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Decius
Oct 14, 2005

You would be wise not to take me lightly, Your Grace... and wiser still not to make of me a foe

proudfoot posted:

Yup, after one galactic year, the Culture no longer exists, presumably having sublimed, destroyed by an outside context problem, or somehow switched galaxies/universes or changed into something unrecognizable as the Culture.

A Galactic Year is about 250 million years, that's quite some time to be top dog in the galaxy. At the time most books take place the Culture is just a few thousand years old.

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The Dark One
Aug 19, 2005

I'm your friend and I'm not going to just stand by and let you do this!


JgPz posted:

I just finished after putting it down for a couple weeks, more out of ocd than genuine interest. The ending was cool, I didn't care a lick for Zakalwe so I was just like 'hehe twisty'. Reading it as a comedy definitely helped, the part where Zakalwe fights the voiceless guy was funny.

Oh and to correct that list that was posted earlier, chronologically the prologue and epilogue most likely happen last. It's the only place where bald Zakalwe makes sense.

I assumed he shaved his head as a remembrance to that time, since I was pretty sure he died or became useless as a field agent at the end, which would explain why Sma was recruiting a new merc.

proudfoot posted:

You kind of get the idea that the Culture has been technologically stagnant for a while - and the only way forward for them would be to sublime.

I don't think it's that they're technologically stagnant. It's more that they've reached the point where the type of advancements being made are so esoteric that they don't have an effect on the daily life of the Culture's population. One of the ships in Excession shrugs off the abilities of the Sleeper Service, assuming that it hadn't kept up with technological improvements during the 40 years of its Eccentricity.

FelchTragedy
Jul 2, 2002

FelchTragedy.
Internet, I call forth your power!
Let's T_Roll.


The civilisations of the galaxy don't all progress the same tech in a ladder, they progress up their own particular 'tech face'.

The Dark One
Aug 19, 2005

I'm your friend and I'm not going to just stand by and let you do this!


I came across an interview with Banks on the adaptation of A Gift From the Culture, and Hollywood's take on his Culture books in general:

http://www.empireonline.com/News/story.asp?nid=26180



There's also this little bit

quote:

That said, this isn’t The Culture’s first brush with our Earth cinema, as Banks reveals that the second novel The Player of Games was once on the agenda at Pathe. “About ten years ago a chap from Pathe persuaded them to buy the rights – not just the option but the rights,” he says. “It got some way along and had some serious money spent on it, even by Hollywood standards, and there were various names attached. But eventually the guy whose baby it was left, and it was then cancelled by the incoming team, for the usual reasons: if it had been a success it would’ve been his success, and if it’d been a failure it would’ve been their failure. That was the closest we’ve come before, to a proper nibble. It wasn’t even a nibble, it was a real bite, but we couldn’t reel it in! Hah! Couldn’t land the blighter!”

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007



So anyone finished Transition yet? I'm halfway through and not impressed yet. Wait, no, don't spoil it.


I also just listened to the BBC radio adaptation of Espedair Street, and it falls victim to the same thing all such adaptations do: The fact that, while you can almost buy the idea of a character being a revolutionary genius songwriter in print, when you put that character in a medium that requires actually hearing their music and lyrics, it's bound to come across as a little lackluster, because obviously whatever music they come up with isn't actually going to be that great. For the same reason, I hope they never make a movie of Salman Rushdie's "The Ground Beneath Her Feet". (And seriously, gently caress that U2 song based on it.)

Spazzle
Jul 5, 2003




mcustic posted:

And what's with this parallel universe poo poo? First Ian McDonald pulls it in Brasyl, then Stephenson and Anathem, now Banks. Honestly, it stinks of low effort.

So, why did you hate it?
Infinite parallel universes is really a dumb storytelling gimmick. In the end, it doesn't really make sense in a story telling context.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007



It took me ages to get into Transition, though it picked up a lot in the second half. It was still ultimately pretty unsatisfying in that nothing was really properly explained. And all the Frank Herbert-esque "secretive women with magical sex powers" stuff made me roll my eyes a bit.

I maintain that the only decent many-worlds stories ever written were Larry Niven's "All the Myriad Ways" and Greg Egan's "Quarantine".

Sanford
Jun 30, 2007

...and rarely post!

I love Iain Banks, and this thread has made me realise the last 'new' book of his I read was.. Look to Windward, which came out 10 drat years ago. Since then I have re-read many of the earlier ones, but not picked up anything new. A trip to Amazon may be in order. Anyone got a particular recommendation for a post-Windward novel (M or otherwise)?

On the topic of ship names, my friends and I loved this game at university. A few I remember (and apologies if these are actually from any of the books; it's been a long time):

Slow Decline Into Madness

Ambivalence Is Our Watchword

Reckless Disregard

It Won't Get Better If You Pick It

The Accurate Prediction of Failure

Do You Want Gravitas With That?

Sanford fucked around with this message at Feb 23, 2010 around 21:45

syphon
Jan 1, 2001


Is 'Matter' his latest Culture novel? I haven't heard of anything newer, but I haven't been paying a whole lot of attention.

I actually really liked Matter, although it seemed to get mixed reviews here on SA.

lilbean
Oct 2, 2003



syphon posted:

Is 'Matter' his latest Culture novel? I haven't heard of anything newer, but I haven't been paying a whole lot of attention.

I actually really liked Matter, although it seemed to get mixed reviews here on SA.
Yeah, it's the latest Culture novel. I thought it was pretty good personally.

Turpitude
Oct 12, 2004

Love love love

be an organ donor


syphon posted:

I actually really liked Matter, although it seemed to get mixed reviews here on SA.

I fwiggin' loved Matter to the bitter end.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

Sanford posted:

On the topic of ship names, my friends and I loved this game at university. A few I remember (and apologies if these are actually from any of the books; it's been a long time)

In Star Trek Online I have flown the:

Ethics Gradient
Different Tan
Not Invented Here
Zero Gravitas
Tactical Grace

The ship names have a limit, which is keeping me from several names I wanted to use.

alkanphel
Mar 24, 2004



Turpitude posted:

I fwiggin' loved Matter to the bitter end.
I loved Matter but I just felt it got more and more rushed as it came to the ending. Like heading into a black hole.

RoboChrist 9000
Dec 14, 2006

mater dolorosa

Chiming in to that that I, too, loved Matter and while the ending did indeed feel rushed, I think it's a relatively minor flaw in an otherwise great book.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007



alkanphel posted:

I loved Matter but I just felt it got more and more rushed as it came to the ending. Like heading into a black hole.

It kind of meanders along slowly for hundreds of pages then suddenly falls off a cliff and decides to be an action movie in the last couple chapters.

alkanphel
Mar 24, 2004



Entropic posted:

It kind of meanders along slowly for hundreds of pages then suddenly falls off a cliff and decides to be an action movie in the last couple chapters.
Hahaha yeah, it was like a spaceship casually cruising around then suddenly encounting a black hole and speeding faster and faster till hitting the singularity.

The Dark One
Aug 19, 2005

I'm your friend and I'm not going to just stand by and let you do this!


mllaneza posted:

The ship names have a limit, which is keeping me from several names I wanted to use.

I bet my Ethics Gradient was cooler than yours.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007



I wish I'd known about Culture ship names when playing Ascendancy as a kid. That game had such a cool ship design / turn-based space combat system, pity it was hampered by no multiplayer and AI opponents that were functionally retarded and impossible not to beat even on hard mode. And I've never been able to get it to run properly since XP.

FelchTragedy
Jul 2, 2002

FelchTragedy.
Internet, I call forth your power!
Let's T_Roll.


I always remember Ethics Gradient.

Everybody loves the name Ethics Gradient it seems.

LARD LORD
Oct 28, 2006

BEEP BOOP;
10 SET.COLORMODE(CGA);
20 LIFT "A_WEIGHT";
30 GOTO 20;




For my typography thesis last year I went with a rather strange title



My professor was a little confused about the title

Suntory BOSS
Apr 17, 2006



Tore through Consider Phlebas over the weekend, what a fun rollercoaster ride of a read! It was my first Culture novel and a great introduction to the galaxy, although having read a few relevant Wikipedia articles beforehand certainly helped.

Kire
Aug 25, 2006


I'm trying to understand Excession, but I can't get through this extremely obtuse book and understand what's going on where with who and why...

Which ship was taken over in the second chapter, and by who? The ship where the drone escapes via displacement using its twin.... I'm almost at the end of the book and now I'm wondering if it was the Attitude Adjuster, and if it was the Affront who took them over, instead of the Excession artifact as I thought.

The book is told like the movie Memento, bouncing back and forth in time and not one character has a name that I can keep separate from all the others (except for the Sleeper Service).

Kire
Aug 25, 2006


Also Frank Exchange of Views is a great warship name.

Umiapik
Sep 15, 2007



Transition is a really, really dreadful book, Banks at his worst: rushed, incoherent and lazy. The book reads like a first draft (and knowing how Iain Banks works, probably is), the plot is potentially a great idea but clearly not properly developed or thought through and the central character is a selfish, murdering prick, who Banks clearly expects us to regard as a basicly decent person: hey, he turns traitor against the organisation that he's previously cheerfully commited murder for so he must be a Goody, right?

I actually threw Transition away without finishing it. Banks has written some brilliant stuff in the past but my God, he needs an editor who'll stand up to him and insist that he produces books that aren't an insult to his readership. With Transition, Banks has clearly thought: "Well, I could spend 6 months knocking the book into a proper shape but sod it, people buy whatever I publish, so why bother?"

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007



Umiapik posted:

Transition is a really, really dreadful book, Banks at his worst: rushed, incoherent and lazy. The book reads like a first draft (and knowing how Iain Banks works, probably is), the plot is potentially a great idea but clearly not properly developed or thought through and the central character is a selfish, murdering prick, who Banks clearly expects us to regard as a basicly decent person: hey, he turns traitor against the organisation that he's previously cheerfully commited murder for so he must be a Goody, right?

I actually threw Transition away without finishing it. Banks has written some brilliant stuff in the past but my God, he needs an editor who'll stand up to him and insist that he produces books that aren't an insult to his readership. With Transition, Banks has clearly thought: "Well, I could spend 6 months knocking the book into a proper shape but sod it, people buy whatever I publish, so why bother?"

Yeah, I didn't hate it that much, but it took me quite a while to get into it. It does pick up a lot in the back half. But by the time I got to the end I just had this tremendous sense of "so what?" It probably didn't help that I finished it around the same time as I read Charles Stross's loving amazing novella Palimpsest, which isn't strictly-speaking a many-worlds story, but has some similar ideas executed far, far better.

Stross always seems to do that to me. I read Halting State around the same time as Gibson's Spook Country and it's like they both started with the same general ideas but only Stross decided to actually do anything with them.

Pompous Rhombus
Mar 11, 2007


FelchTragedy posted:

I always remember Ethics Gradient.

Everybody loves the name Ethics Gradient it seems.

Is there an Ethics Gradient active on SA? I've been using the name for a lot of other stuff but when I tried putting it in on the name change form like a year ago here it said it was taken.

Comstar
Apr 20, 2007

But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Princess Celestia


Kire posted:

I'm trying to understand Excession, but I can't get through this extremely obtuse book and understand what's going on where with who and why...

I never understood why the Excession was considered a good thing considering every ship that sent a probe into it was attacked forcibly taken over.

Ratios and Tendency
Apr 23, 2010

MURALI


Ok, so Consider Phlebas was another TBB recommendation bust. I was hoping for insightful, well executed hard sci-fi and instead got a rather dull and aimless space-opera with weak characterization.

Decius
Oct 14, 2005

You would be wise not to take me lightly, Your Grace... and wiser still not to make of me a foe

Comstar posted:

I never understood why the Excession was considered a good thing considering every ship that sent a probe into it was attacked forcibly taken over.

I think it's more a case of interesting than good, which for the AIs might be enough to consider it positively. If you're basically a godlike people with few things to fear in this galaxy, potentially dangerous things from somewhere else hold some appeal, even if they might or might not bring the destruction of your civilization (there's always the ascension way out if necessary), simply because of the stimulus they provide.

I think it is a topic that Neal Asher explored quite a bit more with his Polity series, which has similar premises (AI ruled post-scarcity (or nearly so) humanity) but with some significant differences.

MeLKoR
Dec 23, 2004
I, Racist

Ratios and Tendency posted:

Ok, so Consider Phlebas was another TBB recommendation bust. I was hoping for insightful, well executed hard sci-fi and instead got a rather dull and aimless space-opera with weak characterization.

Personally I'm not that much into Consider Phlebas myself, my favorite part of the Culture is the scheming and the Minds and there's very little about them in CP.
I'd give Player of Games for the former and Excession for the latter.

FelchTragedy
Jul 2, 2002

FelchTragedy.
Internet, I call forth your power!
Let's T_Roll.


MeLKoR posted:

Personally I'm not that much into Consider Phlebas myself, my favorite part of the Culture is the scheming and the Minds and there's very little about them in CP.
I'd give Player of Games for the former and Excession for the latter.

Me too. It has cool stuff but for accessability player of games is good. Use of Weapons tends to top people's favourites in charts of Banks' stuff.

Pompous Rhombus
Mar 11, 2007


FelchTragedy posted:

Me too. It has cool stuff but for accessability player of games is good. Use of Weapons tends to top people's favourites in charts of Banks' stuff.

Yeah, it doesn't have a lot of cool stuff with the Minds, but it's a good, character-driven story told in a non-linear manner that works well.

Kire
Aug 25, 2006


Consider Phlebas was terrible, I mentioned that earlier in the thread. Player of games was much better and I'm glad I read it because I was about to give up the whole series based on how awful Consider Phlebas was.


Almost finished with Excession and it is really poorly written, I find myself skipping over any chapter with Byr and Daniel in that tower.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007



The Player of Games is a good introduction to the Culture universe, but it's not his best, and Consider Phlebas is pretty much straight-up space opera.

Use of Weapons and Look to Windward are both head and shoulders above all the rest of the Culture books. If you want to know what people are raving about, read one of those. Really, if you've never read any Banks, I'd recommend just reading this and then one of those two books.

Pompous Rhombus
Mar 11, 2007


Kire posted:

Consider Phlebas was terrible, I mentioned that earlier in the thread. Player of games was much better and I'm glad I read it because I was about to give up the whole series based on how awful Consider Phlebas was.


Almost finished with Excession and it is really poorly written, I find myself skipping over any chapter with Byr and Daniel in that tower.

Excession is my least favorite Culture book. The intrigue amongst the Minds is great reading, but the overall plot is pretty uninteresting and doesn't really rise above the "oh look an unknown, highly advanced artifact everyone wants to get their hands on" cliche.

NmareBfly
Jul 16, 2004

      



Decius posted:

I think it's more a case of interesting than good,

And don't forget that it's of particular interest not because it keeps eating ships, but because the way it's connected to the hyperspace grid implies that the Culture could learn from it how to escape the heat death of the universe which is one of the only tech questions they still have floating around.

Personally, Excession was the first Culture novel I read and it continues to be my favorite. IIRC, my dad gave it to me after I read and enjoyed A Fire Upon the Deep, partially because it has a similar style but with the Minds talking to each other rather than space-newsgroup postings. Minds are my favorite bit of the Culture, and Excession has it in spades even if the humans get pushed to the wayside even more than usual.

Has there been any more news about the movie of Gift from the Culture that was announced a few months back? It doesn't even seem to be listed on IMDB.

Kire
Aug 25, 2006


Juuuuust finished Excession. Great book if you skip over every chapter that's just human navel-gazing and focus on the Mind intrigue. I especially like the opening sequence of the drone trying to escape a ship, pages and pages of highly technical strategy that takes place in real-time micro-seconds.

alkanphel
Mar 24, 2004



NmareBfly posted:

And don't forget that it's of particular interest not because it keeps eating ships, but because the way it's connected to the hyperspace grid implies that the Culture could learn from it how to escape the heat death of the universe which is one of the only tech questions they still have floating around.
Technically couldn't the Culture just sublime and escape the heat-death? I am currently re-reading Excession and it mentions that parts of the Culture have already sublimed but the majority don't want to do so yet.

Decius
Oct 14, 2005

You would be wise not to take me lightly, Your Grace... and wiser still not to make of me a foe

alkanphel posted:

Technically couldn't the Culture just sublime and escape the heat-death? I am currently re-reading Excession and it mentions that parts of the Culture have already sublimed but the majority don't want to do so yet.

Even sublimed they would still be in this universe and most likely be subjected to the heat-death. Maybe the last thing to die, but the sublimed species would most likely still do so if they can't escape to another universe (and if not the universe wouldn't be dead, since there is something of the universe left, although it would probably be pretty boring).

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Flipswitch
Mar 30, 2010

Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.


Look to Windward is still my favourite of the Culture series, with Kabe being the best character by far. I think I may go read it again. I wish there were more chapters with just Kabe, Ziller, Hub and E. H Tersono talking, the cable car chapter is one of my favourites. Do we have any news on a possible next Culture novel?

Liveware Problem, however is still the best Mind name.

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