- Paperback: 640 pages
- Publisher: Orbit (26 May 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1841498955
- ISBN-13: 978-1841498959
- Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 4.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (264 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Surface Detail (Culture Novels) Paperback – 26 May 2011
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One of the most entertaining Culture novels for a long time (SFX)
Famed for his profoundly dark and intelligent humour, Iain M Banks has succeeded in weaving another intricate tale that offers fascinating insight into the human condition (SciFi Now)
SURFACE DETAIL is Iain M. Banks' new Culture novel, a breathtaking achievement from a writer whose body of work is without parallel in the modern history of science fiction.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
There is, however, a lot of blood, violence and a central, screaming vision of virtual reality turned to horrific purpose that should make us all stop and think. It certainly gave me the shivers.
The book is, for me, a great return to first class science fiction writing by Banks, although I was starting to worry a little at the beginning.Read more ›
As in his non-sci fi works, Banks juggles stories and characters with dazzling effect. He takes a number of characters whose stories may or may not ultimately come together and switches between their stories. And just when you think one line of story is not going anywhere in particular, he twists it round and it all makes perfect sense. The confusion is compounded by the fact that he is covering both the `Real' and `virtual' worlds, and particularly in the virtual worlds, characters may take on different roles and identities. Sound confusing? Well, it is at first but it's also highly entertaining, not to mention clever.
To the uninitiated, the Culture is a fictional interstellar enlightened, socialist, and utopian society operating amongst other, less benevolent and lesser civilized civilizations. This is at least the eighth book to feature the Culture, which first started with Consider Phlebas (The Culture) featuring the Culture's religious war against the Idiran Empire. We are told that the events of Surface Detail occur a millennium and a half after this war.Read more ›
As a book, it deserves five stars. The hardcover version would have got this from me.
However, I read the Kindle version, and the Kindle version has been lazily put together, I'm guessing from an earlier manuscript version. It has missing or half completed paragraphs. Very frustrating.
It flows quite often from one sub-chapter to the next without a line break to let you know - you're reading the dialogue from one perspective, get confused after a few lines and a paragraph later realise that you've got to go back as it's actually another character's dialogue.
There are spelling / word usage mistakes - not hundreds, but definitely 30+, which sometimes you can skim past but a few had me furrowing my brow trying to think what Banks actually meant/wrote.
In short, I still enjoyed it, but am putting in a complaint to Amazon about their shoddy work.
However his most enduring work has always been set in the Culture, a fiercely egalitarian galaxy-spanning civilsation of people and intelligent starships whose approach to the universe is best described as imperialistically liberal. It cannot help itself from seeking to spread its cosmos-view to other cultures and civilisations. Its tools in doing this are the outwardly benevolent diplomatic arm, Contact, and the darker and shadowier Special Circumstances.
The good news for lovers of M Banks' culture novels is that this is the best for quite some time, maybe not up there with the very best (Player of Games which I would rank among the greatest works of Sci -Fi ever) but certainly ahead of most (and ahead of nearly every other current Sci Fi writer.
The major new addition to the universe in this novel is a digital afterlife. Having developed beyond (in most cases) religious belief, space faring societies have created their own afterlives into which the personalities of the dead are uploaded. Over millenia different societies have linked their afterlives into one whole. But there is discord in heaven, or rather there are some societies which still feel that the threat of punishment is necessary to control their civilisations in life, and so have created hells.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best of the culture novels. Intriguing, open-ended, visceral and extremely philosophical.Published 1 month ago by Mr. M. Henry
I love Iain Banks and have most if not all his sci-fi stuff and other books too. This was by no means my favourite but I am glad to have bought it and read it.Published 2 months ago by Louise Forty
A great sci fi novel from Britain's, indeed on of the worlds greatest writers of imaginative fiction, highly recommended for any reader of all ages, A human story I a cold... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Decent enough read, kept me interested to the end but found the ending a bit weak. Did not find it as good as his other books which would usually get 5 stars from me.Published 3 months ago
Iain M Banks crafts fantastic worlds where he doesn't simply look to the future but takes possibilities to their most grand, if not a times most extreme. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Sussman
Contains all of the elements you want in a Culture novel: Minds, micro-second battles seen at AI-speed, complex inter-woven storylines and drama on both the human and galactic... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Badman