Excession

E
Excession Book Cover
Excession Culture, Book 5 Iain M Banks Science Fiction Hachette Audio UK 7 March 2013 Audiobook 15 hrs and 55 mins Audible

Overall the book is excellent, though the human story often feels secondary to the issues of the OCP but is relevant to put everything into context. The reading of the book by Peter Kenny is, as usual, exemplary.


Two and a half millennia ago, the artefact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared.

Now it is back.

Review

This was one of my earlier physical sci-fi reads, and I looked forward to revisiting this corner of space again through the audiobook as I worked through Iain M Banks’ Culture canon. As usual, it’s a well written space opera, this time about the Minds in particular – the advanced AIs that reside in the ships and habitats and, to an extent, take care of things while the Culture denizens get on with their lives.

In this book, an excession or OCP (outside context problem) is presented and the most senior representatives of the Culture (the Minds) are at work dealing with it. There are parallels here with the real world and how governments work with or against each other when dealing with things outside their boundaries or scope while the rest of the population go about their lives often oblivious to it. The writing shows humour and imagination throughout and really takes us into the territory of the ‘big questions’ of the multiverse.

Overall the book is excellent, though the human story often feels secondary to the issues of the OCP but is relevant to put everything into context. The reading of the book by Peter Kenny is, as usual, exemplary. However, the book calls for continued use of both time and spatial stamps which could be easily skimmed over unless you were the kind of person who wanted to write your own hyper-accurate timeline of events. As these are read with equal emphasis in the audiobook I did find them distracting at times, despite their appropriateness.

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By Edward

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About me

Many (many) years ago, I discovered role-playing and Dungeons and Dragons in one of the after school clubs. It revealed a universe that allowed me to flex my storytelling muscles and enjoy a mixture of fantasy and sci-fi and feed the escapist dreamer inside.

Over time, I played (and story-led*) many systems including Call of Cthulhu*, Shadowrun, Dungeons & Dragons*, Middle Earth, In Nomine*, Bushido, Chivalry & Sorcery, Chill, Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Gammaworld, Hawkmoon, Stormbringer, Immortals*, Marvel Super Heroes, Paranoia, RuneQuest, Vampire: The Masquerade*, and a couple of my own devising (Medieval* and Parody*).

I explored live-action role-playing – eventually running my own club and developing my own LARP systems (Fools Gold and Dream Conquest) – and usually found myself in script-writing or game-master duty, writing over 500 individual live adventures over the period, many linked into the world events of the fantasy land we created. I also volunteered for Curious Pastimes and Lorien Trust at their main LARP events (special effects at the Ritual Circle), and did a little script work, cameos and improv for Curious Pastimes. I was also the South East's Editor (UK) for the LARP magazine The Adventurer.

The rest, as they say, is history.