Banks is a best selling author of both Science Fiction and regular fiction. His Sci-Fi universe is known as “The Culture”, referring to the main civilization. Being systematic, I started at the beginning with the very first book of this celebrated series. I was sorely disappointed. Although there are space pirates, BDOs (Big Dumb Objects), interstellar intrigue, great characters and some solid action scenes, I failed to grasp the point of the story. For me, it was just plain dull. Your results may vary. The cover is gorgeous though.
Ringworld and The Ringworld Engineers – Larry Niven
Arguably Niven’s best solo novels, as well as the ultimate BDO (Big Dumb Object) story. Great adventure in an incredible setting with trademark Niven “quirky characters”. They’re not perfect but the sense of wonder created is second to none.
Interestingly, the premise of The Ringworld Engineers, that the Ringworld is unstable, was figured out by physicists after the first novel was published. At the 1971 World Science Fiction Convention, MIT students were chanting “The Ringword is unstable!” Hence why our heroes need to fix the problem.