The culture special circumstances warship "Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints". All that it does, but especially replaying a battle to his human companion while grinning like a school boy.
I can't remember the name, but the bird-like hyper-active and hyper-polite aliens helping Veppers was hilarious.
The testimony in front of parliament of someone who had experienced one of the hells moved me.
I've heard The Culture novels can be difficult to get into. I started with Excession which really deals with most themes I've found, "backing up", ship minds, drones, avatars, orbitals, special circumstances, displacement, effectors, engines, hyperspace and the grid, the relation to other galactic societies, etc. For someone new to The Culture I might recommend checking out the wikipidia page to see the technologies involved so they don't stumble on certain concepts while reading or listening.
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