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Look to Windward Mass Market Paperback

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Star Trek
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743421922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743421928
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 2.2 x 10.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,870,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Iain Banks was born in Scotland in 1954 and published his first book - "The Wasp Factory" - in 1984. He has since divided his writing career between writing 'standard' fiction - as Iain Banks - and Science Fiction, as Iain M. Banks. "Look to Windward" was first published in 2000, and was the sixth of his Sci-Fi books to feature the Culture.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Following the baffling (or intriguing, depending on your point of view) mediaeval shenanigans of Inversions, Iain M Banks has genuinely delivered the goods with this one, giving the Culture aficionados what they *really* wanted. "Look to Windward" is a staggeringly imaginative chunk of hard sci-fi, with some of the strongest characterization and mind-bogglingly grandiose scope since Banks' classic "Consider Phlebus". Who could not empathize with the battle-weary, bereaved Quilan whose tortured soul seeks oblivion, and yet who could not condemn him for the ghastly mission he agrees to undertake? Has absolute power begun to corrupt the Culture? Can they honestly still claim the moral high ground after their ill-judged and catastrophic intervention in the war? This novel touches on some pretty profound ethical dilemmas along the way. There is also much wise and possibly prophetic investigation into the nature of the soul, heaven and omnipotence. Please don't get the impression that this is all heavy stuff though; there is much amusing and witty dialogue between the chief protagonists. Some of Ziller's bon mots will have you in stitches. To the delight of the Culture anoraks, there is also a huge amount of information about Culture minds/hubs, personality backups, orbitals and (delightfully) a roll call of some of the more eccentric Culture ship names. How I would love to visit Masaq' Orbital; I guarantee you will too!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mysterious, subtle and thoughtful. Less of a mindless space adventure story with juvenile one dimensional space morons(i.e. Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction behemoth) than a crime fiction novel of sorts that moves with wit and finess, inexorably towards its ultimate conclusion.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Yes, finally we see Banks portray the Culture as something
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!
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