Matter by Iain M. Banks

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In a world renowned even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one man it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one - maybe two - people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she'd thought abandoned forever.

Only the sister is not what she once was; Djan Seriy Anaplian has changed almost beyond recognition to become an agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances section, charged with high-level interference in civilizations throughout the greater galaxy.

Concealing her new identity - and her particular set of abilities - might be a dangerous strategy, however. In the world to which Anaplian returns, nothing is quite as it seems; and determining the appropriate level of interference in someone else's war is never a simple matter.

MATTER is a novel of dazzling wit and serious purpose. An extraordinary feat of storytelling and breathtaking invention on a grand scale, it is a tour de force from a writer who has turned science fiction on its head.

About Iain M. Banks

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Iain Banks came to controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. Consider Phlebas, his first science fiction novel, was published under the name Iain M. Banks in 1987. He is now widely acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation.
Published January 24, 2009 by Orbit. 620 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Matter

The Guardian

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Matter by Iain M Banks Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop Iain M Banks's latest venture into widescreen, baroque science fiction takes t...

Mar 07 2009 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

The Guardian

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Matter by Iain M Banks 593pp, Orbit, £18.99 The Culture is an anarcho-communist, galaxy-spanning civilisation of post-humans and machines that has been the playground of some of Iain Banks's best novels, published with or without his middle initial.

Feb 09 2008 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

Publishers Weekly

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This magnificent eighth novel (after 2000’s Look to Windward ) of the Culture, an interstellar posthuman civilization of incredible wealth and technological sophistication, centers on three siblings: Ferbin and Oramen, the misfit heirs of conquering King Hausk of the Sarl, who rules a backward an...

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AV Club

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Kings, princes, evil viziers, treachery, and court intrigue share the stage with galactic civilizations, manufactured hollow worlds, interstellar spies, and terminal technologies in Matter, the triumphant new novel in Iain M.

Feb 27 2008 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

Entertainment Weekly

B Originally posted Feb 21, 2008 Published in issue #980 Feb 29, 2008 Order article reprints

Feb 22 2008 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

The Bookbag

A lot of the action takes place in a primitive world of Sarl, living a quasi-feudal existence on one of the levels of Sursamen: and presents a convincing picture of how such a culture could function in a world where the most advanced civilisations attained practical immortality, faster than light...

Nov 20 2012 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

(This is a motif further reflected not only in the layers of Sursamen visited, but also in the frozen architecture of the NamelessCity.) The book also deals with (as many of the Culture books do) the issues of interaction between the enlightened aliens and the peoples of Sursamen.

Jan 21 2008 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

SF Signal

Banks Read the Prologue of Matter by Iain Banks Iain Banks Interview Iain Banks Fanzine For You Banks Fans

Apr 07 2008 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

SF Signal

At that time, we start to find out what is really going on and Banks kicks it into high gear for high speed action till the end.

Feb 12 2008 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

National Review Online

Anyone familiar with how our children stack up with children from other countries in basic education would be painfully aware that American children lag behind children in countries that spend far less per pupil than we do.

Jun 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

Strange Horizons

In a lengthy episode that has no bearing on the plot, Hyrlis, who seems to be Iain Banks in Wellsian mode, brings Ferbin and Holse up to speed on elements of twenty-first century human cosmology that could be of passing interest to Culture fans: such as the multiverse hypothesis;

Apr 14 2008 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)


The Culture feels like an Iain M Banks equivalent of Hogwarts, a society that legions of starry-eyed SF fans dream about visiting.

Feb 06 2008 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

Socialist Review

The story of feudal warlords intertwined with the advanced societies of the far future is compelling enough, but Banks is often at his best in describing ideological debates (is it "culturally imperialist" for the Culture to intervene in other societies' technological and social development?), or...

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I’d recommend reading them as one book), and Tales of the Tikongs by Epeli Hau’ofa (which was a book for one of my university courses and has some really weird magical realist moments).

Dec 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Matter (Culture)

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