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[The Culture] Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism

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Posts

  • WinkyWinky 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.

    That too. I felt so horrible for that shuttle :(.

    SolarSealoverride367chrono_traveller
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    They help to emphasize the weirdness of his universe too. Theyre completely out of place and time and yet only surprising to Horza in their particular disgustingness.

  • WinkyWinky 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.

    I like that interpretation a lot, it pretty much summarizes Horza’s entire journey

    Apogeeoverride367
  • SealSeal Registered User regular
    It was striking, for all of Horza's convictions and how far he was willing to go in service to those convictions, that he knew very little about the Culture.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Seal wrote: »
    It was striking, for all of Horza's convictions and how far he was willing to go in service to those convictions, that he knew very little about the Culture.

    Consider how much the average American knows about life in North Korea and vice-versa, only America and North Korea are hundreds (thousands?) of light-years across. The only way you'd ever run into Culture-generated...culture...as an Idiran citizen is by going out of your way to acquire it, rather than the Idiran-aligned stuff.

    It's been a while. Did Idiran citizens even generally know Marain?

    Horza knew the basics of how the Culture works and what life is like for its citizens; it was just all clearly learned from Idiran-slanted sources.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    There's a ship named after him to isn't there?

    Seal
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    Horza wasn't an Idiran or part of their empire fwiw

    WhiteZinfandel
  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Seal wrote: »
    It was striking, for all of Horza's convictions and how far he was willing to go in service to those convictions, that he knew very little about the Culture.
    He felt the Culture was existentially threatening to him because he was desperately attempting to cling to a sense of individual identity, meanwhile the Culture breaks down all the ways in which people derive identity except through personal choice. It makes it such that you are only what you choose.

    DevoutlyApathetic
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited July 9
    Seal wrote: »
    It was striking, for all of Horza's convictions and how far he was willing to go in service to those convictions, that he knew very little about the Culture.

    Consider how much the average American knows about life in North Korea and vice-versa, only America and North Korea are hundreds (thousands?) of light-years across. The only way you'd ever run into Culture-generated...culture...as an Idiran citizen is by going out of your way to acquire it, rather than the Idiran-aligned stuff.

    It's been a while. Did Idiran citizens even generally know Marain?

    Horza knew the basics of how the Culture works and what life is like for its citizens; it was just all clearly learned from Idiran-slanted sources.

    Idirans probably wouldn't be taught Marain, because the Idirans don't want their people to be brainwashed by a memetic weapon, created by Culture Minds to spread their special blend of liberalism.

    redx on
    This machine kills threads.
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Horza wasn't an Idiran or part of their empire fwiw

    His people were allied with/employed by the Empire, though, weren't they? And he was living and operating in Idiran space.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    Horza to me seems like one of these people who is overly attached to the aesthetic of philosophy. He basically is infatuated with hatred for the aesthetic of the Culture's, well, culture really, and the Idiran culture he comparatively finds muscular and attractive.

    CptHamilton
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Horza wasn't an Idiran or part of their empire fwiw

    His people were allied with/employed by the Empire, though, weren't they? And he was living and operating in Idiran space.

    In the galactic neighborhood. They weren't actually within their first sphere of influence but the Idiran expansion would have swallowed them up sooner rather than later. Horza was kicked off their home..."rock" for pushing towards an official alliance.

  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    tynic wrote: »
    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.

    The Crow Road was the first non-sci-fi book of his I ever read, and I was confused for a while because I kept waiting for something sci fi or fantastic to finally happen.

    Still a great book, and if can find the BBC miniseries, that was good too. Although that might be my fondness for Peter Capaldi talking.

  • Dizzy DDizzy D NetherlandsRegistered User regular
    Banks always felt that The Crow Road was undercooked. The Steep Approach to Garbadale is his attempt to do it again, though I don't think it's better than Crow Road (then again, I always liked it).

    Steam/Origin: davydizzy
    tynicoverride367
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Huh, I felt like Steep Approach to Garbidale was an undercooked combination of The Crow Road and The Business.

    My favourite non-SF banks are probably Whit and The Wasp Factory, just because I felt in both cases I was reading something that hadn't been tried before and I had no idea where the narrative would head.

  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    I need to sit down and read The Business, I had started it years ago but then never finished it because of something or other.

    Garbidale was just... it's one of those books where I am glad I read it but I don't really feel like I ever want to read again.

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    tynicoverride367
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    Horza wasn't an Idiran or part of their empire fwiw

    His people were allied with/employed by the Empire, though, weren't they? And he was living and operating in Idiran space.

    The Changers were only aligned with the Idirans in so much as they were in Idiran space. Horza got exiled in the first place for trying to force them all into the war.

  • SealSeal Registered User regular
    Finished Excession.
    It was good! Close to great but I found the Genar-Hofoen, Dajeil plotline really fell off a cliff after the dual-pregnancy into cheating into impromptu abortion/murder attempt was revealed. All sorts of neat things with the Excession and the Affront and the inter-Mind politicking are happening and then things grind to a halt and we have to read through a dull section on whether or not these two will talk to each other about nothing in particular. I guess there's the parallel of two individuals being able to exchange words but not being able to really reach each other that ties in with the Excession and efforts to communicate with it, but by that point I just wanted to read past quickly and get to the good stuff.

    redxThe Zombie PenguinApogee
  • The Zombie PenguinThe Zombie Penguin Registered User regular
    Seal wrote: »
    Finished Excession.
    It was good! Close to great but I found the Genar-Hofoen, Dajeil plotline really fell off a cliff after the dual-pregnancy into cheating into impromptu abortion/murder attempt was revealed. All sorts of neat things with the Excession and the Affront and the inter-Mind politicking are happening and then things grind to a halt and we have to read through a dull section on whether or not these two will talk to each other about nothing in particular. I guess there's the parallel of two individuals being able to exchange words but not being able to really reach each other that ties in with the Excession and efforts to communicate with it, but by that point I just wanted to read past quickly and get to the good stuff.

    Yeah, that plotline is a real sour point in an otherwise great book - Genar and Dajeil are interesting outside of that plotline (As is the... self-centred but very very bright girl who's name i cant remember. Loved her as a caracter).

    It's honestly often a weakness in the culture novels - several main plotlines that are interesting, and then a goes-nowhere plot that's well... yeah. Look to Windward has the same issue (in my mind) with the Air-sphere plotline - the airspehre as a fascinating as hell, the plot of the culture guy in them is... ehhh. Other than as a vehicle for expostion, i'm not sure what purporse it actually served

    Ideas hate it when you anthropomorphize them
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  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    Seal wrote: »
    Finished Excession.
    It was good! Close to great but I found the Genar-Hofoen, Dajeil plotline really fell off a cliff after the dual-pregnancy into cheating into impromptu abortion/murder attempt was revealed. All sorts of neat things with the Excession and the Affront and the inter-Mind politicking are happening and then things grind to a halt and we have to read through a dull section on whether or not these two will talk to each other about nothing in particular. I guess there's the parallel of two individuals being able to exchange words but not being able to really reach each other that ties in with the Excession and efforts to communicate with it, but by that point I just wanted to read past quickly and get to the good stuff.

    Yeah, that plotline is a real sour point in an otherwise great book - Genar and Dajeil are interesting outside of that plotline (As is the... self-centred but very very bright girl who's name i cant remember. Loved her as a caracter).

    It's honestly often a weakness in the culture novels - several main plotlines that are interesting, and then a goes-nowhere plot that's well... yeah. Look to Windward has the same issue (in my mind) with the Air-sphere plotline - the airspehre as a fascinating as hell, the plot of the culture guy in them is... ehhh. Other than as a vehicle for expostion, i'm not sure what purporse it actually served

    I actually loved that plotline!
    The point was that the Culture doesn’t get saved by a single guy who just happens to get the right information at the right time, the Culture was in control of the situation the entire time. The entire thing is an illustration of scale, and how the world around him is operating at scales he couldn’t possibly comprehend or directly influence. And yet, what he experiences is more miraculous than anything that goes on in the main plot, when he’s resurrected it’s so far in the future that the Culture probably doesn’t even exist anymore. A running through-lline of the books is that there is such a massive gap at the different scales at which things can matter, and how they can matter on massive scales or on tiny scales, and that these scales can intersect but there is never a sense in which something is important in an absolute sense, just important in its own context.

    CaedwyrtynicelectricitylikesmeQuidoverride367Dis'
  • The Zombie PenguinThe Zombie Penguin Registered User regular
    Winky wrote: »
    Seal wrote: »
    Finished Excession.
    It was good! Close to great but I found the Genar-Hofoen, Dajeil plotline really fell off a cliff after the dual-pregnancy into cheating into impromptu abortion/murder attempt was revealed. All sorts of neat things with the Excession and the Affront and the inter-Mind politicking are happening and then things grind to a halt and we have to read through a dull section on whether or not these two will talk to each other about nothing in particular. I guess there's the parallel of two individuals being able to exchange words but not being able to really reach each other that ties in with the Excession and efforts to communicate with it, but by that point I just wanted to read past quickly and get to the good stuff.

    Yeah, that plotline is a real sour point in an otherwise great book - Genar and Dajeil are interesting outside of that plotline (As is the... self-centred but very very bright girl who's name i cant remember. Loved her as a caracter).

    It's honestly often a weakness in the culture novels - several main plotlines that are interesting, and then a goes-nowhere plot that's well... yeah. Look to Windward has the same issue (in my mind) with the Air-sphere plotline - the airspehre as a fascinating as hell, the plot of the culture guy in them is... ehhh. Other than as a vehicle for expostion, i'm not sure what purporse it actually served

    I actually loved that plotline!
    The point was that the Culture doesn’t get saved by a single guy who just happens to get the right information at the right time, the Culture was in control of the situation the entire time. The entire thing is an illustration of scale, and how the world around him is operating at scales he couldn’t possibly comprehend or directly influence. And yet, what he experiences is more miraculous than anything that goes on in the main plot, when he’s resurrected it’s so far in the future that the Culture probably doesn’t even exist anymore. A running through-lline of the books is that there is such a massive gap at the different scales at which things can matter, and how they can matter on massive scales or on tiny scales, and that these scales can intersect but there is never a sense in which something is important in an absolute sense, just important in its own context.

    ...That's an angle i had never considered! Thank you (Although, admittedly i thought his resurrection was more of a horror thing myself)

    Ideas hate it when you anthropomorphize them
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  • SealSeal Registered User regular
    Reading through State Of The Art, I find the goings on of the humans on culture ships amusing because it's basically Robot Chickens take on Star Trek night crews but with more sex and drugs. With a bit of actual work sprinkled in.




    And back to Excession, I found the implication of the title "Alien Befriender" really amusing because the Affront didn't have any need for a weak concept like "diplomat" so they just went with that after they were spaceborne.

    override367wandering
  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    I just finished Inversions, I loved it. The premise and framing was extremely clever, and there is something that is very "pure" about it. I think the fact that all the scifi was merely implied keeps from distracting from the more fundamental ethical/sociological/ideological narrative going on. I almost felt like I was reading GRRM at some points.
    The one thing I wasn't able to figure out: was Perrund actually trained by/getting her assassination orders from the Doctor? Is the story she tells to the kid also actually about the Culture? The way she talks to DeWar at the end is a little strange if she already knew about the Culture, unless either she's trying to hide that she knows or she doesn't know that DeWar is also Culture?

    Apogeeoverride367
  • Dizzy DDizzy D NetherlandsRegistered User regular
    Winky wrote: »
    I just finished Inversions, I loved it. The premise and framing was extremely clever, and there is something that is very "pure" about it. I think the fact that all the scifi was merely implied keeps from distracting from the more fundamental ethical/sociological/ideological narrative going on. I almost felt like I was reading GRRM at some points.
    The one thing I wasn't able to figure out: was Perrund actually trained by/getting her assassination orders from the Doctor? Is the story she tells to the kid also actually about the Culture? The way she talks to DeWar at the end is a little strange if she already knew about the Culture, unless either she's trying to hide that she knows or she doesn't know that DeWar is also Culture?

    It's been a long time, but as far as I can remember/got the story:
    Perrund didn't get any training or orders from the Doctor. I don't think Perrund had any contact with the Culture or knowledge of it.

    Steam/Origin: davydizzy
    honovereSeal
  • SealSeal Registered User regular
    Finished Inversions
    it kind of read like a Bonsai tree trying to describe itself being bent, twisted and pruned but just not having the context to realize those things are even possible. Vosill must have a mind like steel to put herself through that, that or she's glanding the good stuff.

    Winky
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Monwyn wrote: »
    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

    I just started a re-read, and the pirate crew in Consider Phlebas is referred to as "all humans, or close to".

    "I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood."

    The Monster Baru Cormorant - Seth Dickinson
  • CaedwyrCaedwyr Registered User regular
    I seem to recall that "humans" in the Culture books would be "humanoid" in other sci-fi. So, Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians, Bajorans, and all the other forehead aliens in Star Trek would all count as "humans" in the Culture books.

    Styrofoam SammichDizzy DPolaritiemrondeauEchoWinkyhonovereSolarSealMonwynQuid
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    edited July 25
    General rule of thumb seems to be "can they breed with other "humans"" with minimal medical intervention beyond the already common place gene fixing and modification.

    Styrofoam Sammich on
    Caedwyroverride367Quid
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    General rule of thumb seems to be "can they breed with other "humans"" with minimal medical intervention beyond the already common place gene fixing and modification.

    Can they breed is a pretty common definition of species. They were humanoids, they gene fixed into being culture, which includes making them all sexually attractive to each other in addition to biological comparability.

    There's sorta stuff in Hydrogen Sonata about that latter bit.

    This machine kills threads.
  • [Expletive deleted][Expletive deleted] The mediocre doctor NorwayRegistered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    General rule of thumb seems to be "can they breed with other "humans"" with minimal medical intervention beyond the already common place gene fixing and modification.

    Can they breed is a pretty common definition of species. They were humanoids, they gene fixed into being culture, which includes making them all sexually attractive to each other in addition to biological comparability.

    There's sorta stuff in Hydrogen Sonata about that latter bit.

    Go interesting places. Meet interesting people. Fuck them.

    Sic transit gloria mundi.
    WinkyBlackDragon480QuidSanguinius666264
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    General rule of thumb seems to be "can they breed with other "humans"" with minimal medical intervention beyond the already common place gene fixing and modification.

    IIRC, the protsginist from Surface Detail gets a brief aside how what's a standard attractive body shape for her culture differs from an offplanet one.

    EchoCaedwyroverride367
  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    General rule of thumb seems to be "can they breed with other "humans"" with minimal medical intervention beyond the already common place gene fixing and modification.

    IIRC, the protsginist from Surface Detail gets a brief aside how what's a standard attractive body shape for her culture differs from an offplanet one.

    I enjoyed the whole little section where she gets to design her own body

    BlackDragon480override367Quid
  • BlackDragon480BlackDragon480 Bluster Kerfuffle Master of Windy ImportRegistered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    General rule of thumb seems to be "can they breed with other "humans"" with minimal medical intervention beyond the already common place gene fixing and modification.

    Can they breed is a pretty common definition of species. They were humanoids, they gene fixed into being culture, which includes making them all sexually attractive to each other in addition to biological comparability.

    There's sorta stuff in Hydrogen Sonata about that latter bit.

    Go interesting places. Meet interesting people. Fuck them.

    Living the post-scarcity dream.

    First they came for the Muslims and we said...NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKERS!
  • ApogeeApogee Lancks In Every Game Ever Registered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    General rule of thumb seems to be "can they breed with other "humans"" with minimal medical intervention beyond the already common place gene fixing and modification.

    Can they breed is a pretty common definition of species. They were humanoids, they gene fixed into being culture, which includes making them all sexually attractive to each other in addition to biological comparability.

    There's sorta stuff in Hydrogen Sonata about that latter bit.

    Go interesting places. Meet interesting people. Fuck them.

    Living the post-scarcity dream.

    Or you're just Zapp Brannigan.

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    BlackDragon480
  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    General rule of thumb seems to be "can they breed with other "humans"" with minimal medical intervention beyond the already common place gene fixing and modification.

    IIRC, the protsginist from Surface Detail gets a brief aside how what's a standard attractive body shape for her culture differs from an offplanet one.

    Yea her people found short, thicc women to be the ideal iirc, where as in another book a guys going nuts over a super skinny 4 eyed lady (who didn't naturally have 4 eyes, just mods)

    People in the culture seem accepting of basically anything though

  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    Obviously, people would be more accepting of wide range of appearances when such drastic body modifications are trivially easy to be implemented.

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  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    also, they are straight up genetically engineered to be accepting of a wide range of body types.

    This machine kills threads.
    override367
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    Given what Culture citizens can gland I wonder how they don't just Skinner box themselves into oblivion on the good stuff.

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Echo wrote: »
    Given what Culture citizens can gland I wonder how they don't just Skinner box themselves into oblivion on the good stuff.

    The ones who want to do?

    "I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood."

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    WinkyPolaritieoverride367
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    Echo wrote: »
    Given what Culture citizens can gland I wonder how they don't just Skinner box themselves into oblivion on the good stuff.

    Their drug drug glands come online slowly starting around puberty, and there are minds infinite attention spans watching their development and activities all throughout their lives.

    And, they probably aren't glanding the equivalent of meth or heroin, judging by the descriptions of the drugs.

    and, it's a Utopia. People who badly fuck themselves up with drugs tend to be people who have lives that are more difficult than that.

    This machine kills threads.
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