HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Excession by Iain M. Banks
Loading...

Excession (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Iain M. Banks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,796792,081 (4.02)1 / 124
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.
Member:selfnoise
Title:Excession
Authors:Iain M. Banks
Info:Time Warner Books Uk (1997), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:sf, theculture

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)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (73)  French (3)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Not the best of the Culture books by a long shot, though it's an interesting addition. I enjoyed the atmosphere of menace and mistrust that builds through the book, and the focus given to all the non-human minds fleshes the Culture out nicely, but the story felt overambitious and overloaded. At times it was seriously hard to follow which of the amusingly-named ships were doing what, with whom, under which pretenses, and after a well-paced build-up for about 3/4 of the book, the last few chapters pulled together a little too quickly to be satisfying. ( )
  eldang | Sep 18, 2019 |
Excession looks like a word that should mean something, especially when it appears on the dust jacket of this science fiction novel without a capital letter at the start of the word. It looks like it should be a derivation of excessive but that does not sound quite right. The only definition that I could find came from a website The Urban Dictionary which was:

"something so technologically superior that it appears magic to the viewer."

A word then invented by the author that is still finding it's way into everyday usage (all those other people who are not dedicated science fiction readers). No real clues then as to what the story is about from it's title but it eventually became clear that at the heart of it was an OCP (Outside Context Problem); there goes an initialism and how science fiction writers love their initialisms and acronyms and although not overused by Banks they do nothing to help the uninitiated reader. Fortunately I know my GCU's from my GSV's having read Bank's four previous novels set in his imaginary future universe of the Culture. it still took me some time to make headway into this story, but I have learnt that Banks would make things a little clearer as I went along and that by the end of the novel I would have a fairly good grasp of what had happened.

This is a story that will be appreciated by those readers already familiar with Bank's concept of the Culture and readers coming to the series for the first time might have to take quite a lot of the writing on trust, however the human story that is at the core of this novel should appeal to many readers. In accordance with Bank's universe the Culture is the dominant force/society that exists many years in the future when much of the universe has already been explored. Humans may or may not have given birth to the Culture which are, robots, machines, spaceships controlled by their own artificial intelligence. They would appear to be a force for good in the universe and certainly humans have adapted their lifestyles to fit into this quite different world. Bank's stories have a familiar 'modus operandi' the Culture calls on certain humans with the necessary skills to carry out certain diplomatic/operational/intelligence operations usually involving alien societies who have trouble in accepting the values/society of the Culture. The humans in many instances are pleased to accept these tasks, but occasionally have to be pried away from their otherwise hedonistic lifestyles. The stories then have a kind of cross pollination between humans and intelligent machines, but in Excession it is the machines in the form of spacecraft that drive this plot with the reader wondering where the human characters fit in. It is the novel perhaps that many of Bank's dedicated readers have been waiting for, that is waiting for him to share more of his vision of the Universe of artificially intelligent machines.

The OCP (outside context problem) takes the form of a mysterious object that appears in the universe and which seems to have powers that go far and away beyond anything that the Culture possesses. Meanwhile a rising species of aliens The Affront who have less than human characteristics seem intent on using the distraction of the Excession to overthrow the Culture who in its turn are calling on a couple of humans to carry out a secret mission.

The two humans Djeil and Genar-Hofoen have had an intense relationship some years before and are now living estranged lives after a near murderous end to their affair. Djeil seems to have been living in an artificial world created by the Culture for hers and their benefit and much of the early part of the novel explores this solitary world. Banks is at his strongest as an imaginative writer in creating these different worlds and he does a similar thing with Genar-Hofoen in his role as a diplomat on the alien home planet of the Affront. Then there is the asteroid called Pittance where a human recluse has chosen to live, which also houses mothballed war machines left over from the last war the Culture had to fight. As a reader we know that these different milieu will form part of the story but Banks persuades us to linger there with him while he creates an ambience that contrasts with other events that will overtake his characters. After all this is the novel where the artificially intelligent spacecraft (minds) confront the Excession. It is these minds that show all to noticeable human characteristics that results in both their weaknesses and their strengths and of course make Bank's story more interesting. Banks at times skates perilously close to banality with some of this, but he just about keep on the right side.

This is an excellent novel for Culture enthusiasts and probably one for science fiction readers who are prepared to enjoy a human story that can be more perceptive than the super-intelligent minds of the Culture machines. I think Banks has achieved a very good balance in his story telling. If the ending appears a little too engineered for some tastes then that does not take away from the high spots that precede it. This is my favourite book in the Culture series, running just ahead of [The Player of Games] and so 4.5 stars. ( )
4 vote baswood | Aug 27, 2019 |
Not the best of the Culture books by a long shot, though it's an interesting addition. I enjoyed the atmosphere of menace and mistrust that builds through the book, and the focus given to all the non-human minds fleshes the Culture out nicely, but the story felt overambitious and overloaded. At times it was seriously hard to follow which of the amusingly-named ships were doing what, with whom, under which pretenses, and after a well-paced build-up for about 3/4 of the book, the last few chapters pulled together a little too quickly to be satisfying. ( )
  eldang | Aug 11, 2019 |
Had to color code highlight all the different ship names in order to try and keep track of what the fuck was going on. Didn't work. Needs a rereading or six in order to understand what factions are doing what and against whom. I'd say it's sloppy writing but this is Banks we're talking about here so it's probably just me being too dumb for this book. 3 stars to save my pride. ( )
  NormalMostly | May 20, 2019 |
3 1/2 STARS

This Culture novel was the most difficult and most puzzling in my experience with Iain Banks’ writing, so far, and still I am not sure about my feelings, if I truly liked it or not. The novel was enjoyable, of course, and it also was a quick read, its momentum provided by the rapidly advancing plot, but still it seemed as if something was missing: certainly I did not feel as invested in the characters as I was with previous books, and this might be the reason for my faint dissatisfaction, considering that characterization was the strongest point of the novels I read before this one.


Full review at SPACE and SORCERY Blog ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Dec 25, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain M. Banksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bonhorst, IreneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gálla, NóraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kenny, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klein, GérardForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, JérômeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
To the memory of Joan Woods
First words
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)
Take a look at this:
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.02)
0.5 2
1 3
1.5
2 27
2.5 11
3 173
3.5 60
4 393
4.5 47
5 291

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 138,200,293 books! | Top bar: Always visible