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[The Culture] Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism

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Posts

  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    Yeah, may be time for a Banks re-read soon.

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    I still need to finish Inversions, which is shaping up to be one of my favorite Culture novels despite the fact it is decisively never mentioned by name in the entire book.

  • The Zombie PenguinThe Zombie Penguin Registered User regular
    I still need to read Inversions at some point.

    I'm massively fond of Surface Detail, even if the name still makes me laugh
    The entire plot is... surface detail to the real shennagins going on underneath

    Ideas hate it when you anthropomorphize them
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  • MonwynMonwyn Registered User regular
    My favourites are the Do You Still Love Me? and the Of Course I Still Love You

    I'm partial towards I Blame My Mother and I Blame Your Mother as my favorite pairing, but yours is a close second.
    mrondeau wrote: »
    I got the strong impression from the Culture books I've read that the protagonists are usually quite human in appearance and behaviour, basically indistinguishable.

    So I am a little disappointed, but it's a standard Star Trek kind of trope, so I'll live. It's just a little sillier than I'd thought.

    Yea, I get how you get there but I think your anthropic principle-ing your self. I just checked and the The Gzilt from Hydrogen Sonata are definitely not mammalian. It would be super easy to overlook this as it's mentioned like once. Which is a definite choice by Banks. The message I take from that is that people are people, regardless of the physical form they're in.

    I think "people are people" is very anthropocentric! Lizard people from another world acting in essentially the same way as ape people from our world is a grand thesis and, ultimately, still the kind of Star Trek approach to alien civilizations (which is fine, but I was picturing a far future of far-flung human offshoots explaining a lot of these groups and their inter-legibility)

    It's more that they only regularly interact and "help" societies they can understand. The vast majority of societies that they can't understand are only of interest to scientists trying to vaguely figure out how those societies work.
    Matter has a few of those interactions, as well as Surface Detail.

    Also, Idorians are, ironically, very high on the "understandable" scale, without being humanoid. That's probably why a few stars ended up nova'ed.

    Well, Contact and Special Circumstances also surreptitiously engage in absurd levels of social engineering to bend a society towards their own values

    Cultural Marxism, if you will

    uH3IcEi.png
  • SealSeal Registered User regular
    Finished Use of Weapons, it was good. Structurally it was pretty different and it was interesting piecing things together, but it felt a little too vague at times and I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Player of Games.

    One thing I want to know:
    did Xenophobes avatar participate in the orgy?

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    Seal wrote: »
    Finished Use of Weapons, it was good. Structurally it was pretty different and it was interesting piecing things together, but it felt a little too vague at times and I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Player of Games.

    One thing I want to know:
    did Xenophobes avatar participate in the orgy?
    unlikely. Minds have a dim view on getting intimate with lesser minds.

  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    edited July 3
    Now read Excession!

    Winky on
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  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Seal wrote: »
    Finished Use of Weapons, it was good. Structurally it was pretty different and it was interesting piecing things together, but it felt a little too vague at times and I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Player of Games.

    One thing I want to know:
    did Xenophobes avatar participate in the orgy?
    unlikely. Minds have a dim view on getting intimate with lesser minds.

    This gets addressed directly a couple times in Surface Detail (and Matter?), iirc.

    Styrofoam Sammich
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    Yeah if I remember right its basically Minds genuinely like people and wouldn't want to generally live without them but they're so far beyond them that any kind of relationship parity is impossible.

  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Yeah if I remember right its basically Minds genuinely like people and wouldn't want to generally live without them but they're so far beyond them that any kind of relationship parity is impossible.

    Right, minds have a distinctly caretaker-type relationship with their human wards. Humans are more like voluntary pets to them, or like children who are in their care due to the massive intellectual/power disparity. The relationship is genuinely caring but totally asymmetrical.

    I don’t recall whether it’s ever touched upon whether Minds have anything akin to “marriage” or close intimate relationships with other Minds. A lot of them have close friends, and iirc some will take on other Minds inside themselves but I think that’s more for transport or as a courtesy generally. I half-recall a story about a ship who had a sister ship made from their same mind-state so they were like a twin, and the twin getting destroyed being a devastating event for the ship.

  • Kipling217Kipling217 Registered User regular
    Winky wrote: »
    Yeah if I remember right its basically Minds genuinely like people and wouldn't want to generally live without them but they're so far beyond them that any kind of relationship parity is impossible.

    Right, minds have a distinctly caretaker-type relationship with their human wards. Humans are more like voluntary pets to them, or like children who are in their care due to the massive intellectual/power disparity. The relationship is genuinely caring but totally asymmetrical.

    I don’t recall whether it’s ever touched upon whether Minds have anything akin to “marriage” or close intimate relationships with other Minds. A lot of them have close friends, and iirc some will take on other Minds inside themselves but I think that’s more for transport or as a courtesy generally. I half-recall a story about a ship who had a sister ship made from their same mind-state so they were like a twin, and the twin getting destroyed being a devastating event for the ship.

    Its the plot of Look to Windward.

    The book is set almost entirely on a Culture Orbital and gives a pretty good view of what its like to live there. There is lava river rafting. Where one of the rafters is convinced that he is on a virtual trip and severely pisses off the other people on his raft because he isn't helping steer the raft. Which hindsight is understandable as not everyone on the raft has a (contract/clause?) with the orbital mind to save them if they die as a result of mishap. One rafter even has a non-Resurrection clause, so when her raft tips over... that's it.

    It also talks about how there are fads in the Culture for bodies that look non-human, like living sentient bushes, but the fads have turned back into humanoid forms after the Idrian war.

    Communicating from the last of the Babylon Stations.
    tynicWinkyLoisLane
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    The Hydrogen Sonata has a Mind carrying around another Mind which is one of the few Sublimed to ever return to 4D existence (and mysteriously heads off back to it after the local crisis is resolved while also appearing not to actually do anything, as sublimed entities are wont to do in the Culture-verse).

    SolartynicWinkyQuid
  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Kipling217 wrote: »
    Winky wrote: »
    Yeah if I remember right its basically Minds genuinely like people and wouldn't want to generally live without them but they're so far beyond them that any kind of relationship parity is impossible.

    Right, minds have a distinctly caretaker-type relationship with their human wards. Humans are more like voluntary pets to them, or like children who are in their care due to the massive intellectual/power disparity. The relationship is genuinely caring but totally asymmetrical.

    I don’t recall whether it’s ever touched upon whether Minds have anything akin to “marriage” or close intimate relationships with other Minds. A lot of them have close friends, and iirc some will take on other Minds inside themselves but I think that’s more for transport or as a courtesy generally. I half-recall a story about a ship who had a sister ship made from their same mind-state so they were like a twin, and the twin getting destroyed being a devastating event for the ship.

    Its the plot of Look to Windward.

    The book is set almost entirely on a Culture Orbital and gives a pretty good view of what its like to live there. There is lava river rafting. Where one of the rafters is convinced that he is on a virtual trip and severely pisses off the other people on his raft because he isn't helping steer the raft. Which hindsight is understandable as not everyone on the raft has a (contract/clause?) with the orbital mind to save them if they die as a result of mishap. One rafter even has a non-Resurrection clause, so when her raft tips over... that's it.

    It also talks about how there are fads in the Culture for bodies that look non-human, like living sentient bushes, but the fads have turned back into humanoid forms after the Idrian war.

    Yeah, and I adore the end of Look to Windward, it fleshes out the central character of what a Mind is really like so well.

    CaedwyrAnzekay
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    This thread has made me realise it's been about two decades since I read the early Culture books and boy am I overdue for a re-read.

    SolarSchmimpy Pim- no god what am I sayingQuidCaedwyrApogeeBrody
  • I started with Player of Games and move forward from that, I only read Consider Phlebas recently and found it...not rough but he finds his tone later on, the protagonist sticks in my craw in a way that never happened with the later books

  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Speaking of Look to Windward, one of my favorite bits of that book is where they're explaining how the conflict over the construction of the cable car system played out, because it's one of the few times we really get to see how conflict resolution within the Culture itself pans out. Which is to say, mostly conflicts are just escalated to increasingly larger votes.

    tynicelectricitylikesme
  • mrondeaumrondeau Montréal, CanadaRegistered User regular
    Well, occasionally they have to resort to extreme measures and reinvente money.

    tynicQuid
  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    I started with Player of Games and move forward from that, I only read Consider Phlebas recently and found it...not rough but he finds his tone later on, the protagonist sticks in my craw in a way that never happened with the later books

    I don't generally recommend Consider Phlebas or Use of Weapons to people as one of their first Culture novels because, in both cases, the point is more or less that the protagonist himself is full of shit. Having unlikeable protagonists is something I think he does more effectively in later novels, the prince from Matter is a great utterly unlikeable hero.

    tynicSolarDevoutlyApatheticQuidelectricitylikesmeoverride367
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 6
    yeah, the prince made Matter a bit of a slog for me. I think I liked the shithead protagonist schtick more in Consider Phlebas because it's pretty short, frankly, so I don't have to spend as much time in their head.

    tynic on
  • WhiteZinfandelWhiteZinfandel Registered User regular
    I thought Bora Horza Gobochul was rad as hell even as I came to realize that he was definitely not the person to root for. The sequence of him assuming the pirate captain's identity was pretty badass.

    I have a complete set of the Venture Bros. Season 7 t-shirt club medium-size t-shirts for sale. PM me if you're interested.
  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    I thought Bora Horza Gobochul was rad as hell even as I came to realize that he was definitely not the person to root for. The sequence of him assuming the pirate captain's identity was pretty badass.

    Horza is at least clever and sympathetic enough to give you reasons to want to root for him, particularly after he falls in love with Yalson, but he’s also wildly incompetent, a bit of a sociopath, and gets everyone he cares about killed because of his own fundamental crisis of identity.

    tynicQuidStyrofoam SammichSolarhonovereAnzekayBrodyoverride367The Deliverator
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    Matter was too damn long, it brought down my enjoyment of it a lot.

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Echo wrote: »
    Matter was too damn long, it brought down my enjoyment of it a lot.

    The ending is great, though. I also really loved the whole concept of the shell world.

    DarkPrimuselectricitylikesme
  • shergakshergak Registered User regular
    Winky wrote: »
    Echo wrote: »
    Matter was too damn long, it brought down my enjoyment of it a lot.

    The ending is great, though. I also really loved the whole concept of the shell world.
    I loved the concept of the mentoring and showing that the Culture isn't the only civilization at that level that interferes with other galactic civilizations.

    ...
  • RadiationRadiation Registered User regular
    Is there a good reading order? I think I've read a few random ones.

    PSN: jfrofl
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 7
    Radiation wrote: »
    Is there a good reading order? I think I've read a few random ones.

    I don't think so, tbh. There's only a few overlaps between any of the books and the chronology is all over the place. Random is pretty much how I read the first half dozen, based on what was in the school library. See what grabs you at any particular moment, is my vague advice.

    edit: his non-Culture SF books are also worthwhile, though I didn't think Transition was very good. The non-SF stuff is a bit more hit and miss, but when he hits it's great.

    tynic on
    WinkyQuid
  • CaedwyrCaedwyr Registered User regular
    It isn't a Culture book, but I also really enjoyed The Algebraeist.

    tynicelectricitylikesmemrondeauAnzekay
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    oh, that one's great.

    electricitylikesme
  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    The Algebraeist has an absolutely enormous flashback/exposition dump tangent that takes place in the middle of a dramatic action scene and yet somehow it works.

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  • DrascinDrascin Registered User regular
    edited July 7
    The only Culture books I've ever read, a while ago, have been Consider Phlebas, which was kind of okay at best, and Player of Games, which is significantly neater but suffers a bit from
    The fact that honestly Gurgeh is not exactly a gripping protagonist, and that at the end it turns out SC never actually needed Gurgeh as such. The feeling I definitely came out of it with was that the Minds' thought process was basically "eh, we're knocking over this tinpot dictatorship and probably triggering a civil war anyway, might as well let Gurgeh have a little fun while we do it so he gets out of his funk".

    Like, maybe that's part of the metaphor. The book is titled "Player of Games" but Gurgeh is not actually the only one playing this as a game - the entire thing is a game. But it has a bit of that "it was all a dream" feel in that it feels very little of what happened in the book actually mattered to the predetermined outcome.

    Drascin on
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  • SealSeal Registered User regular
    edited July 7
    The way I read it,
    it was essential to the plan that peoples faith in the game of Azad faltered so that all the social discontent would boil over. The Culture wanted a way to attack Azadian society in a way that didn't make itself a common enemy for the Empire to rally against and the game was a perfect target. Maybe others would have sufficed but Gurgeh was probably selected because he was their best generalist player and excelled at learning new games, the only problem was how to manipulate him into leaving his cozy life in a society where everyone is free to do that they want. Gurgeh not being particularly gripping is kind of the point I think, your average Azadian apex in a position of power sees this inconsequential easy going man, one of the lesser sexes even. Who can't even get kneeling right, so they see all the weaknesses they've chosen to assign to the Culture. And then he just starts crushing their best players, it's a massive blow to their world view.

    Seal on
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  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Seal wrote: »
    The way I read it,
    it was essential to the plan that peoples faith in the game of Azad faltered so that all the social discontent would boil over. The Culture wanted a way to attack Azadian society in a way that didn't make itself a common enemy for the Empire to rally against and the game was a perfect target. Maybe others would have sufficed but Gurgeh was probably selected because he was their best generalist player and excelled at learning new games, the only problem was how to manipulate him into leaving his cozy life in a society where everyone is free to do that they want. Gurgeh not being particularly gripping is kind of the point I think, your average Azadian apex in a position of power sees this inconsequential easy going man, one of the lesser sexes even. Who can't even get kneeling right, so they see all the weaknesses they've chosen to assign to the Culture. And then he just starts crushing their best players, it's a massive blow to their world view.

    I thought Gurgeh worked pretty well because he's exactly the kind of person the book is trying to speak to; your nerdy, arrogant, (probably male) competitive game playing type who is discontent with the idea of liberal utopia.
    The point of Gurgeh playing Azad and winning by playing "as the Culture" was to more or less humiliate them out of fascism: their entire society was so strictly hierarchical and regimented that their position in it was determined by how well they performed within an explicitly codified set of rules that they revered and legitimately believed proved one's ability to successfully lead an entire empire. Gurgeh, just a random citizen of this (by appearances) laughable alien hippie society, showed them that even when playing by the empire's own rules the Culture's philosophy always wins.

    tynicelectricitylikesmeoverride367
  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Also, you start to catch on after a few books that the twist in almost all the Culture novels is
    the Culture was never at any point at serious risk of failure, almost invariably everything was going pretty much exactly as planned regardless of whether the protagonists were aware of that or not.

    tynicStyrofoam SammichQuidoverride367
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Winky wrote: »
    Also, you start to catch on after a few books that the twist in almost all the Culture novels is
    the Culture was never at any point at serious risk of failure, almost invariably everything was going pretty much exactly as planned regardless of whether the protagonists were aware of that or not.

    I wanted to argue with this but even then...

    The last two Culture books I've read were Excession and Surface Detail.
    In Excession part of the Culture definitely loses but it doesn't matter because another portion had all the pieces lined up to make it irrelevant for the big issue and the failed plan still achieves the objective but at higher costs. In Surface Detail they happen to stumble across the plan of another civ trying to Culture scheme and just wreck the hell out of it while also getting significant Culture objectives done. That had to feel like a mugger when Superman shows up.

  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Winky wrote: »
    Also, you start to catch on after a few books that the twist in almost all the Culture novels is
    the Culture was never at any point at serious risk of failure, almost invariably everything was going pretty much exactly as planned regardless of whether the protagonists were aware of that or not.

    I wanted to argue with this but even then...

    The last two Culture books I've read were Excession and Surface Detail.
    In Excession part of the Culture definitely loses but it doesn't matter because another portion had all the pieces lined up to make it irrelevant for the big issue and the failed plan still achieves the objective but at higher costs. In Surface Detail they happen to stumble across the plan of another civ trying to Culture scheme and just wreck the hell out of it while also getting significant Culture objectives done. That had to feel like a mugger when Superman shows up.

    Regarding Surface Detail:
    My read on it was that Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints had actually been ordered by SC to go there the entire time and it just pretended that it was doing it at Lededje's request as a cover story. I may be misremembering some details, though.

    EchoCaedwyrmrondeautynicoverride367
  • ApogeeApogee Lancks In Every Game Ever Registered User regular
    edited July 8
    I've finished Consider Phelbas, Player of Games, Excession, and most recently Inversions.

    Consider Phelbas was great and I'd say an excellent introduction to the Culture universe if you could remove the weird 'cannibal cult on an island' chapter. I don't really understand what the point of that was, except for the shuttle AI bit. Aside from that, the last half of the book is gripping - I was legitimately surprised
    when they all got TPK'd.

    Player of Games might be my favourite currently, and all this discussion makes me want to go back and re-read it. I did not pick up on all of the poking and prodding of the main character that clearly... it makes a lot of sense in retrospect.

    Excession had that great Mind-to-Mind talking and some heady sci-fi concepts, but it felt like it dragged out too long and had an anti-climactic finish.

    Inversions was a lot of fun to read and, as many advertised, the most non-Culture book in the series. Interesting and hard to put down, even if I'm not quite sure who was who at the end.
    The doctor was definitely from the Culture, and so was the bodyguard... it seemed like maybe there were some others as well? Still not sure why the bodyguard had kept nothing from his culture days, whereas the Doctor had her fancy knife-missile.

    Apogee on
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  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    edited July 8
    Apogee wrote: »
    Inversions was a lot of fun to read and, as many advertised, the most non-Culture book in the series. Interesting and hard to put down, even if I'm not quite sure who was who at the end.
    The doctor was definitely from the Culture, and so was the bodyguard... it seemed like maybe there were some others as well? Still not sure why the bodyguard had kept nothing from his culture days, whereas the Doctor had her fancy knife-missile.
    They're the two Culture people, yeah. It's a story about proactive vs reactive involvement to improve a primitive society.

    Echo on
    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
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  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Apogee wrote: »
    I've finished Consider Phelbas, Player of Games, Excession, and most recently Inversions.

    Consider Phelbas was great and I'd say an excellent introduction to the Culture universe if you could remove the weird 'cannibal cult on an island' chapter. I don't really understand what the point of that was, except for the shuttle AI bit. Aside from that, the last half of the book is gripping - I was legitimately surprised
    when they all got TPK'd.

    The cannibal cult section
    Was supposed to address religion and the horrible things people did to each other on account of it, running counter to Horza's opinion that the Idirans having a religion was at least better than the Culture who had none at all

    Styrofoam SammichSealoverride367
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited July 8
    Winky wrote: »
    Apogee wrote: »
    I've finished Consider Phelbas, Player of Games, Excession, and most recently Inversions.

    Consider Phelbas was great and I'd say an excellent introduction to the Culture universe if you could remove the weird 'cannibal cult on an island' chapter. I don't really understand what the point of that was, except for the shuttle AI bit. Aside from that, the last half of the book is gripping - I was legitimately surprised
    when they all got TPK'd.

    The cannibal cult section
    Was supposed to address religion and the horrible things people did to each other on account of it, running counter to Horza's opinion that the Idirans having a religion was at least better than the Culture who had none at all

    It's a bit ham-fisted for that. I thought it was
    meant to show that the Culture doesn't just care about people it has to or necessarily wants to. They were going to destroy the place so were providing an escape vessel even for the meanest, most vile people imaginable who, left to their own devices, would very soon be extinct anyway.

    CptHamilton on
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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Winky wrote: »
    Apogee wrote: »
    I've finished Consider Phelbas, Player of Games, Excession, and most recently Inversions.

    Consider Phelbas was great and I'd say an excellent introduction to the Culture universe if you could remove the weird 'cannibal cult on an island' chapter. I don't really understand what the point of that was, except for the shuttle AI bit. Aside from that, the last half of the book is gripping - I was legitimately surprised
    when they all got TPK'd.

    The cannibal cult section
    Was supposed to address religion and the horrible things people did to each other on account of it, running counter to Horza's opinion that the Idirans having a religion was at least better than the Culture who had none at all

    It's a bit ham-fisted for that. I thought it was
    meant to show that the Culture doesn't just care about people it has to or necessarily wants to. They were going to destroy the place so were providing an escape vessel even for the meanest, most vile people imaginable who, left to their own devices, would very soon be extinct anyway.
    I definitely think there is a bit in there about people trapping themselves in their own belief structures when they have folks who would help get them to a better place.

    Winky
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