Iain M. Banks novels

Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Sionnach Glic » Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:36 pm

Indeed, they all have their own personalities and quirks, much like their human counterparts.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:46 pm

Tell you what, in Excession when we met Grey Area aka Meatf*cker... I was genuinely nervous about that ship. Banks had built the Minds so well as this sort of jolly techno-god friend who's always there when you need him, and can do just about anything for you, and keeps you safe and gives you whatever you like. And then suddenly you find yourself in the company of one and find that he doesn't like you, in fact he doesn't like humans generally... and he fills himself with torture devices and weapons and god knows what else. I found that creepy and more than a little frightening.

I wonder... do Culture Minds ever go truly rogue? With all the millions of them out there, what if just one decided that yes, it DID want to get rid of these pesky Humans after all. I know the others would take it down eventually... but imagine how much damage even a GCU could do before it got chased down. And the thought of what a rogue GSV might do to its crew is hideous.

Banks could write a good book about that! :)
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Mikey » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:23 pm

Good point. Yes, I was also taken aback by Meatf***er, and the idea of a hugely powerful spaceship who - even worse than just disliking humans - actually enjoys screwing with them.

As far as the idea of a rogue anti-human Mind - it sounds very interesting. For the most part, though, it seems that the Minds regard humanity either as a necessary evil, a triviality, or at worst a minor nuisance - like fleas on a dog.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:23 pm

I get the impression that most Minds do actively like Humans. They have no need to have them on board, after all, and yet the vast majority of them do choose to do so.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Mikey » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:14 pm

Well, I have only read Excession to date, but I got the impression that humans were just tolerated by most ships - except the Sleeper Service, which regarded them more as a curiosity.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Tsukiyumi » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:36 pm

Now that my library has (finally!) re-opened, I'm making it a priority to check these out.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:40 pm

Excession is a bit of an oddity amongst Banks books precisely because it concentrates on the Minds rather than the people. In a way the people are irrelevant; it's virtually impossible for any human to comprehend enough data to compete with a Mind in terms of predicting and manipulating events... and yet some humans do exactly that anyway, somehow, which the Minds find truly fascinating. But most people do have little understanding of or influence on what is going on in the Culture, purely because the Culture is too big and complex for them to keep track of.

But it's not correct to say that Humans have no influence. The Culture is a democracy, to the extent that it has laws and government at all, with votes assigned on the basis of intelligence on a logarythmic scale. So for all their brains an individual Mind probably only has the same number of votes as a handful of people, and and grand issue is decided by Humans, not Minds.

But then Minds are smart enough that they could probably manipulate the humans en masse, if they want to. They certainly do so to individual humans sometimes.

In general, though, Minds live and work well with Humans in the Culture books. Keeping humans happy is a big part of what they do, and they don't seem to mind doing it at all - it's been said that if something like a GSV has a higher than average number of people leave it for any reason, the Minds in charge lose a good deal of face with their peers. "If you can't even keep the humans happy..."
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Sionnach Glic » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:57 pm

In reality, humans are little more than pets of the Minds. If the Minds wanted to, they could fuck humanity over in a second with the slightest of ease. It's purely through their benevolence that we have it so well off.

Tell you what, in Excession when we met Grey Area aka Meatf*cker... I was genuinely nervous about that ship. Banks had built the Minds so well as this sort of jolly techno-god friend who's always there when you need him, and can do just about anything for you, and keeps you safe and gives you whatever you like. And then suddenly you find yourself in the company of one and find that he doesn't like you, in fact he doesn't like humans generally... and he fills himself with torture devices and weapons and god knows what else. I found that creepy and more than a little frightening.


Agreed, that was one disturbing ship. The way it killed that commandant guy at the start of Excession was....disturbing. Sure, the guy deserved it, but it was still pretty unpleasant. Really brings home just how much power these ships have at their disposal, and hints at what a rogue one could do.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Captain Seafort » Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:00 pm

Rochey wrote:Really brings home just how much power these ships have at their disposal, and hints at what a rogue one could do.


That and the fact that they could wipe out a solar system if they brake too hard. :)
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Sionnach Glic » Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:07 pm

Yeah, that too.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Mikey » Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:24 pm

Yeah, or create an enormous armada of warships on its own.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Graham Kennedy » Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:34 pm

Rochey wrote:In reality, humans are little more than pets of the Minds. If the Minds wanted to, they could f**k humanity over in a second with the slightest of ease. It's purely through their benevolence that we have it so well off.


They could certainly turn the Humans into pets if they chose, but they haven't and seem unlikely to. It's hard to declare a segment of a population as pets when they have the deciding vote.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Sionnach Glic » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:18 am

Yes, they have a vote. My point was that the Minds could very easily change that, and there'd be nothing we could do to stop them. We exist purely due to their generosity.
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:41 pm

You could say much the same about many groups. Jews make up a small fraction of the US population, something like 2%. Is it therefore correct to say that Jewish people in the US exist only as a result of the non Jewish population's generosity?
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Re: Iain M. Banks novels

Postby Sionnach Glic » Sat Jan 17, 2009 4:12 pm

Well, to be perfectly blunt, yeah. Nazi Germany is an example of how a minority only exists as long as the majority have no ill will towards them.
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