Review: Excession

Excession by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book tickled my fancy. What a strange universe.

War footed aliens, an AI mind conspiracy, a love story gone weird, entanglements aplenty, and oh–an event of such proportion that freaks out a multi-thousand year old Culture. Yea. That’ll do.

While I find Banks people-sided stories well writ, composed and read they don’t hook me as deep as the science(y) side of events. I like them, but I’m always left going, “What?” Probably because my mind is not a couple thosand years in the future and I don’t live in the Culture proper. Or maybe right now I just want more science. I dunno. I like them, but I don’t love them.

What I do highly enjoy was the drama of the AI Minds, their deep thought, ponderings, escapisms, and more. To be able to shunt off elements of a mind to interact with people, think on multiple courses of actions, sit in a universe of their own creation, and perhaps stage elaborate art pieces with sleeping humans. All within pico-seconds? LoL! Awesome.

As it’s also been mentioned by reviewers greater than I. Ship names. They are glorious. To read a complete list here. For a sampling: Unacceptable Behavior, Ethics Gradient, Honest Mistake, Quietly Confident, Jaundiced Outlook, The Anticipation of a New Lover’s Arrival, Yawning Angel, and so many more. The AI’s get to name them, and I will never think in simple terms when I name gaming elements again. Too much fun!

This Culture novel is much better balanced with the human, alien, & ultra-aliens. Along with a healthy dose of getting to understand the effectors underneath the technology of the Culture. Which was pretty vivid at times and leads one to dream a little.

I also had very little idea where this was going and Banks hid it well until truely the end. How will a brimming war play out? What is the conspiracy? Will it be broken? Will the Excession itself do something? WTH is it? Will the human components find reconciliation? Will a 40 year gestation ever birth? There are so many resolutions you deeply want to understand how it plays out–and it does. So enjoy.

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