Excession Paperback – May 15 1997
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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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
From versatile Scottish writer Banks, another sf yarn about the tolerant, diverse, far-future Culture (The Player of Games, 1989, etc.). The Culture is subtly controlled by prodigiously intelligent artificial Minds, who, Banks intimates, spend most of their spare time navel-gazing. Here, a huge, enigmatic object referred to as the Excession appears in space and interacts with the Culture's energy grid in ways previously considered impossible. Diplomat Byr Genar-Hofoen of the Department of Special Circumstances is sent to investigate--but, sidetracked by beautiful, talented, spoiled-brat operative Ulver Seich and by old flame Dajeil Gelian, it will be a long time before he draws near the object. Meanwhile, certain Minds occupying a vast array of self-controlled spaceships suspect that still other Minds are involved in a conspiracy--but to what end? With the Culture thus distracted by the Excession, the cruel, dangerously expansionist alien Affront seize the opportunity to hijack a Culture battle fleet and start a war that they only gradually realize they've been suckered into and can't possibly win. Brilliantly inventive and amusing--whole sections read like strings of knowing jokes--but a mess: Chattering spaceships with splendid if confusing names (e.g., Not Invented Here and Shoot Them Later) don't compensate for the absence of real characters. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
More than any other novel of The Culture, this one involves those Minds and, without spoilers, they turn out to be human, all too human. Banks handles very well the problem of writing dialog for beings who are far, far more intelligent and think millions of times faster than we do. As others have noted, it sometimes makes for dense reading, but it is very believable. In some ways, this is a novel about the psychology and motives of Minds.
As always, Banks laces the story with sly humor, word play and wholly believable aliens. The Affront, the most conspicuous aliens in this tale, are a wonderful invention. As always, the structure of the novel itself with its interlacing of different story lines and physical organization is a part of the story itself, although less obviously so than in the earlier _Consider Phlebas_.
The Excession of the title is the focus of the attention of most of the characters in the story, but Banks is far too gifted a writer to make it the whole story. Readers who complain about the ending may be missing Banks' most important point. Perhaps the story isn't so much about the Excession, but how the characters react to the Excession. And maybe the ending is Banks' way of underscoring that point.Read more ›
_Excession_ is one of his Culture books, possibly his best. As is typical, there are multiple plots and protagonists but the great AI ships (Minds) play a larger role in this book than any of the others. An unusual object appears in space and touches off a race to claim it between the Culture and others (not specfied so as not to be a spoiler) resulting in some wonderfully complex situations featuring wonderfully deep and fleshed out characters. This book will have you wincing on page and laughing the next, which brings a welcome realness to the hard science fiction genre.
But with this excellence comes a warning: If you tend to skim books or not really pay attention, you may not like Banks in general and _Excession_ specifically. The prose is very dense, with important details tossed off in small sentences that caused to be stop and reread sections more than once. I heartily recommend all of Banks' work and urge the reader to give it the time and care it deserves.
It really annoys me that such excellent novels are "out of print" here in the United States.
The "Culture" in Banks' novels refers to a galactic hegemony involved in overtly or subtly bending the rest of the universe's civilizations to their will. It's really quite well done. Wonderfully invented worlds (such as giant, manufactured rings) and inventive quirks like various kinds of sentient machines make the series real page-turners.
Books written published the "Iain M. Banks" nom de plume seem less overtly sinister, possibly not as thought provoking as his written under "Ian Banks." All in all, I'd give them the five-star rating.
Most recent customer reviews
The most enjoyable of the culture novels I've read so far. The first I've encountered in which the ship Minds are so developed as characters. A fun read.Published 15 months ago by Dirk Britton
The Culture series are all great so far. Incredibly complex plot, character interactions on multiple levels and across books. Really great reading. Read morePublished on May 21 2013 by Amazon Customer
I have to admit I started this book right after finishing Greg Egan's brilliant "Incandescence" so Excession had a lot to live up to. In short it did not live up to anything. Read morePublished on Aug. 14 2010 by George Allanson
This book is on par with "The Illuminati Trillogy" for strangeness. Borrow it, read it, sit with an ice pack for a week eagerly anticipating the next punch in the head. Read morePublished on May 7 2002 by Tetalia
What drives me to read science fiction is to make contact with well-built, convincing fictional universes where interesting plots take place. Read morePublished on April 2 2002 by LUCIO DE S COELHO
This is one awesome book! Bravo Mr. Banks! I have enjoyed all of the "culture" books, with this being by far the best. Lots of action. Loads of creativity. Read morePublished on June 14 2001 by Marks Higgerson
I am fascinated by the imagination and style of Iain Banks and I found his "The Bridge" extraordinary. Read morePublished on Nov. 25 2000 by Hank Schwartz
PlEASE note that the books of Ian M Banks and Ian Banks get deservedly heavyweight publishing support in the UK. Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2000