In the book, Banks mentions early on that the local wormhole (I believe he calls it Arteria) was destroyed 250 years ago, and the system (Ulubis) is awaiting the delivery of a new one, some 17 years down the road.

A bit later, he says that the character Saluus went on a galaxy wide pleasure cruise, using the "Ulubis-system portal...on his long vacation last year."

What am I missing? The portal was destroyed 250 years ago, so how did Saluus use it "last year"?

  • Ohhhhh, that makes complete sense. Yeah, it was def a flashback, but the timeline, at least to me, was super unclear as far as when it takes place: earlier in the week, year, century, millenium, etc. Maybe I'm just not far enough in to where Banks explicitly mentions how far back this scene is taking place. Totally disrupted my suspension of disbelief, but now I'm back! Thanks!
    – Banks Fan
    Apr 27, 2020 at 14:49
  • 1
    Since you think Valorum answered your question, you should check the checkmark by the answer they posted.
    – Spencer
    Apr 27, 2020 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


This scene is told in flashback. Each of the major players in the scene (Fassin Taak, Taince Yarabokin, Saluus Kehar) were in their youth when the portal was destroyed. The majority of the book then takes place hundreds of years later.

'The thing that involves you sort of involves Fass, too, though not in the same way. Involves you and me and Fass and Ilen. Poor dead Ilen. Ilen Deste, Sal. You remember her? Maybe you don't. It's been so long, for all of us, for all these strange different reasons that end up being just the same. You with your treatments, Fass with his slowtime, me all Einsteined out with too much time near light speed. Time hasn't ever caught up with any of us, has it, Sal?

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