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Surface Detail Audiobook

Surface Detail: A Culture Novel

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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

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (821 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-05-14 Member Since 2016

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

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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 2017

    Draws comics

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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 Member Since 2017
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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
  •  
    Rosalie 08-16-17
    Rosalie 08-16-17 Member Since 2015
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    "And of course, Banks gets you at the end."

    Well read, excellent story on top of that. Banks classic Culture novel, with great characters and twists.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl 07-07-17
    Carl 07-07-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Always makes me consider WoW and its future"

    Not my favourite Culture story, but usually the first one I recomend to friends (Player of Games, no defence for my choice) as it plays well as an intro to Culture, then supllies significant reread value once theyve absorbed the rest of his work, plus a Zakalwe tease to give it another perspective on read 3.

    Banks' "Easy read" for me. An audio book im happy pick up and listen to from any point

    Considering it after a re-read in 2017, i cant believe this isnt multiply explored in LitRPG. many Veppers like companies and characters spatter the genre, but no literal vrmmo hells from fundamentalists.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garrett S. Ott Boston 04-06-17
    Garrett S. Ott Boston 04-06-17

    Garrett

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    "The Culture!"

    One of the best of the Culture series. Iain Banks is the master of epic sci if and Peter Kenny is one of the absolute best narrators. The combo is pure entertainment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BK 03-29-17
    BK 03-29-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Brilliant"

    No coincidence Elon Musk uses names and terminology from Banks' books. This is great scifi and futurism.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Seymour, CT, United States 03-25-17
    John Seymour, CT, United States 03-25-17 Member Since 2011
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    "First Culture Book I've read."

    Iain M. Banks gets amazing reviews for all of his books. I listened to this book as a member of a sci-fi book club. This was the first book on our list, and the first Banks book I've read. In short, I detested it. It was painful torture to get through. Although his writing is actually quite good, I found the content achingly dull. There are some very interesting ideas buried within acres of utterly indecipherable technobabble. I liked the AI spaceships, and find the concepts of virtual heaven and hell to be inventive and clever. I did not care for the discussion of torture, or the chaotic nature of this story. Had I not been in the book club, I would not have finished this book. I'm sure fans of Banks have their reasons, but having listened to this book, I have less than zero desire to experience anything else he has to offer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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