Look to Windward Mass Market Paperback
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Top Customer Reviews
The Culture is a symbiotic society - part humanoid and part artificial intelligence. The artificial intelligence element to the Culture can be sub-divided into two parts - Drones and Minds. For the most part, a Drone's intelligence will be roughly similar to a humanoids. Minds, on the other hand, are significantly more powerful than both humanoids and drones. They tend to act as the controlling intelligence behind, for example, the Culture's ships and Hubs (artificial habitats). Minds are also largely responsible for making decisions at the very highest levels of society - only a very small number of humanoid Referrers would be intelligent enough to join the process.
In the first Sci-Fi book Banks wrote, "Consider Phlebas", the Culture was at war with the Idiran Empire - a war they eventually won, though not without a great loss of life. Although 800 years have now passed, "Look to Windward" could be considered a sequel of sorts. A single battle, towards the end of the Culture - Idiran War, had brought the destruction of two stars. The loss of life was not restricted to the combatants, as both systems had supported life. The light from the first star's destruction has only now reached Masaq, a Culture Orbital. Hub, Masaq's controlling Mind, is observing a period of mourning, between the two supernovae - for reasons that become clear later in the book.Read more ›
Quilan is a Chel. A member of a nation moving out of the shadow of a sudden and violent civil war. It's relationship with the vast Culture civilisation is ambiguous. Quilan is sent as an emissary to a Culture orbital to meet with a famous Chel exile. As we move through the book the past of the central character is slowly peeled away as both he and the reader come to understand the implications fo his terrible mission.Muhahahaha!
This is one of those rare novels that reminds one of how truly satisfying it is to read, wrapped in blankets or draped across a sofa with a coffee in easy reach. The repartee between the Culture figures is almost Vancian (as in Jack Vance)in its quick indulgent interplay. There is little of Bank's (at times maligned) penchant for descriptive violence. Rather mystery blends deliciously with succulent characterization in this truly worthy addition to Bank's Culture series. I growled at times at pointless scences reading through 'Consider Phlebas'(esp the eater scene on a Caribbean-esque beach - Nice book title though!)Such superfluity has been truly expunged in this tight novel. Here I whoopped and chuckled with joy and delight as I read, locking myself in the bathroom so that I might finish it undisturbed by my family. It is perhaps Bank's finest work; Subtle in ways many people seem not to have picked up on. Ho ho.
If you enjoy this then do all you can to read any of Jack Vance's works. The Demon Princes series is as good a place as any to start.
other than the civilised good guys and other races as something
other than simple primitives in need of the Culture's high-
handed intervention. Banks also expresses the sentiment,
implied previously in Excession, that the Culture is in
danger of stagnating, and also offers a shot in the arm,
hopefully to be revealed in a sequel.
In Excession (which I found to be faster-paced), the
primitives in question were the "hearty but horrible" (sic)
Affronters. However, in "Look to Windward" we are presented
with two Chelgrians.Two different characters with much more
depth. This made "Look to Windward" very rich in comparison
to "Excession" which only presented the Affronters as "the
Culture's Burden". Quilan, in particular is a noble and
complex character, made mature by his experiences, his
suffering and bereavement. His interaction with the
comparatively simple-minded amiability of the Culture
citizens around him was nicely assayed, and poignant
when you bear in mind that they are arguably responsible
for his anguish. Imagine how poor the story would have
been if he had been presented only as a terrorist.
In addition we have samples of the elder races: the Oskendari
inhabitants and their wonderful strangeness, and the very
patient Homomdan ambassador. They, along with the endearing
Uagen Zlepe, illuminated a bigger picture of the Culture's
place in the Galaxy, while hinting at the powers of the
unknown forces gathering against them.
I loved this book. Even the smug complacency of the
Culture added to the story. The Culture needs a wake-up
call, and I want a sequel!
Most recent customer reviews
I'm reading it (starting chapter 9) and I feel like a cat in the throes of a catnip crisis; I'm actually purring and rubbing my face on the pages. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Pop Powl
1) This here was authored by the late Iain M Banks.
2) It's a culture novel.
Don't know what that is? DAMN! Go read Player of Games right now, son! Read more
One of Banks better books. Looks at the hard kicks life will give one and when to say enough. Almost as intense as "Use of Weapons". Worth the time to read.Published on Sept. 24 2014 by daverl
Look to Windward is the seventh book in Banks' science fiction universe based on a utopian society of advanced artificial intelligences and the humans (and other organic life... Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2004 by Glen Engel Cox
This would be a good introduction to Iain Banks, if you're new to his books. Probably this and Excession are his two most accessible books. Read morePublished on June 17 2003 by Jane Avriette
Insightful clear thought wrapped in a fantastic and surprisingly humorous package. It took me a little while to figure out why Mr. Read morePublished on Jan. 23 2003 by Yethrib
While not a sequel to 'Consider Phlebas', this book results from the consequences of certain events that happened in the idiran/culture war of that novel, namely, the destruction... Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2002 by DAVID NELSON
The setting is Masaq; an Orbital (a man-made space station housing millions of people and machines), where the light of two exploding suns hundreds of light years away can now be... Read morePublished on March 23 2002 by firstname.lastname@example.org
A solid book that's worth the read, but only average to below-average for Banks. Readers of his work will find most of the book fairly predictable. Read morePublished on March 8 2002 by John Faughnan