Ian M Banks’ The Culture

It’s perhaps a little ironic that a drone introduced me to Ian M Banks’ Culture Series.

The second of the two drone ships that Elon Musk created as platforms for his SpaceX project was named “Of Course I Still Love You”. I read about this, found it intriguing, and picked up Consider Phlebas, the first of the Culture series in chronological order.

In the Culture series, drones are very, very intelligent. They vary in size from tiny (fist sized) to large (planet-sized). They’re everywhere, and almost (but not quite all) universally friendly. They run everything. For citizens of the culture there is no want, not even any money. Drones can manufacturer pretty much anything, including other drones. People live to 450 years and can pause themselves (“store”) for later revival.

The books are wonderful fantasies of a universe where anything is possible and most things are easy.

So far, I think my favorites are the first, Consider Phlebas, followed by Excessions and then Player of Games.

It’s interesting to compare The Culture with Star Trek. They’re similar in a lot of ways, Both look forward to an optimistic future. Star Trek might be some distant, ancient point on the universe’s evolution to the point where The Culture series takes place.

A bit of optimism is nice. It seems like there’s a lot of dystopian fiction. Need a respite from Walking Dead, Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones? Try The Culture.

I keep trying to imagine what one of the giant GSV ships, large enough to contain oceans (such as the Sleeper Service from Excession) might look like. What a wonderful fantasies!