Questions tagged [the-culture]

an interstellar anarchic, post-scarcity, and utopian society created by author Iain M. Banks, which features in many of his works.

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Why did Iain M. Banks use his middle initial for his science fiction writing, but go by 'Iain Banks' in other works?

In the published works of Iain Menzies Banks, we may notice that the author chose to display his name slightly differently. The culture series has him as 'Iain M. Banks', but his 'non-genre' fiction ...
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20 votes
4 answers
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How is The Culture's universe populated by humans if current human culture on earth exists contemporaneously with it?

Does Iain M. Banks explain anywhere how in the world of the Culture the galaxy came to be populated by humans and humanoid races given that it can't be that the human race became a space-faring ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Did the Culture interfere with other civilizations to a greater or lesser extent after the the Idiran war?

In Consider Phlebas, the Culture seem to be spreading throughout the Milky Way, but having very little to do with other civilizations. The Idiran war seems to be forcing the culture to reevaluate ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Does the Dra'Azon have a physical presence?

While reading book 1 (Consider Phlebas) in the culture series, I'm struggling to understand what the Dra'Azon actually is. The Dra'Azon will attack ships that attempt to breach the quiet barrier ...
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8 votes
3 answers
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How are starships powered in The Culture?

The Culture is known for having huge starships that are capable of sustaining millions of people and traveling faster than light. Do the novels attempt to explain the power source for these ships ?
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30 votes
2 answers
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How do the 99% find meaning in their life?

Banks' Culture series has a not-insignificant place amongst the debaters of future societal models as a post-scarcity society. It's given as a utopian example of how people live and find meaning in a ...
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5 votes
3 answers
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Why did the Idirans want the Mind in Consider Phlebas

It has been a long time since I read Consider Phlebas, which was my first introduction to the Culture and started me on the road of reading most of Iain M. Banks works in that setting. I remember ...
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2 votes
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Does Shohobohaum Za character allude to the USSR?

The ambassador Shohobohaum Za in The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks shows the following features. He is a drunkard and has propensity to brawls – a known stereotype of a Russian. He dismantles a ...
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2 votes
1 answer
301 views

How much storage does a Mind (from The Culture series) have in today's computer storage terms?

Just started reading Ian Banks' The Culture, and there was this beginning to a chapter: The Mind had an image to illustrate its information capacity. It liked to imagine the contents of its memory ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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In "Consider Phlebas", why does the Mind need to use a combination of hyperspace and warp to go beneath a planet's surface?

In the novel, the characters seem to make a big deal of the fact that one of the Minds warped so deep into a gravity well, after it had reached the planet through hyperspace. Here's one conversation ...
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-1 votes
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Would Lenipobra be killed on the orbital Vavatch in Iian M. Banks' Consider Phlebas? [closed]

On a structure without gravity and only centripetal (centrifugal pseudo)force how could Lenipobra 'fall' to his death? I've thought too long on this question and come to the conclusion that Lenipobra ...
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8 votes
3 answers
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Does money exist in the Culture?

The Culture is a post-scarcity society where most people "work" at creative or beneficial activities because they enjoy it and/or it brings status. But in Excession we see references to a "fabulously ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What happens to Uagen Zlepe in Banks' "Look to Windward"?

The story of Uagen Zlepe may be a literary device in "Look to Windward", but his fate is unresolved in my reading. He is achieving transport to Masaq and then, at next mention, Is it safe to assume ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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What is the light source on the Masaq’ orbital?

I must have missed it, even in my re-reading of Iain M. Banks’ Look to Windward; what is the light source of the Masaq’ orbital? If I understood the book correctly, the hub Mind sits at the center of ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Who set the agenda of Special Circumstances in the Culture novels?

Special Circumstances is an organisation within the culture that deals with, yes, special circumstances - new alien discoveries, inter species relations etc. Special Circumstances was described in Use ...
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12 votes
5 answers
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What was the purpose of Uagen Zlepe's story in "Look to Windward"?

I finished reading Iain M. Banks' "Look to Windward" today, and I'm left puzzled by the side story involving Uagen Zlepe, a culture scientist. Usually when Banks includes subplots like this, it ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Where does "The Algebraist" fit into the Culture timeline?

I have begun to reread Banks' work as my first readings more than a decade ago were haphazard and out of sequence. Currently deep in The Algebraist and trying to fit the period into the Culture ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Does any Ship appear in more than one Culture novel?

One recurring motif of the Culture novels of Iain M Banks is the amusing names that the Ships bestow upon themselves. There are too many such for my feeble mind to encompass, but I wonder if they have ...
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Is the short story Descendant from the Culture?

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 ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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What is the life expectancy in The Culture series?

So in The Player of Games, it said that one way to die is you can completely annihilate your brain, and that some guy fell off a cliff or something, and his brain just had to wait a few months to grow ...
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6 votes
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Population growth in The Culture

As Iain M. Banks said in A Few Notes on the Culture, the population growth was very slow, as the convention was that each person should give birth to one child. As the life expectancies remain ...
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24 votes
3 answers
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Does The Culture possess FTL communication?

Iain M. Banks's Culture has the ability to travel faster than light (up to 233,000 c) with infraspace engines built from exotic nanomatter, but can it also transmit communication supraluminally? Edit ...
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17 votes
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In which galaxy (or galaxies) are the Culture present?

They have ships that can travel really fast and really far, but galaxies are big. Have they spread to more than one galaxy? Is the name of the galaxy known? And how far is it from the Milky Way (if ...
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26 votes
3 answers
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Is Earth the home planet of the Culture?

In Iain M. Banks' The Culture saga, is it known if Earth is the "original planet" of the Culture? I don't remember any reference to it in any book (I'm reading the third one).
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11 votes
2 answers
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Are Effectors unique to Iain M. Banks's "Culture"?

In Iain M. Banks's "Culture" novels, the Culture's most powerful and sophisticated weapons are effectors, electromagnetic manipulation devices capable of remotely reading and controlling computers and ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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How old is Jernau Morat Gurgeh?

The blurb for The Player of Games describes Jernau Morat Gurgeh as The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. How old is he (in chronological age) at the start of The ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What was the engine fault in Excession?

The cruiser spent another two days around the Esperi system and then broke away. It returned to the habitat called Tier with a trivial but niggling engine fault.   ~ The Furious Purpose is ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Wouldn't orbitals eclipse themselves?

From http://www.vavatch.co.uk/books/banks/cultnote.htm: Perhaps the easiest way to envisage an Orbital is to compare it to the idea that inspired it (this sounds better than saying; Here's where I ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Who won the civil war in "Use of Weapons"?

The language is intentionally ambiguous about who won the civil war, to accommodate the twist ending: In retrospect, the last sentence is obviously about the surgeons. But it's not clear to me who ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Are there any couples in the Culture?

Is sex in Iain M Banks's Culture limited to orgies and one-night stands? The only romantic love I can think of is in the one that has a Hell and the one where they're descended from carnivores and ...
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8 votes
3 answers
885 views

Source for Culture timeline

I've been an Iain Banks fan for a long long time, but for the most part haven't haven't tried to read the Culture books in any particular order, and have left myself at least a few for the future. I'...
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38 votes
1 answer
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What are the origins of the names "Just Read The Instructions" and "Of Course I Still Love You"?

SpaceX / Elon Musk dubbed their East Coast floating landing pad (or "Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship", (ASDS) if you really prefer), Just Read The Instructions, apparently after a ship from ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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Why are there so many tripedal species in Iain M. Banks' Culture series?

Tripedalism seems physiologically inefficient, otherwise we would probably see at least one tripedal species on Earth. And yet the Culture universe has at least three (!) tripedal species: the ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What is The Culture's industrial capacity?

I'm looking for information on the production power of the Culture. Especially useful would be answers to: How long does it take a ship to produce another ship equivalent to itself (i.e. the doubling ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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Can my bookgroup start reading The Culture books at "Use of Weapons"?

My book group wants a sci-fi book. They're all incredibly intelligent and educated people who are all incredibly well-read. I'm not worried about the fractured narrative of Banks' Use of Weapons, but ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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Hydrogen Sonata - Which all out war was within living memory?

In The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain M Banks, he mentions an all out Galactic war by the Culture within living memory. It seemed perverse to some, but for all their apparent militarism the Gzilt had ...
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18 votes
8 answers
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What is the actual shape of the Vavatch Orbital? A true ring?

In Iain M. Banks', fairly rockin' Culture novel, Consider Phlebas a good third of the book takes place on what is called the "Vavatch Orbital". An orbital is apparently a massive ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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How to read the communication between spaceships in Excession?

In Iain M. Banks's Excession, there are several discussions between spaceships that are in a format that looks like a log file. It looks like this: (GCU Grey Area signal sequence file #n428857/119) ...
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21 votes
4 answers
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What is the significance of the last line of Iain M Banks' "Surface Detail"?

I just finished Banks' "Surface Detail" Culture-universe novel. Great stuff, although my reading of it was rather interrupted and spread over almost 3 months, so my memory of the earlier ...
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9 votes
3 answers
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Mawhrin-Skel's personality shift and Gurgeh's mission purpose

So at the end of the book, it is revealed that But they're both so different from each other, that it makes me think that the blackmail situation was made up by Special Circumstances to persuade ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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About the 'Lives' from the Damage game in Consider Phlebas (spoilers)

For those who don't know, Damage is a illegal betting game where you bet not with money, but with Lives, who are people kept strapped to electric chairs. When a player lose a Life, this Life was ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Is there a precursor to the Culture? [closed]

The Culture, from the Iain M Banks novels, seems to be a merger between a utopia and a dystopia. Is this a new phenomenon or do other examples exist?
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1 answer
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Has Iain M. Banks ever cited his inspirations for the backstory of Cheradenine Zakalwe? (possible spoilers)

Specifically, I recently heard the story of Ed Gein, and how it influenced the movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I'm wondering if either inspired the story of the Chairmaker. Are there any ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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Rereading of Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks and chapter order

I just finish Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks. This book is written in a peculiar way that makes it a non-straightforward read, and I'm wondering how different an impression a second read would leave. ...
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12 votes
3 answers
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Is there any artistic representation of Mawhrin-Skel?

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 ...
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37 votes
3 answers
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What is the order/timeline for Iain M. Banks "Culture" novels?

I just finished Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks....I'm hooked and have a couple of questions on the Culture novels: Is there an order to the novels (preferred or otherwise) ? What is the timeline ...
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