I have just read the Iain M Banks short story Descendant, part of the anthology The State Of The Art. It features technologies reminiscent of the Culture stories, such as an intelligent suit with 1.0 level AI, drones and knife missiles. Did the great man ever declare any connection between this story and the Culture?

  • 2
    It's clearly a Culture story. Proving it is turning out to be rather tricky :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 8:51
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    I strongly suspect that the answer will be found in the original anthology in which it appeared; Tales from the Forbidden Planet. The author notes are bound to say.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 23:56
  • I'm at a loss as to why you've accepted an answer that effectively repeats your question.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 19:30
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    Call it the empirical approach, or overwhelming weight of evidence. Only a quote from the great man himself to the contrary would change my mind.
    – D.H.
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 20:02
  • I rather thought that was what you were waiting for....
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


I don't think it needs to be explicitly stated by the author; it's clearly a Culture story:

  • "I look at the pictures of my home and friends on the orbital"
  • "This is what comes of having a smart suit. But I asked for one"
  • "It got the two of us down here, out of the wrecked module"
  • "But I'm glad I chose the full 1.0 intelligence version; the standard 0.1 type would have been no company at all."
  • "The drone sent a knife missile closer to the object."
  • "its outboard monofilament warps"
  • "it was in line of sight with a scout missile"

All of these objects are Culture tech, mentioned in multiple other books:

Use of Weapons:

“A knife missile?” Sma looked suitably amazed. She rubbed her chin with one hand.
“Quite a late model, too,” the drone said. “Nanoguns, monofilament warps, effector; point seven value brain.”
He scanned the skies for the module.


The monofilament wires which still attached each of the little warps to the knife missile
“That’s from the trailing scout missile,” Turminder Xuss said. Another screen flickered next to the first. “This is from the knife missile itself.”

A Gift from the Culture:

I am a Light Plasma Projector, model LPP 91 ... Brain value point one.


for this sort of technical gee-whizzery meant that according to Culture convention the suit had to be sentient. Genar-Hofoen had insisted on a model with the intelligence fixed at the lower limit of the acceptable intellectual range

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    @Valorum It's not "similar"; it's exactly the same technology used in other Culture books. The monofilament wires which still attached each of the little warps to the knife missile appears in Matter, for instance. Orbitals are the habitats that Culture citizens (human and drone) live on, etc. etc.
    – endolith
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 19:35
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    Orbitals also appear in his other (non-Culture) scifi works such as The Algebraist, modules appear in Against a Dark Background.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 19:39
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    Knife/Scout missiles are exclusive to Culture novels, but smart suits feature in AaDB, AI appears in both, monofilament appears in Algebraist,
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 19:57
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    Per my comment above, your answer isn't wrong (in the sense that it's "clearly a Culture story") but OP already noted the similar tech
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 19:59
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    No, they do not.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 21:16

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