- - November 28th, 2012
Today we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Culture series by bestselling author Iain M. Banks! For decades, the Culture series has engaged our imaginations and taken us to new, exotic alien worlds. Check out the interview below to find out more about Iains most recent novel, THE HYDROGEN SONATA (UK | US | AUS) as well his reflections regarding the past and future of the Culture.
But that’s not all…since we can’t very well pass out these delicious Culture cupcakes digitally, there will be a full day of fun and prizes elsewhere on the internet. Head on over to Twitter for more Culture-related activity by searching for the hashtag #25YearsofCulture.
With the 25th anniversary of the Culture series now upon us (Consider Phlebas was published in 1987), have you come to regard the series as your life’s work? Do you think you’ll ever ‘complete’ the series, or do you still have a long list of ideas that you want to explore?
I suppose the Culture series will form the largest part of my life’s work; it’s unlikely I’ll come up with another over-arching structure on the same scale now. I’m perfectly happy with that. I’ll keep writing about the Culture for as long as I still feel there are new things to say, new avenues to explore. It’s important that I feel able to write SF outside the Culture, but even within it the restrictions are minimal; most of the action in most of the Culture books takes place well outside the Culture itself, and it’s been that way since the beginning, with Phlebas.
I don’t intend ever to complete it; I decided right from the start to resist the temptation to tear it all down at any point, and this has become sort of indicative and symbolic of the nature and demeanour of the Culture itself, now: it means to resist completion and put off Subliming, so that it can keep on going, sticking around in the Real and trying to do good (as it sees it), for as long as it can, and it’s already envisaging that when it does finally fade away, it’ll be when its going will hardly be noticed, because being something like the Culture – behaving like it – will be pretty much the default state for all galactic civilisations. (Though, in this, it could, of course, be completely wrong.)
I’ve more than enough material and ideas for another full-on Culture novel, and that has been the case for at least the last decade or so, no matter where I’ve been in the Culture-novel-writing cycle, as new ideas keep on coming along at a slow but steady rate. At the moment I’m tempted to try something a bit more oblique next time, though I’m also tempted to go with something tighter and more wildly kinetic, too… Who can say? We’ll see.
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- - June 28th, 2012
This October will bear witness to one of the biggest SF events of the year – the release of Iain M. Banks’s brilliant new Culture novel, THE HYDROGEN SONATA.
Here are the UK and US covers (click to enlarge), which subtly reflect both the new book’s title and the story within:
And here’s more on that story:
The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization.
An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture ten thousand years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they’ve made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilizations; they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.
Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted — dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over nine thousand years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago. It seems that the final days of the Gzilt civilization are likely to prove its most perilous.
Orbit will be publishing THE HYDROGEN SONATA worldwide in print, ebook and audiobook editions this October.
- - March 21st, 2008
If you haven’t discovered the Culture yet, check out this post at Slashdot by reviewer (and astrophysicist!) Simon DeDeo. For US newbies we can heartily recommend either Consider Phlebas or The Player of Games, both out this month from Orbit.
- - March 1st, 2008
There’s a terrific review of Matter over at the Onion’s A.V. Club.
“Kings, princes, evil viziers, treachery, and court intrigue share the stage with galactic civilizations, manufactured hollow worlds, interstellar spies, and terminal technologies in Matter, the triumphant new novel in Iain M. Banks’ loosely connected Culture series.”
Read the whole review here, and be sure to check out the lively discussion in the comments.
- - February 20th, 2008
The official Iain (M.) Banks website has been re-launched at www.iain-banks.net. Check it out for all the news and reviews, along with some very interesting contests coming up…
Meanwhile, in an interview at io9.com Banks reveals the hidden Thunderbirds influence that runs through the Culture novels:
“Thunderbirds gave me a love of big explosions I’ve yet to shake off. It’s kind of ingrained by now. Almost the first thing I think of when I’ve come up with an idea for a Really Big Artifact is how you could blow the living bijeesus out of it…”
And in the i09 review of Matter, Annalee Newitz sums up her thoughts on the book in the headline: “Iain M. Banks’ New Novel Kicks Ass on a Galactic Scale.”
While at BookPage Gavin Grant writes:
Matter is Banks in top form. His characters—whether human, alien or drone—are spiky, opinionated, diverse, occasionally short-sighted and tragically believable
Matter is available from Orbit in the US and the UK.