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Excession by Iain M. Banks

Excession (original 1996; edition 1996)

by Iain M. Banks

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3,135511,781 (4.03)1 / 93
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

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Excession by Iain M. Banks (1996)

20th century (11) AI (13) aliens (7) artificial intelligence (25) British (13) culture (98) ebook (30) far future (11) fiction (261) hard sf (13) Iain M. Banks (12) Kindle (8) novel (43) own (13) owned (10) paperback (13) read (48) science fiction (686) Scottish (13) series (10) sf (179) sff (34) signed (7) space (10) space opera (101) speculative fiction (20) The Culture (121) to-read (33) unread (19) utopia (7)
  1. 30
    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 (47)  French (2)  Italian (2)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
While a little difficult to keep the different motives clear, this book allows for a glimpse into the mindset of those who hold themselves back and seperate from their society. Mostly a book about outcasts, solitude, and self inflicted loneliness derived from unfinished business. ( )
  Hexum2600 | Feb 28, 2014 |
This is quite possibly the science fiction novel that is formatted as a scientific publication but is instead a romance novel. Somewhere in deep space a mysterious object appears, which hasn't been seen for thousands of years. Half the organic and inorganic (AI) population of the known universe converges onto the location of the object assuming it can either grant great powers or satisfy deep curiosities.

As per usual in a Banks novel we focus on the life of only one or two people exclusively and follow them through some major life crisis, in this case with each other. There is also the typical Banks side character who is perfect in every way and is completely bored with life. In the case of Excession we follow a man and a woman who are both fighting the nature of their own personalities, something extremely well done. Counter to this Mr. Banks uses parallel narratives to show how AIs struggle with their own version of life drama, something that works surprisingly well. Although in most cases the AI act surprisingly childish, which is strange because according to Banks the AI of the Culture is supposed to be so far advanced that it doesn't need our own reality anymore. These are small details however and the majority of the novel feels like a solid depiction of our future technologically advanced selves.

I would argue that Banks went too far in trying to depict science fiction. Besides the overblown formatting, which turns out to be mostly meaningless and doesn't add anything to the narrative, the story becomes a bit ludicrous and silly at times. Instead of acknowledging that and setup a system where the narrative mocks itself the content is written to be taken extremely seriously. At least that is how it comes across. The Culture novels have always been of an extremely high quality and my only gripe with them is the confusing attempt to mix lighthearted humor with complex serious issue. ( )
  TheCriticalTimes | Sep 30, 2013 |
four and a half stars. marvellous stuff, though with the caveat that it's so not the best book to start with on the Culture series: it's got a huge cast of characters, most of them far from human in their thinking (in fact the few human characters tend to be the least interesting), and the really big story is laconically told through various points of view and must be stitched together by the reader into a narrative based on the subtleties of all those exchanges. but the thought processes and personalities of the various Mind and Ship and avatar characters are well worth the ride, and all the interactions are intricately entwined. best of all, it's a brilliant concept: a Culture meets with an excession, something external to the whole Culture, so far outside the imagination, experience, and technology of the existing civilization it cannot be comprehended, incorporated, or excised. this creates for the Culture it enters an Outside Context problem, something which in our own culture historically has usually meant an abrupt end for the civilization (regardless of its intentions) thus encountered. here a technological far future comes up against something so far beyond its ken it's pretty much a science indistinguishable from magic condition: something they can't own or communicate with or understand, but only survive. it's not doing anything, just sitting there in space, but its very existence is itself a challenge. so whether driven by curiosity, avarice, thirst for knowledge or a desire to co-opt or control, a number of factions try to deal swiftly with something so unimaginably powerful it could destroy the universe in which it appears in a fraction of a second.... and now i want to go read it again. ( )
  macha | May 5, 2013 |
Remember enjoying it at the time, but can't recall any details now. Tiptree longlist 1996 ( )
  SChant | Apr 27, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain M. Banksprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover 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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

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