made from books that I've enjoyed.

@amanfromearth: I tend to at least try reading the book before reserving judgement, but then maybe that's just me.

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The Forever War

The Forever War is allegedly going ahead.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forever_War#Film

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Alien

2013

Listed on IMDB as a possible 2013 release. Director apparently Ridley Scott, so it'll either be very very good, or so full of "set scenes" to be unwatchable. Also, just looking at the IMDB summary, it looks like they're taking just the very base plot of the book and throwing out pretty much all of the book's storyline (much like they did with I Robot)

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WTF?

Distribution of votes.

That's a *very* skewed distribution there. Did somebody use a script?

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Black Helicopters

My thought exactly

Especially as, when I voted Mote in God's Eye had over 7000 votes and at that time over 50% of the votes polled - it does sound like a few people spotted you did not need to be logged in to vote ....

Still it is a very good book, but personally I don't think any of the Culture Novels are that worthy of being made in to a movie (not sure about Mote either having said that).

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I was thinking it

When the second place book has 10 times the votes of the third place book I have to think that there were a couple of competing scripts.

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Terminator

Fixing a poll like this

Would be trivial to a Mind....

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Siena Miller for Diziet

As per her catsuit in GI Joe. Nuff said.

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Didn't banks say....

that Use of Weapons was 'unfilmable'? It would be a very cool movie project for an ambitious and talented producer though.

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He did

Neither were Solaris and Picnic by the Road.

Let's be real - it would take Tarkovsky reincarnating into a new body to film it. It requires a proper producer and a proper director.

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Dang right

I think it's totally unfilmable, because of the unusual (and brilliant) narrative structure, which hides the key plot point until the end/beginning.

It's one of the masterpieces of SF, but if you're making a culture film, go with The Player of Games.

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Banks is always going to be difficult to take from page to screen

Does anyone else remember the dreadful version of "Crow Road" (a "non-M" Banks novel for those that don't know) done by the BBC in the mid-late 90s? Relatively straight-forward past/present storytelling you would think, but somehow it all went horribly wrong.

Best to leave Banks to the imagination, I think (I voted for Clarke's "Childhood's End").

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