Iain Banks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iain_Banks and http://www.iain-banks.net/) died on 9 June 2013. Diagnosed with terminal cancer of the gallbladder he wittily asked his long term partner Adele if she would do him the honour of becoming his widow (http://www.iain-banks.net/2013/04/03/a-personal-statement-from-iain-banks/). He has left multitudes of grieving fans.

In the fifth book in the ‘Culture’ series, published 1996, he offers us the following story. Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared. Now it is back. Silent, motionless, and resisting all efforts to make contact, the artifact waits. The Culture ships, however, cannot. For the artifact is something they need to understand first, before it falls into less understanding hands – and triggers a political and military crisis which will threaten everything the Culture has achieved. One person who saw the artifact when it first appeared may have information concerning its purpose, but she is living out her death in the immense Eccentric ship, the Sleeper Service. The Culture ships formulate a plan to retrieve her. The Sleeper Service has other things on its mind.

464 pages in Orbit paperback edition

ISBN 978-1857234572


Iain M. Banks


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