Surface Detail

English language

Published Jan. 4, 2010 by Orbit.

ISBN:
978-0-316-12340-2
Copied ISBN!
OCLC Number:
548642208

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (96 reviews)

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 …

12 editions

Review of 'Surface Detail' on 'Storygraph'

4 stars

Another Culture novel.

Compares the egalitarian, technologically advanced Culture with a planetary society dominated by one super-wealthy man who owns virtual slaves and discards his most faithful retainers even if it means their death, to cover his crimes (against other systems – he is above the law at home).

Also explores the concepts of hell and punishment. There are actual hells in virtual worlds.

Surface Detail

4 stars

« Surface Detail » est le neuvième et avant-dernier tome du cycle de la Culture de Iain M. Banks. Malgré ses qualité indéniables, c’est peut-être celui que j’ai pris le moins plaisir à lire. Certains passages m’ont beaucoup plu, mais je dois avouer que j’ai fini par me lasser de la multitude de scènes d’action, qui n’ont jamais été mes scènes préférées dans la littérature de science-fiction.

Le roman parle principalement de réalités virtuelles, de religion, de pénitence, et du concept de réalité, le tout au sein d’un récit de vengeance digne d’une tragédie grecque (c’est un compliment venant de moi) et de complots intergalactiques pas toujours aisés à suivre. Nous suivons plusieurs personnages plus ou moins sympathiques et attachants : il y a ceux dont j’ai suivi les aventures avec plaisir, ceux que j’ai adoré détester, ceux qui m’ont ému, et ceux qui m’ont laissé totalement indifférent.

Ce roman …

reviewed Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

Flawed but enjoyable.

3 stars

I think Banks wanted to write something of a critique of late stage capitalism (Culture novels in general being a variant of Space Communism). Unfortunately the villain is a bit too much of a parody for my taste. I also found the first third of the book a bit of a slog, as the various in-Hell plot lines involve a fair amount of gratuitous violence and suffering, and don't obviously go anywhere.

That said, I did find the last 2/3 fairly engaging and fun.

I suspect people who are sensitive to the portrayal of sexual violence should not read this book.

Review of 'Surface Detail' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Read even if you dislike some of the previous Culture series novels.

Good:
This one has it all: ship Minds, likeable human protagonists, galactic conspiracy, space battles, you name it
Expanding upon the series lore with stuff like more Contact divisions and interesting races
Satisfactory ending with most storylines coming together nicely
Greatly imaginative

Bad:
* Pavulean political sub-plot doesn't lead anywhere

Review of 'Surface detail' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

How to reconcile limited space with virtual immortality? Why, virtually, of course! And sometimes, by rebirth in another body.
How are fundamental disagreements between civilisations handled? Again, virtually warring.
I think my favourite thing in this book was the moving tattoo.

Review of 'Surface Detail' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Not really about the Culture

This book is only partially about the Culture, although it offers more insight into how the Culture works. It's really an elaborate story of murder and revenge, in the broader context of a war over Galactic Hells. It is well written, as usual for Banks, and I enjoyed it.

Review of 'Surface Detail' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This book made me grin. Maybe it's the warmonger-spacep0rn-battle-boy in me. When you have a warship, Abominator class, named "Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints," gets involved, and giddy, as the book culminates due to seeing action. I just smiled and smiled.

Getting ahead of myself. In this snapshot of Culture life we have a murder, genetic indentured servitude, virtual hells for trillions and the plots, plotting, spycraft, and more that tries to resolve all of these things and a few more.

I also don't know where this sentence/quote/phrase came from but it's a part of a Plate class ship named "Sense Amid Madness, Wit Amidst Folly" which I really connect with and feel like I need to find a tattoo incorporation of it. I again just love Banks naming convention. So glad that [b:Leviathan Wakes|8855321|Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1)|James S.A. Corey|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1411013134s/8855321.jpg|13730452] and it's series gives a hat-tip to it. …

Review of 'Surface detail' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I have not disliked a Culture book this much since the third one. While the premise is good, of "mirror universe" alien civilizations with Culture-level advancement but utterly retrograde philosophies they are able to make into reality on a terrifying scale, the implausibility of the Hells in the galaxy that Banks has created is illustrated by the extremely pat way they are ultimately dealt with and disposed of by the end of the book. Before we get there, though, we have to sit through lengthy expressions of an old man's obsession with eternal torment in the afterlife and (of course) sex, for narrative purposes that still remain entirely unclear to me. Also, why were two of the converging plot threads taken up by wisecracking, profanity-loving ships carrying female passengers with similar-looking inscrutable names? It led to much confusion and added nothing. This is what reminded me the most of the …

Review of 'Surface Detail' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I admire the esteemed Mr Banks for his creativity, his worldbuilding, and the depth and complexity of the Culture mythos.

But. But. I have a love/hate relationship with the Culture series because the quality is just so uneven -- some of the Culture books are fun and engaging, and some of them are just muddled slogs. This one is a muddled slog. There's too way much lovingly crafted description of yet another fabulous complicated interstellar society (Zzzzz....skip skip skip skip) and the actual characters are so flatly drawn I had trouble telling them apart.

The book could have been half the size and had a third fewer characters and it would have been a much tighter story. Disappointing.

Review of 'Surface Detail' on 'GoodReads'

5 stars

This book kind of blew my mind (and brought back my rabid Iain Banks fandom, after the slight disappointment that was Excession). It took me a long time to read, partly because it's 600 pages long and partly because the hardback copy I have is too heavy to want to take on vacation, but also because it's thematically so huge that I kind of needed 4 months to digest it.

There are, of course, several interleaved plots, but the overarching one (introduced early enough for this not to be a spoiler) is a conflict about whether Hells should exist. This being the universe of the Culture, this is not a metaphysical question, but a purely ethical one, because civilisations can choose to have a hell or not, and that choice has become a major division between and within civilisations.

As I read the book, and plenty happened in my own …

Review of 'Surface Detail' on 'LibraryThing'

5 stars

This book kind of blew my mind (and brought back my rabid Iain Banks fandom, after the slight disappointment that was Excession). It took me a long time to read, partly because it's 600 pages long and partly because the hardback copy I have is too heavy to want to take on vacation, but also because it's thematically so huge that I kind of needed 4 months to digest it.

There are, of course, several interleaved plots, but the overarching one (introduced early enough for this not to be a spoiler) is a conflict about whether Hells should exist. This being the universe of the Culture, this is not a metaphysical question, but a purely ethical one, because civilisations can choose to have a hell or not, and that choice has become a major division between and within civilisations.

As I read the book, and plenty happened in my own …

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