[Read] ➻ Surface Detail ➸ Iain M. Banks – Horse-zine.co.uk

Surface Detail pdf Surface Detail, ebook Surface Detail, epub Surface Detail, doc Surface Detail, e-pub Surface Detail, Surface Detail 1e68f40690e It Begins In The Realm Of The Real, Where Matter Still MattersIt Begins With A MurderAnd It Will Not End Until The Culture Has Gone To War With Death ItselfLededje Y Breq Is One Of The Intagliated, Her Marked Body Bearing Witness To A Family Shame, Her Life Belonging To A Man Whose Lust For Power Is Without Limit Prepared To Risk Everything For Her Freedom, Her Release When It Comes Is At A Price, And To Put Things Right She Will Need The Help Of The CultureBenevolent, Enlightened And Almost Infinitely Resourceful Though It May Be, The Culture Can Only Do So Much For Any Individual With The Assistance Of One Of Its Most Powerful And Arguably Deranged Warships, Lededje Finds Herself Heading Into A Combat Zone Not Even Sure Which Side The Culture Is Really On A War Brutal, Far Reaching Is Already Raging Within The Digital Realms That Store The Souls Of The Dead, And It S About To Erupt Into RealityIt Started In The Realm Of The Real And That Is Where It Will End It Will Touch Countless Lives And Affect Entire Civilizations, But At The Center Of It All Is A Young Woman Whose Need For Revenge Masks Another Motive Altogether

10 thoughts on “Surface Detail

  1. says:

    A war in hell, for the fate of hell What Is this a Culture novel, one of huge Space Operatic dimensions, Ship Mega Minds, nearly ascendant alien cultures and encroaching afterlifes Wait Afterlife Sure Virtual hells made for elephantine aliens with enormous virtual wars to take up their attention so it doesn t have to spill over into the real.It s civilized, don t you know Of course, you can t say that for the people being TORTURED FOR ETERNITY within them sigh This one happens to be my absolute favorite of all the Culture Novels I haven t read the 10th yet, but it s going to have to work double time to beat this one.I love all the characters, from the Eccentric Drones to the debt enslaved victim of hell and her lover of oh so tragic fate Learning how to become a demon to escape the victim s fate is pretty tragic, after all And through this, the Culture sits and watches and makes noises that they ll never get involved in other species s conflicts unless ordered by Culture, proper, and yet they always seem to find ways to stick their noses in and make epic struggles and full blown wars out of molehills.Got to love it War For Hell And as always, the ironic humor of the ships, their names, and the situations is all sheer delight I mean, after all, the setting is, in fact, in an Elephant s Graveyard Lol Great stuff

  2. says:

    I was surprised to find that this book presents an almost perfect example of a philosophical problem that s been bothering me recently, to the extent that I even wrote a short paper about it Briefly, and without giving away any spoilers, the core thread in Surface Detail is about the ethics of inflicting pain, or what looks like pain, on simulated beings The conceit is that many societies in the Iain Banks Culture universe have traditions of an afterlife which resembles our idea of Hell Their advanced technologies have made it possible actually to construct these infernal realms in simulated form, copying the mind states of deceased beings to them so that they will undergo a simulation of eternal punishment.In the book, Galactic society is sharply divided concerning the morality of the idea Some societies take the traditional line that Hell is needed in order to frighten people into behaving better while they are alive others think that the notion of eternal punishment is barbaric and inhumane But it seems to me that these are not the only ways to view the issues Here s my little paper Is mind crime a coherent concept In his influential book Superintelligence, Nick Bostrom several times refers to a concept he calls mind crime By this, he means inflicting the analogues of pain or death on entities which do not exist in the real, physical world, but only in worlds simulated inside computers For example, Bostrom at one point suggests that a rogue superintelligence could use mind crime as a form of blackmail, creating simulations containing large numbers of simulated intelligent beings and then threatening to kill them by closing down the simulation Later, he wonders whether it may be unethical to run certain kinds of reinforcement learning algorithms, since the nature of reinforcement learning is such that one is in effect inflecting pain on a simulated being I think it is reasonable to say that these claims, at least at first sight, are extremely counterintuitive, and I will here argue that they may indeed be incoherent when closely examined.The point on which I disagree is whether there really can be anything morally wrong with creating a simulated intelligent entity which feels pain, or in terminating a simulation which contains intelligent entities Now I can of course see the outlines of the argument in favour of these claims the intuitive picture is that a simulated intelligent entity is in some functionalist sense just as real as an intelligent entity in the physical world, a simulation is in some sense a box containing the entity, and it s morally wrong to cause the entity to suffer pain or to throw away the box, which amounts to killing it But does this argument stand up to critical examination It seems to me that there is an important point here which is perhaps being obscured If the simulated entity is causally connected to the physical world by means of sensors and effectors, then I m completely happy to grant the claims In this case, the entity is in effect just another physical being which happens to be implemented in silicon rather than in protoplasm, and the same moral principles should apply to it as to organic entities But I don t think it s so clear if the entity lives in its own self contained simulated universe In this case, I think one can reasonably apply another intuitive picture the simulated universe, including the entity, is just a mathematical object, and running the simulation amounts to no than applying a method useful for studying that mathematical object.Now I am aware that this is dangerous philosophical territory, and one can wonder if it s basically recapitulating some version of the Chinese Room argument But it seems to me that it s not really the Chinese Room in disguise I m not questioning whether the entity is in a valid sense conscious, or whether it has valid moral rights I m happy to grant all that I m just questioning whether the moral rights have any connection to us If we think of intelligent entity X as part of a mathematical object, then it seems to me that all the moral issues are internal to that object, by virtue of the supposition that the simulated universe is self contained If the entity feels functionalist pain, and there is some causal reason in the simulated universe which explains why it s feeling pain, then we may legitimately take a moral position, and consider that it was wrong, say, for entity Y in the simulated universe to have caused entity X to feel pain That much seems quite reasonable.But we re outside the universe, so in what way can we say there is anything morally wrong with the fact that this mathematical object has certain properties It has the properties it has we can t affect them in any way All we ve done is choose to study this mathematical object rather than another mathematical object Running the simulation doesn t cause it to exist it just helps us understand the mathematical object s properties clearly We can imagine different ways of studying it Our initial intuitive picture of the simulation is probably that it proceeds, in some sense, a step at a time in a forward temporal direction, which feels like we re in some way helping it to exist But we might also in principle perform some kind of integration which reduces the simulation to a closed form solution Of course, in practice this would be extremely difficult If we have a closed form solution, we can use the simulation to read off the state of the world at a given time, or along some space like surface, or whatever We re just studying it, and there is little temptation to say that we are causing it to exist If we stop reading off states at space like surfaces, the only effect is on us.All of these arguments involve concepts which are outside our normal experience we have never seen an intelligent entity in a self contained simulated universe, so our intuitions may be confused As a reference point in a familiar domain, it seems to me that the status of characters in a novel has useful commonalities If Marianne in Sense and Sensibility feels pain, we may reasonably blame Willoughby for his heartless behaviour towards her But it s not reasonable to blame Jane Austen Willoughby is part of this universe and has both a casual and a moral relationship with Marianne, but Jane Austen has neither She s outside the universe of the book We can, if we like, blame her for causing us pain when we read the novel, but we can t seriously blame her for causing Marianne pain.To conclude, it seems to me that the above arguments cast some doubt over the validity of mind crime as a legitimate concept.

  3. says:

    Iain M Banks was taken away from us too soon He was a genius of prose, structure, characterization and all kinds of SFnal ideas by all accounts his mainstream fiction published under the name of Iain Banks with no M is also so great.Reading Iain M Banks is challenging than most sci fi authors though, his novel s structure and plotline are often very complex, byzantine even but the reader s effort is always rewarded With Surface Detail Banks takes about 70 pages to set up the pieces and introduce the characters before the narrative settles down enough for me to familiarize myself with the characters and the situation Having said that, the first few chapters are immediately interesting though a little perplexing In this early section of the book Banks introduces quite a few point of view protagonists in mysterious and weird locations Banks clears up most of the perplexities by gradually unfolding his outlandish ideas without the expositions reading like dry infodumps.As with most Culture books there are multiple plot strands that Banks skillfully juggles and gradually weave together The main plotline is to do with Hell , which is a virtual environment where digitized mind states consciousness of dead people souls of sorts are put into perpetual punishment The virtual Hell depicted in Surface Detail where one of the protagonists spend her time is indeed a very miserable and violent place where death is not an end to the torment as it is immediately followed by reactivation.In spite of the very dark theme the novel is at times very humorous The humour mainly comes from the dialogue and behavior of the Minds, the uber AI that controls the Culture civilization I can t show you examples of the comical moments out of context though There is a large element of cyberpunk in this book Fans of Neuromancer and Altered Carbon should find a lot to enjoy in this book If Redshirts or The Martian represent your preferred flavor of sci fi this book may not suit you Beside great characters, ideas, humour, prose and dialogue, Banks is also brilliant with nomenclatures, the very long ship names and drone names are awesome yet subtly meaningful.If I have one complaint it would be that the pace sags a little after the half way point of the book, especially as one character is negotiating to buy a top of the line spaceship However, the novel s pace soon picks up again, in fact one confrontation scene between a protagonist and her arch enemy almost had me jump out of my seat Surface Detail is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Banks Culture series books, I am not sure it is the best entry point into the series, The Player of Games would be better for that I think I already bought Look to Windward so I am looking forward to that.

  4. says:

    How do I love thee, Culture universe Let me count the ways by playing Culture bingo Awesome tech checkFor starters, we have the standard fare of neural laces, AIs, drug glands, etc etc, everything that makes the Culture a level 8 civ Today s main course is a Bulbitian, an ancient ship and a talking singularity For desert, have a virtual Hell Oh my.Cool aliens sorta checkA clear majority of pan human players this time, but you gotta love the GFCF Plus, the Pavuleans are likeelephants or something I can t quite remember.Best AIs in science fiction check The Culture ships will never not be amazing And funny Oh to be on a GSV just once.Humour checkDemeisen, anyone Banks should get awards for the way writes human machine interaction Minor niggle Not enough drones this time Physics I don t get checkCome on There s a Talking SINGULARITY Boom.Unputdownable BINGO.Also, if you, like me, have a habit of browsing the final pages of a book before you re even half way through DON T Not this time Or if you must, don t look at the final word of the book HOW S THIS FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE I, for one, didn t, so I didn t see it coming, and my jaw dropped about a mile Now to read it again, knowing what I do Loved this Despite some slow bits and some characters whose purpose still isn t clear to me e.g Yime , I still worship at Banks s altar.

  5. says:

    Well, it was better than Matter But to me at least, Banks flaws are really beginning to start to irritate.Banks seems completely unwilling to let anything actually challenge his precious Culture The typical story arc is to develop some sort of nominally galaxy threatening challenge to the Culture, which, near the end of the book, he ll reveal to be pathetically overmatched by the most trivial exercise of Culture might which arrives to aid the protagonist in all of its omnipotent dues ex machina glory right at the end thereby killing the tension he developed so carefully as easily as it kills the mustachioed scenery chomping one dimensional villains I mean seriously, Banks would hardly be transparent if he had Gandalf riding in on the back of some giant eagles I know what Tolkien is trying to say, but what is Banks trying to say Banks stories have become so stagnant and the Culture so impervious to change, that I m beginning to really sympathize with the in story Sublimed that think the Culture needs to get out of perpetual adolescence and finish growing up Can t we do at least one story that isn t a zero sum game I mean these are novels written by one of the greats of modern science fiction, and not episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation At least, I think that they are Is this Culture really an end state past which no thought is possible Can t anything even shake their apparently untouchable assumptions The stories are even beginning to undermine themselves Supposedly the Idrian War left half the ship Minds involved in it suffering from some cybernetic Post Traumatic stress disorder and that s been hitherto one of the series major themes but, it doesn t seem to me like the current generation of Culture Minds is going to have that problem given the relish that they now have for killing things Is that or is that not positive civilized growth in The Culture s perspective indicative of a maturing civilization And at what point is Banks going to end up being as unreflective as the writers of The Authority comic books I couldn t tell whether or not Banks was deliberately opening up and about the true second class citizen status of humans in the Culture in this book deliberately, or whether the fact that the minds really deep down don t consider humanity to be anything than beloved, potentially disposable pets not really persons the way Ships are had ceased to bother him And for all the fact that he s getting explicit in his comparisons to the culture and its enemies to modern political systems or beliefs, he seems for me to be and deeply muddling his utopia vs dystopia comparisons Is that deliberate, or has he simply ceased to question his own framework The he travels from his initial point of humans and AI s working as legal and moral and even in some cases utilitarian equals to humanity as beloved pet, the lie it gives to the understanding of the characters in the story to how their world actually works Take the given in the story that the Culture has no currency We are told again and again that the Culture has evolved past the need for currency But if you actually try to examine the text to find out how the seemingly informal currencyless, lawless system actually works you soon realize that it is currencyless and lawless only from the human perspective Much as the family dog may believe that he lives in a communist utopia of share and share alike when really the dog just simply isn t allowed to use the credit card, the humans in the Culture live in a world with a strictly defined currency they just aren t allowed to own any of it Granted, humans don t exactly use their resources wisely, but is Banks saying that what we really need to do is submit ourselves and our resources wholly to the whims of benevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient beings As best as I can tell, the actual currency of the culture, by which I mean the tokens by which labor is allocated in case anyone doesn t know what money actually is, is the esteem held by the Minds Now, in humans, esteem is an abstract concept that can t be usefully traded on But it s quite clear from the nature of Minds, that abstract concepts are in fact concrete, definable, quantifiable and can be traded on The Minds in fact appear to conduct economic business under an entrepreneurial free market It s either that, or else there is a central planning committee out there that can order other minds to exert their labor to create 2000 of these half psychotic high tech macho warships according to a standard design As best as I can tell, ordering minds around would be like herding cats, and there is certainly no evidence of a central planning committee What is really going on isn t communism, it s a free market barter economy tokenized by concrete measurements of esteem and favor that can be traded and probably even speculated on The real economy is no something humans are allowed to participate in than they are allowed to understand the way the Culture s actual legal system works Humans participate in the real economy only in the way that a dog that fetches his master s slippers and doesn t doodoo on the bed may get a bigger bone in his Christmas stocking.I m not sure that it is exactly capitalism except maybe as idealized version with near infinite buyers and sellers possessing near omniscience, but it s certainly not communism either I can t actually tell if Banks realizes that, or if he honestly believes that that all it would take is genetically reengineering humanity, producing cybernetic demigods of near infallible reason, and putting them in possession a nearly infinite supply of energy and materials to actually make communism work Because, if it is the latter, then I m not sure whether that constitutes a damning condemnation of communism as an economic system, or the thinnest attempt at justifying continuing to adhere to a failed murderous ideology since Holocaust denial Incidentally, the legal system is described as a Court of Public Opinion but apparently actually also quantifiable by similar measures of esteem and some sort of common law framework so that judgments and opinions can actually be measured or discarded to produce a final binding result The closest modern legal system to it would appear to be Shia Islam s kritarchy system Which, I find really ironic.Don t get me started on Banks exploration of religion.Anyway, I enjoyed all the deep onion like layers of the book and the fact that they didn t seem to have a bottom, but just for a while I d like the narrator voice in the story to be actually as mature and complex as Banks story seems to be Here s to hoping that something will actually happen in the Culture in the future and we ll get a chance to see a conflict that can t be resolved by remorselessly and effortlessly blowing things up.

  6. says:

    Banks is one of my all time favourites, but had put out some disappointments recently Algebraist and Matter were just plain no good Some of the straight fiction stuff had also been really below par, but he s put out Transitions and now this and I m ready to say all is forgiven There are some cookie cutter chapters, where you think that he s repeating scenes and characters and just varying the outlandish architecture hunt scene cruel game unusual dinner and pretending that it s something else There are genuinely weak elements BUT, the Culture is back, baby The tech is awesome, the aliens are fun SC is joined by three Contact departments and throwing around vicious, amoral super Abominator class spaceships and the bad guy is a real bastard I ve been sick for a bit, and this was my company I can t remember the last time I was as happy to be unwell.

  7. says:

    First things first does anyone else picture Demeisen as David Tennant Gaunt, gangling, fast talking, humorous, with a tendency to switch within moments from cheerful to scarily intense, and with a jaunty enthusiasm for sharing viewpoints thatuhhave a tendency to fall outside the usual moral constraints Every time Demeisen talked, I heard David Tennant.Now the actual plot Surface Detail centers around the concept of afterlives, and hell well, hells in particular Many civilized cultures had some basis for hell in their faiths, and when digital afterlives became a reality, they projected these beliefs onto the new realities Without Hell, they argue, there is no moral center, no consequence for evil actions Other civilizations the Culture in particular consider the idea of entombing sentient beings into eternal torment to be barbaric And this is something that the reader, presumably, agrees with But the interesting aspect, to my mind, is the logical extension into the Judeo Christian belief system if it s not okay to lock people up in Hell for all eternity, 1 why do we believe a loving God would do it, and 2 if we have some doubt about the reality of our own Hell, is it morally acceptable to threaten to people with that fate How can we accept that an ultimate being would perform an act we find so repulsive in the virtual The major distinction between our world and the one Banks creates and one that Banks doesn t even discuss is the power of the decision Hell becomes marginally acceptable in the believer s mind because the ultimate decision is made by an all perfect, all knowing, all forgiving ish God But if your Hell is a piece of software, how can any fallible panhuman have the right to send someone there And then there s Interesting Issue Number Two, which again goes mostly unexplored by Banks but which, despite its familiarity, kept me fully preoccupied during the reading of the book do the ends justify the means Battlelines have been drawn up between the pro Hell and anti Hell factions, virtual battles rage throughout the afterlives, and Hell is winning the war So the anti Hell side decides to cheat, and, when all else fails, forswear their oaths and bring battle to the Real The question how is that possibly okay Does the noble task of freeing the inmates of Hell overturn the respect for the rules If the pro Hell faction decided to cheat, we would see them as despicable So why do we accept it when the good guys betray morality The sum total of recrimination the pro Hell guys receive is about a page s worth, but the irony echoes throughout the book.The ideas of Surface Detail are fascinating the plot and characters, not so much The whole plot seems to me to be a vehicle for the ideas, to the point that I don t think Banks ever looked back and realized just how futile the characters actions actually are Looking back, I think there is exactly one character with meaningful agency in events Demeisen Who is awesome, in a David Tennantish variety of creepy but awesome, or possibly awesome but creepy Everyone else view spoiler Let s go down the list Lededje we spend most of the time hearing about her as a victim, and then she comes up with a half baked, ill conceived idea to kill Veppers and to throw recriminations at her lover , which requires assistance from basically everyone around her, which is foiled by the Culture saying no, and which is sort of reinstituted only with their help And even then, she is an abject failure and would be dead if Demeisen didn t use trickery which completely passed her by to save her life She is a victim she is incompetent she is utterly, utterly without agency, before or after her escape from Veppers Jasken grow a spine He could have done something, but was too conditioned and too constrained by duty to a madman to actually do much of anything Yime seriously, what is the point of Yime, other than to be a casualty of all the various pieces of violence around As far as I could tell, she didn t even make it past Veppers Just another victim who is traumatized and injured over and over and over Chay wow, that whole sequence is just wrong I understand that Chay basically exists to give us the viewpoint of Hell, but she is so passive, so utterly broken, that her her entire storyline feels like yet another victimization, the wallowing in the abject misery of a character broken before the story even starts She has the least agency of any character in the story, and that s saying something Prin For all that his storyline seemed promising, the whole Pavulean court bit turned out to be utterly moot, making his sacrifice and agony ultimately pointless His sacrifice and Chay s was ultimately utterly futile Vatueil wow, those sections were a drag We re introduced to him when he gets caught and snitches on his cohort, then goes batshit and kills everyone at random Hardly endearing, and in my opinion, it doesn t get much better from there Ultimately, his actions are pretty futile as well, given that Veppers was already in the scheme to bomb out the hells Also, I didn t like Zakalwe before, and this book did nothing to endear him to me hide spoiler

  8. says:

    When one rates an audiobook, is one rating the quality of the underlying written work, the quality of the audio version, or both I suppose I ll just clarify that my five star rating applies to both in this case.Surface Detail is the latest of the Culture Novels from Iain M Banks The wait for this one was worth it I think I m ready to say that Use of Weapons has finally been supplanted as the best of the Culture books.I ll write a proper review of Surface Detail, the book, after I ve read the hardcopy For now I ll make a couple of points.First, I love how the shock and consequences of the Idiran War continue to resonate across 1,500 years of Culture history Fascinating stuff How long will the shock of World War II resonate across our world s history It seems that, only 65 years after WWII s conclusion, the shock is dissipating fairly rapidly at this point.Second, this book keeps you going until, literally, the very last word of the epilogue Obviously, I can t say here what that last word is without hitting the spoiler box Let s simply say that the last word is worth waiting for, that it imparts a great deal of meaning to the rest of the book, a book already quite full of meaning Well, maybe I should clarify that the last word imparts meaning to those of us who are Culture fans and have read a certain prior Culture book Again, I can t say which book, or you might figure out what that last word is, which in turn would spoil some of Surface Detail.About the audiobook, specifically Surface Detail is read by my one of my favorite narrators, Peter Kenny He s a master of voices at times it seems that each character is being read by a different actor narrator, but it s all just him Peter Kenny also read the Transition audiobook, for those interested, and my comments about him in that review apply with equal force here Peter Kenny s voice and tone sound very much like the book would sound in my head were I reading hardcopy He and Iain Banks are a match made in heaven I have since listened to Peter Kenny s readings of Consider Phlebas and Player of Games and, I think, my ears have a man crush.I suppose, then, I can t recommend Surface Detail, in hardcopy or audio format, strongly enough to those of you who share my love of good sci fi Happy listening

  9. says:

    If you re not already a citizen if only in dreams of the Culture then Surface Detail is not your path to naturalization This is not to say that this isn t a worthy part of the Culture mythology it is I enjoyed reading it, meeting a few of the Culture s citizens and learning a bit about how its nonhierarchic, anarcho communist civilization works But that may be why non Culture aficionados shouldn t start off with this book It s heavy with unexplained Culture jargon e.g., Sublimed races, the Ulteriors, Special Circumstances, the Idiran War info dumps appear but they re about new aspects of the milieu e.g., Quietus, Restoria, the Nauptre Reliquaria and the Gespetian Fardesile Cultural Federacy mercifully shorted to GFCF and won t help the novice The best introductions to the Culture are still the earlier novels like Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games my favorite Surface Detail takes up the Culture s stance toward death and what happens to your soul when you die Even the less advanced space faring civilizations of the galaxy have the technology to store the brain states of their citizens The Culture uses such tech to back up personalities that can be downloaded into new bodies revented whether in the event of death or simply because a person is tired of the current incarnation Other civilizations, however, religiously minded than the Culture, have created virtual Heavens and Hells to which their members migrate upon death At the time the book opens, a virtual war a confliction has been waged for 30 real time years between coalitions of pro Hell civs and anti Hell civs to decide the Hells ultimate fate The anti Hell forces are losing and plot to bring the confliction into the Real by destroying the physical substrates where the virtual Hells are hosted The Culture, anti Hell by nature and sympathy, has held aloof from the war in Heaven because it had been felt, at the war s beginning, that its presence would have overbalanced the forces in play and made the anti Hell coalition s victory a surety This doesn t mean that the usual Culture suspects i.e., Special Circumstances aren t trying to manipulate a win for the anti Hell forces.The existential dilemma for the Culture at least for its biological citizens is to live lives of meaning and consequence Most manage to find some hobby or role that satisfies this need Others find satisfaction by joining Contact the lucky ones getting invited to join Contact s black ops bastard offspring Special Circumstances or similar organizations like Quietus For the less group oriented, there s always the options of the Ulteriors or the Forgotten There s a constant tension between not interfering with other civs and juggling affairs so that its neighbors come closer to the Culture s ideal.Against this backdrop, Banks weaves together the stories of six characters Vatueil, a leader of the anti Hell forces whose real identity links this novel to Use of Weapons which is as spoilerish as I ll get in this review read the book to find out who Prin and Chay, two inmates of one of the Hells Joiler Veppers, the principal bad guy Yime Nsokyi, a Quietus agent and Lededje Y breq, Veppers former slave There s a host of secondary characters as well, including Jasken, Veppers chief of security and the Culture Minds Me, I m Counting avatar Himerance and Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints aka FOTNMC, avatar Demeisen.As I mentioned, I enjoyed this novel but I can t help but feel that it would have been better focusing on fewer characters I would opt for Lededje and Yime and exploring the issue of death a bit deeply A case in point is the Veppers thread He s a disappointing villain because he s a one dimensional, mustache twirling figure You know he s loathsome and Banks piles on the loathsomeness until Veppers becomes a parody.Another weakness chronic to the series is that humans are often just gilding the super advanced tech of the Culture makes its biological citizens irrelevant Which Banks recognizes There s a short subplot about the Culture s efforts to contain a smatter outbreak where Auppi Unstril, the human pilot, acknowledges that her presence aboard the ship limits its effectiveness She s there because it s exciting, something to do and will make a real difference as opposed to a virtual adventure Or that the FOTNMC single handedly takes on the entire GFCF fleet and wins and the FOTNMC is just a Limited Offensive Unit Or that Lededje is murdered, resurrected and spends a good chunk of the novel trying to return to her homeworld to murder Veppers, only to have Demeisen deliver the coup de gr ce Banks is at his best when exploring the motivations of the Culture s biological citizens or those who are reacting to its presence in their lives, and I think the book would have been better had he stuck with Lededje and Yime.I think with the last few Culture novels, Banks has been focused on having fun with his universe than seriously exploring weightier themes, even though as the jacket blurb says and it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself He only tangentially raises the issues of consciousness and the meaning of death, and that s primarily in the Prin Chay thread, where the implicit conclusion is that the virtual Hells are cheats They are constructed versions of what a particular species thinks is Heaven or Hell Their denizens, copies of individuals whose real souls whatever those might be are forever lost to the perceptions of non Sublimed cultures and even then.To sum up, while Banks is than capable of serious fiction, if you re looking to find an in depth exploration of consciousness a la Blindsight and life and death, you won t find it here You ll also be disappointed if this is your first Culture exposure since you ll need some background to fully understand what s happening However, if you re already into the Culture and or Banks, I think you ll enjoy his latest space opera In terms of quality, it falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum I liked it than Matter or Look to Windward but not as much as his focused, weightier efforts like Consider Phlebas or The Player of Games.

  10. says:

    It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.Iain M Banksov Culture serijal me je odu evio ve od prvog romana Consider Phlebas Uvijek mi je trebalo malo da u em u svaki roman, ali to sam dalje otkrivao Culture svijet mi je bio sve zanimljiviji, a Culture civilizacija mi je postala omiljena utopija Vjerovatno je i jedina koja bi i mogla opstati jer u njoj ljudi nisu bitan faktor pa ni ne mogu dovesti do korupcije sistema i njegovog pada.Culture civilizacijom vladaju Minds kako i samo ime ka e Umovi koji su u itani u ogromne brodove ili Orbitale rijetko gdje Culture gra ani ive na planetima, ve ina je na ogromnim brodovima i svi ive u blagostanju Nema novca, gladi, a resursi su gotovo neograni eni Naravno, tu onda nema ni drame pa je radnja svakog romana iz serijala van Culture civilizacije, na planetima gdje ne vlada takvo blagostanje I naravno kroz svaki taj scenarij Iain M Banks se obra unavao, odnosno pokazivao nam na e moralne i op enito civilizacijske nedostatke Uz to, uvijek je uspio stvoriti i zanimljive i jake likove, nerijetko su mi najzanimljiviji likovi bili dronovi inteligentni strojevi , koji jedva skrivaju prijezir prema ljudima, i nerijetko ih podbadaju svojim britkim humorom i zajedljivim dosjetkama.Surface Detail je predzadnji Culture roman i mo da sam i zato, barem nesvjesno, odugovla io, jer je Iain M Banks umro sredinom 2013., pa ima jo samo jedan roman i onda moram napustiti taj svemir.U svakom novom Culture romanu se detaljnije otkriva neki dio tog svemira, ovdje je najve i fokus na virtualnim svjetovima, koji su univerzumi za sebe, od raznih verzija Pakla, do bojnih polja sa virtualnim ratovima kojima se odlu uju sudbine cijelih civilizacija u Stvarnom svemiru The Real.Ovaj roman mi je najslabiji u serijalu Matter, prethodni roman, izvukao je odli an kraj, a rasplet ovoga, iako zadovoljavaju i, ostavio me bez osje aja odu evljenja.Banks pi e dobro, iz svakog romana se mo e izvu i mnogo zanimljivih citata, ali mi ga je ponekad i te ko pratiti jer su mu neke re enice nezgrapne ili jednostavno preduge Sama radnja mi nije bila toliko zanimljiva, a i likovi me nisu zainteresirali kao u prethodnim romanima To mo e biti i zbog toga to sam roman itao gotovo punih godinu dana, sa duga kom pauzom od nekoliko mjeseci nakon pro itanih prvih 15% Tako er malo kriti nije ocjenjujem otkad pi em i ove osvrte, tako da ovome ide etvorka, i to slaba.

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