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Excession (Culture, #5)
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(Culture #5)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  28,556 ratings  ·  1,229 reviews
The international sensation Iain M. Banks offers readers a deeply imaginative, wittily satirical tale, proving once again that he is "a talent to be reckoned with" ("Locus"). In Excession, the Culture's espionage and dirty tricks section orders Diplomat Byr Gen-Hofoen to steal the soul of a long-dead starship captain. By accepting the mission, Byr irrevocably plunges himse ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 500 pages
Published February 2nd 1998 by Random House Inc (first published 1996)
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Darren No. Not ALL four, certainly. But I wouldn't start the Culture series here. While technically a discrete story, it does assume a basic knowledge of the…moreNo. Not ALL four, certainly. But I wouldn't start the Culture series here. While technically a discrete story, it does assume a basic knowledge of the Culture. (less)
Donald Parish I bought a paperback copy at Barnes & Noble this week. I’d read the first two and noticed Excession not on Kindle. I like it so far.

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- Hello? This is Kinda Disappointed, do you read me?

- Hello Disappointed, this is Still Plenty of Good Bits. I'm another superintelligent AI entity...

- Well of course you are, Bits! Let's skip the background and assume the reader knows all about the Culture universe. So, what did you think of "Excession"?

- Um, not too bad, considering the obvious problems. I mean, how
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This happens to be exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. I wanted intelligent galaxy-spanning space opera with a handful of baseline humans getting caught up in an existential conundrum that the far-superior AI Ships (and Main Characters) had to face.

And we even get a BDO to spark an enormous intergalactic war. Woo Woo! Of course, the BDO (big dumb object) is nothing of the sort. In fact, it might be smarter than all of them combined. Who knows? I loved the speculation.

Life, love, sex, conspir
mark monday

this weekend's special is an Outside Context Problem! this amazing special is so unique, most shoppers will only encounter it once - in a millenium! please look for the infinity symbol tagged on our specially-marked OCP items.

on aisle 1, back by popular demand, we are excited to present faction upon faction of Culture Minds, as embodied physically by their glorious Mind Ships!!! shoppers, we have read your suggestions and we respond! you will find very few examples of t
Dirk Grobbelaar

Foolish child!
Make all haste.

A BDO novel taking place in the Culture universe? Will the law of diminishing returns apply? There is so much weirdness and wonder in the Culture already, how much value can an artefact add to the heady mix?

Possibility: Culture universe not well suited for BDO sense of wonder stories.
Possibility: Dilution of impact.

Let’s try and review this thing.

The drone felt calm, thinking as coldly and detachedly as it could for those few moments on the background to its curren
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi

The Culture series is one of the most beloved among today's sf readers, possibly the most beloved but I don't have any hard figures to back it up so I'll leave that hyperbole out for now. Certainly some entries in the series are more popular than others, based on the average ratings and online discussions The Player of Games and Use of Weapons are generally held in high regard, Inversions and Matter less so. As for Excession, it is one of the more popular ones, top 4 I think, and I can see why.
Kevin Kelsey
Jul 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2020, read-2015
Good, but definitely not my favorite Culture book.

Unlike a lot of the other Culture novels, this one is definitely more for those that read a lot of harder SF, for lack of a better term. Challenging and rewarding, but not all that character focused. More about ideas than anything else.

The number of different minds/ships communicating with one another made it very easy to get lost, but I grasped the plot pretty well for the most part. I think this book might be better on a second read.

Excession: Too complex for meat-based life forms to understand
Excession is the fourth book in Iain M. Banks’ CULTURE series. I’ll assume you already know the far-future decadent post-scarcity intergalactic empire of the Culture, dominated by its (mostly) benign AIs, known as Minds, and its trillions of citizens, some human and others more exotic. It’s a great invention, a vast and limitless space for Banks to explore via the Culture’s Contact and Special Circumstances divisions, especially the i
Peter Tieryas
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing

The connection between literature and video games is one of my favorite topics. I was thrilled to get to write for Tor.com about one of the best science fiction books I've read, Excession by Iain M. Banks, and its connection to Sid Meier’s Civilization which, along with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, was one of the most addicting games of my life.


"If Use of Weapons was a psychological investigation into the world of the Culture, Excession is a philosop
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Music: something from Slowdive, like "Souvlaki Space Station"

Like putting my feet back into the river, this felt like I had not taken any break from reading this series. This one was fun to read, that can be said :)

So, there's a mysterious ship that apparead many years before - now it is back, and *everybody* seems to want to check it out, prod it, talk to it, see if there's anything new and benefitting in its secrets and even attempt to destroy it. There's also a conspiracy going on...

This nove
Mar 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Early on it felt like there were too many characters, too many plot threads, too many settings, and that Excession was too damn convoluted to be good.

Iain M. Banks’ Excession was living up to the definition of its title:
"Excession; something excessive. Excessively aggressive, excessively powerful, excessively expansionist; whatever. Such things turned up or were created now and again. Encountering an example of was one of the risks you ran when you went a-wandering."
It was a true slog to get i
Oct 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, literature
I love these books, but if you don't, I understand. The series' uniqueness is both awesome and offputting; the sort of stuff you wish people would write, but then you find excuses not to read.

Reading the Culture novels is rarely the funnest thing you could be doing; but, when you're done, it can mean a whole paradigm shift - steps toward permanently dismantling whatever version of reality is currently trolling your existence.
Kara Babcock
Finally, the Culture novel I’ve been waiting to read since I started the series. Everyone told me not to start with Excession, so I didn’t—and honestly that was pretty good advice. I can see why people wouldn’t enjoy this novel, and even though I think I would have liked it with no previous Culture experience, reading other books has given me a deeper appreciation for what is happening here.

Excession reminds me of children’s books where the main characters are all animals, and humans have very l
Andrea McDowell
Aug 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
July 2021 update: Eight years after having posted this review, I am still receiving comments from outraged dudebros (and the occasional enabling woman) telling me I had the wrong feelings about the book and had no right to express them publicly. If you can judge a man by his friends, you can definitely judge an author by his fans, and at this point I'm so thoroughly revolted at the bare concept of Iain M Banks that I get hives when I encounter his name in print in any context.

How dare I not real
Jun 26, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Each entry in the Culture 'series' varies tremendously, even though they share the same universe and feature "The Department of Special Circumstances," the Culture's espionage and dirty tricks section. With Excession, a strange artifact, deemed excession, appears one day in a lonely solar system. About the size of a mountain, it defies all attempts at scanning but also taps into two varieties of 'hyperspace' at the same time; something far beyond Culture's tech. Turns out this had appeared rough ...more
In one sentence: A psychologically realistic utopia (: a flawed one) nestled in a soft opera-of-space-operas.

To be read when: you don't think we have anywhere to go. / On a train.

(This is more of a review of the Culture series. Excession is my favourite of them - even just seeing that slightly bad 90s cover gets a reaction out of me - but none of the books is so great on its own. I just keep re-reading them. This essay gives a flavour of the intellectual thrill underneath Banks' hand-waving,
Deborah Ideiosepius
This is an epic science fiction/space-opera novel by a very impressive author. It is also a #5 in the series, so, no matter how much you are intrigued by this review (here is hoping), do not go out an acquire it without reading some of the early ones as your confusion will be palpable.

A mysterious artifact appears mysteriously in a remote corner of space, beside a mysterious, trillion-year-old sun from a different universe. It has the ship Minds, the Culture and several of it's allies in a tizzy
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it
What sort of gift can you get for the Culture that has everything?

That is, how on Earth (or, rather, off) do you make Utopia interesting, when all society's ills have been resolved, and all misery is at worst optional?

That is the central conundrum with which Iain M. Banks has been grappling in all of his Culture novels, and Excession is perhaps his most explicit examination of that question to date, even though it came out 'way back in 1996. An "excession," in Banks' parlance, is something that
Nicholas Karpuk
Terry Pratchett once said that horses take longer to get up to full speed because they had more legs to sort out. Under those conditions, Excession has about a dozen damn legs, because this book takes half its length to feel like it's gaining any momentum.

The cast of thousands approach doesn't really help. By the time the narrative returned to some characters I had trouble remember who they were or what exactly they wanted. And the ridiculous names of the machine minds, avatars, and drones didn'
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excession is the fifth volume of Iain M. Banks’ “Culture” series. The continued story of The Culture as they once again meddle in foreign affairs, and the emergence of an unknown entity called “The Excession.”

The story of Excession is a complexity of multiple threads, as wildly diverse and interconnected as The Culture itself. One, a touching and contemporary love story about two souls drawn together by the same differences that rip them apart and the mission of a sentient starship to help them
Michael David Cobb
Jan 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Excession is Iain Banks' clunkiest book so far. It is certainly enjoyable as it introduces us to Infinite Fun, but it just had too many distractions and too many characters, with far too many of them Minds whose personalities and loyalties simply didn't make quite enough sense through 400 pages. It might have helped if I had the full sized paperback, but I had the airport sized one and.. it just got tedious. It could not have felt like a page-turner otherwise.

On the whole however, Excession is a

After five years time-off from the Culture universe, taking the time to develop ideas and stories and in other novels, Iain M. Banks returns with Excession, the fifth following installment in the series, with a story of grand scope and imagination; a space opera that takes us deep into the unknown of the galaxy - revealing wonders and dimensions through its vastness - but also into an epic adventure of conspiracy and war, paranoia and cruelty, and love and betrayal, using his scientificall
Erik Graff
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
Taking a break from reading dry-as-dust books for journal review, I asked a friend for fiction recommendations and was given two of Iain M. Banks' "Culture" novels: Look to Windward and this one, Excession.

I'd read two Culture novels and several short stories set in that far-future context prior to this, beginning with Use of Weapons and The Algebraist. I have found myself appreciating each one more than the last, presumably as the result of coming to feel ever more at home in the Culture.

Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
First book of this spring's readathon! It took me ages to read, but it's well worth it. I think I'll take a little break now from the Culture: not only do I want to ration it out a bit, but there's a sameness to the cleverness at the heart of these novels, so that reading three in quick succession makes me more able to figure out the plot -- and I actually like feeling that Banks is smarter than me, so I'll give it a rest before my next one...

Anyway, I don't know how to talk about Excession, rea
Oct 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In this book a strange phenomenon is observed. The story revolves around how the Culture and it's neighbors try to deal with this particular event. Is it a weapon? Is it a message from a vastly superior race or culture? Is it a natural event? Add onto that tragic love stories, sadistic aliens, and revenge and you get one densely written, fantastically entertaining story.

This is quite possibly one of my all time favorite books. The conversations between the sentient ships alone could sustain me.
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Hmmm.... Big picture: Least favorite Culture installment so far for me.

The only remaining question is whether it so soured me on the series that I throw in the towel.

To be clear, plenty of amusing flourishes and tidbits and nuggets throughout, but ... just too ... too ... too much ... too cute by half? ... too many pages (not justified by the whole) .... too many voices (to weave together into a cohesive tapestry) .... too many fonts (in a trade paperback, no less) ... too many digressions ...
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, heavy-duty
The thing with Iain Bank's Culture series of science-fiction books is their quasi-pseudo-sometimes humorous details. This is the fifth one I have read, released originally in 1996 (I do not read that fast, honestly) and Excession probably is one of the most deepest, confusing and complex novels I have ever encountered from him, and that also includes his more contemporary works as well. I started reading him in the very early 1990's (starting with the seminal Wasp Factory), and over the years I ...more
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
The problem with getting older and facing mortality is that you realize you won't be able to read all the books you want to. I love the Culture books so much that I'd love to reread them in the order written. One of the reasons being a desire to track the Minds through the series, do any reappear?

The most appealing aspect of Excession is that it's pretty the Minds, with the humans and a new alien species on the sidelines, altho they are part of the plot. I love the Minds! The names they choose a
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
[stuttered tight point, M32, tra. @4.28.885.3553]
xEccentric Jamie
oLSV Goodreaders Everywhere

Another gem in Iain M. Banks' great tasting AND less filling Culture series!

Part of what makes these standout, and this one in particular, is the oft whimsical exchanges amongst the Culture's sentient AI's (in the form of ship Minds, drones, etc) and human citizens.

In Excession, we get some juicy, behind the scenes peeks into the wheelings and dealings of the Culture's Minds as they deal with a BDO and en
Feb 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Excession. I've hated you, I've loved you, and I've been wildly frustrated by you. I guess the best I can say is that every reread brings me something new.

I think it's fair to say that I love the plot line with the Minds - finally getting to see how they interact, plot, rationalise and manoeuvre - and could cheerfully do without most of the humans, in spite of a lingering respect for the broad strokes of the Dajeil / Byr subtext.

Full thoughts.
Stevie Kincade
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, reviewed
After falling in love with Peter Kenny's performance in The Player of Games I knew I was going to read the entire Culture series in Audiobook form. This has been a great decision up until "Excession".

Banks is a great writer and Kenny is a great narrator so the failing is mostly on me but I really struggled to stay focused on this story for a variety of reasons.

This is the first Culture book that does not have a main point of view character, it is more of an ensemble piece. Granted we spent mor
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See top shelves…
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

Other books in the series

Culture (10 books)
  • Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1)
  • The Player of Games (Culture, #2)
  • Use of Weapons (Culture, #3)
  • The State of the Art (Culture, #4)
  • Inversions (Culture, #6)
  • Look to Windward (Culture, #7)
  • Matter (Culture, #8)
  • Surface Detail (Culture #9)
  • The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture #10)

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