On Excession

Posted by Jack on 2018-06-03 at 19:00
Tagged: books , scifi
TitleExcession (Culture, #5)
AuthorIain M. Banks

I'm a fan of Banks' Culture universe but this book was hard to finish for me.

Culture books, in general, work best when the insane level of technology is a backdrop for a more selective, human story. Excession attempts to follow this formula, but relies too heavily on the detached technological angle and bungles the human one. The main plot line is driven by machines making decisions and communicating with each other, while the human characters are just caught up in their plans. This doesn't sound too different from previous Culture books, but in Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games (or even Use of Weapons which was meh for other reasons) Banks did a better job of creating interesting characters and a plot within the vast and complex universe without the human element feeling vestigial.

This book is only saved by Banks' usual gift for scale, description, and dry humor that occasionally reminds you why the Culture universe is so compelling. It's unfortunate that these are exactly the attributes that are lost when reading pages and pages of what amount to ship logs.