(2000) Iain M. Banks, Orbit, £16.99, hrdbk, 357pp
On the Culture’s orbital, Masaq’, the hub Mind prepares for a commemorative celebration in the light of exploding stars from an old war. On Masaq’ the Chelgrian composer, Ziller, is worries that an emissary from his home world has come to take him back and forms a friendship with a Homomdan guest, Kabe. But the Chelgrian emissary has another mission, one so secret that he doesn’t know what it is himself... Banks is very much at home in his Culture universe, or course, and he dutifully reveals all manner of wonderful landscapes while making it appear effortless. Fans of Banks will need no encouragement to go out and get this novel, and non-fans will be pleased to hear that all the Culture novels do not need to be read in sequence, so this is as good a place to start as any.
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