Look to Windward
|Look to Windward|
|Author||Iain M. Banks|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
Look to Windward is a science fiction novel by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks, first published in 2000. It is Banks' sixth published novel to feature the Culture. The book's dedication reads: "For the Gulf War Veterans".
Despite the passage of time, Major Quilan still suffers grief and bereavement from the death of his wife, killed during the Chelgrian civil war that resulted from the Culture's interference. Quilan is offered the chance to avenge the lost Chelgrians who died in the civil war and is inducted into a plot to strike back at the Culture. As part of the plot, his "Soulkeeper" (a device normally used to store its owner's personality upon their death) is equipped with both the mind of a long-dead Chelgrian general and a device that can transport wormholes connected to weapons caches. Quilan is then sent to Masaq' Orbital, ostensibly to persuade Mahrai Ziller to return to his native Chel but is in reality on a suicide mission to destroy the Orbital's Hub Mind. To protect him from detection at Masaq', Quilan's memory is selectively blanked until he reaches his target.
On Masaq', Ziller lives in self-imposed exile, having renounced his privileged position in Chel's caste system. An accomplished composer, he has been commissioned to compose music to mark the anniversary of the Idiran-Culture War. Upon hearing of Quilan's visit, and his reason for travel, Ziller scrupulously avoids him, reluctant to engage with a civilization that repels him.
Quilan succeeds in placing the wormholes in the Mind's Hub, but the Mind detects them immediately and, although not able to track the location of the other end of the wormholes, suggests that the Involved "aliens" assisting Quilan's mission may have been a group of Culture minds seeking to keep the Culture from being too complacent. Having struggled with its memories from the Idiran-Culture war, when it was the General Systems Vehicle Lasting Damage, the Mind reveals to Quilan that it seeks to cease existing and offers to take Quilan with it. They both die.
At the end of the novel, a nightmarishly efficient E-Dust Assassin is unleashed by the Culture in retribution against the Chelgrian priest who was responsible, as well as his immediate co-conspirators.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2012)|
Many contemporary literary journals reviewed Look to Windward favourably, and critics consider the author one of the prime motivators for the return to the mainstream of contemporary UK fiction and science fiction.