The Culture Series of Iain M. Banks

A Critical Introduction


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About the Book

This critical history of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels covers the series from its inception in the 1970s to the The Hydrogen Sonata (2012), published less than a year before Banks’ death. It considers Banks’ origins as a writer, the development of his politics and ethics, his struggles to become a published author, his eventual success with The Wasp Factory (1984) and the publication of the first Culture novel, Consider Phlebas (1987). His 1994 essay “A Few Notes on the Culture” is included, along with a range of critical responses to the 10 Culture books he published in his lifetime and a discussion of the series’ status as utopian literature. Banks was a complex man, both in his everyday life and on the page. This work aims at understanding the Culture series not only as a fundamental contribution to science fiction but also as a product of its creator’s responses to the turbulent times he lived in.

About the Author(s)

Simone Caroti is the course director of Science Fiction and Fantasy for the Creative Writing BFA at Full Sail University. He is a senior research scientist for the Astrosociology Research Institute (ARI), a nonprofit organization devoted to bringing the arts, humanities and social sciences into the debate on the future of humanity in space.

Bibliographic Details

Simone Caroti

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9447-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2040-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: The Early Days of a Better Nation 1
Introduction: The Many Faces of Iain (M.) Banks 5
1. Beginnings 21
2. The Culture Militant: Consider Phlebas 42
3. The Morality of the Rule Set: The Player of Games 63
4. Diziet Sma’s Dilemmas of Intervention: The State of the Art and Use of Weapons 82
5. The Years of Taking Stock: The Culture as a Critical Utopia 110
6. The View from Above, the View from Below: Excession and Inversions 126
7. The Encroachment of Reality: Look to Windward 155
8. The Last Trilogy: Matter, Surface Detail, and The Hydrogen Sonata 182
Conclusion: The Future of the Culture 211
Chapter Notes 215
Bibliography 234
Index 239

Book Reviews & Awards

“Caroti’s smoothly written, thoroughly researched and documented book serves as a monument to Banks and his Culture series. … I recommend it both as a resource on Banks and as a model for other [writers] to follow”—SFRA Review