Culture Books

The Culture series is a collection of novels and short stories from renowned science fiction author Ian M. Banks. The books explore a semi-anarchist utopian entity known as the Culture.

Order of Culture Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Consider Phlebas 1987 Description / Buy
2 The Player of Games 1988 Description / Buy
3 Use of Weapons 1990 Description / Buy
4 The State of the Art 1991 Description / Buy
5 Excession 1996 Description / Buy
6 Inversions 1998 Description / Buy
7 Look to Windward 2000 Description / Buy
8 Matter 2008 Description / Buy
9 Surface Detail 2010 Description / Buy
10 The Hydrogen Sonata 2012 Description / Buy
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Over a period of nine millennia, a number of humanoid tribes and races and even various forms of artificial intelligence came together and created a socialist society. The result was the Culture, a Utopia where all the needs and wants of the society are provided for by automated technological advancements.

The Culture has no need for rules, laws, and regulations because they do not have scarcity of any kind. Additionally, there is no centralized political structure in place because many of the citizens live in spaceships.

The Culture is written to be one of the most advanced technological and economic entities in the galaxy, only second to the Homomda and other so-called Elder civilizations. The Culture series primarily revolves around the war between the Culture and the Idirans.

The Idirans take offense with the way Culture society is run and their goal is to either change or eliminate the Culture as a whole. When they are not contending with the Idirans, the citizens of the culture are constantly fighting to define their lives.

Because everything they could possibly need or want is provided for them, the people of the Culture do not need to work. As a result they have little in the way of a purpose for their lives. It becomes common for Culture citizens to traverse the galaxy as members of the diplomatic and military service, doing good where they can and bringing prosperity to those desperate elements they encounter.

The war between the Culture and the Idirans is not a continuous war but, rather, a recurring conflict that the Culture knows will cause casualties in the billions but which their calculations have determined is the best course of action with regards to dealing with the Idiran campaign.

The Culture series is different from the most popular science fiction space operas because it places greater emphasis on the social, cultural and political matters of the Universe and the place of mankind in a growing galaxy. Ian M. Banks wrote the Culture novels at a time when right-wing science fiction was rife. Ian sought to create a fictional universe that reflected his personal opinions. Ian often boasted about the fact that his science fiction universe was one where life was actually good and people lived prosperous lives, this as opposed to the dark and grimy science fiction universes that Ian’s peers were writing at the time.

Culture Awards

The Culture has garnered numerous accolades over the years, this including an Italia Science Fiction Award in 2004. The Culture books and stories also made an appearance on the SF Site’s list of Best Science Fiction Books of 2001.

Best Culture Books

The Culture series is an acquired taste even amongst fans of science fiction; however, those readers that the series appeals to truly adore it, with some of the best Culture books including:

The Player of Games: There are many game players of note in the Culture Society. However, Jernau Morat Gurgeh considers himself to be one of the best, if not the best Player of Games in the galaxy. There is no board or computer-based game that Jernau hasn’t mastered.

However, Jernau isn’t content to simply make his mark in the Culture. So when an opportunity to of go to the Empire of Azad comes his way, Jernau jumps at it. Jernau knows how cruel and wealthy Azad is.

He also knows that they have one of the most complicated games ever created, one that could see its winner become Emperor. Jernau refuses to permit the dangers waiting in Azad to keep him from trying his hand at such a fabulous game.

Excession: The future of the universe rests on the shoulders of Byr Gen-Hofoen. The Diplomat is deployed by the espionage department of the Culture. He must steal the soul of a dead starship captain. Bry doesn’t realize that undertaking the mission will mire him in a conspiracy that could doom the Universe at large.

Other Book Series You May Like

The “Chronicle of the Fallers” by Peter F. Hamilton is another wide-ranging series. The stories told in this series are sequels to the Commonwealth and void series and trilogies and they explore the trials of humanity as it struggles to survive in the void—the core of the galaxy—and the assault of an alien species known as the Fallers who threaten their existence.

Culture fans may love the “Imperial Radch” Series by Ann Leckie. These books take place in the empire of Radch, a place where spaceships are sentient and are operated by human beings called ancillaries that are connected to a central mind. Breq is one such ancillary, a soldier who goes on numerous adventures.

What Is The Next Book in The Culture Series?

There doesn't seem to have an upcoming book in The Culture Series. The newest book is The Hydrogen Sonata and was released on October, 4th 2012.

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