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Iain M. Banks has Terminal Cancer

edited April 2013 in Everything Else
Sad and relevant news to the book club and to Sci-Fi geekery in genral. I have read almost all of his books and all of the sci-fi ones at least twice. Easily the best contemporary sci-fi author in my books.
Post edited by Dr. Timo on


  • Yup! And very sad.
  • Now it's weird. Coincidences...
  • Whoa, this just hit me from left field. I wanted more Culture novels!
  • Quite sad, I discovered his work only a couple of years ago, and it has become some of my favorite sci-fi. T_T
  • I'm going to write a novel called "End of the Culture" where the Minds expel the humans, then go their own way. And there'll be a plucky drone.
  • I'd read it!
  • If I only read one book this guy wrote, which one should it be?
  • If I only read one book this guy wrote, which one should it be?
    The Player of Games, the book club book?

  • Yes. It's probably the one book easiest to dive into his Culture series. However, while he's one of the best science fiction writers of the modern era, he's also a very highly regarded "non-genre" novelist. Don't shy away from things like The Wasp Factory or The Bridge or A Song of Stones if you like weird stuff or Canal Dreams or Whit or The Business if you like something more lighthearted.
  • A few hundred years on from the latest book, a majority of Minds decide humans are holding them back. They want to go there own way, maybe sublime, maybe head off to a new galaxy empty of life. Maybe a new technology comes back from the sublime. Or a new threat arises and the humans want peace whereas the Minds want war. Maybe an Excession-like threat.

    So to decide the fate of the Culture, if it will remain human plus Minds or split into two parts, there's a battle. Like Surface Detail, this battle takes place in virtual reality. The Minds are on one side and the humans and drones are on the other, though the Minds agree to the reduction in their thinking speeds within the VR system to level the field.

    A female agent and a drone goes to find two old heroes to help out the human side. She goes to GSV Sleeper Service (Excession) to pick up Gurgeh (Player of Games) because he's going to be really helpful in many of the VR battles.

    She then goes to find Zakalwe (Use of Weapons), not to have him fight for the humans but to make sure he isn't working for the Minds. It turns out he already is working for the Minds, though we don't know until near the end of the book if he's working as a double agent.

    Meanwhile the outside threat ramps up, and many Minds and ships are destroyed. There'll be a McGuffin that both the Culture and the other galactic civilizations all need.

    Near the end of the book the Culture disbands, with humans finding their own territories and every Mind subliming. 1% of humans sublime too.

    Finally the humans, without help from the Minds but using virtual ship crews (like in the Hydrogen Sonata) locate the McGuffin and defeat the external threat. They rename themselves Culture 2.0 (or something) and set up the largest bureaucracy in the galaxy, just to replace the missing Minds.
  • I love the detail of the Minds wanting to play "fair". Very much how they seem to act.

    I guess I'd only questions about the Minds uniformity in the conflict.

    No subset of Minds wants to force _all_ of Culture to sublime? Can you force some one to sublime? I can't recall if there was any mention of the ancient races that had done so had done so unevenly.
  • The point is that all the Minds want to sublime at some point, but the humans don't. And you have to all Sublime at the same time or else the group doesn't keep coherence in the other dimensions (see Hydrogen Sonata).

    So if the humans win the battle, the Minds remain and the humans become a much larger part of running the Culture, not just remain as the pets of the Minds. If the Minds win the battle, they leave the humans to their own devices, and are free to Sublime when and how they want. Or something. I'd have to work out the details.
  • Hydrogen Sonata's one of the few Culture novels I haven't read yet. I feel like I'm really missing out on something there.

    I'm digging it though!
  • edited April 2013
    The one book I always recommend is The Use of Weapons. It is arguably not as good an introduction to the Culture as Consider Phlebas (which most people seem to recommend) or as geeky as Player of Games but it is in my opinion the most interesting book purely in displaying Bank's literary flair. Also, as far as I know, it is the first book he wrote (if possibly edited years after being initially written) and has, to me, a certain roughness in it - which is missing from later books - that I quite like.

    As for his non-M fiction, some of it is sci-fi-ish like The Bridge, or Transition, but my favorite is The Business.
    Post edited by Dr. Timo on
  • I had never read any Banks, so was *just* about to start Player of Games but Bellinger PM'd me and said to start with Consider Phlebas.

    I'm really glad I did, while it's true you don't need to have read Phlebas to enjoy Player, Phlebas was such a good book that I'm glad I have that under my belt before heading into Games, which I am nearly finished with.

    I will slowly read through his other books after Games, I find his style quite refreshing, almost light. Makes for a fun, quick read.
  • Yeah, I like his style a lot. There's so much hard science fiction to go with the bonkers action... but the playfulness is directly from Douglas Adams. Which is why he's pretty much my top science fiction author currently writing.

    Or... you know....

  • I just realized that with Rym's penchant for ancestral civilizations Feersum Endjinn would probably be up his alley (unliss he got ti-erd ov thi spellin).

    Definitely Banks at his most playfull.
  • Use of Weapons came out on Audible a few days ago.
  • edited April 2013
    Use of Weapons came out on Audible a few days ago.

    EDIT: Gah, semi voice acted. Sadly not for me.
    Post edited by Dr. Timo on
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