Nov 05 2008

Look to windward

Published by at 7:34 pm under Books

by Iain M. Banks. (2000)

This is the penultimate books in the culture series but is the last that I’ve read. Good thing it is the end of the series as I’ve tired of it. Banks is an excellent story teller and imaginative plot creator, but I’ve reached the limit of my interest. Like the prior stories, Look to “Windward” includes imaginative beings, environments, and worlds. More than in several other books in the series, this one contains some very imaginative alien species and habitats that one could get engrossed in if the time were available.

A subtext of all the stories was what would life be like in a world partially controlled by hyper intelligent and hyper capable machines. What would people do if there were no resource constraints and correspondingly no need for money or for work? How would people (with evolved and intentionally augmented physiology) interact with the intelligent, sentient, and almost Godlike “minds” that evolved from machines? That idea was what got me interested in the series. Banks version of an answer is sanguine in that people and machines cooperate and people are useful in dealing with non Culture beings in the Galaxy. There are many other beings ‘out there’ in the galaxy. However, the vast majority of Culture’s citizens spend their time becoming expert on something, socializing, or involved in a recreational activity (sometimes including work that could be done by machines) in artificially created “orbitals” that make planets unnecessary, Enough.

Incidentally, Banks once wrote an overview of the “Culture” as he conceived it. I didn’t read it until after finishing the books, but it does provide some explanations of his conception and biases. Might help make some bits of the stories make more sense.

One response so far

One Response to “Look to windward”

  1. retrotech » Surface Detailon 11 Jan 2011 at 6:36 am

    […] is a continuation of Banks’ “Culture” series of space operas (see earlier reviews e.g. Look to Windward ). The story line is similar, but the setting and characters have changed. A mix of super […]

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