I'm currently reading "The Player of Games" from Iain M. Banks's Culture Cycle.

I'm having difficulty picturing the character of Mawhrin-Skel Drone (and Drones in general since they "are floating units of varying size and shape"). I was wondering if there is any artistic representation of him somewhere on the web?

  • Those coloured force fields… It's one of these things that really should exist (there ought to be a rule), but I had no luck with easily-available covers or fanart.
    – Tobu
    Commented Feb 22, 2011 at 2:12

3 Answers 3


DeviantArt can be a good source for conceptualizations..... I could not find a Mawhrin-Skel but these might help give you a visual:

Unaha-Closp drone from Consider Phlebas

Djan Seriy Anaplian and Turminder-Xuss from Matter


Something Real (also on Youtube) is a short film directed by Jon Rennie set in the Culture universe. The drone is different, but hopefully it gives you some idea of what they are like.


I haven't found any art that matches what I see when reading the books. Banks almost always describes drones in the same way: metallic oblongs devoid of features or ornamentation. Function over form.

In Excession he describes a drone's "suitcase-sized body." This seems to be the prevailing appearance throughout the series. "People always said drones looked a bit like suitcases but this one reminded Genar-Hofoen of an old-fashioned sledge," he says later in the same book.

In Consider Phlebas: "It was the size and shape of a standard suit backpack."

In Use of Weapons: "The drone was the size - and near enough the shape - of a small suitcase."

In The Hydrogen Sonata: "The drone ... was the size and shape of a large grey suitcase ... rather battered and dusty ... its scraped, slightly dented casing glinted in the sunlight..."

In Surface Detail: "A drone like a small smooth suitcase floated near the woman's shoulder."

In Matter: "The machine looked like a scruffy metal suitcase."

A different design is described in Look to Windward: "The machine was a little less than a metre in height, and half that in width and depth. Its rounded-off rectangular casing was made of delicate pink porcelain held in a lattice of gently glowing blue lumenstone. Beyond the porcelain's translucent surface, the drone's internal components could just be made out; shadows beneath its thin ceramic skin. Its aura field, confined to a small volume directly underneath its flat basse, was a soft blush of magenta..." This appears to be the exception.

Everything I've seen online is perhaps more interesting but not accurate.

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