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Excessionby Iain M. Banks
Synopses & Reviews
Iain M. Banks is a true original, an author whose brilliant speculative fiction has transported us into worlds of unbounded imagination and inimitable revelatory power. Now he takes us on the ultimate trip: to the edge of possibility and to the heart of a cosmic puzzle....
Diplomat Byr Genar-Hofoen has been selected by the Culture to undertake a delicate and dangerous mission. The Department of Special Circumstances the Culture's espionage and dirty tricks section has sent him off to investigate a 2,500-year-old mystery: the sudden disappearance of a star fifty times older than the universe itself. But in seeking the secret of the lost sun, Byr risks losing himself.
There is only one way to break the silence of millennia: steal the soul of the long-dead starship captain who first encountered the star, and convince her to be reborn. And in accepting this mission, Byr will be swept into a vast conspiracy that could lead the universe into an age of peace...or to the brink of annihilation.
"Set in the remote future, Banks's...latest novel mounts a galactic-scale space opera, or, to be more exact, a space opera buffa....Banks fills the supporting cast with appealing but tart-tongued heroines, cute but droll droids the conversations between the ships alone reveal that one doesn't have to be flesh-and-blood to be neurotic, bitchy, or thin-skinned and enough sputtering politicians to keep readers smiling. Although the narrative pace occasionally drops below warp speed, he provides enough hard science to provide credibility to his fantastic, far-flung society. In short, this is a riotous space swashbuckler, a lighthearted, light-years' romp." Publishers Weekly
"Readers who like spaceships, worm holes and intrusions from other dimensions might want to start with Excession, a 500-page sprawl with the obsessive structure of a paranoid fantasy....[T]he plot gyrates, showcasing Banks's obvious delight in teasing his characters." Salon.com
"Banks does action very well, in sinewy prose. He does not write 'hard' SF, the kind jammed with technical detail, but has a visionary mode of explication...in which the success of the writing is predicated not on an appeal to reality, but on the prettiness of the metaphor. Though gripping, touching, and funny, Excession lacks the wildness of the earlier novels, offering instead a refinement and summation of Banks's universe, a return to the worrying at morality begun in 1987." Steven Poole, The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Excession is wildly enjoyable, an all-out romp orchestrated with masterful precision, grounded upon challenging ethical problems...." Paul McAulay
"Although a good half of this drama is played out among the inhuman intelligences that control the drones, ships, and planets of the Culture, there is still a familiar human story to be told. Despite their extended lives, their ability to change sex and appearance at will, and their lack of want, Banks suggests that people will still be driven by love, sex and jealousy. It is almost reassuring against the monstrous scale of this far future. Banks handles the macroscopic and the microscopic with equal aplomb in a story that is by turns thrilling, affecting, and comic, and which is probably the finest science fiction he has written to date." Paul Kincaid, New Scientist
"[Excession] leans a trifle too heavily on the Culture lore established in its predecessors to serve as an ideal introduction to Banks's seductive milieu. But for those who have already made The Culture's acquaintance, it bulges with pleasures both great and small. Prominent among the former is the widescreen baroque delight, which only grand-scale space-opera can provide, of a tale played out on the biggest stage the human mind can conceive. Among the latter are the lipsmacking glee with which Banks depicts the roaringly hideous species known simply as The Affront....The Culture series is the ultimate proof that 'fun' SF doesn't need to be either dumb or reactionary, and that the cyberpunks have no monopoly on brains." Charles Shaar Murray, New Statesman (London)
"Brilliantly inventive and amusing whole sections read like strings of knowing jokes but a mess: Chattering spaceships with splendid if confusing names (e.g., Not Invented Here and Shoot Them Later) don't compensate for the absence of real characters." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
IAIN M. BANKS, one of the United Kingdom's bestselling authors of science fiction, has written such highly regarded novels as Inversions (a New York Times Notable Book of 2000), Feersum Endjinn, Use of Weapons, The State of the Art, and Against a Dark Background. As "Iain Banks" he also writes mainstream novels, including The Wasp Factory and A Song of Stone. He lives in Scotland.
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