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Excession [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]

by Iain M. Banks (Author), Peter Kenny (Narrator)
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared. Now it is back.

©1996 Iain M. Banks; (P)2013 Hachette Digital

Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 15 hours and 54 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Hachette Digital
  • Release Date: March 7, 2013
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BQ7C6I0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irony, Affrontery and Iain Banks March 7, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Reading your first Iain Banks novel is like nothing else in literature. It's a little like being in the washing machine on spin cycle. You emerge dizzy but refreshed. Machine gun pacing, vivid characterization, universe-spanning cultures and, of course, The Culture. Smug, self-satisfied, hedonistic and vain, The Culture is also bifurcated between more-or-less humankind and Minds, advanced AI's that are not always tolerant of their "meat-based" co-citizens.
More than any other novel of The Culture, this one involves those Minds and, without spoilers, they turn out to be human, all too human. Banks handles very well the problem of writing dialog for beings who are far, far more intelligent and think millions of times faster than we do. As others have noted, it sometimes makes for dense reading, but it is very believable. In some ways, this is a novel about the psychology and motives of Minds.
As always, Banks laces the story with sly humor, word play and wholly believable aliens. The Affront, the most conspicuous aliens in this tale, are a wonderful invention. As always, the structure of the novel itself with its interlacing of different story lines and physical organization is a part of the story itself, although less obviously so than in the earlier _Consider Phlebas_.
The Excession of the title is the focus of the attention of most of the characters in the story, but Banks is far too gifted a writer to make it the whole story. Readers who complain about the ending may be missing Banks' most important point. Perhaps the story isn't so much about the Excession, but how the characters react to the Excession. And maybe the ending is Banks' way of underscoring that point.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked April 1, 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
On vacation, at an idyllic Thailand beach resort with an unexpected library, I got hooked on Iain Banks. It was this book that did it. As the other reviewers say, it's a tad long (i.e. perfect for long holidays and vacations.) And sure, the story does become tangled at times. But it's unbelievably creative and screamingly funny in a sarcastic and cynical way. Think "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe" on growth hormones. (If one is looking for "hard" science fiction, however, this is likely not your book.)

I would buy the book if only to have the complete listing of all the names Banks employs for his glib and sentient starships. These are a catalog of odd-ball word pairings and acidic aphorisms. My favorites - "Ethics Gradient" and "Fate Amenable to Change."

Throughout Excessions, Banks's writing is persistantly imaginitive, heading off in unexpected directions, creating a novel sweeping universe; and frankly is everything I hope for in science fiction. My only complaint is that after reading this book I bought 9 or 10 more books by Banks, and I found none provided the enjoyment that this one did. While the other books are all excellent, they did not bowl me over. Is that because everything else was not as good, or that a reader tends to favor the first thing he reads of a wonderful writer? Judging from the range of responses from other reviewers as to "the best" Bank's book - I am leaning towards the latter.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, but you'll work for it October 31, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Most Iain Banks books are challenging reads, it's a credit to the man that he refuses to write down because he's penning SF novels and not the higher profile "literary" stuff that most of the mainstream probably recognizes him for (is he well read in this country, nobody I know has heard of him . . . what's with that?) so what you basically get with the Culture novels is SF from someone who really knows how to write and doesn't just have a degree and feels the need to share this nifty cool idea he had the other day. This book is full of cool ideas but more importantly it's a dense and slightly elusive work . . . while it's not opaque stuff isn't spelled out explicitly for the reader, there are a lot of dots to connect here. The setup is a large object has appeared from literally nowhere and interacts with the energy grip in a way that is supposed to be impossible. But this isn't the first time this object appeared and the only person who is around from that last appearance is Stored in a ship and has to be convinced to come out. That's how the plot starts. Where it ends is somewhere totally different and if sometimes you think you're reading a totally different book, that's just par for the course with Banks. The focus this time around is more on the Minds in the ships, which is good and bad. The Minds are basically human and their rapid fire conversations that take up a large chunk of the book are highly entertaining . . . however it can be daunting for readers unable to keep track of the dozens of names, especially with little strong personality to back up the Mind and make an impression. You may wish for a recap box at some point to make sure you're still up to speed. Still astute readers are rewarded with a plot that twists almost dizzingly . . . Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind Games March 29, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
To keep themselves amused, the super-AIs known as Minds in Iain M Banks's science fiction universe spend their time runing galaxy-sized simulations, a world of make-believe and might-have-been the Minds call the Land of Infinite Fun.

"Excession" is a bit like spending a few hours in Mr Banks's own Land of Infinite Fun; outlandish, amusing, intriguing, but never quite involving enought to let you forget that it's all just make-believe. Po-faced it certainly is not, it's space opera with a wink and a smile, gently tapping on the fourth wall but never quite breaking it.

"Excession" is the fourth book set in Mr Banks's Culture universe. This universe features technology as ahead of own our as the iPod is to the clay tablet, technology taken to its ultimate extreme, capable of building anything, anywhere, in any quantity desired. As a result, the biological inhabitants have long since given control of space ships and habitats (nobody's so old-fashioned as to live on an actual planet) and pretty much everything else to the Minds, a bunch of computers as pompous as Deep Thought, as twiggy as HAL and as serious as a whoopy cushion at a Shriner convention. They are the perfect security blanket for the cosseted inhabitants of the Culture. Together, they can out-think and out-fight anything the galaxy can throw at them.

Anything? Well, almost anything. The word "excession" you see, means something beyond a civilization's ability to understand, or resist should it prove hostile. The Aztecs would understand the concept. The Culture, as luck would have it, may have discovered an Excession, in the form of an impenetrable black globe which may serve as a link to other universes. As an added complication, it's also rather close to a warlike race called the Affront.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars confusing but somewhat amusing
Hard to keep track of the plot. The characters lacked depth. The other Culture books I have read were better.
Published 29 days ago by Ville Lumikero
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting read
interesting - bit lengthy - author gets carried away in too many details - the plot builds nicely, but towards the end is a bit simplistic - still: creative sci-fi
Published 1 month ago by Werner Küster
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Culture book
I've become a huge fan of Banks (both his sci-fi and regular fiction). Very sad that he died, because I think his Culture series has been really interesting--and fun reads.
Published 1 month ago by J. M. Lowe
5.0 out of 5 stars still hard to beat
One of my alltime favourites, even after having read it for the umtienth time. Some books get better every time
Published 2 months ago by Mrs Marita Eisenlohr
5.0 out of 5 stars astounding book
The story, the characters and everything else about this book is fantastic. This is the first culture book I've read and it is definitely one of my favorite books I've read.
Published 2 months ago by noah wright
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not his best
I would recommend it if you have already read and enjoy other books by Iain Banks, but I didn't find it quite as captivating as The Hydrogen Sonata or Look to Windward
Published 2 months ago by I. P. Freely
5.0 out of 5 stars Best so far in the Culture series
Best so far in the Culture series. Some parts might have been a bit slow but overall a good efffort, and makes me look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Published 3 months ago by Ville Halonen
2.0 out of 5 stars confusing
most probably great if you can read from the beginning to end in a couple of reads but when life is busy and you put a book like this down for a few days the characters get... Read more
Published 3 months ago by timothy b cawte
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
close tie for first with player of games. it took me a little while to finish at the end but it was worth it.
Published 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Not an A sci-fi book, but in keeping with the Culture series generally and the late Mr Bank"s works, an enjoyable read. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Allen King
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