Talk:Use of Weapons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Novels / Sci-fi (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Novels, an attempt to build a comprehensive and detailed guide to novels, novellas, novelettes and short stories on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, you can edit one of the articles mentioned below, or visit the project page, where you can join the project and contribute to the general Project discussion to talk over new ideas and suggestions.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by Science fiction task force.


I'm not sure why the prologue is thought to be the start of another novel. This is obviously not the case, the prologue is there because the story runs backwards. It contains hints about hair length and other stuff, and it's obviously part of the main plot of the story.

Hmmm...your version has the advantage that it's concise and clear, but inevitably it misrepresents a little. It doesn't point up that the two parts actually form a more or less continuous narrative when read in order, and it glosses too much; the word chapters aren't *only* about Zakalwe acting as an agent, and the RN chapters aren't *only* about his earlier life.

 ;-) I did toy with writing "narratives which run backward and forward from the same point" -- like mirror images. Plus there are flashbacks to his childhood, as you said. (Whose childhood.... ? haha). Plus, I nenevr worked out what the bit with the other man in the city was meant to be about -- in the end I gave up trying to link it to the rest of the story, and just figured it acts as a link between teh two marratives, but with no real plot value in itself, except fot eh device of the hair. -- Tarquin

Hmm? I thought that bit fit in quite well with the rest of that narrative stream. It's just another of the vignettes of 'Zakalwe', really - one more of his missions. I realised when thinking about your version that the whole thing is even cleverer than I thought; the bits about childhood are written as flashbacks for most of the book but if you think about it they're not clearly a separate chronological stream, because they fit in seamlessly with the start of the "other" chronological stream, which happens at the end of the book. If you read the bits of text in an *extremely* specific order, you'd have an uninterrupted biography of 'Zakalwe' from childhood all the way through, with no bits missing. Damn, this thing reeks more of genius every time I think about it. How the hell did it not win any awards? :) --AW

I'm having another go, picking out bits from both our versions. Feel free to merge or rewrite anything I've put in -- Tarquin 16:20 Sep 9, 2002 (UTC)
I think this is pretty good now, Tarquin. If you agree, I might go ahead and wipe this stuff from the talk page, to prevent nasty spoilers coming the way of unfortunate souls who haven't read the book yet. Any objections? --AW
Spoiler removed. :-) -- Tarquin


Since this entry has basically been a mess for a couple months I went ahead and had a go at cleaning it up. I used some of Tarquin's paragraph and a little of my own writing to discuss the structure and added a sentence to actually say what the book is about, plus a few minor edits here and there. I also went ahead and took the bit about quotations off the talk page since the referenced quotations must have been removed long ago. --Talion 2/2/03

cool :-) -- Tarquin

I deleted the discussion regarding the prologue earlier, and it was reversed. I'm not sure why, the prologue is quite clearly the start of Zakalwe's story and of his recruitment. The structure of the entire novel is set up to lead to this, the prologue, at the end. Consider the first chapter, consider the discussion of his hair, this is no other conclusion.

Publication date?[edit]

I have it as 1991. Can anyone provide a reference to it being 1990? Guinnog 00:15, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

  • The Orbit Books edition has a 1990 copyright, as does every online reference I can find. Justin Bacon 04:06, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Intro problems?[edit]

Just having finished Use of Weapons, I have problems with the intro of this article. Elethiomel is not a running opponent of Cheradine, as the intro would suggest. I suggest that the last sentence needs replacing with something like "Parallel with his work, he struggles with ghosts from his past" (the Chairmaker, Staberinde).

The pattern is also not a simple forward/backward split; the "childhood" sections move mostly forward, alongside the "now" sections, while the "previous engagements" sections do move mostly backwards. Should I try to rewrite? --Alvestrand 05:26, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Regarding the forwards/backwards split, the current description is generally true but, you're right, the novel doesn't entirely conform to this pattern. However, the sentence at the end of the relevant paragraph makes this clear (to a degree) by highlighting further complications to the structure, so I don't think this needs changing really. Regarding your comments about Elethiomel, I tend to agree. It's somewhat distracting and draws attention to a character that doesn't really need to be covered in the summary of the novel (my POV). Speaking more generally, I tend to favour less description with this novel because it'd be very easy to add spoilers with extra detail, and it'd be a great shame (IMHO) to spoil the novel for a casual browser who hasn't read it yet (spoiler warnings being a little too tempting). I think, on the whole, that the current draft does a pretty good job of outlining it without giving too much away (mostly due to Guinnog's editing). Cheers, --Plumbago 08:34, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
I haven't read the (deleted?) section mentioning Elethiomel but there are several issues with censoring spoilers and mention of Elethiomel in particular.
First, does Wikipedia have a policy against spoilers? A principle goal of a literary encyclopedia is to provide them. If Wikipedia is to rigorously eliminate spoilers, it ceases to be a reference work of that kind. That is not in principle bad - some other site will step up to the plate - but I would like to see where in the system that policy is made clear.
Second, I observed on the way here that "Cheradenine Zakalwe" redirects to this article. The man going by the name "Cheradenine Zakalwe" is another character altogether. Nowhere visible in the article is any reference to "Elethiomel", the real name of the main character; nor indeed is there any hint that the man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe had been dead two centuries by the events in the end of the book.
It would be acceptable to have a redirection to the character of Elethiomel instead, but the current situation does violence to the truth. Giving some clue to the real situation is of importance outside Use of Weapons; the character known as Cheradenine - whatever his real identity - recurs in Surface Detail, and once again this is only apparent at the very end of the novel. This is fundamental to understanding each novel, never mind their relation to each other. (talk) 06:00, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

I've removed the "literary significance" section to here for now as it appears to be original research in nature. The only source provided is an online review that essentially unverifiably repeats the claim in the article. Personally, I don't disagree with the content that I've removed to here, but it's not backed up with any reliable sources and it pretty much is just one POV about the novel.

Literary significance & criticism
It is widely considered to be the best of the Culture novels[1], but also one of the least accessible due to its relatively complex structure. The Culture wrestles with its usual dilemma of whether or not to intervene in the affairs of other species.
As in Look to Windward and A Song of Stone, the main theme is the horror of war.
The book also includes, for the first time in a Banks novel, the possible beginning of another story. After the dénouement of Zakalwe's story, Diziet Sma visits a hospital in a less advanced civilisation. There she finds a heroic but crippled soldier and offers him renewed health and a job, presumably as a Culture mercenary. This section is entitled "States of War" and is labelled a prologue. As Banks has never announced any plans to write this story, it may be seen as adding a cyclical element to the story of Use of Weapons. As the central two strands of the novel cycle around to finish at essentially the same point, many readers find this circular interpretation appealing.

In other changes, I've also restored some text to the article that was removed by an anon a while back. Cheers, --Plumbago 08:57, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

SPOILER: Zakalwe reference in the Surface detail[edit]

I have just read the Surface detail. One of the main characters is called Vateuil. However, at the end a waiter calls him Mr. Zakalwe, when he seems to restart his career. I remembered the name, and yes it's the main character in this book. Should we (I) include in the article reference? -B.andinsky (talk) 15:31, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

The character name is actually spelled "Vatueil". It's interesting you gave it a characteristically French orthography. Many other Banks characters have names which sound almost like French ones ... but not quite; "Joiler" for example is similar to the French surname Joliet (the name of a buccaneering explorer, several towns, and a prison). It also resembles the much more famous Joliot.
Since the name Vatueil does NOT follow French orthography one imagines it is pronounced vat-oo-ale, but the novel has Vatueil congratulating an alien (Nauptrian) on getting close to the correct pronunciation of his name - "Vatoy". That is indeed close to the French pronunciation of "Vateuil". So despite the warped spelling, Banks is indeed taking inspiration from French names. Sdoradus (talk) 10:44, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
The warped spelling of Vatueil is an anagram of Livueta, who was the real Zakalwe's sister. Jim Lipsey (talk) 00:12, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure just how familiar Banks is with that language, though. At one point in 1994 he contributed "A few notes on the Culture" to a USENET newsgroup, newsgroup rec.arts.sf, which had a typo: "Outright destruction of rebellious ships or habitats - pour encouragez [sic] les autres - of course remains an option for the controlling power". Those who have read Voltaire's Candide will remember this in the context of the Royal Navy's execution of Admiral Byng for failure to prosecute battle against the French: "in this country it is fashionable to kill the odd Admiral from time to time to encourage the others". Sdoradus (talk) 14:28, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
now why would you go and ruining the surprise ending of another novel for someone who is reading about details of this one? Should we also say in here that Galdalf does not die, and "Rosebud" is the last line in Citizen Kane? How about leaving the plot of Surface Detail to a page on Surface Detail? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:29, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
Because this is an encyclopedia, not a fan website, and that is what a reference work is for. And yes, there are encyclopedias which confirm the fate of Gandalf (not Galdalf) as well as making clear the significance of "Rosebud" in Citizen Kane. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sdoradus (talkcontribs) 06:05, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
I think 122's point was that, while it might well be appropriate to reveal such details in the articles specifically about those works, where spoilers might indeed be expected, one does not particularly expect to encounter a spoiler about (a very recent) work B in an article about work A, and might well be avoiding articles about work B deliberately in order not to have it spoiled - as is in fact the case with myself and the recently published (and as-yet beyond my financial means) Surface Detail. That said, the question is, I agree, by no means clear cut. (talk) 18:53, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Ah. That would make some sense. In this case I have to tell you I don't really think it's a spoiler in that the revelation is pretty much irrelevant to the Surface Detail story. I did feel that some reference had to be made (because of the complete absence of discussion of the character known as Zakalwe, but not actually that person at all) - but I can see where you're coming from. Any ideas? Sdoradus (talk) 20:16, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Cover Image[edit]

Any specific reason there is a lack of consistency among the Culture series' cover art? Some are the newer cover art, some are the original, and some don't exist. (talk) 23:08, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

most 1337 d0oDz realise that you can't judge a book by its cover and that publishers tend to appeal to the LCD ie zeitgeist by utilising a vision of "tomorrow" as revealed to the artists of to-day, ie right here, right now, in your own so-called country. So chill. Even about things that don't exist. PS Maybe they do. MinorProphet (talk) 00:11, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
If this makes you feel better about consistent cover art, the image below appears on the main page of the Culture series Timmccloud (talk) 17:07, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
Is a good example of consistant cover art for the Culture Series