Surface Detail, Iain M. Banks's new contribution to the Culture Series, is just out from Orbit Books. It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself. For the uninitiated, let's look at this Culture, shall we?

Preview Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

The Culture is a post-scarcity, egalitarian group-civilization made up of AIs and humanoids formed from seven or eight humanoid species, space-living elements of which established a loose federation approximately nine thousand years ago. In its complicated history it has seen waves of empires, federations, colonizations, die-backs, wars, species-specific dark ages, renaissances, periods of mega-structure building and destruction, and whole ages of benign indifference and malign neglect.

Warring enclaves and threats of hegemonizing swarms occasionally force the peace-loving Culture to defend itself. But the personal turmoils of individual inhabitants can also make the benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful society rally. In Surface Detail, Lededje Y'breq, one of the Intagliated, belongs to a man whose lust for power is without limit. She is prepared to risk everything for her freedom, but her release, will come at a price. To put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

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 brutal, far-reaching war is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality.

Surface Detail is a breathtaking achievement from Iain M. Banks—a writer whose body of work is without parallel in the modern history of science fiction. Read an excerpt below and click here to order your copy!