History TheCulture / UseOfWeapons

26th Mar '13 10:38:51 AM StFan
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A science-fiction novel of TheCulture by IainMBanks, it focuses on Special Circumstances and their extensive use of the OmniscientMoralityLicense via the character of mercenary-extraordinaire Cheradenine Zakalwe, a man from outside of the Culture, but who does their dirty work. This is actually the first novel Iain Banks wrote, although it was published much later. Many consider it his masterpiece. As a side note, this article ''completely'' fails to do it justice, so be prepared for emotional gut punches by the dozen if you actually read it. ---- !!Provides Examples Of: * AnachronicOrder: It tells one story going forward with alternating chapters going in the opposite direction to provide flashbacks to Zakalwe's past. This is so confusing with respect to the first and last chapters, that fans disagree on whether they detail past or future events. One online reviewer jokingly referenced the novel as [[TheMelancholyOfHaruhiSuzumiya The Melancholy of Cheradenine Zakalwe]]. * ArcWords: The Chairmaker and the Chair * TheAtoner: Zakalwe tries and fails to be one of these. [[spoiler: Although the ending of Surface Detail suggests that he is still trying and has, to an extent, succeeded.]] * BadassBookworm: Sma is a poet and patron-of-the-arts as well as an extremely competent Special Circumstances operative. * BaitTheDog: For a lot of the book, it's easy to think of Zakalwe as a really cool and BadAss secret agent and to think that his handlers from the Culture are off-base when they refer to him as a dangerous psycho. Certain events in his past change that impression. * BecomingTheMask: [[spoiler: Elethiomel borders on this in a twisted way; part of him really has come to believe that he IS Cheradenine]] * BewareTheNiceOnes: This is the Culture's [[PlanetOfHats hat]] throughout the series, but there's a rather good quote about it in this book (posted on the QuotesWiki) * CainAndAbel: Cheradenine and Elethiomel Zakalwe are an interesting take on this, as the flashbacks present Cheradenine as something of the Cain, being a jerk to his adopted brother Elethiomel [[spoiler: then it turns out that the Cheradenine of the novel is actually Elethiomel and he did a MoralEventHorizon crossing event that made him the Cain figure]]. * CombatPragmatist: Done on both a strategic and tactical level by Zakalwe and Elethiomel, especially in the flashbacks ([[spoiler: because the latter has assumed the former's identity]]). It's not called ''Use Of Weapons'' just because of the guns. * ContinuityNod: Before setting out to recover Zakalwe, Sma tells Skaffen-Amtiskaw to "send a stalling letter to that Petrain guy." The novella ''State Of The Art'' is introduced as a later communication from Sma to Petrain recounting her time on Earth. * DarkAndTroubledPast: ''Oh, God.'' * DeadpanSnarker: Skaffen-Amtiskaw, more than most Drones, even. * [[spoiler: DeadPersonImpersonation]] * DrivenToSuicide: The [[spoiler:real Cheradenine Zakalwe.]] * ExpositionOfImmortality: Zakalwe, in pillow talk with Shias Engin, tells her he's 220, 110 or 30. He was born 220 years ago, he's lived for 110 of them and he's physically about 30. * FightFurYourRightToParty: Sma attends a costume party/orgy dressed in a furry-suit modeled on the form taken by a ship's Avatar. * GeniusBruiser: Zakalwe doesn't look particularly burly, but he definitely fits the trope. He's an insanely competent (and insane) soldier, but he's also clearly a genius. Despite coming from outside TheCulture, he figured out how to copy several Culture technologies, and can out-think Special Circumstances. * TheHandler: Diziet Sma. * HistoryRepeats: Zakalwe is painfully aware that he has a bad habit of repeatedly making the same mistake of over-entrenching in an unwinnable situation and then not withdrawing when he should. He is otherwise depicted as a brilliant military mind, capable of turning the tide in a war despite overwhelming odds. At the end of the book, [[spoiler:he accidentally wins an "unwinnable" war he joined the "wrong" side of, at ruinous cost of life and treasure, and when informed, he goes into a HeroicBSOD.]] * HeroicComedicSociopath: Zakalwe himself as well as Sma's [[SnarkyNonHumanSidekick drone companion]] Skaffen-Amtiskaw. Though both of them also qualify for the SociopathicHero. Skaffen-Amtiskaw's earlier actions during Sma's career definitely, though it seems to have grown older and calmer. * ItWorksBetterWithBullets: A king wakes up with an assassin in his bedroom. While he's being taunted, the king pulls a gun and tries to fire. The assassin off handedly shows him the bullets and says "It works better with these." * LosingYourHead: Special Circumstances operative Cheradenine Zakalwe crash-lands on a primitive planet and is sacrificed by the natives through decapitation. Fortunately his [[BigDamnHeroes colleagues zoom in just in time]] to snatch back his head, but not before he's had a horrified moment to realise exactly what just happened. Later Zakalwe is in hospital waiting for a new body to be grown (they gave him the choice of remaining unconscious but he'd rather watch television) when the artificially-intelligent drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw (who doesn't like Zakalwe much, and has a twisted sense of humor) sends him a present. A hat. * MonsterClown: Zakalwe commits an assassination dressed as a jester. * MrViceGuy: Sma has, shall we say, a healthy attitude towards sex. * RoboticPsychopath: Skaffen-Amtiskaw. * StuffedIntoTheFridge: Darckense Zakalwe. * SwissArmyGun: -->"Micro Armaments System, Rifle. It's... oh, look, Zakalwe; it has ten separate weapon systems, not including the semi-sentient guard facility, the reactive shield components, the IFF-set quick-reaction swing-packs or the AG unit, and before you ask, the controls are all on the wrong side because that's the left-hand bias version, and the balance -- like the weight and the independently variable inertia -- are fully adjustable. It also takes about half a year's training just to learn how to use it ''safely'', let alone competently, so you can't have one." --->--Skaffen-Amtiskaw * TriggerHappy: Zakalwe, hilariously so. * TwistEnding: The two main approaches to the ending is one story working forwards towards the events and a second story working backwards to their meaning. Keeping it a surprising twist under these circumstances is an achievement. [[spoiler: The twist is that Cheradenine of the novel is actually Elethiomel from the scenes set in childhood.]] ** It's subtly alluded to shortly beforehand: "The doctors were still struggling to save [Charadnine's] life when the soldiers trapped in the battlesip made a break for it. It was a good fight and they ''almost'' succeeded." [[spoiler: The ''doctors'' "almost succeeded", that is. Apparently, Elethiomel's forces ''did'' break out of the siege.]] * UnwittingPawn: Zakalwe is a pawn of Special Circumstances. [[spoiler: He ends up as a SpannerInTheWorks when he actually wins a battle he was expected to lose.]] * UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: Special Circumstances' guiding philosophy. * WarriorPoet: Subverted. Zakalwe would like to be one, but all his efforts at poetry are amateurish. In a particular irony the novel is bookended by the much better poetic efforts of his co-workers. * WeaksauceWeakness: Cheradenine Zakalwe's aversion to chairs -- although it makes a lot of sense once you find out what "the chair" was. ----
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A science-fiction novel of TheCulture by IainMBanks, it focuses on Special Circumstances and their extensive use of the OmniscientMoralityLicense via the character of mercenary-extraordinaire Cheradenine Zakalwe, a man from outside of the Culture, but who does their dirty work. This is actually the first novel Iain Banks wrote, although it was published much later. Many consider it his masterpiece. As a side note, this article ''completely'' fails to do it justice, so be prepared for emotional gut punches by the dozen if you actually read it. ---- !!Provides Examples Of: * AnachronicOrder: It tells one story going forward with alternating chapters going in the opposite direction to provide flashbacks to Zakalwe's past. This is so confusing with respect to the first and last chapters, that fans disagree on whether they detail past or future events. One online reviewer jokingly referenced the novel as [[TheMelancholyOfHaruhiSuzumiya The Melancholy of Cheradenine Zakalwe]]. * ArcWords: The Chairmaker and the Chair * TheAtoner: Zakalwe tries and fails to be one of these. [[spoiler: Although the ending of Surface Detail suggests that he is still trying and has, to an extent, succeeded.]] * BadassBookworm: Sma is a poet and patron-of-the-arts as well as an extremely competent Special Circumstances operative. * BaitTheDog: For a lot of the book, it's easy to think of Zakalwe as a really cool and BadAss secret agent and to think that his handlers from the Culture are off-base when they refer to him as a dangerous psycho. Certain events in his past change that impression. * BecomingTheMask: [[spoiler: Elethiomel borders on this in a twisted way; part of him really has come to believe that he IS Cheradenine]] * BewareTheNiceOnes: This is the Culture's [[PlanetOfHats hat]] throughout the series, but there's a rather good quote about it in this book (posted on the QuotesWiki) * CainAndAbel: Cheradenine and Elethiomel Zakalwe are an interesting take on this, as the flashbacks present Cheradenine as something of the Cain, being a jerk to his adopted brother Elethiomel [[spoiler: then it turns out that the Cheradenine of the novel is actually Elethiomel and he did a MoralEventHorizon crossing event that made him the Cain figure]]. * CombatPragmatist: Done on both a strategic and tactical level by Zakalwe and Elethiomel, especially in the flashbacks ([[spoiler: because the latter has assumed the former's identity]]). It's not called ''Use Of Weapons'' just because of the guns. * ContinuityNod: Before setting out to recover Zakalwe, Sma tells Skaffen-Amtiskaw to "send a stalling letter to that Petrain guy." The novella ''State Of The Art'' is introduced as a later communication from Sma to Petrain recounting her time on Earth. * DarkAndTroubledPast: ''Oh, God.'' * DeadpanSnarker: Skaffen-Amtiskaw, more than most Drones, even. * [[spoiler: DeadPersonImpersonation]] * DrivenToSuicide: The [[spoiler:real Cheradenine Zakalwe.]] * ExpositionOfImmortality: Zakalwe, in pillow talk with Shias Engin, tells her he's 220, 110 or 30. He was born 220 years ago, he's lived for 110 of them and he's physically about 30. * FightFurYourRightToParty: Sma attends a costume party/orgy dressed in a furry-suit modeled on the form taken by a ship's Avatar. * GeniusBruiser: Zakalwe doesn't look particularly burly, but he definitely fits the trope. He's an insanely competent (and insane) soldier, but he's also clearly a genius. Despite coming from outside TheCulture, he figured out how to copy several Culture technologies, and can out-think Special Circumstances. * TheHandler: Diziet Sma. * HistoryRepeats: Zakalwe is painfully aware that he has a bad habit of repeatedly making the same mistake of over-entrenching in an unwinnable situation and then not withdrawing when he should. He is otherwise depicted as a brilliant military mind, capable of turning the tide in a war despite overwhelming odds. At the end of the book, [[spoiler:he accidentally wins an "unwinnable" war he joined the "wrong" side of, at ruinous cost of life and treasure, and when informed, he goes into a HeroicBSOD.]] * HeroicComedicSociopath: Zakalwe himself as well as Sma's [[SnarkyNonHumanSidekick drone companion]] Skaffen-Amtiskaw. Though both of them also qualify for the SociopathicHero. Skaffen-Amtiskaw's earlier actions during Sma's career definitely, though it seems to have grown older and calmer. * ItWorksBetterWithBullets: A king wakes up with an assassin in his bedroom. While he's being taunted, the king pulls a gun and tries to fire. The assassin off handedly shows him the bullets and says "It works better with these." * LosingYourHead: Special Circumstances operative Cheradenine Zakalwe crash-lands on a primitive planet and is sacrificed by the natives through decapitation. Fortunately his [[BigDamnHeroes colleagues zoom in just in time]] to snatch back his head, but not before he's had a horrified moment to realise exactly what just happened. Later Zakalwe is in hospital waiting for a new body to be grown (they gave him the choice of remaining unconscious but he'd rather watch television) when the artificially-intelligent drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw (who doesn't like Zakalwe much, and has a twisted sense of humor) sends him a present. A hat. * MonsterClown: Zakalwe commits an assassination dressed as a jester. * MrViceGuy: Sma has, shall we say, a healthy attitude towards sex. * RoboticPsychopath: Skaffen-Amtiskaw. * StuffedIntoTheFridge: Darckense Zakalwe. * SwissArmyGun: -->"Micro Armaments System, Rifle. It's... oh, look, Zakalwe; it has ten separate weapon systems, not including the semi-sentient guard facility, the reactive shield components, the IFF-set quick-reaction swing-packs or the AG unit, and before you ask, the controls are all on the wrong side because that's the left-hand bias version, and the balance -- like the weight and the independently variable inertia -- are fully adjustable. It also takes about half a year's training just to learn how to use it ''safely'', let alone competently, so you can't have one." --->--Skaffen-Amtiskaw * TriggerHappy: Zakalwe, hilariously so. * TwistEnding: The two main approaches to the ending is one story working forwards towards the events and a second story working backwards to their meaning. Keeping it a surprising twist under these circumstances is an achievement. [[spoiler: The twist is that Cheradenine of the novel is actually Elethiomel from the scenes set in childhood.]] ** It's subtly alluded to shortly beforehand: "The doctors were still struggling to save [Charadnine's] life when the soldiers trapped in the battlesip made a break for it. It was a good fight and they ''almost'' succeeded." [[spoiler: The ''doctors'' "almost succeeded", that is. Apparently, Elethiomel's forces ''did'' break out of the siege.]] * UnwittingPawn: Zakalwe is a pawn of Special Circumstances. [[spoiler: He ends up as a SpannerInTheWorks when he actually wins a battle he was expected to lose.]] * UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: Special Circumstances' guiding philosophy. * WarriorPoet: Subverted. Zakalwe would like to be one, but all his efforts at poetry are amateurish. In a particular irony the novel is bookended by the much better poetic efforts of his co-workers. * WeaksauceWeakness: Cheradenine Zakalwe's aversion to chairs -- although it makes a lot of sense once you find out what "the chair" was. ----[[redirect:Literature/UseOfWeapons]]
27th Feb '13 6:32:54 AM MacronNotes
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Dead Little Sister has been renamed to Cynicism Catalyst. It's not about dead siblings. Misuse and Zero Context Examples will be deleted.
* DeadLittleSister: Subverted.
13th Nov '12 12:54:04 PM au
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(m) typo
* LosingYourHead: Special Circumstances operative Cheradenine Zakalwe crash-lands on a primitive planet and is sacrificed by the natives through decapitation. Fortunately his [[BigDamnHeroes colleages zoom in just in time]] to snatch back his head, but not before he's had a horrified moment to realise exactly what just happened. Later Zakalwe is in hospital waiting for a new body to be grown (they gave him the choice of remaining unconscious but he'd rather watch television) when the artificially-intelligent drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw (who doesn't like Zakalwe much, and has a twisted sense of humor) sends him a present. A hat.
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* LosingYourHead: Special Circumstances operative Cheradenine Zakalwe crash-lands on a primitive planet and is sacrificed by the natives through decapitation. Fortunately his [[BigDamnHeroes colleages colleagues zoom in just in time]] to snatch back his head, but not before he's had a horrified moment to realise exactly what just happened. Later Zakalwe is in hospital waiting for a new body to be grown (they gave him the choice of remaining unconscious but he'd rather watch television) when the artificially-intelligent drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw (who doesn't like Zakalwe much, and has a twisted sense of humor) sends him a present. A hat.
4th Oct '12 2:06:21 AM Sus
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Added DiffLines:
** It's subtly alluded to shortly beforehand: "The doctors were still struggling to save [Charadnine's] life when the soldiers trapped in the battlesip made a break for it. It was a good fight and they ''almost'' succeeded." [[spoiler: The ''doctors'' "almost succeeded", that is. Apparently, Elethiomel's forces ''did'' break out of the siege.]]
23rd Sep '12 4:34:46 AM Jonn
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* HistoryRepeats: Zakalwe is painfully aware that he has a bad habit of repeatedly making the same mistake of over-entrenching in an unwinnable situation and then not withdrawing when he should. He is otherwise depicted as a brilliant military mind, capable of turning the tide in a war despite overwhelming odds. At the end of the book, [[spoiler:he accidentally wins an "unwinnable" war he wasn't supposed to intervene in, at ruinous cost of life and treasure, and when informed, he goes into a HeroicBSOD.]]
to:
* HistoryRepeats: Zakalwe is painfully aware that he has a bad habit of repeatedly making the same mistake of over-entrenching in an unwinnable situation and then not withdrawing when he should. He is otherwise depicted as a brilliant military mind, capable of turning the tide in a war despite overwhelming odds. At the end of the book, [[spoiler:he accidentally wins an "unwinnable" war he wasn't supposed to intervene in, joined the "wrong" side of, at ruinous cost of life and treasure, and when informed, he goes into a HeroicBSOD.]]
23rd Sep '12 4:32:52 AM Jonn
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* HistoryRepeats: Zakalwe is painfully aware that he has a bad habit of repeatedly making the same mistake of over-entrenching in an unwinnable situation and then not withdrawing when he should. He is otherwise depicted as a brilliant military mind, capable of turning the tide in a war despite overwhelming odds.
to:
* HistoryRepeats: Zakalwe is painfully aware that he has a bad habit of repeatedly making the same mistake of over-entrenching in an unwinnable situation and then not withdrawing when he should. He is otherwise depicted as a brilliant military mind, capable of turning the tide in a war despite overwhelming odds. At the end of the book, [[spoiler:he accidentally wins an "unwinnable" war he wasn't supposed to intervene in, at ruinous cost of life and treasure, and when informed, he goes into a HeroicBSOD.]]
20th Sep '12 3:28:31 PM Calvarez
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This is actually the first novel Iain Banks wrote, although it was published much later. Many consider it his masterpiece.
to:
This is actually the first novel Iain Banks wrote, although it was published much later. Many consider it his masterpiece. masterpiece. As a side note, this article ''completely'' fails to do it justice, so be prepared for emotional gut punches by the dozen if you actually read it.
21st Jun '12 4:20:39 AM Sheora
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!!This Book Has Examples Of:
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!!This Book Has ---- !!Provides Examples Of:

* DeadLittleSister: Brutally subverted.
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* DeadLittleSister: Brutally subverted.Subverted.
7th Apr '12 3:43:01 PM troublegum
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* ExpositionOfImmortality: Zakalwe, in pillow talk with Shias Engin, tells her he's 220, 110 or 30. He was born 220 years ago, he's lived for 110 of them and he's physically about 30.

* HeroicSociopath: Zakalwe himself as well as Sma's [[SnarkyNonHumanSidekick drone companion]] Skaffen-Amtiskaw.
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* HeroicSociopath: HeroicComedicSociopath: Zakalwe himself as well as Sma's [[SnarkyNonHumanSidekick drone companion]] Skaffen-Amtiskaw.Skaffen-Amtiskaw. Though both of them also qualify for the SociopathicHero. Skaffen-Amtiskaw's earlier actions during Sma's career definitely, though it seems to have grown older and calmer.
30th Jan '12 4:56:21 PM paranoia222
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* ItWorksBetterWithBullets: An assassin arrives at a king's house, while he's being taunted, the king pulls a gun and tries to fire. The assassin off handedly shows him the bullets and says "It works better with these."
to:
* ItWorksBetterWithBullets: An A king wakes up with an assassin arrives at a king's house, while in his bedroom. While he's being taunted, the king pulls a gun and tries to fire. The assassin off handedly shows him the bullets and says "It works better with these."
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