This is the third of Iain Banks Culture novel series. True to it’s title Use of Weapons explores how just about anything can be a weapon, a look, a kiss, a chair, a gun, a missile. In one direction (moving forward) the novel follows the attempt of Dismet Sma to bring back into service Cheradinine Zakalwe, a military commander who the Culture have maintained for over two hundred years, calling on him when they need to impact a battle or war. In another direction (moving backwards) the novel explores events in Cheradinine’s life back to the first war he was involved in. The two timelines come together at the end with devastating effect. Like all of the Culture Novels it’s stand alone and while it helps to have read other novels in the series if you simply extend earth empires of the past into space for the most part it’s easy to understand the universe.

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Use of Weapons
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I am French, just started on my 4th decade and I am a teacher married to a British guy.

I love my job even though I do complain about it regularly (who doesn’t?). Why do I love my job? I think it is because I like working with kids, I like seeing their face when they realise they understand something new, I like the way I have to keep myself “updated” on all new stuff so I can keep up with them and even keep slightly ahead of them, be it with technology, music, films etc. I started teaching when I was 25 and I think I stopped growing old a couple of years later… well… I am getting older physically (obviously ) but in my mind I am still 27 ish…

Apart from teaching I do a lot of role playing games with a great group of friends. I love watching films and TV shows old and new.

I became a big fan of Firefly, discovering in the process the world of fandom and am currently involved in doing a podcast related to this fantastic tv show. Find more about it at

I have "met" Stefan a little more than a year ago now and was invited to take part in Highway to Mars a few times now... I guess Stefan liked what I had to say as he has now entrusted me with taking over a few episodes for him... I hope you will like them too!

Talking of podcast, I am also doing a school podcast with a few of my students, guiding them, teaching them to use different programs etc.

I love travelling and would do a lot more of it if we could afford it.

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  • I think that was ironic, wasn’t it?

    Anyway, I’ve started “The Left Hand of Darkness”, and it will be the first Le Guin I’ve read, I think. I’m not very far through it, but there are already some interesting Culture parallels.

  • Had not thought of it but Left Hand of Darkness has a Culture feel to it.
    Use of Weapons was the first I read by Banks and it haunts me (in a good way) to this day. Such a powerful book.

  • “Had not thought of it but Left Hand of Darkness has a Culture feel to it.”

    I think so – especially when Ai explains that the Ekumen send one envoy so as not to risk the lives of many, a real AHA! moment for me 🙂 The Ekumen seem a bit more “human” than The Culture, but there are definite parallels. The book itself differs in that it seems to have a far more even handed view of Winter’s (small c) culture, and that of the Ekumen – Ai himself sometimes seems to have an ambivalence about the Ekumen (particularly towards the end of the book) that I can’t remember officials of The Culture having.

    Anyway, it seems like a great choice after the two Culture novels the podcast have covered so far – looking forward to the discussion of it.