Look to Windward
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Look to Windward (Culture #7)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  9,762 ratings  ·  288 reviews
The Twin Novae battle had been one of the last of the Idiran war, and one of the most horrific: desperate to avert their inevitable defeat, the Idirans had induced not one but two suns to explode, snuffing out worlds and biospheres teeming with sentient life. They were attacks of incredible proportion -- gigadeathcrimes. But the war ended, and life went on.
Now, eight hundr...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 26th 2010 by Gallery Books (first published 2000)
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mark monday
heavy, heavy themes done with a light and benevolent touch. the topics on display include suicide and suicide bombings, terrorism, genocide, imperialism/cultural colonialism, the nature of war, the afterlife... and feature a loveable cast of pretentious robot drones, adorable and often furry alien creatures, and one very melancholy Artificial Intelligence.

VAGUE SPOILERS: the last four chapters are jaw-dropping in scope, moving from an elegiac double suicide (i teared up!) to a mind-boggling che...more
Brad
Brad: If you were a GSV (General Systems Vehicle), what would you call yourself?

Brad: Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale"

Brad: If you were a GCV (General Contact Vehicle), what would you call yourself?

Brad: Inoculate by Means of Blankets

Brad: If you were a GOV (General Offensive Unit), what would you call yourself?

Brad: Process of Peace and Reconciliation

Brad: If you were a VFP (Very Fast Picket), what would you call yourself?

Brad: Cerebrovascular Accident

Brad: If you were an Orbital, what wo...more
Simeon
Say hello to Kabe (pronounced Ka - beh), a tripedal, three-and-a-half meter tall triangular bulk of politely plodding philosophical awesomeness, who can stand so perfectly still while lost in thought that silly humans often mistake him for some sort of humongous, statuesque work of art. Also, mistakenly, even though he’s a Homondon (a vegetarian species), Kabe’s very large mouth makes the sight of him eating distinctly alarming.

These outwardly endearing qualities are hardly the extent of adorab...more
Julie
Amazing. My second Culture novel after The Player of Games, and I think I'm at a point where I'm going to be ravenously devouring them. Like many others have mentioned, this is a novel about loss and mourning -- thinking back on the events of the book, not much actually happens, but Banks uses enough narrative shift and experiments with perspective that it always remains fascinating. Part of the joy in reading these books is just for the world-building, honestly. And as always, his aliens are a...more
Manny
This is a book about mourning and regret, set in the universe of Banks's Culture series. There are several interwoven subplots, two of which display remarkable technical virtuosity. The first is a moving love story between completely non-human extraterrestrial creatures; I think it's the only successful example I've ever come across. Some of the flashbacks where Quilan recalls his lost love brought tears to my eyes. I'm not sure how the author did it, and I liked it enough that I'd rather not pi...more
Nikki
I don't know whether I like this as much or more than any of the other Culture novels I've read. It seems to be a different sort of beast, really. The others are things that are happening, even in Use of Weapons with the dual flow of the story; this one is the aftermath, things that have happened and dealing with them (or not). That's not to say that there isn't a plot, but the things that're happening are happening as a direct result of a known and understood past: in Consider Phlebas, the conf...more
Chris Neumann
Iain Banks died earlier this year, and what a huge loss to the science fiction community it was. Out of all the Culture novels he had written, I had read all but one...this one. I figured I'd end the year by visiting his wonderful universe again for one last new adventure - something that will never happen again.

If you're interested in his Culture series (you should be), don't start here, as it is actually a loosely connected sequel to Consider Phlebas, the very first Culture novel, and shock wa...more
Lori (Hellian)
In the ordinary scheme of things I'd probably give this a 4. I was so sad when Iain died. I knew I still had his great gift of 2 more Culture books to enjoy, this and Inversion. So while thrilled to read another Banks books, it was with heavy heart knowing there would be no more. This was beautiful book about death and memory and loss but also about life. Loved the alien Homondan. There's a great twist at the end. As always there's Banks wonderful touch of humor and humanity. One of my favorite...more
Susanne
This is spectacular. It deals with huge, terrible themes (war, loss, revenge, suicide, suicide bombings) and philosophical questions (exile, redemption, forgiveness), in multiple storylines spread across hundreds of years. The scope is HUGE.

There are three things that came out of Banks's mind I desperately want to be real: GSVs, drug glands and Orbitals. The fact that a large chunk of the story takes place on an O made me very happy indeed. The geography, the landscapes, the subway system - I a...more
Kristi Thompson
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

I have a weakness for anyone who quotes Eliot, particularly the Waste Land. At first I thought that this title was a bit much given that Banks had already used Consider Phlebas, which seemed to me more appropriate to the novel it graces. But it just occured to me: the people in this book are those who 'look to windward'; the entire book is an extended meditation on the message of Ph...more
Rob
Aug 15, 2008 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rob by: Ginnie Jones
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zach
A quarter of the way through this Culture novel, I already knew it was my favorite, and Banks cemented this opinion with this passage:

What bizarre fates our technologies dream up for us, he thought as he lay there. Here I am, a male, becoming pregnant with the ghost of an old dead soldier, to travel beyond the bounds of light older than our civilisation and carry out some task I have spent the best part of a year training for but of which I presently have no real knowledge whatsoever.

What bizarr...more
Kio
In terms of story development, this was everything I hoped Use of Weapons would be. Limited use of introspection, although it's still used and includes responses by other present-time characters. Great characters and character development - as I'm coming to expect from Banks. It really pulled me in, both in terms of just pure fascination and emotionally. I also particularly enjoyed the spoken dialogue of this book. And of that, Ziller's and Kabe's in particular.

I do think the chapter "Closure" a...more
Barrett Brassfield
This is my fourth Iain M. Banks novel and they just keep getting better. I can't honestly say that Look to Windward is "better" than Excession, better being somewhat subjective. They are very different novels and both brilliant, but Look to Windward is very touching for the reader on an individual level, given the attention Banks pays to characterization of the principals involved. Look to Windward also gives the reader a very interesting look at what happens when the Culture makes a mistake, de...more
Andrew McCrae
The Chelgrians, the Homomdans, the Culture all vie for galactic respectability in this, the 6th Culture novel: Look To Windward [2000]. (This is my second reading of this novel, the first in 2006).

The Culture series reached its peak - in my opinion - in terms of wit, humour, sophistication, structure, craft and sheer entertainment value in Excession (1996) - what followed hereafter, it seemed, would have to be something exceptionally special. Inversions followed in 1998 - of which I have little...more
Nicolas
Le sens du vent est le dernier tome paru du cycle de La Culture de Banks. On y découvre cette fois-ci une gallerie de portraits d’extra-terrestres ou, et c’est assez exceptionnel, de mentaux, dont la finesse et la sensibilité tranche violement avec le souvenir que j’avais conservé d’Excession.

L’histoire est somme toute assez simple : un extra-terrestre compositeur de musique symphonique s’est exilé volontairement sur une Orbitale de la Culture, et un "ambassadeur"(1) venant de sa zone galactique...more
Huw Evans
This is the seventh in the Culture series but, like all of these novels, it will stand alone. Eight hundred years ago, in a war with Culture, two stars were destroyed by their opponents and the light from the second explosion is due to arrive at the Culture orbital world of Masaq'. In memoriam of the carnage that this created the controlling AI, the Hub, has commissioned a spectacular piece of music timed to coincide with the arrival of the light from the destruction. The composer is a politica...more
CV Rick
Iain Banks Culture Series is like a philosophical exercise in post-scarcity. He asks interesting questions about what such a far-future civilization will be like and what will be the concerns of its citizens and its non-human inhabitants, ie AI or alien. If all your basic needs are met and all your luxury needs are met, what do you care about? Where are your passions?

In Look to Windward, the Culture has annexed the Idirans in a war devastating enough to have nova'd two stars and killed billions...more
Ed
I wasn't sure what I was going to make of this book. Having previously read and loved several M.Banks books including Consider Phlebas, I was concerned that Look to Windward might be something of a less fulfilling dour introspection. How wrong can one person be?

Look to Windward is another Banks triumph. The story handles some seriously heavy subjects; terrorism, love and loss, suicide, the aftermath of war, post colonialism and empire are all addressed with immense skill. Whilst at the same time...more
Dave Burke
This is the first Iain M. Banks book for me. It was one of a series of books about a sort of spacefaring human race called The Culture. The Culture is very technologically advanced - effectively without limits. They have no government to speak of and live a basically carefree life with essentially no laws. Look to Windward takes place mostly on an Orbital, a large artificial ring built around a star, run by a sentient but benevolent computer called Hub. I;m not sure what to make of this book. I...more
Carolyn
I wanted to finish this before reviewing it (of course!), even though I could tell from the second or so chapter that it was going to be wonderful. I was not disappointed! I'm really surprised I've never heard of this guy before; apparently he has quite an array of novels set in the same universe; he gets bonus points for not making them a series that has to be read in chronological order, so if something should happen to him, someone else doesn't have to finish his damn series. And if he decide...more
Jason
I'm bad at writing reviews, but I'd like to steal the closing of a review by another Goodreads user, Rob:

"...it was close to 4-stars for me. If I could, I would have given it ★★★½. I found the story a little slow to start and Banks' style a bit exaggerated. I'm not sure if the novel would have worked as well without the narrative being constructed the way it was but sometimes I found the prose got in the way of the story. (On the other hand, the behemothaur sections were perfect.)"
Duncan Mandel
EDITORIAL REVIEW: The Twin Novae battle had been one of the last of the Idiran war, and one of the most horrific: desperate to avert their inevitable defeat, the Idirans had induced not one but two suns to explode, snuffing out worlds and biospheres teeming with sentient life. They were attacks of incredible proportion -- gigadeathcrimes. But the war ended, and life went on. Now, eight hundred years later, light from the first explosion is about to reach the Masaq' Orbital, home to the Culture's...more
Louise
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mitchell
Iain M. Banks' Culture series is supposedly one of the modern science fiction must-reads, so I'd been meaning to look into it for a while. It's one of those series that takes place in a shared universe, with each book standing alone, but I still would have preferred to start at the beginning, with 1987's Consider Phlebas. But I don't exactly have a lot of choice when buying used books from Vietnamese beach towns, so Look To Windward it was.

The Culture society is a highly advanced spacefaring rac...more
Clay Brown
THAT'S 3 1/2 STARS.

That’s an interesting quote from Mr. Eliot’s Famous Epic Poem The Wasteland. Mr. Banks first Culture novel was called Consider Phlebas after all, and now I’ve read up to this latest ‘Culture’ novel of Mr. Banks’ very popular science fiction series.

The Culture books are an ‘imagining’ of a technological break from man and woman essentially, one that finally, ‘gets out their’, and finds quite a number of other ‘species’ as science has apparently called the shots in the end. The...more
Miles
The Culture universe is an undeniably brilliant creation, containing more than one writer’s fair share of imaginative inventions and astonishing moments. I have been impressed with every Culture novel I’ve read, but often complete them wondering what Banks could have done to warm my heart the same way he enchants my brain. After this refreshing and haunting experience, however, I can confidently say that is no longer the case. Look to Windward is easily my favorite of the series so far, though f...more
Chris
If you haven't read any of the Culture books, this probably isn't the place to start. That being said, it's also probably my favorite. For those few of you who are not aware, the Culture is a galactic civilization that is a mixture of AI Minds and human and human like biological sentient beings. It exists alongside other Involved societies that haven't yet Sublimed out of the physical universe entirely, mainly by choice at their level of technology.

The plot of Windward isn't important, it's the...more
Dev Null
Re-read this the other day. Still interesting and twisted and intriguing and poignant. Doubly so in that it deals strongly with the topic of death and loss, considering the recent news regarding Banks and cancer.
Joe
After a discussion with a friend, I decided to re-read this book. A lovely Culture novel. Slower paced, with more character focus than some of his others, but with some really beautiful scenes.
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5807106
Iain M. Banks is a pseudonym of Iain Banks which he used to publish his Science Fiction.

Banks's father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater. Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, li...more
More about Iain M. Banks...
Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1) The Player of Games (Culture, #2) Use of Weapons (Culture, #3) Excession (Culture, #5) Surface Detail (Culture, #9)

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“Oh, they never lie. They dissemble, evade, prevaricate, confound, confuse, distract, obscure, subtly misrepresent and willfully misunderstand with what often appears to be a positively gleeful relish and are generally perfectly capable of contriving to give one an utterly unambiguous impression of their future course of action while in fact intending to do exactly the opposite, but they never lie. Perish the thought.” 39 likes
“There's an old Sysan saying that the soup of life is salty enough without adding tears to it.” 18 likes
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