DEHc-3 HALO. Culture.

Iain M Banks has written several science fiction novels:

He has also written several non-science fiction books but I'll get into that later...

Consider Phlebas
Consider Phlebas.

This is the first Culture novel Banks should be noted that his Culture novels are not direct sequels but different stories that take place in the same universe...

One of the first things that struck me about this book was that the aliens in this book are genuinely alien in every way. In fact I had a very hard time keeping up with the names at first...but it was worth it.

The story here involves the Culture and an alien race the Idrians fighting a vast war. The story itself is about a particular mission in the war and really doesn't see a lot of events specific to the war until the end.

This novel like many of Mr. Banks works has a very dark ending. This of course suits me fine.

In many ways since I have started reading Banks' works I can see a lot of his humor and ideas have deeply influenced Bungie. This novel is not to be missed.

This is the one with the famous cover(pictured) where we see a similar structure arching into the sky as seen in many of the Halo screenshots. I noticed that it has a alternate cover. Currently it is unavailable except as a rare book in America but is in print in the UK. (see the links page for where to buy)

The Player of Games
The second Culture novel centers on the protagonist Gurgeh. The best game player in the Culture. It should be noted that in the Culture anyone can be/have anything they want. In fact changing sex several times during ones life is very normal. In fact the "love interest" here terraforms as her art!

The story involves the Culture contacting a more primitive society, the Empire of Azad, and basically while observing their "prime directive" of non-interference a CIA type organization within the Culture, called Contact, sends Gurgeh to their home world.

Gurgeh is the best game player in all of the Culture and Azad's entire society is based around a game they play. Gurgeh is not exactly going in by his own will either...

Banks captures the essence of game players in this book that spoke to me on many levels. There isn't a lot of hi-tech here such as in Phlebas but for me the main character is richer.

Available through Amazon in the US.

Use of Weapons
I have read this one twice as the first time it was very confusing. There are a lot of incomplete flashbacks, continuity skips, the end it becomes clear as to why though.

This is a soldier's story. In some ways, a monsters as well. The way it unfolds reminded me of Marathon Infinity's storyline a lot, not so much in specifics but the style of story telling.

Highly recommended but read carefully.

Out of print in the USA.

State of the Art
This is a quick read. I finished it in less than 1 day. Remember Star Trek 4 Star Trek Saves the Whales? Well think of that where the Culture finds the earth and sends "people" down to live among us to decide whether or not our species deserves to be wiped.

Narrative is formatted oddly, in terms of margins and paragraphs. I think this was to show how the alien mind thinks...this story is written from a 1st Person perspective. With the exception of Player of Games and parts of Feersum Endjinn everything else is from 2nd or 3rd.

Available through Amazon in the US.

Against a Dark Background
My favorite Banks book. This is the title that specifically makes referenceto Halo.

Not a Culture novel, but instead about a woman named Sharrow and her "personality-attuned combat team". The story revolves around an artifact called the Lazy Gun and several different parties attempt to get said object. There is so much deceit, ugliness and violence in this book that it really twists the knife in you.

Lots of heavy technology described and explained. One of the members who joins in Sharrow's story is a Robotic AI. Nowhere as sarcastic or human however as the Minds in the Culture stories she/it provides an interesting dialogue about the soul.

I rate this in my top 10 favorite books of all time.

Out of print in the USA.

Feersum Endjinn
What if after you died you lived on in a computer. That is the premise for Feersum Endjin. Although not a Culture novel this certainly has an interesting mix of technology...Swords and computers, etc...a bit like FInal Fantasy 6-7-8.

The characters are very unique and one fo them, a crow, when speaking from first person is very hard to follow at first. Especially if you're not British I'm guessing. The crow talks with such a heavy accent and uses a bit of slang...kind of like reading phonetically spelled out English words in Katakana (Japanese).

Would've made a much cooler movie than the Matrix ^_^

Out of print in the USA.

The grandest Culture novel and also one of the better space opera type stories I've read. This is vast with tons of characters both machine and living.

The story centers on an event that the Culture does not understand branded the Excession. (Excession meaning an extreme situation) There are several cabals at work against each other within the Culture itself and added to that a new alien race the Affront.

Banks gets deep into the factions thinking here and comes up with a convincing sci-fi thriller. Lots of hi-tech and lots of action as well. I think this is maybe the most balanced of the Banks books balancing the action with character development and plot advancement.

Available through Amazon in the US.

Not a true sci-fi novel, this portrays the lives of two people from an advanced civilization that are living among people with a feudal level of technology and "government" in place.

There is a possible clue that they may be from the Culture but it is never spelled out. No hi-tech here but a good read.

Out of print in the USA.

TBA August 2000
Nothing is known about this yet other than it's scheduled for an August 2000 release.


CCS Sacred Promise (DE H c-3)
SCS Pillar of Autumn
RECEIVED (trans)

via x-process modified (WARNING)