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Surface Detail Audiobook

Surface Detail: A Culture Novel

Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right, she will need the help of the Culture....
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Publisher's Summary

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. And it begins with a murder.

Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right, she will need the help of the Culture.

Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful - and arguably deranged - warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war - brutal, far-reaching - is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality.

©2010 Iain M. Banks (P)2010 Hachette Audio

What the Critics Say

"Banks's labyrinthine and devious ninth Culture space opera novel adeptly shifts perspective between vast concepts and individual passions....New readers may be taken aback by the rapid pace, but fans will dive right in and won't come up for air until the final page." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-05-14 Member Since 2015

    I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very smart, very engaging"

    As in his other books in the Culture series, Banks has really illustrated how artificial intelligences will just completely overshadow humanity, Most sci-fi authors jump through hoops to get away from that notion, because it is difficult to write about. Banks tackles it head on, and as a result, his stories are the smartest in all of modern sci-fi.

    Banks did a better job with writing engaging characters here than I've seen in his earlier books. That's a good sign, as it was my primary complaint about him in other reviews.

    Banks does little hand-holding in his novels. He throws you in, and you just need to figure out what's going on. I respect him for respecting his readers... but it is representative of Banks's style in general. He isn't concerned with captivating his readers. He wants to tell his story and you can come along if you like.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melanie Sylmar, CA, United States 04-22-11
    Melanie Sylmar, CA, United States 04-22-11 Member Since 2015
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    "As good as I had hoped"

    I am a big fan of Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds and have been interested in discovering Iain M Banks for a while. When I saw this book on Audible I jumped at the chance to finally listen to one of his books. Well worth the wait! Banks has a very engaging style of writing...I like to think of it as Dr. Who meets Douglas Adams but I'm being very simplistic. Suffice to say, if you get the book be prepared to be entertained...my only bit of warning is that his gruesome Hell scenes can be a bit graphic. Don't let that stop you...if you like British Sci Fi, you'll love this guy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simon Fraser NYC 02-20-11
    Simon Fraser NYC 02-20-11 Member Since 2010

    Draws comics

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Banksian, Great narration"

    I'll refrain from saying too much about the book itself , as I haven't finished it yet. So far it's classic Banks, that is to say as good as modern Sci-Fi gets. I would like to say that the narration by Peter Kenny is remarkable, subtle and controlled where it needs to be and with a formidable control over his vocal range. He does voices and accents , both male and female, young and old with great assurance. As a result , all the characters were clear and easy to distinguish. This is no small thing in a Banks book where there can be a great number of characters, aliens, humans, A.Is all with very different characters and points of view.
    I would seek out Mr Kenny as a narrator now...even if I wasn't sure about the book itself and that's no small thing for me to say.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Halifax, NS, Canada 12-18-10
    David Halifax, NS, Canada 12-18-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Above average Banks, excellent reader"

    Iain Banks's Culture novels can sometimes disappoint, but this is one of the better ones, if not up there with a classics like 'The Player of Games'. Despite the complicated use of interweaving multiple plotlines, there's a strong sense of unity centred around the notion that virtual reality could eradicate death, and each of the plotlines tackles a variation on the implications of that idea, even as they all start coalescing into one story. The stories are all interesting, although if the book has a flaw it's that one of the stories - the tale of two academics who choose to enter their civilization's virtual Hell to prove its existence - is so violent, terrifying and heartbreaking that the rest of the book feels a little ho-hum by comparison.

    Books with complex, multiple plotlines don't always translate well to the audiobook format, but Peter Denny is an absolute genius who conjures a vast array of different accents for the many characters, meaning that you never lose track of where you are. It's an absolutely superb performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pie Saint Petersburg, FL, United States 12-02-10
    Pie Saint Petersburg, FL, United States 12-02-10 Listener Since 2007
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    "MOST excellent tale :)"

    Well written. Very interesting characters. Intriguing concepts. Excellent :) I will have to look into MORE by this writer :)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Moore Creative Charlote NC USA 01-15-16
    Moore Creative Charlote NC USA 01-15-16 Member Since 2015

    MC Tags&Reviews

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    "Ian Banks is a master of surprise endings"
    Where does Surface Detail rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    An excellent dramatization by Peter Kenny! Such voices and inflection. An excellent story with plenty of "stuck in the driveway still listening to a chapter end" moments.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Surface Detail?

    Like a collection of short stories with different characters that do not overlap, the culmination of the plot brings all characters together in a meaningful way that is enhanced by the disparate nature of their origins and motivations. Ian Bank's brilliance, though shines in his presenting the expected showdown events with turns and points unexpected. Throw in complete surprise elements and you have a riveting story that ends with a bang.


    Which character – as performed by Peter Kenny – was your favorite?

    the difference in voices, accents, speed and delivery intonations as different between characters, that's what I love about Peter Kenny's craft.


    Any additional comments?

    I struggled to find a good order to read Ian Banks books, having stumbled upon "Use of Weapons" in a list of "best surprise endings with a twist" sci-fi stories ever. They were right, it is an amazingly excellent surprise twist that you have to make sure doesn't get spoiled for you.

    That book, Use of Weapons is a great introduction to the Culture novels as it outlines many of the structures and ideas of the Culture. So I would definitely recommend it as a first book to read. This one, "Surface Detail" is another of course, and here is how I would recommend anyone read their first few...

    1. Use of Weapons - Introduction to the Culture
    2. The Player of Games - Story set in Culture environment
    3. Surface Detail - Story that furthers Culture views, values and SC workings

    I'm off now to pick my next Culture novel to dive into.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stewart 09-30-15
    Stewart 09-30-15
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    "Another in a long line of masterpieces"

    Iain M. Banks is honestly a God among authors, his stories have such complex, logical yet completely out of this world concepts that set him apart from other SciFi authors, these are as much accurate predictions of the distant future as they are fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Monrovia, CA, United States 09-21-15
    Chris Monrovia, CA, United States 09-21-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Best culture book yet"

    The uninitiated reader might not find this story quite as compelling due to some reliance on foreknowledge of the Culture and it's ways. But I believe this to be the best Culture book yet. The characters are developed extremely well and the plot is delightful (if not a little twisted). While lacking some of the moral ambiguity typical of Culture series books, this story still manages to captivate the reader on several levels. Political intrigue, murder, and the search for meaning in life are rampant. It feels to me that the author has shown some literary maturity with this outing, as previous stories felt somewhat unfinished or hastily wrapped up. This story, on the other hand, has more of a completeness and soundness. Despite being somewhat convoluted (as all Culture books are), the story coalesced and resolved more succinctly than any that came before. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, as I hope to see further development of story and Culture lore. .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack 05-13-15
    Jack 05-13-15

    Hue.

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    "great book. amazing narration. fun romp"

    another smash hit narrated by peter kenny. his command of voice is truly entertaining. ill be devouring more of his narration shortly

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter 05-06-15
    Peter 05-06-15
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    "Brilliant storytelling!"

    As always, a very good listen with fairly mindboggling changes in storytelling perspective. Somewhat demanding and compex. If you let your attention drop for a while the narrative could litteraly have you transported to an entirely new part of the universe or even another dimension altogether! But to me this is what Iain Banks is all about.

    Peter Kennedy is absolutely fantastic. His ability to make up new phrasings, dialects and voicings for the sometimes very disparate character gallery is second to none. His personification of Culture drones, minds and other wierd aliens sometimes make me laugh out loud (not always part of the social contract when commuting to work)...

    A solid listen for Culture fans!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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