Strange title. That was my first thought when a friend lent me this book in 1988. I’d like to say I recognised it from T.S.Elliott’s The Wasteland, but I didn’t. The author, Ian. M. Banks is reported to have said that he chose that title because:
1) the story is about someone who is shipwrecked
2) all the other titles he thought of sounded like something from Star Wars.
It is the first of the Culture novels, and it was my introduction to the Science Fiction of Ian. M. Banks. Later on I discovered he also wrote novels under the name Ian Banks, and I read The Wasp Factory among others, as well as all the other Culture novels I could get my hands on.
I love his writing. His vision of the vast interstellar culture of the future rings true from the first word. Consider Phlebas was one of those books I read in one sitting. When I (reluctantly!) gave it back , my friend accused me of leaving it open face down resulting in the spine being over stressed. I hadn’t of course, I had just been holding it open for eleven hours straight.
I’m going to read it again. You should read it too.