Book discussion - The Quarry - Chapter 6

The next installment in the performance art rendition of reading The Quarry by Iain Banks together as a group.

This is the discussion thread for Chapter 6.

Anyone is welcome to join.

Timeframe for Chapter 6 is `till next Friday, 27th of March, at 12:37 high noon GMT.

That is when a new thread will be created for the discussion of the next chapter.

There are no real rules set for the course of discussion, other than: be nice, be cool, don’t spoil surprises beyond this chapter, and let’s make the most of this soggy eggy cup.

Chapter 5 discussion was over there.

Now, @daneel, if you will supply some blood we can commence with the summoning ritual.

  1. @Mindysan33
  2. @jerwin
  3. @miasm
  4. @chgoliz
  5. @Elusis
  6. @noahdjango
  7. @OtherMichael
  8. @SmashMartian
  9. @Raita

  1. @Donald_Petersen
  2. @crenquis
  3. @aeon
  4. @ActionAbe
  5. @jlw
  6. @Ignatius
  7. @penguinchris
  8. ???
1 Like


We begin this chapter following Kit on his morning constitutional. Aye, fancy a bit a walkabout, mate?

ZOUNDZ, something has happened to THE QUARRY. Cue ominous music. Kit-diana Jones investigates.

A spot of tea, then back to searching for the tape with a bit of spring cleaning while we’re at it.

Chapter closes with another Kit/Hol embrace, and another boner. Kid’s got moves like Jagger.


I’m actually on time with my reading this week!!! I rule!

A rather descriptive chapter, with the first half in Kit’s head as he goes for his walk while everyone else is still sleeping it off.

I thought the attempt to get the thing he sees as rather typically teenage boy, taking a huge risk with no real thought for the possible consequences - is this un-Kit like? Also, some more character development for the rest of the group, but it only seems to make them more unlikeable, if you ask me. I mean, is it just me, or is he trying to make them all deeply self-involved and sort of icky. What was up with Ali, for example. I never got a sense of what her deal was… or Pris, for that matter. I also thought that Pris made the only real “Gen-X” reference, though with the whole Heathers comment…


I think they had the bad luck to be written by a man.



Yay!! Good news, I’ve figured out a way to post. Bad news, it involves typing on a phone.

Each country seems to provide different internet issues. We’ll see what Taiwan brings to the table in a few days. Until then, know that I am reading but probably won’t post much.

Also haven’t been able to like, which is killing me!!


To be fair, I can think of male writers who still manage to write great women - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett come to mind. I rarely have problems thinking of their women as fully formed, relatable people as opposed to cardboard cut outs.


I think they had the misfortune of being written by a writer who wasn’t near the top of his game. Or who, for some reason, didn’t care enough about them as characters. So far, Haze and Paul and Rob seem to be just as cardboard to me as Pris and Ali. Maybe it’s intentional, because Kit doesn’t know them, understand them, or care about them as much as he does Holly. Or maybe it’s unintentional, I dunno, but I think it’s a more complex calculation than just “men can’t write women.”


That could have been his intention actually. Since (we’ve all seemed to have agreed) Kit is an unreliable narrator and we are seeing this story from his eyes, much of the humanity of the other characters seems lost, in part because they just didn’t have as much interactions with Kit. So, it’s some sort of statement, maybe not about Kit’s autism, but more about human subjectivity, and how we tend to imagine those outside our immediate circles as less real and authentic? But it’s presented somewhat unproblematically in that case.

But, on the other hand, Guy, his father, who arguable he spent more time with, came off as more cardboard in some ways then flesh and blood. Hol really was the only other character besides Kit who really popped for me. But being too close to someone can cause that sort of bias as well. We hurt the ones we love the most, or some such.

1 Like

True. I was being a bit flip, though not entirely.


As I said to Mindy, I was being a bit flip; having not read any of Banks’ other work, I can’t really say whether he has this problem systemically or not. But they do read very much to me like the female characters in a lot of men’s SF/F writing - plot points. (Do we even pass the Bechdel Test? I forget now - I feel like I remember that most of the talk about Hol’s work is between her and the male characters, and all the conversation with Pris is about her boyfriend.)

But yes, Banks in general is not covering himself in glory here. Maybe this is where choosing a character with an inherently limited viewpoint is inherently limiting?


Alison and Holly debate about addiction and the value of AA. Though one could argue that was a thinly veiled fight over Rob.


Yeah, me neither. You’re absolutely right when it comes to the (vast?) majority of SF/F I’ve read.


Banks writes lots of great female characters.

Just this book doesn’t have any of them (or any great male characters, either).

I’m a bit bummed out that you guys who haven’t read Banks before are starting here. His SF stuff is great, honest!

Again - go read Player of Games, Excession or Use of Weapons. :smile:


The book is meant to be in present time, right? But the drug orgy is right out of the 1980s, as is the way the characters relate to each other. It’s hard to believe this is the same writer whose work is usually raved about.

I see absolutely no growth in any character. WTH?


Even his weaker and rawer SF stuff is much better. And stuff like The Crow Road or The Bridge is way more readable.

Heh… we’re all starting to look around and say, “Whose bright idea was it to vote for this book?!” It’s reminiscent of someone who has only seen Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds sitting down to watch Family Plot.

Still, I’m having fun, though I’m really starting to look forward to the next book.


I continue to agree - just because the book was a dud doesn’t mean the book club hasn’t turned out pretty well. :slight_smile: I do think we’ve burnt out a bit on the pace of the conversation so would love to think about other options for next time, but I’m looking forward to the next time.

In any case, when the coke came out in this chapter, was about the point I wanted to go dig up Banks’ corpse and kick it in the shins. Cocaine: the asshole magnifier. And yes, it felt very 80s - going back to our talk from Chapter 1, the generation seems wrong again, more appropriate to “The Big Chill” folks than to people my age getting together for a reminiscence. To be fair, I never ran with a drug using crowd, and I know a few folks my age who were into coke in their late 20s/early 30s (the ones who delayed going to grad school mostly), but weed or X was the stuff floating around among my cohort. Maybe a US vs UK thing I guess? but the early 90s in the UK were all X, all the time I thought (please tell me TV and movies haven’t lied to me!)


The characters are all gen-xers, or around about my age, so I think they would have been growing up in the 80s/90s. I said this before, but I found them all to feel like they were boomers with a deep sense of ennui.