- Hardcover: 455 pages
- Publisher: Orbit (1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1857233948
- ISBN-13: 978-1857233940
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #481,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Excession Hardcover – Import, 1996
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
What makes these characters enjoyable, though, is that their culture (as, in effect, de facto protectors of The Culture civilization) feels so human, with dignity, noble goals, ethics, protocols, social norms, and an admirable overall desire to make things better. The fact that The Culture is built on individual freedom, including freedom to do what you will and freedom from the nasty and brutish challenges of illness, physical disadvantages (let alone disabilities), and poverty, makes it easier to root for these "Minds". And the fact that The Culture is not perfect at achieving these goals, especially when it comes to meddling with less advanced civilizations, makes it all the more believable. Otherwise it'd just be too utopian.
There's a mystery at the heart of this novel: A mysterious ship (if it is in fact a ship) that suddenly appears in a corner of the galaxy. Nobody knows what it's about, where it's from, what it wants. But it may have appeared previously long ago. The only thing that's clear is that it's vastly more powerful than the Minds who are the giants of The Culture.
This is a very enjoyable read, and is one of the few novels I've read that I plan to read again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's the Empire Strikes Back of Iain Banks Culture Series. Great book.Published 1 month ago by Steve M
Great story convoluted, intriguing, delightful and witty. Mr. Banks you are sorely missed.
Science fiction at its very best. His stories of the Culture are hugely enjoyable.
This is a hard sci-fi book. In the sense that's it's hard sci-fi and also hard to read. There's a lot of characters, alien concepts and ideas and plots and plots on the side. Read morePublished 4 months ago by P. C. Van Dongen
I am still working through the Culture series. To give a basis of comparison, I have read the following books in this order:
Player of Games... Read more
Book itself was good. Ending so so. Part of a series so perhaps to be expected.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
For some unknown reason (stupid lawyers, I'm guessing), this is the only Culture book not available anywhere in electronic form. I've forgotten how inconvenient paper books are. Read morePublished 4 months ago by bwringer