there’s something about a Culture novel that makes a non-geek really want to become a geek: to comb over every detail of every Culture novel, looking for connections and cross-references and overlapping treatments of themes, and have a list of Culture ship names tattooed up one’s legs. one wants to go to Culture conventions dressed up as a character from the novels, and pretend very hard that one is a Culture citizen.
this novel will only add to that ever-growing desire.
so, what happens when it becomes necessary to hunt down and talk to the Culture’s oldest citizen? and why on the verge of a non-Culture civilization’s immanent Subliming? and really, what does it mean for a whole civilization to Sublime, anyway?
and so the story runs through the usual (and how can one say usual?) complex and multi-layered plot, with the ideas coming as thick and fast as knife missiles, and the characters as multitudinous and variously weird, and the Ships as over-the-top awesome as always.
and then one gets to the end, which is unlike any other Culture (or any other, but one) novel i can remember reading.
the end, i think, is worthy of a very long, hard think.