- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (15 May 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 185723457X
- ISBN-13: 978-1857234572
- Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 3.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Excession Paperback – 15 May 1997
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It's not easy to disturb a mega-utopia as vast as the one Iain M. Banks has created in his popular Culture series, where life is devoted to fun and ultra-high-tech is de rigueur. But more than two millennia ago the appearance--and disappearance--of a star older than the universe caused quite a stir. Now the mystery is back, and the key to solving it lies in the mind of the person who witnessed the first disturbance 2,500 years ago. But she's dead, and getting her to cooperate may not be altogether easy. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gripping, touching and funny (TLS)
The story is vital and urgent and has a brilliantly subtle resolution ... wildly enjoyable (INTERZONE)
A dizzying adventure (DAILY MAIL)
Explosive but tender (SUNDAY TIMES)
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Top Customer Reviews
The Excession itself - a powerful artefact beyond the Culture's understanding - is a bit of a McGuffin, because the main story is about how the Culture behaves when it wants something really badly.
Overall, Excession is a highly entertaining read, probably second or third place in his output - which means better than most other science fiction writers could ever manage.
The strange thing is that the plot (though being original in its detail) is not such an extreme idea: anarchic, hedonistic, even perfect society hundreds of years in the future is presented with the ultimate threat, an entity which they cannot control, and which threatens to destroy them. However what Banks acheives is to maintain a high level of cutting edge sci-fi (the Minds, neural laces (I want one!)etc.), a gripping, convincing plot, and the ultimate page-turner, sympathy with the characters. The philosophical arguements amongst the minds, the idea that even in a idealised culture there can still be selfishness, conspiracy and betrayal make the whole of the book greater than the sum of its parts.
Complicated? You bet. Hard work? At times, yes; but this is not only one of the UK's finest authors at his very best, it is an eye-opener. Just imagine Britain, seen from a mile or so up. Then imagine a spaceship that measures the same distance from London to Coventry in length and from Oxford to Cambridge in width... Sceptical? Then read the book and blow your mind.
What I particularly liked about this book was that the moral/ethical dilemmas of war vs peace, action vs inaction, secresy vs publicity, the good of one vs the good of millions faced by the protagonists of the book were extremely interesting, very well incorporated in the plot without being thrown at our faces but also, thankfully, their "judgement" was left to us readers, as Banks kept his opinions to himself, although of course we are free to guess them. I also immensely enjoyed his non-human and yet so human protagonists, the Minds and Ships... If this is what the future holds in store for us, then I can only use Shakespeare's words "oh brave new world that has such creatures in it"!
I didn't give Excession 5 stars, which I reserve only for masters such as Herbert and, in another genre, Tolkien, but I do wish Amazon allowed a 4.5 rating. Overall, this is a great book, and, for me, a reason to re-read my old copies of other Culture books and, in general, re-start reading Banks. If you like books not only for the plot, the imagination, the characterisations and the amusement, but also for the sheer pleasure of reading, I suggest you do the same.
As it was my first (and hence i had no idea what 'The Culture' was or what it was about), the first few pages completely baffled me. However, sticking with it, i was blown away.
There is no doubt that the minds are the stars of the show, so to speak. I found it warming that entities of such immense power that can think millions of times quicker than humans can be petty, vindictive and deceitful (and above all, they just 'wanna have fun' (The land of IF)). The human/alien characters, taking something of a lesser role, were also excellent. Byr/Ulver/Gestra, whilst living in a perfect society, all have their own little quirks. The Affront are a creation of genuis (i loved the history of how they got their name). The Excession itself remains an enigma throughout, with only cursory details of its abilities. Banks plays his cards very close to his chest here.
To sum up. The plot is tight and intricate, and the dialogue is excellent (not to mention, very witty). Above all though (and for me, this is the marker of any great book), i approached the last few pages with a feeling of impending dread, because i didnt want the novel to end.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Too many sub-plots. Too many characters. Fascinating as always! Another interesting Culture instalment in this amazing, rich universe Banks created.Published 2 days ago by Mr. T. O. Brand
Something weird has happened in remote space. There is fear this might be an Outside Context problem: an event so outside anything known or imagined that even the vast intellect of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Susan Stepney
I just love all the plots and sub plots, the characters and the interactions of the great minds within the Culture, if only...Published 3 months ago by davidsensei
He always ends them well. It pleases me greatly that questions are mostly answered. Of course, there's lots left to the imagination.Published 3 months ago by Chewy
I read this book when it was first published and again every few years when enough time had passed and I had forgotten enough to read it anew. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Just another customer
I'm a huge fan of Banks in both his guises, but this book is awful. Imagine you've been dragged in by HR to do a forensic analysis of a rambling email trail between some... Read morePublished 5 months ago by LP
This is my fifth culture novel and I am sorry to give it a poor rating as I am very fond of the series. Read morePublished 6 months ago by hfffoman