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Culture Series - MacGregor - 08-16-2020

If I was to start reading Iain Banks Culture series where should I begin? What if I could oh my read one book?

RE: Culture Series - Dfleymmes1134 - 08-16-2020

If you want to ease in to the series, I suggest you start with the following in this order:

The Player of Games (most accessible culture novel tbh and a good intro)

Excession (focuses a lot on the Culture minds and their interaction with each other)

Use of Weapons (one of my personal favorites)

Anything else - if you have read the above you will have a good feel for how much you like the Culture universe.

Whilst none of the novels require that you have read a previous Culture novel, the more recent (Surface Detail, Hydrogen Sonata) sort of have a background assumption that you at least have a passing familiarity with the Culture.

I would avoid Inversions altogether (not a culture novel imo) and The State of the Art is short stories, only 2 of which are Culture stories IIRC, so only read it if you are a Culture completionist.

RE: Culture Series - Drashner1 - 08-16-2020

In order of my enjoyment of them and why:

Excession - Focuses on the Culture itself - a lot of the earlier Culture novels take place outside the Culture. We see a lot about Culture ships and Orbitals and tech.

Look to Windward - Much the same reasons as Excession - most of the story is set on an orbital. We learn a lot about how the Culture operates internally and what people in the Culture do with their time.

The Player of Games - Set mostly outside the Culture but told from the pov of a Culture citizen. We learn something of how the Culture works and how it deals with/manipulates non-Culture civs. This is also one of what I would deem - 'classic' Culture novels - written early in the series. Excession and Look to Windward are more 'mid-period'.

Most of the other stories are set outside the Culture and a couple of the later ones could plausibly be said to treat the Culture as a secondary element. They are still good, but I like the above better.

Hope this helps,


RE: Culture Series - MacGregor - 08-16-2020

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I just downloaded The Player of Games on audible.

RE: Culture Series - stevebowers - 08-16-2020

I'm a big fan. Consider Phlebas is a rollocking good adventure story, and Matter is a classic in the Sealed Evil in a Can genre.

I think my favourite is Excession, though. The interactions between the Interesting Times Gang are witty and cynical.

RE: Culture Series - MacGregor - 09-09-2020

Finished, The Player of Games. It was very good, thanks for the recommendation guys.