Excession is the fourth Culture novel by Iain M. As different groups both within and outwith the Culture vie for control of the OCP, Banks explores the moral dilemmas presented to a galactic superpower facing its potential destruction. The Excession of the title is a perfect black-body sphere that appears mysteriously on the edge of Culture space, appearing to be older than the Universe itself. The artifact resists the attempts of the Culture and technologically equivalent societies notably the Zetetic Elench to probe it. The Affront , a rapidly expanding race named for its systematic sadism towards subject species and its own females and junior males, also try to exploit the Excession by infiltrating a store of mothballed Culture warships and using them to claim control of the mysterious object.

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Excession by Iain M. Joining me for this review of the fourth book in Iain M. So let me ask first: what exactly is a black body? Joseph Michael Owens: A black body is an idealized physical body that absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation , regardless of frequency or angle of incidence. A black body in thermal equilibrium that is, at a constant temperature emits electromagnetic radiation called black-body radiation.

In the first three books, the protagonists were always human and told from their perspective. What are some of the things you guys enjoyed about Excession? Kyle Muntz : For me, Excession broadened the scope of the Culture universe more than any of the books so far, as well as going in really different directions formally and structurally.

JMO: I agree with both of you. To emphasize even more what Kyle said, there really is an endless amount of cool stuff, but the thing s I liked most were the Interesting Times Gang ITG , the group of Minds who are sort of. PTL: Excession introduces us to the Affront. Affronter society rested on a huge base of ruthlessly exploited juvenile geldings and a subclass of oppressed females. Their cruelty was the point. They were not thoughtless. Next to some of the bestial races introduced in the Culture like the Azadians and Idirans, where does the Affront stand for you guys?

Instead the Affront, despite being advanced enough the Culture actually have to negotiate them, have used their technology to become one of the most oppressive and cruel species in all of fiction. There have been some pretty aggressive races in the series, but I think only the Affront have been completely cruel.

Considering the Affront are aiming to conquer so many other species, I think it explains at least to a certain extent why for the first time in the series you have factions in the Culture actually pushing for a preemptive war… which takes the novel into some interesting and difficult territory. JMO: Up until this point in the series, the Affront were one of the more compelling races Banks had introduced, though I still think I prefer the Idirans as opponents of the Culture.

I think Consider Phlebas made me nostalgic for those guys! PTL: One of the absolute joys of reading Excession was reading all the interchanges between the Minds and finding out how the Culture thinks with their computerized syntax and witty brevity. In terms of pacing, Excession was by the far the fastest page-turner for me in the series.

I love the Minds. KM: For sure. I loved the Minds. Earlier in the series, they seem cold, impassive, distant, but for the first time Excession gives us a top-down perspective of how the Culture is run. Excession and, to a certain extent, The Hydrogen Sonata are the only books to give this perspective of Culture minds, though with Look to Windward we get the more toned down example of how one of them runs day-to-day life on an Orbital.

He was a badass battle cruiser Torturer-class Rapid Offensive Unit , but he also felt surprisingly, well, human. Did you guys have a favorite? Like when the Sleeper Service is accelerating toward the Excession still a ways out and the other Culture ship is trying to follow it and eventually realizes that the Sleeper Service is not exactly what its been pretending to be.

PTL: Byr undergoes a gender change Mutualing and becomes a woman, even becoming pregnant. Would you guys try it out if it was as easy to switch back and forth as in the Culture? KM: I would for sure. And, of course, if we lived in a society like the Culture so free of gender-related prejudice.

PTL: As much as I loved the book, two points kept me from considering it one of the best in the series. The first is the uncovering of the Conspiracy. Kyle, you pointed this out in our Use of Weapons review — one of the things that makes Culture so incredible is their penchant for standing against all-out war. The Culture is way more insidious and effective.

The Azadians in Player of Games were an atrocious lot, but the Culture takes the time to beat them at their own game, showing the superiority of their way. But their real purpose is to have Zakalwe meet the Matriarch who realizes there are others outside their society who are even stronger, thus leading to a revolution in the future when the Chosen is determined to be infertile and the Matriarch takes over.

I kept on wanting there to be more of a deeper reason than simply hawkishness, remnants of the debating that took places after the Idiran War.

But if so, why not just openly go to war? They are practical Minds after all. Why all this deviancy? I would love to hear what you guys thought about the conspiracy. Look to Windward deals more specifically with the repercussions of the Idiran War on society, but with Excession we see the effect it had on the ones who actually fought it, and how those things perpetuate and are such a problem.

JMO: My thoughts are that the Minds will almost always go with the more subversive route if possible, though being so completely logic-based, this approach in Excession might have been what they deemed the most efficient route, especially when dealing with a systematically sadistic civ. Subversion as moral imperative. PTL: My second reason is that the humans characters felt bland for me compared to those in the other books.

The relationship of the two main characters, Byr and Dajeil, seemed superficial in comparison. Their attraction is based on the physical at least Byr who wants to sleep with every girl he can , and Dajeil is later impressed by his persistence. I found the newly recruited Special Circumstances Agent, Ulver Seich, annoying and ultimately irrelevant to the plot. Tell me I am crazy, please. KM: Nah, I thought the same thing. JMO: I agree with what you both said, but for perhaps different reasons.

This book was like an infinitely better written Transformers movie for me. I think this is going somewhere but will leave off on that note to return to later. KM: The continuing awesomeness of the Sleeper Service! At the same time, it puts an even more negative slant on the decision of the Minds to use the Excession to initiate a war against the Affront. Thematically though I think it does a lot to put things in perspective.

For pretty much the first time, we see a situation where another entity sees them the way they see lower level civilizations—as not even being ready to talk to. It really puts things in perspective, and speaks to the idea of scale that, at least for me, becomes consistently more important the further into the series you go.

KM: My ratings are kind of weird and vague, but for me it would be:. I just really love this series! Read about his attempts at transmuting entropy at tieryas. All Introspection. A Single Step June 3, The Birds: The Seagull June 1, Variations: Landslide June 12, The Birds: Raptors May 8, Darling May 6, All Collaborative Review Video Review. Review: Beshrew by Danielle Pafunda June 4, Collaborative Review. Lords of Waterdeep in Conversation February 25, Video Review.

Basal Ganglia by Matthew Revert March 31, Small Press. Cooper Dillon Books June 2, Backbone Press May 19, Black Ocean May 4, Baseline Press March 24, Wolf Ridge Press March 12, All Board Games Video Games. Board Games. Session Report: Victoriana and Optimism December 14, Best of Video Games December 13, Ludic Writing: Lady of the West July 27, Session Report: Paperback and Anomia July 27, Video Games. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the Spirit of Generosity December 31, Best of Video Games December 17, Banks was last modified: February 5th, by Peter Tieryas.

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Excession (Novel)

Excession by Iain M. Joining me for this review of the fourth book in Iain M. So let me ask first: what exactly is a black body? Joseph Michael Owens: A black body is an idealized physical body that absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation , regardless of frequency or angle of incidence. A black body in thermal equilibrium that is, at a constant temperature emits electromagnetic radiation called black-body radiation.


Excession by Iain M. Banks

Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year old dying sun from a different univese. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared. Now it is back. Silent, motionless, and resisting all efforts to make contact, the artifact waits.


Excession is a science fiction novel by Scottish writer Iain M. It is the fifth in the Culture series , a series of ten science fiction novels which feature a utopian fictional interstellar society called the Culture. It concerns the response of the Culture and other interstellar societies to an unprecedented alien artifact, the Excession of the title. The book is largely about the response of the Culture's Minds benevolent AIs with enormous intellectual and physical capabilities and distinctive personalities to the Excession itself and the way in which another society, the Affront, whose systematic brutality horrifies the Culture, tries to use the Excession to increase its power.

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