Surface Detail

Surface Detail

Book - 2010
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It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.

It begins with a murder.

And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful - and arguably deranged - warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war - brutal, far-reaching - is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality.

It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the center of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.

SURFACE DETAIL is Iain M. Banks' new Culture novel, a breathtaking achievement from a writer whose body of work is without parallel in the modern history of science fiction.
Publisher: New York, NY : Orbit, 2010
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780316123402
Branch Call Number: ScF Bank
Characteristics: 627 p


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Mar 03, 2015

I love Iain Banks, and am really unhappy about his death last year, which came too soon, too soon.

This is an extraordinary book.

Jul 09, 2014

If you're reading other books in the Culture series, you won't want to miss this one. The story is complex and very rich, adding one of the more original ideas I've come across in some time in science fiction: virtual Hell and the concept that the Hells of different galactic races are somewhat intertwined. This is handled with more than a passing notion -- there's serious attention paid into some key characters in this virtual realm.

For this book to really have the most meaning, you're best off reading "Consider Phlebas" and "Use of Weapons" first. There's enough background from those two books to make this one feel that much richer.

Aug 01, 2012

Read about a quarter of book. Not my style. Very confusing

May 10, 2012

After enjoying "Matter" a great deal, I didn't like Banks' follow-up Culture novel as much.

While "Matter" had several parallel plots, "Surface Detail" has a lot of tangled plots that only loosely interconnect. Banks also develops a bad habit of jumping around in time in a single scene, when there's no particular reason not to tell the scene in a linear way.

There are also some logic problems. Much of the story revolves around the concept of Hells, virtual afterlives of punishment and torment. Some activists infiltrate their society's Hell in order report back what really happens. We're later told that the Hell's real purpose to make the living behave properly from fear of punishment. If so, why is what happens in Hell kept secret?


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May 05, 2015

9th book in the Culture Series

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