The Culture

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willpell
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The Culture

Post by willpell » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:07 am

I write stories as a way of making myself feel better, and so a lot of them come out kind of...not quite saccharine, but excessively-optomistic for most people's taste. I thought I was just being weaksauce, but about a year ago I first heard of Iain Banks's "The Culture" series, which is about the most utopian sci-fi you could ever ask for, with people living in a post-scarcity society run by omnipotent but anarchistic AIs called Minds, who use insane hypertechnology to provide for humanity's needs so that all people can live lives of peace and indulgence. What's most amazing about it, is that Banks actually manages to make a society of happy shiny people with very few problems interesting, in defiance of conventional wisdom. It really gives me hope that my brand of literature has a niche in the world, even if gritty grimdarkness is likely to always be more popular.
You either die Chaotic, or you live long enough to see yourself become Lawful.
Glemp wrote:To some extent, you need to be arrogant - without it, you are vulnerable being made someone's tool...for Herbert's sake, have the stubbornness not to submit to what you see instantly, because you can only see some facts at a time.
My long-neglected blog.

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RocketScientist
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Re: The Culture

Post by RocketScientist » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:19 pm

I've never heard of that, but it does sound interesting to me. I'm super tired of gritty, rebooty, dark gray everything. :meh:
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TinSoldier
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Re: The Culture

Post by TinSoldier » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:14 pm

RocketScientist wrote:I've never heard of that, but it does sound interesting to me. I'm super tired of gritty, rebooty, dark gray everything. :meh:
I like gritty and dark.

However, I fully agree that not everything needs to be that way and that people have gotten stupid with it.

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thinkslogically
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Re: The Culture

Post by thinkslogically » Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:27 am

I've been catching up on a lot of old fantasy over the past year or so and I find a lot of that to be sooooo cliched that even if the story is well told or whatever, 95% of the time it boils down to: all the good guys survive and everyone lives happily ever after. I personally find it refreshing that there has been more of a move away from that to explore fantasy in a more 'realistic' manner with characters who go through shit and lose people (and have victories too) before they get to the end of their story. But yes, there is a lot of grey out there at the moment and I'm hoping we'll find a better balance some time soon :)

On topic: I read the first book in the culture series and have to admit I didn't really like it but it's probably mostly because I don't really like Iain (M) Banks style more than anything else.

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willpell
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Re: The Culture

Post by willpell » Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:12 am

thinkslogically wrote:On topic: I read the first book in the culture series and have to admit I didn't really like it but it's probably mostly because I don't really like Iain (M) Banks style more than anything else.


The second book in the series is much better, so I suggest reading that before you give up on it. It's called "The Player of Games" and is generally agreed to be the best of the Culture books among the people I've talked to.
You either die Chaotic, or you live long enough to see yourself become Lawful.
Glemp wrote:To some extent, you need to be arrogant - without it, you are vulnerable being made someone's tool...for Herbert's sake, have the stubbornness not to submit to what you see instantly, because you can only see some facts at a time.
My long-neglected blog.

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willpell
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Re: The Culture

Post by willpell » Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:27 am

R.I.P.
You either die Chaotic, or you live long enough to see yourself become Lawful.
Glemp wrote:To some extent, you need to be arrogant - without it, you are vulnerable being made someone's tool...for Herbert's sake, have the stubbornness not to submit to what you see instantly, because you can only see some facts at a time.
My long-neglected blog.

nikohl
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Re: The Culture

Post by nikohl » Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:09 pm

Indeed. My favourite author, a great man, friendly and engaging despite being pretty famous, and pretty cheerful despite his morbid imagination...gone far too soon.

(The Player of Games is far and away the best book in the Culture series, in no small part -because- it's one dude from the Culture buggering off out of it. My favourite book of all time is "Against A Dark Background" which is one of IMB's non-Culture but still-SciFi novels. If you haven't tried it yet, do. Oh em gee, do. It's good. I have a signed copy, somewhere :))

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willpell
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Re: The Culture

Post by willpell » Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:15 pm

I regret that I never got around to contacting him when I found out he was soon to Sublime. The few emails I exchanged with Jack Chalker a year or so before his expiration stand as a high point of my life's experiences.
You either die Chaotic, or you live long enough to see yourself become Lawful.
Glemp wrote:To some extent, you need to be arrogant - without it, you are vulnerable being made someone's tool...for Herbert's sake, have the stubbornness not to submit to what you see instantly, because you can only see some facts at a time.
My long-neglected blog.

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willpell
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Re: The Culture

Post by willpell » Wed Dec 25, 2013 7:06 pm

I have since read two more Culture novels, "Inversions" (which is only theoretically one) and "The Hydrogen Sonata" (his last). The former was quite excellent, while the latter grabbed me right away, despite my having read a plot summary which sounded disappointing to me, but then turned out to have an unsatisfying ending. In general, a lot of the Culture Novels seem to end up with not much actually having happened, compared to how much the characters went through to get there, but the journey is pretty much always entertaining to me. Overall it's not a bad style of novel-writing, even if it's not necessarily the best; the universe remains fairly homeostatic, but interesting stuff happens to and around the main characters, and I enjoy just sort of immersing myself in the setting.
You either die Chaotic, or you live long enough to see yourself become Lawful.
Glemp wrote:To some extent, you need to be arrogant - without it, you are vulnerable being made someone's tool...for Herbert's sake, have the stubbornness not to submit to what you see instantly, because you can only see some facts at a time.
My long-neglected blog.

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