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Excession by Iain M. Banks

Excession (original 1996; edition 1996)

by Iain M. Banks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,523701,500 (4.04)1 / 117
Authors:Iain M. Banks
Info:Orbit (1996), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction, first edition, the culture, derleth shortlisted, Kurd Laßwitz Preis, BSFA Award winner

Work details

Excession by Iain M. Banks (1996)

  1. 40
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (elenchus)
    elenchus: Banks also introduces the "out of context" problem central to Anathem, but in a wildly different plot, and universe. Banks is less ontology and more space opera, but I found both books very entertaining, and both Stephenson and Banks sensitive to political questions raised by their respective plots.… (more)

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English (64)  French (3)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  All (70)
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
Worth reading for the names of the spacecraft, never mind the fact that it is one of the best SF books ever. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
This is part of Banks's Culture series, which features super-advanced, galaxy-spanning civilization. In this installment, a strange object appears, one that's connected to hyperspace in ways nobody's ever seen before and which may be the key to learning how to travel between universes. Needless to say, this attracts a lot of attention, and various groups react to it according to their own complicated agendas.

It's a good premise, but, I have to say, this was not my favorite of the Culture novels I've read so far. That may partly be due to bad expectations, though. It'd been a while since I read it, but I remembered the previous volume, Against a Dark Background, as having a wild, fun romp of a plot, and I was hoping for more of the same here. Instead, I found myself spending hundreds of pages wishing something would just happen already. Which, on reflection, is unfair. Lots of things happen in this novel. It's just that most of them feel a bit abstract. They're moves on a vast gameboard made by players with murky agendas, according to complicated and hard-to-follow rules. It does at least all play out in a fairly engaging way at the end, but I couldn't help feeling awfully impatient while waiting to get there. It didn't help, either, that the human-scale part of the story centered on humans who just weren't very likeable or interesting.

Of course, the world-building and the setting, as is usual for Banks, are creative and very cool. I particularly enjoyed the glimpses we got here of the warlike Affront, who manage to be simultaneously utterly appalling and ridiculously fun. I kind of wish we'd gotten to see more of them. ( )
  bragan | Nov 16, 2016 |
I love the names of the ships.
Honest Mistake
Not Invented Here
Attitude Adjuster (war ship of course)
Better Safe than Sorry
Shoot Them Later
Reasonable Excuse
Serious Callers Only
AhForget It Tendency
Just Passing Through.
I Blame My Mother.
I Blame Your Mother. ( )
  nx74defiant | Nov 5, 2016 |
Iain Banks generally writes sci fi that is difficult to penetrate- plots are complex, things aren't well spelled-out. Generally there's a good payoff, though, if you stick with it.
Excession was hard to stick with, though. There are just too many characters (and what's with all the crazy names? It makes it harder to keep them all straight). This novel also includes many many Ship Minds as characters, communicating in formal text, and I felt like I needed to take careful notes in order to keep them straight, which i wasn't willing to do.
The Excession is a mysterious and very technologically advanced entity that is found one day by the Elench, an ally of the Culture previously not revealed in this series. The entity destroys or takes over the Elench craft, but its existence is then discovered and attracts the attention of more Elench, the Culture, and also the Affront, another species not previously discussed in these novels. The Affront are a warfaring race only kept at bay by the tech superiority of the Culture.
Wrapped up in all this is a conspiracy of a group of Culture Minds that is slowly revealed. Action centers on an Eccentric Culture ship, the Sleeper Service, in which dwells a woman with a tortured past. Also a Culture agent, Genar-Hofoen, who is assigned to assist in the investigation of the Excession by going to the Sleeper Service and attempting to communicate with the disembodied mind of an ancient ship's captain who may know about the Excession from a previous encounter. Of course, Genar-Hofoen and the woman on the Sleeper Service have a past together, of which more is revealed as the book advances.
Complex, and hard to follow. Ending pays off mostly, though- a worthwhile read, albeit not as good as the better Culture novels. ( )
  DanTarlin | Aug 22, 2016 |
Science fiction doesn't get better than this, although I would caution anyone new to trying out the genre to start elsewhere than plunging into the convolutions and complexities of Iain Banks' plots, the Culture, and ship Minds. This time an anomaly appears, what the Minds call an 'excession' meaning, something they do not understand. Naturally, being Minds, they are piqued and challenged when something they don't understand turns up. So they race to get there and meet and greet . . . only . . . another culture, the Affronters get wind of the excession and want in and it turns out the Special Circumstances, the MI6 of the ship Mind 'verse has been 'up to something' and it all comes to a head, naturally, around this enigmatic visitor. There is a strong human plot as well, a love affair gone very bad, a spoiled brat of a young woman, the usual very funny drones, an obnoxious raven . . . ***** ( )
  sibyx | Aug 4, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain M. Banksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A little more than one hundred days into the fortieth year of her confinement, Dajeil Gelian was visited in her lonely tower overlooking the sea by an avatar of the great ship that was her home. (Prologue)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553575376, Mass Market Paperback)

It's not easy to disturb a mega-utopia as vast as the one Iain M. Banks has created in his popular Culture series, where life is devoted to fun and ultra-high-tech is de rigueur. But more than two millennia ago the appearance--and disappearance--of a star older than the universe caused quite a stir. Now the mystery is back, and the key to solving it lies in the mind of the person who witnessed the first disturbance 2,500 years ago. But she's dead, and getting her to cooperate may not be altogether easy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:05 -0400)

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Diplomat Byr Genar-Hofoen is swept into a vast conspiracy that could lead the universe to the brink of annihilation when he is selected to investigate the disappearance of an ancient star.

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