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Matter

(Culture #8)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  19,610 Ratings  ·  832 Reviews
In a world renowned even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one man it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one - maybe two - people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she'd th ...more
Kindle Edition, 620 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Orbit (first published January 31st 2008)
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R.E. McCready This was the first culture novel I read, and I really enjoyed it. I'm sure I'd have got more out of it had I read others in the series, but I didn't…moreThis was the first culture novel I read, and I really enjoyed it. I'm sure I'd have got more out of it had I read others in the series, but I didn't feel like it suffered to much because of this factor. Hope you liked it!(less)

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Kevin Kelsey
The eighth book in the culture series. If you're reading this, you're familiar with the Culture, and you don't need yet another review telling you how fantastic this particular entry is. All I'll say is that it's no exception, and stands right up there with all the others.

Two quotes that really stood out for me from this fantastic book:

“Behave honourably and wish for a good death. He’d always dismissed it as self-serving bullshit, frankly; most of the people he’d been told were his betters were
...more
Bradley
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those horribly complicated books that is simultaneously strong and weak in the same exact areas at the same time. *groan*

I mean, it starts off strongly with fantasy-type trials and tribulations in the empire, a king dying and his son being supplanted by the king's best friend, taking over the kingdom. Pretty standard... but then the whole other part of this novel is chock-full of purely wonderful heavy SF ideas that isn't entirely obvious at first but then becomes an infodump mast
...more
Psychophant
This is a book I really wanted to like, and failed. I like Iain M. Banks style, I like his willingness to run risks, to give you the whole punch. And in this book, he barely delivers.

The book are 500 pages of set-up, and forty pages of resolution, and not a very satisfying one.

Too many characters doing not very interesting things in utmost detail, and then the interesting parts are just glossed over. Add wooden (and not very new in his books) characters, when part of his magic is making great in
...more
Manny
[Swirling patterns. Weird, vaguely familiar, futuristic music. Is it the Doctor Who theme tune? Slowly the camera pulls back to show the title

Celebrity Death Match Special: Blackadder versus The Culture

and we realize it's an unusual setting of the Blackadder song.

Dissolve to ROWAN ATKINSON and HUGH LAURIE, who looks rather unhappy]


ATKINSON: Is everything alright, sir?

LAURIE: Oh yes, rather, absolutely spiffing, top hole, couldn't be better. Except for one little thing.

The rest of this review is
...more
Adam
Matter starts out with some baroque steampunk fantasia with grim political dealings that reminds me of Jack Vance, George R.R. Martin, and Mervyn Peake. Than it switches to a wide screen galactic romp and winds ups as a apocalyptic high-tech thriller with more than couple elements from Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space. There is three pronged story moving through these stages involving three siblings. The relation between Ferbin and his servant Holse is filled with odd couple comedy like Cerva ...more
Sumant
Dec 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture, sci-fi
The 8th book in The Culture series i.e. Matter was a big let down for me,
because it had pretty interesting ideas like Shell word and Nest world but Banks spends so much time exploring those ideas, and giving you info dumps regarding those ideas that the story of the book takes a back seat in the whole book. Also he uses a lot of complex names for his characters which after some time becomes quite irritating as you do not have index on audio book to remember all the characters.

Some of the strong
...more
Stefan
Mar 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I'd go as far as saying that this is the 3rd best novel in the series so far, after "The Player of Games" and "Use of Weapons" in that order. I was blown away by the quality of the story, the interesting and well-developed characters, and the sheer scale of the novel. Four stars, highly recommended. but if you haven't read Culture novels before, I recommend just starting at the beginning. "Consider Phlebas" is still the weakest novel in the series, but it is the first one and sort of a rite of p ...more
Nick Wellings
Where sprawling becomes a bad kind of sprawling, like, sprawling in the street after passing out from a night on the razz, only with less sodium lights and more dragon-type creatures floating around your mind, no wait, floating around your mind in a concentric kind of world within a world complete with medieval peasant types, futuristic warrior types and fey castle kingdoms, and flying dragon type things and WAR (always WAR! Yaargh!!) - but sprawling in that needy grasping way that only that som ...more
Peter Tieryas
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2/1/15-I really wanted to love this. It began in a very fascinating way, a revenge story that I was really looking forward to. By the end, it reminded me of Star Trek V, and unfortunately, not in a good way. Still, even with the flaws, Matter is an incredible book with incredible ideas. I'll write a full review at some point.

"Wisdom is silence." These Shellworlds are absolutely fascinating, especially their connection to the planets of the dead (and Consider Phlebas). Damn, am so happy to be rea
...more
Jo
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of intelligent entertainment
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert
Feb 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
There is an interview at the back of this book in which Banks says he was thinking of giving up writing SF but he set himself the task of creating a completely new context for a novel; The Algebraist, Banks' best novel for years resulted.
With Matter Banks returns to the Culture - and that is a mistake. Every worthwhile idea relating to the Culture has been expounded multiple times already - there has been no need for a new Culture novel since Use of Weapons and the quality of them has been deter
...more
Bettie☯
Rosado mp3. Round the lake.

Thinking of Mr Banks and his sad news.

Love the ship named 'Do Not Try This At Home'

#83 TBR Busting 2013

TR Consider Phlebas
TR The Player
3* The State of Art
4* Look to Winward
3' Matter
4* The Algebraist

As Iain No Em Banks

3* The Wasp Factory
1* The Steep Approach to Garbadale aka The Steep Descent to Garbage
2* Stonemouth

Phoenixfalls
This book is a fractal -- no matter how you zoom in or out, the basic structure remains the same. It starts incredibly zoomed in on the three (maybe four) main characters, then proceeds to zoom out. . . and out. . . and out. . . until the story encompasses issues as large as the destruction of a world and the resurrection of a long-thought-dead alien society. But, (I think purposefully) to emphasize its fractal nature, the climax comes in an instant and then the whole story comes crashing back d ...more
Nick
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a wild ride. It starts off chiefly explaining the Sarl people who live in a society that reminded me of the wild west, complete with cattle rustling (weird space cattle), saloon fights, and the omnipresent question of who's gonna run the ranch (or be the king). It is one of Banks's "Culture" novels and it does quite a lot to explain more about The Culture, for a princess of the royal family of the Sarl was given to The Culture, that conglomerate of "mongrel-utopians", to act in the ...more
Olethros
-Trama engordada y muchas ideas metidas por todas partes.-

Género. Ciencia ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. El libro Materia (publicación original: Matter, 20118) nos lleva hasta Sursamen, planeta en el que el rey Hausk el Conquistador es asesinado a traición por personas de su confianza durante una batalla. A su hijo Ferbin otz Aelsh-Hausk`r lo dan por muerto pero no es así, mientras a su otro hijo (y hermanastro de Ferbin), Oramen, le llega la corona pero queda a merced de los traidores, sin que nadi
...more
Stuart
Jun 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is it really the first Culture novel for seven years? Where does the time go? While 2004's The Algebraist was full of the verve and invention that we nowadays simply expect by right from Banks' science fiction, somehow the absence of the Culture also left it lacking the ideological thrill – the politics of utopia, as it were – that gives a Banks' novel its heart. Hence the cover of my preview copy simply says, 'The Culture is back. Nothing else matters.' A statement I didn't entirely disagree wi ...more
William
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is told in linear fashion, which is somewhat unusual for Banks. And it is an old plot, worthy of the Elizabethan Stage, with elements that are somewhat reminiscent of the works of Frank Baum and Tolkien. Does not get five stars from me due to the author's consistent failure to adhere to the laws of grammar and his often self-indulgent descriptions and diversions into matters that add nothing to the plot. But...still a good read.
prcardi
Storyline: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
World: 4/5

Iain M. Banks.... You did it again. The Culture is my favorite sci fi series to date. There's not even a close second-place contender.

Matter is a representative Culture book. That means a far future science fiction universe with species of varying forms and abilities. A universe where historical events billions of years ago are referenced in the same way we now discuss the events of classical Greek history. A time of overlapping technolog
...more
Leah Bayer
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

I have so many conflicting emotions about this book! Probably because, at least to me, it felt like two books: one with crazy space antics and another featuring political intrigue on a low-tech world. Usually the contrast between high- and low-tech societies is something I enjoy in books (The Dreaming Void, A Fire Upon the Deep) but I am generally not a fan of Iain Banks' more politically driven, almost-fantasy stuff: Inversions is the only Culture book I actively didn't love, for examp
...more
Michael David Cobb


I just completed Iain Banks' latest Culture novel 'Matter'. He is something less of a yarn spinner in this one and I was stalled at page 20 for a while, but by the time I got to page 120, I could tell it was going to be a great story.

Unlike 'Phlebas' which was the second Banks book I read (after the Algebraist), Matter was a bit more predictable. The intrigue from this book comes from knowing in some detail what Culture SC operatives and their technology are capable of. So the drama builds in th
...more
Joseph Michael Owens
4.5 stars

Even pressing on into the final chapter and closing pages, I was going to originally go with a somewhat nebulous ~4+ because I couldn't decide how I felt about the book overall. There is some truly brilliant pieces of fiction at work here and Banks's concept of the shellworld Sursamen — where the vast majority of the book is set — was marvelously executed.

However, as the man who introduced me to the Culture series noted (Kyle Muntz), the book sort of takes ~300 pages to get rolling; a
...more
Chris
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When people used to ask me who my favorite science fiction authors are, my answer was always "William Gibson and Neal Stephenson." I've read everything they've written, and even when the plot becomes convoluted, or the characters are not well-realized, the sheer force of imagination and excitement about the new ideas on each page always leaves me with a big smile on my face.

That list is going to have to grow to three now, because Iain Banks has made me more excited as a reader of sci-fi than I'
...more
David Hughes
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Banks fans, science-fiction buffs
Shelves: scifi, fiction
Iain M. Banks is the lion of contemporary British science-fiction, and this book fully displays his craft, his style and his unbridled imagination. Like most of Banks's science fiction, it involves his utopian Culture of benevolent hyper-intelligent machines, but the story itself is that of a low-technology society being manipulated to its own destruction by advanced civilisations whose aims it finds incomprehensible -- but which may themselves be only the pawns of some ancient and malign intell ...more
David
Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, don-t-own
I love Bank's ideas - his pantropic/transhumanist far-future socialist utopian society called the Culture; the AI Minds in ships with crazy names; the baroque alien civillizations and ancient artifacts of fearsome power; the big ideas about contact between cultures of vastly different technology levels.

This book seemed to be a lot more setup than necessary - a lot was familiar to anyone who'd read a Culture novel before, so I suppose useful to anyone who hadn't, but certain flights of over-descr
...more
Kyle Muntz
This book wasn't really impressing me until about page 300 (which would usually be unforgivable, but I've learned to trust Iain Banks by now), and then it suddenly became brilliant--the beginning was sort of a slow burn, still flawed, but segueing into some of the best setpieces I've ever seen in SF, with a strong conceptual underpinning as well. The narrative sort of blossoms out from a semi-standard story in the beginning into being one of the most interesting Culture novels. Bank's prose was ...more
Michele
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Come al solito un libro molto bello, scritto con uno stile accattivante di cui Banks è maestro, soprattutto riguardo la caratterizzazione dei personaggi e la creazione di scenari e mondi così vasti e alieni da togliere il fiato. Non do cinque stelle perché, come già in altre opere dell'autore (una per tutte, The Hydrogen Sonata), tutto il bellissimo affresco creato viene risolto in poche decine di pagine, come se l'editore avesse costretto Banks a "chiudere" per non sforare il numero di pagine p ...more
Bill
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This 8th novel in the Culture series explores the Shellworlds through a somewhat enlightened (at least among the elites) medieval society called the Sarn. I'd suggest it's an average book in the series, a space opera with some interesting soft SciFi concepts.

7 of 10 stars
Karlo Mikhail
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Great, as usual.
Gav451
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book full of ideas but it felt like it should have been 2 or 3 books at least. There were almost too many great stories packed into the one novel and it felt like the pace wasn’t consistently there.

I really like the Culture Novels (except Feersum Endjin) and find his writing accessible and fun. He has a positive vision of the future for a change but one where it does not undermine the power in the stories he tells. There are a whole load of philosophical and ethical questions th
...more
Barry Cunningham
Another brilliant book in the Universe of Iain M Banks, Like all the contact series - BRILLIANT
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Science Fiction A...: * Book 8: Matter 12 43 Apr 08, 2016 12:33PM  
Iain Banks / Iain...: Matter 2 36 Apr 20, 2015 05:41AM  
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3,714 followers
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
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Other books in the series

Culture (10 books)
  • Consider Phlebas
  • The Player of Games (Culture, #2)
  • Use of Weapons (Culture, #3)
  • The State of the Art (Culture, #4)
  • Excession (Culture, #5)
  • Inversions (Culture, #6)
  • Look to Windward (Culture, #7)
  • Surface Detail (Culture #9)
  • The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture #10)
“Even galaxy-spanning anarchist utopias of stupefying full-spectrum civilisational power have turf wars within their unacknowledged militaries.” 16 likes
“In life you hoped to do what you could but mostly you did what you were told and that was the end of it.” 8 likes
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