Monday, January 14, 2013

A New Culture Novel!

Just finished the latest Iain M. Banks Culture novel, "The Hydrogen Sonata". I so love his totally post-human, galaxy-spanning Culture civilization. The main movers of the Culture are actually the (artificial) Minds mostly embodied in ships ranging in size from moderate to "that's not a moon, that's a battle station". They all have smart ass names, smart ass vehicle classes (Thugs, Hooligans, ...), and are constantly engaged in smart ass dialog. But, their key feature is that they are trying to optimize every situation; they are firmly committed to the principle that in a post-scarcity economy, complete and utter altruism is the only outlook on life that makes any sense.

Most of the conflict in a Culture novel usually comes from their dealings with a less advanced civilization, and basically using carrots, sticks, and whatever else is available to get everyone involved to Do The Right Thing. In this case, there is a non-Culture cousin civilization getting ready to Sublime -- move to the 7th and 8th dimensions, where space is mostly full rather than mostly empty as it is here -- and some less advanced civilizations squabbling over all the great gear they are leaving behind, with a 10,000 year old man thrown in just for fun.

Damn, I love these novels!

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