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Thread: The new The Player of Games thread (contains spoilers)

  1. #11
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    I think Iain was still working out the drone/Mind personas in the first three Culture novels. In CP we get nary a picture of any Mind persona, other than they're really, …, really intelligent. In TPoG the Limiting Factor doesn't get much personality at all, it's just a vast, but aloof, intelligence with virtually no quirks. Drones fare a little better, Chamlis Amalk-ney is the wise and compassionate old friend, while Sprant Flere-Imsaho Wu-Handrahen Xato Trbiti, aka Mawhrin-Skel spends so much time acting various roles its hard to gauge which personality is really its, if any are. I've said it elsewhere, but I'll repeat it here, it's my opinion that Excession marks the first of the mature, fully realized Culture novels, where we begin to understand just what amazing, varied, and incredibly complex creatures the Minds are.
    Last edited by charismatic megafauna; 13-09-2014 at 07:07 PM.

  2. #12
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    I don't really agree Excession does what you say. Minds wear personalities that are basically like affectations of quirky humans. They don't even hint at the gulf of difference between a human and a mind. A mind can be like millions of humans at once, probably billions. Why is the totality of a billion intellects so hard for Iain to describe? When Frodo meets Smaug you get a sense of a superior being exerting its charisma and intellect. With the minds the exercise of charisma seems downplayed. We're invited to imagine things happening in the background. In fact my impression of PoG is that there's a barely seen Mind plot that may or may not predate Gurgeh's birth! Minds seem to like to be the Deus ex Machina. Aloof and mysterious.

  3. #13
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    OV, don't disagree with what you're saying, but I think you misunderstand the point I'm trying to make. The first three novels mostly follow individual human (or humanoid) type individuals on their adventures. We meet not a single fully cognizant Mind in CP. In TPoG, we meet the Limiting Factor, but not in any intimate way. As I mention above, it's just an aloof and virtually quirk-less entity. I don't want to go into specifics here about characters or plot points in UoW or Excession (spoilers after all for some who might not have read them yet), but Excession is the first Culture novel to really address what a Mind actually is, where we meet Minds up close and personal (so to speak), where we begin to really delve into just how different Minds can be from one another and their immense separation from anything remotely human. Minds do have personas, or at least effect them in their interactions with people. Are their personas as changeable as clothes to humans? Perhaps, but they seem to remain consistent over the relatively short periods the novels cover. If they changed personas like we change clothes, it's likely their relationship with humans would end, since humans would only be discombobulated and likely frightened shitless. It would bring their vast differences from humans to the forefront, hardly a successful strategy for interaction. Being friendly, helpful, but quirky is a marvelous way to cultivate favor with humans. Also, it's probable that any really eccentric Minds go ulterior, or exterior, or just disappear. I think all our dealings are with domesticated Minds, unfortunately Iain never introduced us to a truly feral Mind (sigh).

    As to your speculation about some greater Mind plot in TPoG. Well perhaps, it is mentioned, and if there is one thing Minds are good at it's scheming, but there is no evidence to support this one way or the other. We have Flere-Imsaho's assurance that isn't the case, but since it's only a drone and not in the "need to know" group, such an assurance is meaningless.

  4. #14
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    The one main problem with Banks' setting is lack of a Mind (or an equivalent) that is completely megalomaniacal and batshit, with an overpowering desire to dominate and destroy. A real Homogenising Swarm that demolishes galaxies, not self-replicating robot bugs.
    'Poverty is not an injustice. There is no such thing as causes for poverty, only causes for wealth. Poverty is not a wrong, but taking money from those who have it to equalize incomes is basically theft, which is wrong.' - Typical Randroid

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    Just for you BO, here's that book. "Boom goes London, boom Paree, boom goes the Milky Way, it's the end of historee." Sorry, couldn't resist, but it wouldn't be a very interesting book. What you seem to be suggesting is a comic book, omnipotent, evil villain GOD. In any case, I assume the non-megalomanical Minds, and other Level 8 civs, would be able to handle any Mind or similar AI that showed such traits, though that might have made a good book.

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    Well the lead up to a Swarm event or the aftermath would be interesting, although the Culture at least presumably have enough social/political/engineering safe guards to spawn almost entirely ethical, dutiful Minds, with even the most ruthless, sadistic Minds staying just on the right side of natural justice and tolerance.

    MILD SPOILERS REMOVED
    Last edited by Big Orange; 18-09-2014 at 09:55 PM.
    'Poverty is not an injustice. There is no such thing as causes for poverty, only causes for wealth. Poverty is not a wrong, but taking money from those who have it to equalize incomes is basically theft, which is wrong.' - Typical Randroid

  7. #17
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    BO, I'd like to discuss this more, but we're getting off the thread topic and introducing too many spoilers for latter books. Want to start a new thread?

  8. #18
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    Going back on topic, I find it mildly amusing that the Emperor Nicosar signs documents on touchscreen slates (a device I'm using right now).
    'Poverty is not an injustice. There is no such thing as causes for poverty, only causes for wealth. Poverty is not a wrong, but taking money from those who have it to equalize incomes is basically theft, which is wrong.' - Typical Randroid

  9. #19
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    I'm not to keen on the way most of the Azad games seem to start with Gurgeh doing badly then some how getting through anyway pretty much all through the tournament. He also gets shot at on a couple of occasions & escapes relatively unscathed.

    I'd also like to have had some more about the Empire, we get a prison flyover, a shooting hunt, a hospital visit, a hack into the encrypted TV channels, but there seems to have been so much more to explore there.
    "Just have fun"

  10. #20
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    DB, when Iain starting adding more info in the later books extending them to the 500 page range, there were many here who criticized him for bloated novels. Personally, I never considered any of the Culture novels bloated. I was always happy to get more Banks for my money; I wouldn't have minded him extending TPoG to 400 pages or so.

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