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Excession  - Iain M. Banks So I found this on the shelf the other day and wondered why it had no creases on the spine...turns out I hadn't read it yet! But now I have, and I'm here to tell you that Excession is a most excellent Culture novel. I've always been fascinated by Banks's Minds, and this time we are introduced to LOTS of them, in conversation, in conspiracy, in exploration, in war.

Excession paints a picture of how the Culture's Minds deal with an Outside Context Problem, introduces the Affront - a species at the same time intriguing and revolting - and tells a love story that spans half a century.

The reason I didn't give it five stars is that I found Banks's human protagonists slightly annoying this time round; and that some of the characters spent way too much time ruminating on life, the universe, and everything else... When there's an Excession out there and a war brewing, the long quiet moments in the book weren't so much a welcome break as a slightly upsetting hold-up in proceedings.

Culture bingo:

awesome tech - check
cool aliens - check
best ship names ever - check (for the record, my favourites were the Serious Callers Only, the Not Invented Here, and the Shoot Them Later)
humour - check (human-drone interaction will never be not funny)
physics I don't get - check
unputdownable - BINGO.

If you like your science fiction hard, and especially if you like Culture novels, I think you might like this.