I am currently reading Consider Phlebas, by Iain ‘M’ Banks. It is the first Science Fiction novel I have read since I was a kid, and I have to say it took quite a long time to get into. The problem, I am only slightly ashamed to admit, was the funny names.
Still, now I have got used to daft things like having apostrophes in the middle of names and stuff, I am starting to enjoy it. It’s fairly fast paced, and Banks keeps the action coming. One of the slight problems I have is that I believe Banks uses several standard SF motifs and ideas, but never bothers explaining them. Fine for most fans of the genre, but they tend to fly over my head. Still there are plenty of political parallels in this which I can pick up, and Banks doesn’t shy away from the serious stuff in favour of making it all about zapping aliens.
Palimpsest have an informative ‘M’ Banks page http://www.palimpsest.org.uk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=641.