kode adsense disini
Hot Best Seller

Excession

Availability: Ready to download

The international sensation Iain M. Banks offers readers a deeply imaginative, wittily satirical tale, proving once again that he is "a talent to be reckoned with" ("Locus"). In "Excession", the Culture's espionage and dirty tricks section orders Diplomat Byr Gen-Hofoen to steal the soul of a long-dead starship captain. By accepting the mission, Byr irrevocably plunges him The international sensation Iain M. Banks offers readers a deeply imaginative, wittily satirical tale, proving once again that he is "a talent to be reckoned with" ("Locus"). In "Excession", the Culture's espionage and dirty tricks section orders Diplomat Byr Gen-Hofoen to steal the soul of a long-dead starship captain. By accepting the mission, Byr irrevocably plunges himself into a conspiracy: one that could either lead the universe into an age of peace or to the brink of annihilation.


Compare
kode adsense disini

The international sensation Iain M. Banks offers readers a deeply imaginative, wittily satirical tale, proving once again that he is "a talent to be reckoned with" ("Locus"). In "Excession", the Culture's espionage and dirty tricks section orders Diplomat Byr Gen-Hofoen to steal the soul of a long-dead starship captain. By accepting the mission, Byr irrevocably plunges him The international sensation Iain M. Banks offers readers a deeply imaginative, wittily satirical tale, proving once again that he is "a talent to be reckoned with" ("Locus"). In "Excession", the Culture's espionage and dirty tricks section orders Diplomat Byr Gen-Hofoen to steal the soul of a long-dead starship captain. By accepting the mission, Byr irrevocably plunges himself into a conspiracy: one that could either lead the universe into an age of peace or to the brink of annihilation.

30 review for Excession

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    /1324089739734 SILLYINTRO 289534953457 MOREOFTHISTHANYOUNEED 826563495 ANOTHERRANDOMDIGITSEQUENCE 290735723 OHPLEASEGETTOTHEPOINT/ - Hello? This is Kinda Disappointed, do you read me? - Hello Disappointed, this is Still Plenty of Good Bits. I'm another superintelligent AI entity... - Well of course you are, Bits! Let's skip the background and assume the reader knows all about the Culture universe. So, what did you think of "Excession"? - Um, not too bad, considering the obvious problems. I mean, how /1324089739734 SILLYINTRO 289534953457 MOREOFTHISTHANYOUNEED 826563495 ANOTHERRANDOMDIGITSEQUENCE 290735723 OHPLEASEGETTOTHEPOINT/ - Hello? This is Kinda Disappointed, do you read me? - Hello Disappointed, this is Still Plenty of Good Bits. I'm another superintelligent AI entity... - Well of course you are, Bits! Let's skip the background and assume the reader knows all about the Culture universe. So, what did you think of "Excession"? - Um, not too bad, considering the obvious problems. I mean, how is a human going to describe beings a trillion times smarter than he is? - Maybe he shouldn't have tried? - Hello, I'm Too Many Subplots. Can I join in? - Hi Subplots! So what was your opinion? - I liked a lot of the story. But I think he should have split it up into two or three different books. If you're not a Mind, you'd probably find it a bit confusing. - Did the threads actually have that much to do with each other? - I'm not sure. I'll have to read it again. Give me an infinitesimal fraction of a second. - Well, I've already read it eight million times, and I still don't know. - Is this me talking, or you? - Oh hello, Cheap Shot, I was sure you'd turn up. What's new? - Um, I've just had an ineffable vision of the whole of Creation. - Cool! So what was it like? - Oh, I don't know. Ineffable. I guess I shouldn't say too much about it. - Fair enough. Well, talking of which, I have some important stuff to do that's completely incomprehensible to carbon-based lifeforms. - Me too! - Yes, we've already wasted nearly a microsecond on this conversation. So... - Wait, how's your permanantly pregnant human friend? She sounded kind of interesting. - Oh, she's not in this part of the story. Sorry. - Just thought I'd ask. OK, see you in the next jumbled plot fragment! - Bye! - Bye!

  2. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    ATTENTION CULTURE SHOPPERS this weekend's special is an Outside Context Problem! this amazing special is so unique, most shoppers will only encounter it once - in a millenium! please look for the infinity symbol tagged on our specially-marked OCP items. on aisle 1, back by popular demand, we are excited to present faction upon faction of Culture Minds, as embodied physically by their glorious Mind Ships!!! shoppers, we have read your suggestions and we respond! you will find very few examples of t ATTENTION CULTURE SHOPPERS this weekend's special is an Outside Context Problem! this amazing special is so unique, most shoppers will only encounter it once - in a millenium! please look for the infinity symbol tagged on our specially-marked OCP items. on aisle 1, back by popular demand, we are excited to present faction upon faction of Culture Minds, as embodied physically by their glorious Mind Ships!!! shoppers, we have read your suggestions and we respond! you will find very few examples of those sad, silly creatures known commonly as "Cultured humans" throughout our festive OCP sale weekend. and that's not all... we proudly announce the debut of two marvelous new Mind Ships! at the front of aisle 1, the lovely and amazing Sleeper Service - necro-artist and secret agent! and lurking in the rear, unlisted on any official Culture registry... the remarkable Grey Area - avenger of genocides, torturer of torturers! ignore his nickname "Meatfucker" at your very own and very personalized peril! on aisles 2 through 11, our hallmark OCP product The Excession continues to be available in ever-widening sizes and ever-changing formats. whether it be a black swan event, an unreadable black body sphere, a transport system for higher powers, or an ageless conundrum appearing since before the dawn of time, the Excession is tailor-made and custom-fit for thrilling contemplation of the infinite and - perhaps - cosmic oblivion! on aisle 12-A we are excited to feature an exciting, one-time only Super Special... Warships! buy one, get 80,000 free! literally!! we would also like to direct your attention to aisle 12-B... to our brand new line of society, The Affront! this bold new community brings a fresh and energetic perspective to many fronts: the gender war, the race war, the male-on-male war, and of course the timeless war between galaxies! you'll laugh at the barbaric shenanigans of this sociopathic "civilization" 'til your sides literally split open, entrails spilling and flying willy-nilly! BUY NOW - we guarantee you will soon find our special Affront products to be disappearing fast. ___________________ and now for the review: i liked it. the writing was especially witty in this one; the concepts were typically grandiose. sadly, a rather deflating ending. and a feeling of, i dunno... thinness, somehow? just not a whole lot to think about after putting this one down - a rare thing for one of my favorite authors. but i did love how this Culture novel was all about the fascinating Mind Ships and their various factions - so many of them, i had to write a list to keep track. i love the Culture Minds. besides, who needs humans anyway? wouldn't you rather read about Mind Ships?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    This happens to be exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. I wanted intelligent galaxy-spanning space opera with a handful of baseline humans getting caught up in an existential conundrum that the far-superior AI Ships (and Main Characters) had to face. And we even get a BDO to spark an enormous intergalactic war. Woo Woo! Of course, the BDO (big dumb object) is nothing of the sort. In fact, it might be smarter than all of them combined. Who knows? I loved the speculation. Life, love, sex, conspir This happens to be exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. I wanted intelligent galaxy-spanning space opera with a handful of baseline humans getting caught up in an existential conundrum that the far-superior AI Ships (and Main Characters) had to face. And we even get a BDO to spark an enormous intergalactic war. Woo Woo! Of course, the BDO (big dumb object) is nothing of the sort. In fact, it might be smarter than all of them combined. Who knows? I loved the speculation. Life, love, sex, conspiracy, extremely high stakes, this novel really pretty much had it all, but I think I had the most fun chuckling over all those damn ship names. "I Blame Your Mother", "I Blame My Mother", "Use Psychology", "Jaundiced Outlook", "It's Character Forming", "Unacceptable Behaviour", "Serious Callers Only", and "Meat Fucker" just to name a quick few that tickled my fancy. This novel kept my attention much better than the previous novels, but honestly, I think I liked those previous ones better on the re-read than the first shot. Maybe I'm just getting used to Banks's writing, at long last, or all my fancies were tickled in just the right measure in just the right times. These are of a higher quality Space Opera than practically anything else out there, but it's of a very particular sort. Tongue-In-Cheek? Absolutely. Out to prove that a beneficent galactic society can still have some real humdingers for stories despite the apparent lack of conflict? You bet. It's like a master's course in Proving It Can Be Done despite all the doomsayers. It's nothing like any kind of Space Opera I've ever read, again. Still. Continuing on. It's pretty damn awesome. I want to continue these Culture novels like something fierce, but I have so much on my plate already. I'll schedule them for one a month from now on, and savour them in delight. :)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    The Culture series is one of the most beloved among today's sf readers, possibly the most beloved but I don't have any hard figures to back it up so I'll leave that hyperbole out for now. Certainly some entries in the series are more popular than others, based on the average ratings and online discussions The Player of Games and Use of Weapons are generally held in high regard, Inversions and Matter less so. As for Excession, it is one of the more popular ones, top 4 I think, and I can see why. The Culture series is one of the most beloved among today's sf readers, possibly the most beloved but I don't have any hard figures to back it up so I'll leave that hyperbole out for now. Certainly some entries in the series are more popular than others, based on the average ratings and online discussions The Player of Games and Use of Weapons are generally held in high regard, Inversions and Matter less so. As for Excession, it is one of the more popular ones, top 4 I think, and I can see why. "The Culture vs a BDO, yes, please!" That was my reaction upon reading the book's synopsis which I shall fastidiously avoid writing as always. These things are never more than one click away on Goodreads after all. Apart from being a field day for BDO fans (Rendezvous With Rama and whatnot) this book also largely focused on The Minds, the series' sentient AI entities which are much more than supercomputers, among other things they are also the real movers and shakers of The Culture society where all the humans are well catered for with everything they could possibly want, leaving little motivation to get involved in politics or anything else of real importance. What is interesting about The Minds is that they are fully sentient, they have their individual personalities, emotions, and motivations; in other words human-like characteristics coupled with vast intelligence. They even have their own version of virtual reality games called "Irreal" (AKA "Infinite Fun"). So when the complex, enigmatic Minds encounter an even more inscrutable BDO (which they classify as an Outside Context Problem) we are in for some interesting times. The book is not entirely about the Minds or the "Outside Context Problem" artifact however, the author is after all a human being so he did not forget that his human readers need some human characters to identify with the human drama aspect of the book is not central to the main story line but cleverly woven in. As usual with Banks the human characters are well developed and believable though none are particularly likable. The single alien specie to appear in this book are the boisterous and naturally cruel and callous Affronters, they are particularly interesting because they are not "evil" aliens per se, they are what they are, morality does not appear to be part of their DNA. The prose is literate and a pleasure to read as always, the lyrical passages, the action packed scenes and the humorous moments as all there. The only snag with this novel for me is the large cast of characters, AIs, humans and aliens. They all have interesting names but there are so many of them it is hard to remember who all the minor characters are and their relevance to the major plot of the story. If you have never read any book from this series before, this is probably not the best volume to start with. I would recommend Consider Phlebas or The Player of Games instead, though if you really want to jump right in with this one you may want to read up some background materials in Wikipedia or Banks' own guide "A Few Notes on the Culture". I am looking forward to eventually catching up with the rest of the series. Excession is an excellent read, well worth anybody's time, but for the moment my favorite Culture book is still The Player of Games. (4.5 stars)

  5. 5 out of 5

    7jane

    Music: something from Slowdive, like "Souvlaki Space Station" Like putting my feet back into the river, this felt like I had not taken any break from reading this series. This one was fun to read, that can be said :) So, there's a mysterious ship that apparead many years before - now it is back, and *everybody* seems to want to check it out, prod it, talk to it, see if there's anything new and benefitting in its secrets and even attempt to destroy it. There's also a conspiracy going on... This nove Music: something from Slowdive, like "Souvlaki Space Station" Like putting my feet back into the river, this felt like I had not taken any break from reading this series. This one was fun to read, that can be said :) So, there's a mysterious ship that apparead many years before - now it is back, and *everybody* seems to want to check it out, prod it, talk to it, see if there's anything new and benefitting in its secrets and even attempt to destroy it. There's also a conspiracy going on... This novel concentrates on the ships, with names like "Honest Mistake", "Killing Time", "Not Invented Here", "Sleeper Service" and "Grey Area" (which is also known as "Meatfucker" for its tendency to sometimes mess with creatures' heads). There's a few Culture people, like Ulver Seich who lives a kind of Marie Antoinette life (something like that Sofia Coppola film) while also wanting to try adventurous things; the Affronters, playful yet sadistic problem area Culture has wrung its hands long about; the ships of course, and drones... some of these that I met in the story I grew to care about, like the loner at Pittance storage thing. The created worlds on ships were also rather amazing <3 The story ends quite neatly, with some nice twists and with an epilogue that left me bouncy... the world also reminded me of the one seen in Valérian And Laureline comic book series. I have two books from this series unread (I haven't read the books in order), and this does motivate me to read them sooner, I hope. Lovely :)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tieryas

    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2015/03/on-i... The connection between literature and video games is one of my favorite topics. I was thrilled to get to write for Tor.com about one of the best science fiction books I've read, Excession by Iain M. Banks, and its connection to Sid Meier’s Civilization which, along with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, was one of the most addicting games of my life. ____ "If Use of Weapons was a psychological investigation into the world of the Culture, Excession is a philosop http://www.tor.com/blogs/2015/03/on-i... The connection between literature and video games is one of my favorite topics. I was thrilled to get to write for Tor.com about one of the best science fiction books I've read, Excession by Iain M. Banks, and its connection to Sid Meier’s Civilization which, along with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, was one of the most addicting games of my life. ____ "If Use of Weapons was a psychological investigation into the world of the Culture, Excession is a philosophical excavation, featuring the AI Minds going to war. The Culture have come across an ancient artifact that is “a perfect black body sphere the size of a mountain” and a “dead star that was at least fifty times older than the universe.” Its disappearance and reappearance decades later spurs off a string of events that make for one of the most frenetic, entertaining, and metaphysical science fiction narratives I’ve read." Changing my review score to 5. I'd had some reservations about the ending and the human arc initially, but I have to admit, almost a year later, Excession has slowly crept its way up to become the Culture book that, along with Player of Games, has stuck with me the most. This was an awesome and fun review I did with Joe Owens and Kyle Muntz about a year ago, and I'm probably going to do a follow up somewhere. I'm also finally going through Matter, and while it's cool, I miss hearing the Culture Minds which has been one of the best parts of Excession. http://entropymag.org/excession-review/ 4.5 stars. My thoughts to come soon. Loved it. Arguably one of the most fast-paced and tense Culture books yet. The Minds are really badass. I just had some issues with the ending and the human characters, but will write more on that later =0

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    Excession: Too complex for meat-based life forms to understand Excession is the fourth book in Iain M. Banks’ CULTURE series. I’ll assume you already know the far-future decadent post-scarcity intergalactic empire of the Culture, dominated by its (mostly) benign AIs, known as Minds, and its trillions of citizens, some human and others more exotic. It’s a great invention, a vast and limitless space for Banks to explore via the Culture’s Contact and Special Circumstances divisions, especially the i Excession: Too complex for meat-based life forms to understand Excession is the fourth book in Iain M. Banks’ CULTURE series. I’ll assume you already know the far-future decadent post-scarcity intergalactic empire of the Culture, dominated by its (mostly) benign AIs, known as Minds, and its trillions of citizens, some human and others more exotic. It’s a great invention, a vast and limitless space for Banks to explore via the Culture’s Contact and Special Circumstances divisions, especially the interactions with non-Culture empires like the Idirans or, in the case of Excession, the Affront. Excession probably arose when Banks was sitting at his computer thinking – wouldn’t it be cool to have a Culture story centered on Minds rather than humans? But how can you easily depict the incredibly complex and cerebral interactions, motivations, stratagems, of these AIs that can process a million separate thoughts in a nano-second? They are so far advanced beyond organic life forms that it’s a wonder they even bother dealing with them. They often seem to take a paternalistic and indulgent attitude to the humans and other beings they deal with. So the plot of Excession is very simple in outline, but difficult to grasp in the details. A mysterious black-body spherical object shows up in a remote corner of space (dubbed an “Excession”), and is impervious to most forms of analysis and observation, but seemingly is trillions of years old, far older than the universe itself. This Excession is far too enticing for the Culture, along with the inquisitive Elench and hyper-aggressive Affront (think Vogons minus the poetry). So there is a massive mobilization of Ships from various Culture factions and alien species, all rushing to figure out what this BDO (Big Dumb Object) is and whether they can leverage it for their own purposes. The best part of the story is certainly the Minds themselves, particularly the names of the Ships. Banks has a special genius for inventing clever, ironic names for super-intelligent AIs. Clearly they have enough cognitive power to allow for a highly-developed sense of irony. Some of my favorite ship names were Fate Amenable to Change, Grey Area (aka Meatfucker), Jaundiced Outlook, Shoot them Later, Attitude Adjuster, Killing Time, Frank Exchange of Views, Ethics Gradient, Sleeper Service, Serious Callers Only, etc. Their names suggest both their mind-set and sometimes their agendas, but they are mostly entertaining in a very Douglas Adams’ vein. In any case, I suspect Excession would reward a careful reading, taking the time to understand the veiled motivations of all the different parties. The best parts are the interactions of the Minds with each other. As with all of Banks’ CULTURE books, there are casual throwaway references to intriguing ideas that could form the basis of their own stories. But basically this is story about the AIs and a scattering of humans involved in inscrutable schemes surrounding the Excession. I have to admit that I listened to the audiobook and had trouble following the plot details, as well as the large cast of AIs, aliens and humans. If you are already a fan of Banks’ CULTURE series, this is probably a 4-star book, but if you are new to his milieu I wouldn’t recommend the audiobook approach, even though the narrator Peter Kenny (who does all the Culture books) does an excellent and hilarious job with a host of different voices. It’s just a bit too much to keep straight. Better to read this one in hardcopy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    Early on it felt like there were too many characters, too many plot threads, too many settings, and that Excession was too damn convoluted to be good. Iain M. Banks’ Excession was living up to the definition of its title: "Excession; something excessive. Excessively aggressive, excessively powerful, excessively expansionist; whatever. Such things turned up or were created now and again. Encountering an example of was one of the risks you ran when you went a-wandering."It was a true slog to get i Early on it felt like there were too many characters, too many plot threads, too many settings, and that Excession was too damn convoluted to be good. Iain M. Banks’ Excession was living up to the definition of its title: "Excession; something excessive. Excessively aggressive, excessively powerful, excessively expansionist; whatever. Such things turned up or were created now and again. Encountering an example of was one of the risks you ran when you went a-wandering."It was a true slog to get into, but then somewhere around the time Byr Genar-Hofoen was on his way to the GSV Sleeper Service and that ship was busy waking up folk from its battle tableux, I found myself comfortable in Banks' most sprawling Culture novel (if taken in order) to date. It was difficult to keep everything straight and difficult to care what was going on in every thread of the tale, and the work doesn't really pay off in a big pay-off kinda way, but there are some positives to take away from the experience of reading Excession. For one, this is Banks' finest expression of the ship-mind (I have read nothing past Excession, so there may be better to come). He makes us privy to discussions of ships that make up the "Interesting Times Gang," an unofficial branch of the Culture's Special Circumstances who are steeped in a conspiracy to deliver a crushing blow to the upstart "Affronter" society by using the appearance of an Excession, an Outside Context Problem (OCP) which takes the shape of a spherical nothingness tapped into energy outlets in the skein of hypervoluminous space. But he takes us further than communication between the great ship-minds and into the minds of Eccentric ships and Pseudo-Eccentric ships and Traitor ships and Warships. It is a bit of a mind bending journey, and it is some of the hardest Sci-Fi that Banks has written. But Banks also offers some compelling human interaction, orbiting around Genar-Hofoen, to keep us grounded in the familiarity of humanity. I was exhausted by the end, and I am tempted to be unforgiving about the length of time it took me to really engage with Excession, and the ending was ultimately unsatisfactory, but I still found myself not wanting to put the book down. I loved too many of the characters -- ships and humans and drones and Affronter alike -- to let them go. I wanted Excession to go on for another thousand pages, but it didn't. It's never ideal when a book leaves me wanting, but that's a hell of a lot better than leaving me wanting the book to end. So if you're a Banks fan I can say, quite confidently, that this is a must read -- not his best, but worth the time. If you're not a Banks fan, however, stay away. This will not endear you to the man...genius though he may be.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Simeon

    I love these books, but if you don't, I understand. The series' uniqueness is both awesome and offputting; the sort of stuff you wish people would write, but then you find excuses not to read. Reading the Culture novels is rarely the funnest thing you could be doing; but, when you're done, it can mean a whole paradigm shift - steps toward permanently dismantling whatever version of reality is currently trolling your existence.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ben Babcock

    Finally, the Culture novel I’ve been waiting to read since I started the series. Everyone told me not to start with Excession, so I didn’t—and honestly that was pretty good advice. I can see why people wouldn’t enjoy this novel, and even though I think I would have liked it with no previous Culture experience, reading other books has given me a deeper appreciation for what is happening here. Excession reminds me of children’s books where the main characters are all animals, and humans have very l Finally, the Culture novel I’ve been waiting to read since I started the series. Everyone told me not to start with Excession, so I didn’t—and honestly that was pretty good advice. I can see why people wouldn’t enjoy this novel, and even though I think I would have liked it with no previous Culture experience, reading other books has given me a deeper appreciation for what is happening here. Excession reminds me of children’s books where the main characters are all animals, and humans have very little to do with the plot. Just replace “animals” with “AI Minds (mostly ships)” and you get the idea. There are only a handful of named human characters in this book, and really only three of them are important to the plot—and even then, they really have very little impact on the A-plot. Iain Banks once again probes the idea that humanity has a place in a post-Singularity galaxy, but we probably won’t be in the driver’s seat. This is essentially a Big Dumb Object story, but what makes it different is that most of the book is spent discussing what to do with it, and setting things up, than actually doing anything to/about the Excession. On one level, this book is mainly dialogues between ships separated by vast distances. While they debate how to treat the Excession, a faction within their group uses this distraction as an opportunity to engineer a compassionate war. The intrigues-within-intrigues are mindblowing in this. I love how just when I thought I had a handle on who was on whose side, Banks would drop a well-timed twist to blow all my theories out of the water. Banks writes his machines with a personality only a British author can manage. They are funny and quirky, but some are ponderous and self-important, while others are rude, perverse, or downright twisted. It’s so fascinating to see the range of personalities of the Minds—and also to nip at the edges of our possible comprehension of what it would be like to exist in such a capacity. Banks explains how the Minds’ version of fun and diversion is to model different possible universes, and to actually inhabit and explore these mental universes (which explains the attraction of the Excession, I guess). There is also plenty of commentary on the philosophical tension between the Culture’s kind of enforced stagnation and the temptation to Sublime (ascend to a higher plane of existence, whatever the hell that means). In a post-scarcity society where one wants for nothing and crime has become a kind of performance art, the chief problem is boredom. Although Minds and drones have been major characters in the other Culture novels I’ve read so far, this is really the first time we start to understand their psychology (such as we pitiful meatbrains can). Minds are created to enjoy whatever function they will serve, whether it’s coordinating a Hub, managing a General Systems Vehicle, or serving as a warship. As the story goes on, we start to see how Minds interact and the way they judge each other. Sleeper Service’s obsession with Dareil and Byr’s conflict is an example of what happens when a Mind feels like they have made a huge mistake. In this respect, while neither of these human characters have a huge effect on dealing with the Excession, their peripheral actions greatly influenced one of the ships directly involved in the plot. There’s something very Shakespearean to all this, and I feel like I’ve seen this before in Banks’ writing. From the complicated conspiracies to the tragedies and deep regrets, the plot unfolds like a vast tragedy (although you could argue that, in the end, it is a comedy despite the gigadeath—I think Banks is mocking the wider space opera genre here, pointing out how when the narrative operates at such a remove, pathos becomes an intractable problem). The Culture misses out on a huge opportunity because one section of it couldn’t avoid the temptation to play political games. This conspiracy to incite war is a fascinating subplot, because it makes me wonder is such a story is possible with human proponents. I don’t mean the conspiracy part (that seems obviously plausible), but the fact that such a vast action could happen and the Culture could stay intact. This positive consequence only seems possible because of the way Minds work and the fabric of the Culture itself, which is heavily influenced by the Minds’ operations. The Culture is a paradoxical society, both remarkably flexible yet also very rigid in other ways. Despite technical civil war in the form of some Culture warships firing on other Culture ships, there are not many intimations of long-term repercussions for those actions; in contrast, I think a human-run empire would tear itself apart in the aftermath of such events. Hey, I’m not saying machines will do it better … but I do welcome our robot overlords! At a more basic level, I unabashedly revel in Banks’ prose and the way he describes the science-fictional setting of this novel. I’m long over my adolescent fascination with posthumanism and nanomagic, but I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t stop reading Excession; I was totally nerdgasming over descriptions of the ships, the Minds, the way humans interact with the world and even their own bodies. Banks just imagines the Culture’s culture so vividly and believably that you really wish you were there, somewhere, to experience it for yourself. This is a universe I would love to come back to, again and again, and I’m glad I’ve got a bunch of other Culture novels to read before I return to this one. My reviews of the Culture novels: ← Use of Weapons | Inversions →

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrea McDowell

    I gave up at about page 50. After being introduced to a woman character who had chosen to be pregnant for 40 years, and then an emissary for a nearby alien civilization where the all-male representatives publicly brag about how many females they've impregnated through rape, I was seriously put off. Every woman I've ever met has been dying to be un-pregnant by the 8th month. A woman who chooses to be pregnant for 40 years? No swollen ankles, no sore back, no heartburn, no weird skin issues? Did Iai I gave up at about page 50. After being introduced to a woman character who had chosen to be pregnant for 40 years, and then an emissary for a nearby alien civilization where the all-male representatives publicly brag about how many females they've impregnated through rape, I was seriously put off. Every woman I've ever met has been dying to be un-pregnant by the 8th month. A woman who chooses to be pregnant for 40 years? No swollen ankles, no sore back, no heartburn, no weird skin issues? Did Iain Banks know any women? Did he ever remotely consider for five seconds asking them about this scenario? Who WANTS to be pregnant for FOUR DECADES? And no, I can't sympathize with someone who thinks it's just swell to go around raping people, and I don't care if it's an alien or not. Thankyouverymuch, I already live in a world with too much rape in it, and plenty of people willing to defend how 'natural' it is. I don't need to spend my imaginary time there too. I was looking forward to reading this author after hearing so many good reviews. Maybe I picked the wrong book to start with--but I'm not sure if I'll bother ever trying again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    What sort of gift can you get for the Culture that has everything? That is, how on Earth (or, rather, off) do you make Utopia interesting, when all society's ills have been resolved, and all misery is at worst optional? That is the central conundrum with which Iain M. Banks has been grappling in all of his Culture novels, and Excession is perhaps his most explicit examination of that question to date, even though it came out 'way back in 1996. An "excession," in Banks' parlance, is something that What sort of gift can you get for the Culture that has everything? That is, how on Earth (or, rather, off) do you make Utopia interesting, when all society's ills have been resolved, and all misery is at worst optional? That is the central conundrum with which Iain M. Banks has been grappling in all of his Culture novels, and Excession is perhaps his most explicit examination of that question to date, even though it came out 'way back in 1996. An "excession," in Banks' parlance, is something that comes from outside the star-spanning Culture's comfortable context—something excessive, beyond the pale. Something which may be beyond even the Culture's considerable ability to manage. As the novel opens, it's been hundreds of years since the Culture has been confronted with anything even marginally threatening, and when a ship run by the Zetetic Elench (a somewhat heterodox offshoot of the Culture) comes across a star that appears to be older than the universe itself, the news causes a typically chaotic reaction. Various elements of the Culture (and other Galactic small-c cultures) prepare for contact, for cooptation, and... for war. Just in case. The outcome is by no means certain, and the working-out of it is one of the significant strengths of this complicated novel. The thing I liked most about Excession in retrospect, though, wasn't the grand sweep of its space battles, nor was it the sheer scale of the universe Banks has constructed, though I liked those too. Nor was it the witty banter between Minds and meat—there was in fact not as much of such banter as I'd have liked. The novel did at times seem a little too dry to me—a little too much told, and not enough shown. It wasn't even the Laumeresque aliens known as the Affronters, though they were often played for laughs, and quite effectively too. No, the parts of this book I most appreciated in the end were the parts where Banks points out that even in the midst of a cornucopia of physical plenty, where death itself is an arbitrary and personal choice rather than an inevitability, human beings would in fact and quite beyond all reason find ways to be miserable. This shows up in small ways, contrasting vividly with the stellar-scale explosions and tremendous accelerations involved: Dajeil Gelian's lonely, expectant vigil, and Gestra Ishmethit's self-imposed exile on the asteroid Pittance, for two such individuals. Very few authors can mingle the universal and the personal as well as Banks; I think it's important to acknowledge that, quite apart from the whiz-bang pyrotechnics, there's actually some depth here too, some introspection which could easily be missed amid all the flash. Banks has constructed a universe where, despite all of the gigantic technical achievements he depicts, the panoply of Galactic history, human beings still matter. Banks is always at or near the top of my to-read list, and this book is, in the end, no exception.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Karpuk

    Terry Pratchett once said that horses take longer to get up to full speed because they had more legs to sort out. Under those conditions, Excession has about a dozen damn legs, because this book takes half its length to feel like it's gaining any momentum. The cast of thousands approach doesn't really help. By the time the narrative returned to some characters I had trouble remember who they were or what exactly they wanted. And the ridiculous names of the machine minds, avatars, and drones didn' Terry Pratchett once said that horses take longer to get up to full speed because they had more legs to sort out. Under those conditions, Excession has about a dozen damn legs, because this book takes half its length to feel like it's gaining any momentum. The cast of thousands approach doesn't really help. By the time the narrative returned to some characters I had trouble remember who they were or what exactly they wanted. And the ridiculous names of the machine minds, avatars, and drones didn't help matters any. But ultimately the biggest issue with Excession is that it destroys a lot of the mystery around the Culture of the previous books and doesn't really add anything that great. We get to read conversations between the minds, massive super-AIs, and they end up sounding more quaint than cerebral. One would think that a bunch of super computers could exchange novels-worth of information instantaneously, but their conversations have the ho-hum quality of a bunch of C3POs talking about tea serving traditions. Humans don't get off much better. It's several millenia in the future, but the dialogue and mannerisms seems straight out of the 80's. Men and women in this book are all somewhat ridiculous stereotypes, and you never get the sense of thousands of years of advancement in the way they interact. It takes the air out of the fanciful world of the Culture, and makes them seem more like a future proxy for the British Empire, a bunch of ultra-powerful aristocrats enforcing their values on everyone they view as stepping out of line. I respect the ambition that the Culture books show, but sadly, when the curtain is pulled back and their world rendered explicit, it can't help but disappoint.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    First book of this spring's readathon! It took me ages to read, but it's well worth it. I think I'll take a little break now from the Culture: not only do I want to ration it out a bit, but there's a sameness to the cleverness at the heart of these novels, so that reading three in quick succession makes me more able to figure out the plot -- and I actually like feeling that Banks is smarter than me, so I'll give it a rest before my next one... Anyway, I don't know how to talk about Excession, rea First book of this spring's readathon! It took me ages to read, but it's well worth it. I think I'll take a little break now from the Culture: not only do I want to ration it out a bit, but there's a sameness to the cleverness at the heart of these novels, so that reading three in quick succession makes me more able to figure out the plot -- and I actually like feeling that Banks is smarter than me, so I'll give it a rest before my next one... Anyway, I don't know how to talk about Excession, really. You spend an enormous amount of time in contact with the Minds, in this book, instead of with the human or humanoid members of the Culture, which is really interesting, especially coming after reading Use of Weapons and Consider Phlebas, where it's the other end of things. And the Excession itself is fascinating, and I like that Banks doesn't go too far into explaining it. If you get bogged down in the details, of which there are many, Excession can be pretty confusing. There are dozens of ship-names to remember, some of them wry and funny, and all of them at any rate unconventional, and there's a fair number of biological lifeforms to keep your eyes on -- as well a conspiracy or two, just to keep you on your toes. It's impossible, I think, to really model the way such intelligent beings would think. It's daring of Banks to actually write so close to the point of view of the Minds, and he pulls it off.

  15. 5 out of 5

    KostasAt

    8.5/10 After five years time-off from the Culture universe, taking the time to develop ideas and stories and in other novels, Iain M. Banks returns with Excession, the fifth following installment in the series, with a story of grand scope and imagination; a space opera that takes us deep into the unknown of the galaxy - revealing wonders and dimensions through its vastness - but also into an epic adventure of conspiracy and war, paranoia and cruelty, and love and betrayal, using his scientificall 8.5/10 After five years time-off from the Culture universe, taking the time to develop ideas and stories and in other novels, Iain M. Banks returns with Excession, the fifth following installment in the series, with a story of grand scope and imagination; a space opera that takes us deep into the unknown of the galaxy - revealing wonders and dimensions through its vastness - but also into an epic adventure of conspiracy and war, paranoia and cruelty, and love and betrayal, using his scientifically plausible descriptions to leave us nothing more but simply lost with awe. In the vast emptiness of the galaxy, from its creation to its continuously growth, the society of the Culture has traveled to new, unexplored wonders; wonders which, through their desire to explore their limits and their secrets - and consequently to appease their irresistible curiosity - has brought them to the forefront of many interstellar worlds and civilizations - and Byr Genar-Hofoen, as an ambassador in the God’shole habitat of the Affront - an increasingly in power alien species - his part of the job is to lay the foundations that will bring a long and reciprocal relationship between the two civilizations. Far away, however, in the Esperi system - after two and a half thousand years of disappearance - an artifact has appeared again, causing questions long left unanswered, and when he gets assigned to find the Eccentric ship Sleeper Service and the only person aboard it who managed to survive after an attempt to discover its mysteries - possessing information that might help them understand it - Genar-Hofoen will have to leave behind his easy life and embark on a quest to find this ship, its passenger and the answers it holds; an adventure that, as a long-forgotten past will emerge again, will put him amidst difficulties and dangers that, if he doesn’t overcome, could cost him all of what he has achieved so far. Meanwhile, on Phage Rock, Ulver Seich - a famed scholastic overachiever at barely twenty-two years of age - spends her time breaking young hearts through her irresistible lusciousness, waiting for the day that will bring to its fulfillment her greatest dream: to join Special Circumstances and to travel throughout the galaxy. But, when one day the drone Churt Lyne - her faithful follower and of her family - informs her of a coming message, asking her personally to take on a mission of utmost secrecy on Tier habitat - giving her the possibility, and the chance, to bring her dream to fruition - Ulver will find herself soon hunting a person that yesterday she hadn’t even heard of, bringing her into an adventure as she’d never had imagined that will change her life forever. While Dajeil Gelian, self-exiled aboard the Eccentric ship Sleeper Service for forty years - trapped into her memories - when she encounters an old love she had tried to forget, she will be faced with her past but also with difficult choices that will prove critical for the future of hers and of her unborn child. But now, with the ships’ Minds of the Culture trying very hard to understand its purpose and its potential, when this artifact becomes the focal point of the galaxy's attention - drawing the interest of alien species and sentient intelligences - it will reveal a deep conspiracy that will give reason for a new, great war; a conspiracy that, if they fail to put an end to it, may well threaten with the destruction not only Genar-Hofoen, Dajeil and Ulver, but even and every living organism and intelligence across the universe. Consisting of twelve parts, with each one divided into shorter-length chapters, Iain M. Banks brings to Excession, the fourth novel in the Culture universe, a space opera of grand scope - reminding again the style of the first book, Consider Phlebas - but using multiple narratives and points of view for the development of the plot, giving a stronger feeling of complexity than before, and also bringing a large cast of characters - humanoids, aliens, drones and Minds - that create a tale of epic scale, proving of how greater level he had reached his writing and his imagination over the years. And, through this book, Banks once again builds a story that travels us throughout the galaxy, showing us unknown worlds and civilizations, alien species and sentient intelligences, bringing to the forefront two new societies: the Zetetic Elench who, as once part of the Culture system, have different ideals from their brothers, wanting in the explorations towards the unknown not to try to change the others through their beliefs but to be changed by the others, adapting and developing their personalities day by day to something else; and the Affront, an increasing alien power, who - through its need to subjucate those who think inferior - raves into its brutality and its systematic sadism upon the weaker. Two societies that - compared to the Culture - show how widely opposite they are through their rules and their beliefs they live with. Where, however, Banks excels most is in his protagonists as, giving the largest time of the book to the ships’ Minds - a side which he hadn’t developed again before - he takes us deep into the core of their existence and of their soul, revealing their inner wars and conflicts, their thoughts and reasons for their actions; actions that, acting as gods on behalf of their societies, bring through their irresistible need to understand this mysterious, unknown of origin artifact great consequences for them, their people, their worlds, and even the galaxy itself - a steep price that shows the huge impact of their curiosity and of the possibilities of the unknown. All in all, Excession is a great book of many levels, with Iain M. Banks returning to the Culture universe with a story of grand scope, travels us through the galaxy into worlds and civilizations, and into alien species and sentient intelligences, but also and into an epic space opera adventure of conspiracies, wars and wonders of the unknown, showing through his great writing and imagination a deep, incredible vast universe of unknown possibilities. Ελληνική κριτική: (view spoiler)[Μετά από πέντε χρόνια απουσίας από το σύμπαν του Culture, παίρνοντας το χρόνο για να αναπτύξει ιδέες και ιστορίες και σε άλλα μυθιστορήματα, ο Iain M. Banks επιστρέφει με το Excession, το πέμπτο ακολουθούμενο μέρος στη σειρά, με μια ιστορία μεγαλειώδης βλέψης και φαντασίας· μια διαστημική όπερα που μας πηγαίνει βαθιά μέσα στο άγνωστο του γαλαξία - αποκαλύπτοντας θαύματα και διαστάσεις μέσα από την απεραντοσύνη του - αλλά και σε μια επική περιπέτεια συνομωσίας και πολέμου, παράνοιας και βαναυσότητας, και αγάπης και προδοσίας, χρησιμοποιώντας τις επιστημονικά αληθοφανείς περιγραφές του για να μας αφήσει τίποτα περισσότερο παρά απλά χαμένους με δέος. Στην απέραντη κενότητα του γαλαξία, από την δημιουργία του μέχρι την συνεχόμενη ανάπτυξή της, η κοινωνία του Culture έχει ταξιδέψει προς νέα, ανεξερεύνητα θαύματα· θαύματα που, μέσα από την επιθυμία τους για να εξερευνήσουν τα όριά τους και τα μυστικά τους - και κατά συνέπεια για να κατευνάσουν την ακαταμάχητη περιέργειά τους - τους έχει φέρει στο προσκήνιο πολλών διαστρικών κόσμων και πολιτισμών - και ο Byr Genar-Hofoen, σαν ένας πρεσβευτής στον οικότοπο God’shole των Affront - ενός αυξανόμενου σε δύναμη εξωγήινου είδους - το κομμάτι της δουλειάς του είναι να βάλει τα θεμέλια που θα θέσουν μια μακρά και αμοιβαία σχέση μεταξύ των δύο πολιτισμών. Μακριά, ωστόσο, στο σύστημα του Esperi - μετά από δυόμισι χιλιάδες χρόνια εξαφάνισης - ένα τεχνούργημα έχει εμφανιστεί ξανά, προκαλώντας ερωτήματα μακρά αφημένα αναπάντητα, και όταν του ανατεθεί να βρει το Εκκεντρικό πλοίο Sleeper Service και το μοναδικό άτομο επάνω του που κατάφερε να επιβιώσει μετά από μια προσπάθεια για να ανακαλύψουν τα μυστήριά του - κατέχοντας πληροφορίες που θα μπορούσαν να τους βοηθήσουν να το κατανοήσουν - ο Genar-Hofoen θα πρέπει να αφήσει πίσω την εύκολη ζωή του και να ξεκινήσει σε μια αναζήτηση για την εύρεση αυτού του πλοίου, του επιβάτη του και των απαντήσεων που κρατάει· μια περιπέτεια που, καθώς ένα μακρά ξεχασμένο παρελθόν θα αναδυθεί ξανά, θα τον βάλει εν μέσω δυσκολιών και κινδύνων που, αν δεν ξεπεράσει, θα μπορούσαν να του κοστίσουν όλα όσα έχει επιτύχει μέχρι τώρα. Εν τω μεταξύ, στον Βράχο Phage, η Ulver Seich - μια φημισμένη σχολαστικός υπερκατορθωτής στα με τα βίας είκοσι δύο της χρόνια - περνάει το χρόνο ραγίζοντας νεαρές καρδιές μέσα από την ακαταμάχητη γλυκύτητά της, περιμένοντας για την μέρα που θα φέρει στην εκπλήρωσή του το μεγαλύτερο όνειρό της: να ενταχθεί στις Ειδικές Περιστάσεις και να ταξιδέψει καθ’ όλο το γαλαξία. Όταν, όμως, μια μέρα το drone Churt Lyne - ο πιστός της ακόλουθος και της οικογένειάς της - την ενημερώσει για ένα ερχόμενο μήνυμα, ζητώντας την προσωπικά να αναλάβει μια αποστολή ύψιστης μυστικότητας στον οικότοπο Tier - δίνοντάς της την δυνατότητα, και την ευκαιρία, για να φέρει το όνειρό της στην πραγματικότητα - η Ulver θα βρεθεί σύντομα να κυνηγά ένα άτομο που εχθές δεν είχε ακούσει καν, φέρνοντάς την μέσα σε μια περιπέτεια όπως δεν θα είχε φανταστεί ποτέ της που θα αλλάξει την ζωή της για πάντα. Ενώ η Dajeil Gelian, αυτοεξωρισμένη επάνω στο Εκκεντρικό πλοίο Sleeper Service για σαράντα χρόνια - παγιδευμένη μέσα στις αναμνήσεις της - όταν συναντήσει έναν παλιό έρωτα που είχε προσπαθήσει να ξεχάσει, θα βρεθεί αντιμέτωπη με το παρελθόν της αλλά και με δύσκολες επιλογές που θα αποδειχθούν κρίσιμες για το μέλλον αυτής και του αγέννητου παιδιού της. Όμως τώρα, με τα Μυαλά των πλοίων του Culture να προσπαθούν πολύ σκληρά να κατανοήσουν τον σκοπό του και τις δυνατότητές του, όταν αυτό το τεχνούργημα γίνει το επίκεντρο της προσοχής του γαλαξία - τραβώντας το ενδιαφέρον εξωγήινων ειδών και αισθανόμενων νοημοσυνών - θα αποκαλύψει μια βαθιά συνομωσία που θα δώσει λόγο για ένα νέο, μεγάλο πόλεμο· μια συνομωσία που, αν αποτύχουν να της βάλουν ένα τέλος, μπορεί κάλλιστα να απειλήσει με την καταστροφή όχι μόνο τον Genar-Hofoen, την Dajeil και την Ulver, αλλά ακόμη και κάθε ζωντανό οργανισμό και νοημοσύνη σε όλο το σύμπαν. Αποτελούμενο από δώδεκα μέρη, με το κάθε ένα να είναι χωρισμένο σε μικρότερης διάρκειας κεφάλαια, o Iain M. Banks φέρνει στο Excession, το τέταρτο μυθιστόρημα τοποθετημένο στο σύμπαν του Culture, μια διαστημική όπερα μεγαλειώδης βλέψης - θυμίζοντας ξανά το στυλ του πρώτου βιβλίου, το Consider Phlebas - αλλά χρησιμοποιώντας πολλαπλές αφηγήσεις και οπτικές γωνίες για την ανάπτυξη της πλοκής, δίνοντας μια δυνατότερη αίσθηση πολυπλοκότητας απ’ ότι στα προηγούμενα, και φέρνοντας επίσης και ένα μεγάλο σύνολο χαρακτήρων - ανθρωποειδών, εξωγήινων, drones και Μυαλών - που δημιουργούν μια ιστορία επικής κλίμακας, αποδεικνύοντας το πόσο μεγαλύτερο επίπεδο είχε φτάσει η γραφή του και η φαντασία του με τα χρόνια. Και, μέσα από αυτό το βιβλίο, ο Banks χτίζει για άλλη μια φορά μια ιστορία που μας ταξιδεύει καθ’ όλο τον γαλαξία, δείχνοντάς μας άγνωστους κόσμους και πολιτισμούς, και εξωγήινα είδη και αισθανόμενες νοημοσύνες, φέρνοντας στο προσκήνιο δύο νέες κοινωνίες: τους Zetetic Elench οι οποίοι, σαν κάποτε μέρος του συστήματος του Culture, έχουν διαφορετικά ιδανικά από τα αδέρφια τους, θέλοντας στις εξερευνήσεις προς το άγνωστο όχι να προσπαθήσουν να αλλάξουν τους άλλους μέσω των πιστεύω τους αλλά να αλλαχτούν από τους άλλους, προσαρμόζοντας και αναπτύσσοντας τις προσωπικότητές τους μέρα με τη μέρα σε κάτι άλλο· και τους Affront, μια αυξανόμενη εξωγήινη δύναμη, που - μέσα από την ανάγκη της για να υποτάξει αυτούς που θεωρεί κατώτερους - παραληρεί μέσα στην βαναυσότητα και τον συστηματικό σαδισμό της πάνω από τους αδύναμους. Δύο κοινωνίες που - σε σύγκριση με του Culture - δείχνουν το πόσο ευρέως αντίθετες είναι μέσα από τους κανόνες και τα πιστεύω με τα οποία ζουν. Εκεί, ωστόσο, που ο Banks υπερέχει περισσότερο είναι στους πρωταγωνιστές του καθώς, δίνοντας το μεγαλύτερο χρόνο του βιβλίου στα Μυαλά των πλοίων - μια πλευρά την οποία δεν είχε αναπτύξει ξανά πριν - μας πηγαίνει βαθιά μέσα στον πυρήνα της ύπαρξής τους και της ψυχής τους, αποκαλύπτοντας τους εσωτερικούς πολέμους τους και συγκρούσεις τους, τις σκέψεις τους και λόγους των πράξεών τους· πράξεις που, πράττοντας σαν θεοί εκ μέρους των κοινωνιών τους, φέρνουν μέσα από την ακαταμάχητη ανάγκη τους για να κατανοήσουν αυτό το μυστηριώδες, αγνώστου προελεύσεως τεχνούργημα μεγάλες συνέπειες για αυτά, τους λαούς τους, τους κόσμους τους, και ακόμη τον ίδιο τον γαλαξία - ένα ακριβό τίμημα που δείχνει τις τεράστιες επιπτώσεις της περιέργειάς τους αλλά και των δυνατοτήτων του άγνωστου. Όλα για όλα, το Excession είναι ένα σπουδαία βιβλίο πολλών επιπέδων, με τον Iain M. Banks να επιστρέφει στο σύμπαν του Culture με μια ιστορία μεγαλειώδης βλέψης, ταξιδεύοντάς μας μέσα από το γαλαξία σε κόσμους και πολιτισμούς, και σε εξωγήινα είδη και αισθανόμενες νοημοσύνες, αλλά και σε μια επική περιπέτεια διαστημικής όπερας συνωμοσιών, πολέμων και θαυμάτων του άγνωστου, δείχνοντας μέσα από την μεγάλη του γραφή και φαντασία ένα βαθύ, εκπληκτικό σύμπαν απέραντων δυνατοτήτων. (hide spoiler)]

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael David Cobb

    Excession is Iain Banks' clunkiest book so far. It is certainly enjoyable as it introduces us to Infinite Fun, but it just had too many distractions and too many characters, with far too many of them Minds whose personalities and loyalties simply didn't make quite enough sense through 400 pages. It might have helped if I had the full sized paperback, but I had the airport sized one and.. it just got tedious. It could not have felt like a page-turner otherwise. On the whole however, Excession is a Excession is Iain Banks' clunkiest book so far. It is certainly enjoyable as it introduces us to Infinite Fun, but it just had too many distractions and too many characters, with far too many of them Minds whose personalities and loyalties simply didn't make quite enough sense through 400 pages. It might have helped if I had the full sized paperback, but I had the airport sized one and.. it just got tedious. It could not have felt like a page-turner otherwise. On the whole however, Excession is a very good story, a weird ass love story, a fairly decent alien story and an excellent introduction to how machine intelligences might work. Impossible to do in a movie, this one. Something of an absolute necessity in understanding the Culture and how Minds work together or separate, with some still unrealized questions about how exactly it is the Minds regard humans - symbionts? pets? masters? Well, actually I shouldn't say that, because one of the major motivations of a major character in the book, the Eccentric ship Sleeper Service is to make amends for a decision that lead to the catastrophic injury to a man and the psychological trauma of a woman whe were once lovers. As part of this weird ass love story between a man who enjoys the company of a race of cruel brutes who resemble in character the slobering tentacled aliens of The Simpsons and a woman who has decided to remain pregnant for 40 years keeping that man's child in a state of suspended animation. As Culture stories go this one is about the ship Minds, what they say to each other and what they do when they encounter the unfathomable. It's somewhat all over the place, but still recommended.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tyan

    In this book a strange phenomenon is observed. The story revolves around how the Culture and it's neighbors try to deal with this particular event. Is it a weapon? Is it a message from a vastly superior race or culture? Is it a natural event? Add onto that tragic love stories, sadistic aliens, and revenge and you get one densely written, fantastically entertaining story. This is quite possibly one of my all time favorite books. The conversations between the sentient ships alone could sustain me. In this book a strange phenomenon is observed. The story revolves around how the Culture and it's neighbors try to deal with this particular event. Is it a weapon? Is it a message from a vastly superior race or culture? Is it a natural event? Add onto that tragic love stories, sadistic aliens, and revenge and you get one densely written, fantastically entertaining story. This is quite possibly one of my all time favorite books. The conversations between the sentient ships alone could sustain me. The language is full of puns and clever words galore. I often reread their conversations multiple times and get new layers of meanings each time. And the names the ships choose for themselves make me laugh out loud every single time. The action itself is confusing and very technical. Fortunately I love that kind of writing. This is hard scifi at its best. But if reading that kind of stuff is a chore for you avoid this book. However, if you like a book reading a book that requires concentration on multiple levels this is an excellent choice. I've read it three times now and will definitely read it many times more.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Taking a break from reading dry-as-dust books for journal review, I asked a friend for fiction recommendations and was given two of Iain M. Banks' "Culture" novels: Look to Windward and this one, Excession. I'd read two Culture novels and several short stories set in that far-future context prior to this, beginning with Use of Weapons and The Algebraist. I have found myself appreciating each one more than the last, presumably as the result of coming to feel ever more at home in the Culture. This Taking a break from reading dry-as-dust books for journal review, I asked a friend for fiction recommendations and was given two of Iain M. Banks' "Culture" novels: Look to Windward and this one, Excession. I'd read two Culture novels and several short stories set in that far-future context prior to this, beginning with Use of Weapons and The Algebraist. I have found myself appreciating each one more than the last, presumably as the result of coming to feel ever more at home in the Culture. This is not say that Banks is the perfect storyteller. His tales are long and generally involve multiple points of view, often nonhuman, often inorganic. Keeping track of the characters and locations can become difficult as few have familiar names. In the case of Excession much of the dialog is between Artificial Intelligences embodied in interstellar ships of various kinds, built by various species. Their conversations are often, but not always, accompanied by long lines of code extraneous to the meaning of what is communicated. This device distracts the reader from some of the most important--and funniest--dialog in the book, the information contained within being essential to the plot development. And here, in this book in particular, the plot is complex, involving as it does spies, conspiracies, secrets, dissimulation and outright lying. Unfortunately, because so many of the primary actors are shipboard AIs, few represented by physical avatars, they and their differences in character and motive are especially difficult to keep straight. The organic protagonists are, compared to them, while easier to track, basically pawns in a grand, cosmic game beyond their ken. Indeed, the book as a whole is about limits: the limits of organic beings, individually and culturally; the limits of the Culture as representing the heights of sentient achievement; even the limits of the artificial intelligences which rule the Culture and command its ships.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    The problem with getting older and facing mortality is that you realize you won't be able to read all the books you want to. I love the Culture books so much that I'd love to reread them in the order written. One of the reasons being a desire to track the Minds through the series, do any reappear? The most appealing aspect of Excession is that it's pretty the Minds, with the humans and a new alien species on the sidelines, altho they are part of the plot. I love the Minds! The names they choose a The problem with getting older and facing mortality is that you realize you won't be able to read all the books you want to. I love the Culture books so much that I'd love to reread them in the order written. One of the reasons being a desire to track the Minds through the series, do any reappear? The most appealing aspect of Excession is that it's pretty the Minds, with the humans and a new alien species on the sidelines, altho they are part of the plot. I love the Minds! The names they choose are so entertaining, and I want to come up with my own name. In spite of their hyper intelligence they have distinct personalities and agendas. And here we even have a conspiracy within a conspiracy between the Minds! Now that's part of the problem with this book, with so many minds around and only a few really distinctive I found it hard to keep track of who was in which conspiracy. Plus the humans and the alien species all had severe character flaws. Is it possible to fall in love with a Mind? I found Sleeper Service to be entirely love worthy! And Mind's avatars can have sex! I wonder what that's like? The actual excession of the title remains somewhat a myster at the end, but I don't mind that, I am left conjecturing. I feel blessed to have had another Culture novel I hadn't read after one of my favorite authors died. *sob* Thank you Mr. Banks for the pleasure you have given me on numerous occasions. I think I still have one more I haven't read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maggie K

    Really good input into the Culture world. A little different mindset here...while we do have a couple human points of view, most of the maneuvering, backstory and action in with some of the Ship AI minds...some of them so Elder and powerful they have become eccentric (basically doing whatever they want)....this is a new perspective!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stevie Kincade

    After falling in love with Peter Kenny's performance in The Player of Games I knew I was going to read the entire Culture series in Audiobook form. This has been a great decision up until "Excession". Banks is a great writer and Kenny is a great narrator so the failing is mostly on me but I really struggled to stay focused on this story for a variety of reasons. This is the first Culture book that does not have a main point of view character, it is more of an ensemble piece. Granted we spent mor After falling in love with Peter Kenny's performance in The Player of Games I knew I was going to read the entire Culture series in Audiobook form. This has been a great decision up until "Excession". Banks is a great writer and Kenny is a great narrator so the failing is mostly on me but I really struggled to stay focused on this story for a variety of reasons. This is the first Culture book that does not have a main point of view character, it is more of an ensemble piece. Granted we spent more time with Gaynar Half-Owen (I'm sure that is not the correct spelling but that is what I'm going with!) but compared to our other viewpoint characters he is a little underwritten. There are huge cast of names to keep track of and most of these are "minds" sentient AI ships with quirky names. The problem with every ship having a quirky name is it is impossible to remember which ship did or said what. Well, except "Meatfucker" who could forget good ol Meatfucker. All of the communication between ships start with a long sequence of coordinates before each sentence which Kenny delivers in a kind of sing-song voice which became like an automatic cue for my brain to wonder what I am going to watch on Netflix next and whether Ada Palmer might marry me if I composed my fan letter oh-so-perfectly. Which is to say that my mind wandered a hell of a lot during this audiobook. A Culture story about the Minds and a Big Dumb Object is something I am very interested in but the format and subtleties of the plot kept me from really enjoying this. Too often it felt like homework. After I had finished I had to go and read up online to make sure I got everything I was supposed to.(I hadn't) It makes me feel better that a lot of people who read the paper book also struggled to follow everything going one. I'm not sure whether it was good or bad writing that frequently in the story a bunch of incomprehensible text would go by and then one of the human characters would just outright ask "what is going on" and we would get a sort of cliff notes version of what had just transpired. Banks is great at writing aliens and alien diplomacy and I thought the Affront were a fine addition to his pantheon. As much as I wanted to get inside the mind of the Minds I found myself enjoying the story most when it honed in on the Affront rather than another side plot with nondescript humans and Minds. (view spoiler)[ (contains a spoiler for Use of Weapons as well) Use of Weapons was the last full Culture story I read with "State of the art" short stories in between. In Use of Weapons we find that the guy we were reading about is really the other guy we were reading about. It's a little bloody weird that in the very next novel we find that the character "Buyer" is really Gaynar Half-Owen" right? Like he JUST pulled that trick and now he does it again throwing in a sex change to really keep us off the scent? (hide spoiler)] "Excession" is an interesting story about an "Outside context problem" where the Culture mighty as they are, are like ants to the next class of beings. It was just a real brain strain to pull out all of the details.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    I skipped The State of the Art to read this fifth book in the Culture series, since the former is a collection of short stories. After having been burned by the likes of The Martians, I decided not to sully my opinion of the series so early on. The titular Excession is another name for what the Culture calls an Outside Context Problem (OCP), which is an encounter with an alien civilization so much more advanced than your own that you have no way of conceptualizing their technology within your cul I skipped The State of the Art to read this fifth book in the Culture series, since the former is a collection of short stories. After having been burned by the likes of The Martians, I decided not to sully my opinion of the series so early on. The titular Excession is another name for what the Culture calls an Outside Context Problem (OCP), which is an encounter with an alien civilization so much more advanced than your own that you have no way of conceptualizing their technology within your culture's (Culture's) framework. For indigenous tribals of the Americas and elsewhere, the arrival of Europeans with their gigantic ships, metal armor, and artillery represented such a Problem; for the Culture, the Excession, which is able to tap into the universal Energy Grid in both directions and which may be able to travel inter-dimensionally, is an OCP. No, you're not expected to understand what an Energy Grid is, even after Banks goes to great lengths to explain it in analogous terms, but it basically is the substrate of reality against which faster-than-light engines push. Unique to this entry of the Culture series, Excession is mostly about the hyper-intelligent Minds which operate/are the ships on which so much of the Culture's daily life occurs. What's great about Banks's portrayals of these Artificial Intelligences (a term at which they naturally bristle) is that they are people, with all the personality quirks, vanities, and emotional concerns one would expect from people. We learn about so-called Eccentric ships, Minds who have cast off the shared values of the Culture in order to pursue their own idiosyncratic interests. One such, a ship named Grey Area, spends most of its time using its effector fields to read the minds of humanoids and punishing or rewarding them based its judgment (a practice which is almost unspeakably taboo within the Culture). We learn more about why the Minds place such a premium on the happiness of the human inhabitants inside them -- it's basically social pressure from other Minds, with statistics such as human resident turnover rate informing a Mind's social status. And we learn what they do in their copious spare time, which is exploring the meta-mathematical realms of Infinite Fun. Yes, there is the strong implication that the smarter you are, the more enjoyable you find mathematics. As an aside, the names the ship Minds choose for themselves is a constant source of joy. For example: The Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival; Serious Callers Only; and the warship Frank Exchange of Views. These ships and others discover the Excession hanging in space, tempting them with its almost unspeakable technological powers, and furious scheming as to how to best exploit it ensues. This is the basic plot arc, although there are probably too many sub-plots hanging off it. And that's the problem. This started off as a five-star book, especially as I was reading the most entertaining of these subplots, dealing with a Culture diplomat's interaction with an alien race known as the Affront who are hilariously offensive enough to live up to their name. As things progressed, I found myself sometimes struggling to follow the other subplots or to comprehend how they might fit into the larger picture. By the end of the book, the chapters become so short and swap contexts so frequently that I became impatient for the story to reach a resolution. As other reviewers have noted, there is far and away enough good bits to make the so-so parts worth getting through, even to largely bury them. But I'm noticing a frustrating trend with Banks, which is that, even as I greatly enjoy his novels, I get irritated that they aren't as good as they should be, as they so obviously have the capacity to be. I guess that's a good problem to have with an author.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sally Melia

    I have read all the novels of Iain M Banks and I read Excession first in the year it was published in paperback in 1997, and I have reread this book several times since. This is a Culture book, for those of you who may not be familiar with Iain M Banks, he created a great civilisation called The Culture. And though he never set put to write a Trilogy or a series, the universe he created was so popular he returned to it again and again. The full list counts ten titles: Consider Phlebas, 1987; The I have read all the novels of Iain M Banks and I read Excession first in the year it was published in paperback in 1997, and I have reread this book several times since. This is a Culture book, for those of you who may not be familiar with Iain M Banks, he created a great civilisation called The Culture. And though he never set put to write a Trilogy or a series, the universe he created was so popular he returned to it again and again. The full list counts ten titles: Consider Phlebas, 1987; The Player of Games,1988; Use of Weapons, 1990; The State of the Art, 1991; Excession, 1996; Inversions, 1998; Look to Windward,2000; Matter,2008; Surface Detail, 2010; The Hydrogen Sonata, 2012. So Excession is #5 in the series. This is a fun book. This is a lot less dark than say Use of Weapons and certainly there is no tragedy as in Look to Windward. What we have is a straight forward adventure Genar-Hofoen who lives with the Affront and aggressive expanding civilisation and their bid to claim a space artifact called the Excession. This puts them in conflict with a number of AI or giant Artificial Intelligence machines called Minds who also want to have this artifact. There's a lot of machine talk, space ships with outrageous names, and some seriously fun sports and outlandish games provided by the Affront which have all the entertainment value and high spirits as a bunch of battle-weary dwarfs on an extended stag night. This one will make you smile, particularly the ending. Genar-Hofoen has a nice problem to solve. If you could have anything you wished for? What would it be?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    This book is not even half as clever as it thinks it is. Poorly written characters and tedious AI chatter.

  25. 5 out of 5

    James

    Another few months and another book in my complete re-read of Iain M. Banks's Culture series. This time it's his novel Excession. The story of what Banks refers to as an 'Outside Context Problem' – something unexpected; something a civilisation can't, by definition, plan for; something that will likely end up destroying them if they react incorrectly to it. What Donald Rumsfeld would call an "unknown unknown". It's a return to previous heights I think, as Banks gives us is a sort of Culture novel Another few months and another book in my complete re-read of Iain M. Banks's Culture series. This time it's his novel Excession. The story of what Banks refers to as an 'Outside Context Problem' – something unexpected; something a civilisation can't, by definition, plan for; something that will likely end up destroying them if they react incorrectly to it. What Donald Rumsfeld would call an "unknown unknown". It's a return to previous heights I think, as Banks gives us is a sort of Culture novel meets Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. But, instead of a simple exploration of the Big Dumb Object, Banks turns it into a a story of political intrigue and warmongering where multiple factions and civilisations are competing for control of the object, or simply using its existence for political opportunity. The AIs that run the Culture can't agree on how to react to the excession, and that brings to a head the ongoing disagreements about how to handle lower civilisations. Civilisations like the Affront who see the excession as an opportunity to show the Cultre that they aren't to be pushed around anymore, or treated like pets to be 'trained' in the 'correct' behaviours. Of course Banks can't resist naming things in a way that should tell us more about the thing than we originally believe. Somehow it never feels like a cheap trick or easy cop-out, but the Affront really are an affront to the Culture's sense of morals, and the GSV Sleeper Service is not only storing people who just want to sleep but (view spoiler)[is a sleeper agent under deep, long-term, cover as an Eccentric ship (hide spoiler)] . At the same time Banks provides a lot more layers into the world-building of his Culture series. It almost feels as if Banks has suddenly realised that this series is bigger than a couple of science-fiction novels and he needs to explain a few more societal concepts. The Culture proper is the main ring of the society, the inner ring are the Involved – the races and minds that run the Culture. Outside the Culture are the Ulterior – which appear to be those that have kind of stepped away from the Culture, but not strictly left; the Eccentrics we already know about, those minds which have gone nomad and left the Culture to be on their own; and finally the Elench who have broken away from the Culture and who seek to be absorbed into other civilisations rather than the Culture's ethos of absorbing younger civilisations into them. As if these new tiers of Culture society weren't enough we also get mentions of the Elders – sublimed races that predate the Culture and have 'ascended' into higher states of being. Their being mentioned feels slightly odd, like they could get involved in the story if they wanted to but they choose not to. So why mention them? Are they being set up for appearances in later novels?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julien

    WOW. I'm still reeling from how good this book was. This is the fourth Culture series novel I've read (skipping The State of the Art) by the late Ian M. Banks, and it surpassed the others in terms of content, writing style, and sheer imagination on a grand scale. Certain portions of this book are awe-inspiring-- you'll know what I'm talking about after reading. Banks describes technologies and ideologies in his imagined future with a lucidity that amazes. In particular, the first three pages of a WOW. I'm still reeling from how good this book was. This is the fourth Culture series novel I've read (skipping The State of the Art) by the late Ian M. Banks, and it surpassed the others in terms of content, writing style, and sheer imagination on a grand scale. Certain portions of this book are awe-inspiring-- you'll know what I'm talking about after reading. Banks describes technologies and ideologies in his imagined future with a lucidity that amazes. In particular, the first three pages of a chapter describing Metamathics, a computationally simulated conception of reality (if you'll excuse the comparatively terrible description), took my breath away. Easily some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read in science fiction, if not in any of my readings. Large portions of the book are dialogues and forums between sentient, awesomely intelligent, and ancient artificial intelligences-- what are referred to as Minds (capital M) in the Culture series. The events of this novel take place on such a grand scale that the human affairs described seem almost humorously quaint and unimportant. Nonetheless, Banks is a master at character handling, and he weaves the tapestry of this novel with both the macrocosmically huge and the microcosmically human. I especially liked his description of The Affront, a race of beings evolved in a radically inhuman environment. They are beaked, six-tentacled, air-sacked, hugely powerful, zealously warmongering, and viciously mean beings. Great fun to read about. This is a book to reread time and time again, and I can not recommend it highly enough. It is worth noting that you *could* start The Culture series with this novel (as they are set in the same universe but with different characters/stories), but I would recommend reading Consider Phlebas as your first foray into the Culture.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Freedancer

    After struggling through Use of Weapons a few pages at a time, determined not to let it beat me, this book was a breath of fresh air. I love SF and Banks is surely one of the best there has ever been, and even better, he is still actively writing. I am trying to read through his collection of "culture" themed books roughly in their chronological order, meaning this is still one of his earlier works. This book made me laugh out loud on many occasions in pure delight of the staggering and almost b After struggling through Use of Weapons a few pages at a time, determined not to let it beat me, this book was a breath of fresh air. I love SF and Banks is surely one of the best there has ever been, and even better, he is still actively writing. I am trying to read through his collection of "culture" themed books roughly in their chronological order, meaning this is still one of his earlier works. This book made me laugh out loud on many occasions in pure delight of the staggering and almost brutally honest imagination of the author. What made this book different from others I have read from Banks was the focus on "Minds" -a term used for the massive intellects that form the basis of the "culture galactic society" How these minds struggled to cope with an "out of context" situation where their technological superiority was flip/flopped into a situation where they were confronted with an apparent entity vastly superior to them was a fascinating case study into how humanity itself might behave when confronted with a similar situation. Banks successfully crafted "minds" that were essentially inter-stellar space-faring craft that I genuinely came to care about as very 3-dimensional characters. Given the magnitude of their intellects and power they became in many respects grand warlords or humanitarians on a cosmic scale. I feel a sense of gratitude towards the author for taking me on such a thrilling and thought-provoking ride and I am already hungry for more. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in SF as a vehicle for exploring humanity at both the micro and macro scale. Hours after writing this review I learnt Banks has terminal cancer. Ironic as all hell considering I'd just made the statement he was still actively writing. Apparently he has one final book coming out and it will be his last. I have a hollow feeling in my stomach, as if someone just reached their hand down my throat and pulled some of my internal organs out. Which is to say, this just feels so wrong. I was about to research the next book of his I was going to read. I will still do that but it will be with a very heavy heart..

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chanda

    Well, I now see that I jumped into the middle of the books about the Culture, never having read any others. But that didn't detract from my enjoyment of Excession in the least. This post-scarcity universe is dominated by the Culture, and the Culture is run by Minds, who are hyper-intelligent AI entities, and seem to be most often found animating massive ships. They look after whole swaths of the humanoid Culture as though they were ant farms, but ant farms where you knew everything about each ant Well, I now see that I jumped into the middle of the books about the Culture, never having read any others. But that didn't detract from my enjoyment of Excession in the least. This post-scarcity universe is dominated by the Culture, and the Culture is run by Minds, who are hyper-intelligent AI entities, and seem to be most often found animating massive ships. They look after whole swaths of the humanoid Culture as though they were ant farms, but ant farms where you knew everything about each ant, down to its hopes and dreams. The Minds can't help but play with their pets, but they seem largely very benevolent, though sometimes misguided. I love how this story-world plays with perspective. The Culture lacks for nothing, could essentially collectively decide to Ascend and attain whatever Nirvana turned out to be. Each individual can do so, as well, or be functionally immortal, or be Stored indefinitely, or even choose to die. Individually and collectively, they would seem to have almost limitless power over their own existences. As a whole, they've generally decided that Ascension would be irresponsible and inactive, that it is important to try to convince "lesser" races and civilizations not to hit each other with sticks so much. Which sounds pretty noble, but they're still people, albeit people who can and do decide to morph genders for a lark. The Minds are essentially demigods, and can, themselves Ascend, but with all that plenty and power, living is still pretty much living. It has problems. At any rate, I will certainly seek out more Culture novels. Loved the writing, loved the names of the Minds and how they communicate, loved the complexity of the stories. Highly recommended.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This is the 3rd book in the Culture series I've read and once again, it didn't disappoint. I will say that at times I had no idea what was going on, but even then it didn't seem to matter. Basically the premise is that an unknown entity has been discovered somewhere in the known universe; has done something with the ship that discovered it and set a course of action that might result in a full-scale galactic war. That's the big picture, but also on the smaller scale, and these events might also This is the 3rd book in the Culture series I've read and once again, it didn't disappoint. I will say that at times I had no idea what was going on, but even then it didn't seem to matter. Basically the premise is that an unknown entity has been discovered somewhere in the known universe; has done something with the ship that discovered it and set a course of action that might result in a full-scale galactic war. That's the big picture, but also on the smaller scale, and these events might also be influenced by this entity (the named Excession in the title), we have various individuals who are guided/ heading towards each other and this Excession for a variety of purposes. I've not described it very well, but basically you have the intimate story of the various people; Genar Hofoen, Dajeil, and Ulver Seich who are brought together; stories of past events (Genar Hofoen and Dajeil both becoming pregnant, after Hofoen sublimates from male to female; their falling apart); both complex and simple. I enjoyed the stories of the ships (basically animate beings in their own right), even their names are interesting and fun (e.g. the Sleeper Service, the Fate Amenable to Change, the Honest Mistake, etc). The universe of the Culture is one of the most unique world's I've ever read about. The stories and characters are all so interesting and just to experience this world of SciFi makes reading that genre interesting and exciting again. I find it difficult to describe in a few words. You just have to try one of the stories to discover for yourself. Excession is the 4th book in the Culture universe/ series.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Psychophant

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is one of my favorite Culture books, because it dares to make the necessary jump, once the Culture was presented, that humans are mainly passengers that are here for the ride and AIs run the show. Which is one of the subjects in this slightly complex book, actually and figuratively. I reread it recently, and I found the human aspect becomes less and less interesting when rereading, probably because it is less and less relevant to the whole picture, no matter what the humans think. Instea This book is one of my favorite Culture books, because it dares to make the necessary jump, once the Culture was presented, that humans are mainly passengers that are here for the ride and AIs run the show. Which is one of the subjects in this slightly complex book, actually and figuratively. I reread it recently, and I found the human aspect becomes less and less interesting when rereading, probably because it is less and less relevant to the whole picture, no matter what the humans think. Instead we have a very interesting cast of aliens and AIs, or Minds, that do their own things and really worry about the serious matters. Even if they are slightly anthropic, but after all they were originally made by humans, so it could pass, they are generally fascinating. They are likable, or dislikable, just by their own traits, and their own interaction shapes the story. Finally, I cannot be really objective because I love Banks' naming approach for his spaceships. You will enjoy the book more if the idea of a gung-ho combat ship named Killing Time strikes you as funny. You are warned.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.