Synopses & Reviews
In a world renowned even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one man it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one — maybe two — people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she'd thought abandoned forever.
Only the sister is not what she once was; Djan Seriy Anaplian has changed almost beyond recognition to become an agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances section, charged with high-level interference in civilizations throughout the greater galaxy.
Concealing her new identity — and her particular set of abilities — might be a dangerous strategy, however. In the world to which Anaplian returns, nothing is quite as it seems; and determining the appropriate level of interference in someone else's war is never a simple matter.
Matter is a novel of dazzling wit and serious purpose. An extraordinary feat of storytelling and breathtaking invention on a grand scale, it is a tour de force from a writer who has turned science fiction on its head.
"This magnificent eighth novel (after 2000's Look to Windward) of the Culture, an interstellar posthuman civilization of incredible wealth and technological sophistication, centers on three siblings: Ferbin and Oramen, the misfit heirs of conquering King Hausk of the Sarl, who rules a backward and patriarchal realm deep beneath the surface of the artificial 'Shellworld' Sursamen, and their exiled sister, Djan, now a powerful agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances division. When King Hausk is murdered, Ferbin narrowly avoids the conspirators and sets out across the galaxy to ask Djan's help with revenge against the killer, now serving as Oramen's regent. Soon they learn of the horrific forces a hidden enemy is about to unleash on Sursamen, and must race to save the home that has rejected them both. Beautifully written and filled with memorable characters and startling technology, this tale of intricate politics and interstellar warfare ably demonstrates that Banks is still at the height of his powers." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Told with Banks' usual nihilistic humor and flair for outlandish description, this is a novel that will grab you by the shorthairs, scream at you about realpolitik, and then smack you on the head with a laser blast. And of course, you'll love every minute of it." i09.com
"The Culture...has been the playground of some of Iain Banks's best novels...In [Matter], representatives of various advanced civilisations debate the ethics of intervention in other people's affairs, even if it's for their own good." The Guardian
"Writing with a flowing and optimistic style and with much humor, the author portrays a fully imagined utopian future made possible by technology and a benignant world view, which contrasts with the many worlds depicted still struggling with war, famine, and disease." School Library Journal
"The conclusion is unexpectedly savage, emotionally powerful, and impossible to forget. Matter, it turns out, is not so much about the physical stuff as it is about what truly matters." Lisa Tuttle, The Times
"It has been eight years since the last Culture novel, and critics have clearly missed Banks's unique combination of galactic wonder and quirky humor. Their anticipation made for high standards, and for most critics, Matter exceeded them." Bookmarks Magazine
"Writing with a flowing and optimistic style and with much humor, the author portrays a fully imagined utopian future..." Library Journal
"In summary, the book shows Banks' clear skills as an SF writer and many of the trademarks much beloved by Banks' fans. It clearly, despite my minor gripes, does not suck. Was it worth it? Yes." SFFWorld.com
"Matter is as engrossing as you'd expect a Banks book to be." Starburst
This eighth novel of the Culture series centers on three siblings: Ferbin and Oramen, the misfit heirs of conquering King Hausk of the Sarl, and their exiled sister, Djan, now a powerful agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances division.
About the Author
Iain (Menzies) Banks was born in Fife in 1954, and was educated at Stirling University, where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory
, in 1984. His first science fiction novel, Consider Phlebas
, was published in 1987. He has continued to write both mainstream fiction (as Iain Banks) and science fiction (as Iain M. Banks).
He is now acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation: The Guardian has called him "the standard by which the rest of SF is judged." William Gibson, the New York Times-bestselling author of Spook Country describes Banks as a "phenomenon." Banks' mainstream fiction includes The Wasp Factory (1984), Walking on Glass (1985), The Bridge (1986), Espedair Street (1987), Canal Dreams (1989), The Crow Road (1992), Complicity (1993), Whit, Or Isis Amongst the Unsaved (1995), A Song of Stone (1997), The Business (1999), Dead Air (2002) and The Steep Approach to Garbadale (2007). More information available at iain-banks.net.