The New Excession thread (SPOILERS APLENTY)
I've decided to skip UoW (someone else can start that thread if they want), and move on to Excession. This is the book I consider the first fully developed Culture novel. We finally meet the Minds up close and personal, so to speak, in this book and utopia is not all it seems. What sets things off is an OCP (Outside Context Problem) which even scares Minds. Toss in a group of humorously horrible aliens—the Affront, truly among the greatest aliens ever created—add a Mind conspiracy, leaven with a great number of quirky Mind, human, and drone characters, and race towards an unpredictable ending. I've reread this book at least five times, maybe more, and I still pick up something new with each rereading. This is a great book and IMO Banks' masterpiece. Complex, funny, philosophical, clever, intellectual, witty, this book asks a lot of the reader, but the reward is cosmic, in more ways than one. This is science fiction for grown-ups, for those who want a challenge, and it's also a lot of fun—sort of finite fun space.
My Favourite novel ny a long shot - some of you might have seen in here that I have named my (badass) boat the (ROU) Killing Time.
One of the things that really struck me as I raced through the final quarter of the book (being unable to put it down) is that it was heading for the customary somewhat bleak ending, only to turn out completely different.
But one scene more than ever really stands out in this story for me, something that really made skin crawl on my neck as I re-read it; a single sentence that tells us all we need to know about the Minds. They are benevolent, they are quirky, but more than anything they are gods. Their power is absolute, and they follow their own agenda.
Genar-Hofoen is pleading the Sleeper Service as it is racing like a missile towards the Excession, telling it it would surely not endanger their lives after all the trouble it went through to help Dejeil and him find closure, to which the Sleeper simply replies:
'No Genar-Hofoen, I did all this for me.
That one little sentence says a LOT.
Otherwise, Excession is filled with favourite moments, but the ITG hijacking the M32 discussion about the Excession is priceless - Banks was clearly inspired by forum discussion on the internet being derailed, even back in '95-96.
Agree about this being Bank's masterpiece. Greatest science fiction novel I've ever read.
So far I've enjoyed reading all your comments, but have had little to add to the discussions myself. I don't think I'll be re-reading Excession anytime soon, since I've already gone back to it, SD and THS shortly after Bank's passing.
amerelium, not quite gods, their fear of the Excession's powers and what it might do is evident. Av, you don't have to reread it to join the discussion. I too think it's the greatest sic-fi novel ever written.
You are correct of course; the gods of their civilization might be a better description. It just struck me in that sequence, for all they well-meaning and niceness, it is their own agenda they follow.
Originally Posted by charismatic megafauna
At least they are mostly benign gods with a penchant for doing good, a virtually unheard of sense of sanctity for life in general, and a fervent aversion to suffering. Something that can't be said for many of the gods currently in vogue. These qualities are manifest even within the conspirator group and the Grey Area.
They're fun as hell - I'd follow them just for that alone...
D'oh, not listed in the Library Audio book catalogue.
I'll wait 'till you guys get up to Surface Detail & Hydrogen, as they're the other 2 in stock
"Just have fun"
DB, Audible have it unabridged, that is where I got it.
Hachette released an MP3 CD last month which is already being sold for £3.99 at The Works: http://www.theworks.co.uk/p/audioboo.../9780748137480