Originally Posted by bill_mchale
Banks is ok.. but I think he gets a little preachy sometimes, particularly when it comes to issues of religion (in Consider Phlebas anyway).
Yeah, he is an "ideas guy". I really like that, it makes the book more layered. He tends to address questions of moral philosophy quite often. That layers over whatever action is happening with the characters.
One of his topics is the question of intervention by well-meaning moral rationalists to "help out" less developed cultures. This is one of the "great questions" of our time, but in Banks' sci-fi it is quite abstracted thanks to the tremendous power of The Culture. The essential moral question is the same as (say) the rights and wrongs of Iraq war, but thanks to the Minds it is framed in totally rational utilitarian terms with endless power to attempt to enforce that.
Usually he is talking about moral grey areas, so I don't know if "preachy" is the right word. However he does advocate direct democracy (mediated by AIs!), and ending resource scarcity and social classes to facilitate individual freedom. It is kind of a Jeffersonian