Talk:Look to Windward

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The end of the novel also shows a harder side to the Culture not seen in previous novels.

Hmm - if this is a reference to the swarm of nanotech bugs obliterating the guys in charge of the whole operation, it's comperable to Skaffen-Amtiskaw's antics described fairly early on in Use of Weapons... the supposedly pacifist Culture always seems to have a bit of edge to it. This is the one thing that troubles me about Banks' portrayal of the perfect society... Evercat 23:59, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

Actually, there's no indication in the book that the EDust swarm is from the Culture at all. It makes a point of destroying the soulkeepers of the priest and his henchman -- why would the Culture, who clearly doesn't believe in the Chelgian heaven at all, bother to do that? It seems more likely that the EDust was sent to cover the tracks of the entities behind the attack in the first place, by destroying all traces of information about them. We earlier see those same entities destroy a station, and a behemotaur, to cover up their tracks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:27, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

Indeed there is such an indication; in the chapter "Memory of Running" where the eDust swarm is first introduced, halfway through the book. Specifically, the swarm herself says so: "I am a Culture terror weapon, she thought, designed to horrify, warn, and instruct at the highest level". In fact, that and a later scene put a different light on the 'harder' side of the Culture. Quilan is told by Hub that 'some individuals might pay with their lives' but there would be no general retribution. This rather undermines the declaration that "The end of the novel ... shows a harder side to the Culture". Sdoradus (talk) 11:13, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

As well as the above quotes, there is also the line "She was to leave the complex's security monitoring system uncorrupted, so that what was done was seen to be done, and recorded." That makes it clear that this is not a cover-up, but rather the targeted retribution that Hub tells Quilan about. Prouder Mary 09:49, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

The harder side of the Culture was made readily apparent by the phase in the book and series, "You don't fuck with the Culture". That quite implies a severe reprisal from the Culture.Wzrd1 (talk) 06:35, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

September 11th parallels[edit]

Previously the text read ...

"This book deals with the themes of exile, religious justification of mass violence against humanity/sentience (rather prophetically considering this book was written before 11 September 2001)"

While originally I disagreed with the inclusion of a September 11th reference (by user Silveralex back in late 2004), I ultimately reneged and left it in. As the book deals explicitly with a religious society's (the Chel) attempt to inflict a massively violent blow against a technologically superior society (the Culture), it's easy to see why parallels can be drawn. For this reason, I think the reference should stay. As noted in the text, however, the novel was released before the events of 11th September 2001, so it could be argued that it's only a coincidence. Either way, I think drawing attention to this parallel (though not the Iraq War, which was always a bit odd) is worthwhile. As the article's something of a stub, perhaps this should be saved till it's fleshed out (with appropriate spoiler warnings). --Plumbago 15:45, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

I don't see that there's anything "prophetic" about dealing with "religious justification of mass violence against humanity" - it's something that's been going on for most of mankind's recorded history - it's not like 9/11 was the first instance of it. 07:41, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
I'm afraid that you're two years too late here. The offending text has long since been removed from the article. I changed my mind quite a while ago on it - the 9/11 comments were simply original research. Cheers, --Plumbago 09:04, 30 July 2007 (UTC)


Further to my edit, I don't remember the epilogue set long after the novel's events says much at all about the fate of the Culture (despite my edit). It seems more of a humourous aside tying up one of the novel's plot strands, although it could be interpreted as the author's attempt to put things in perspective. For the airsphere's inhabitants, the events of the novel are practically insignificant when viewed on their time-scale. Anyway, I don't think anything is said regarding the Culture, but the ending could be read as suggestive of a completely changed galactic order. --Plumbago 12:49, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

True, given a strict reading it doesn't say much. But it does seem to me to suggest that there is no Culture anymore, or at least nothing by that name - for the resurrected Uagen Zlepe, no home to return to. While the behemothaurs have other things on their minds, they have very long, encyclopaedic memories, and in the epilogue the other (younger?) behemothaur is unfamiliar with even the name "The Culture". Certainly Banks has not committed to anything. --Rallette 08:45, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
Actually, fair point. I'd forgotten that the behemothaur was unfamiliar with the Culture. That strongly suggests that they've "disappeared" somehow (be it extinction, evolution or Sublimation). Anyway, well remembered. I think the text can stay as is though, as my edit was really to remove a possible spoiler. But please edit if you'd like to expand on it. Cheers, --Plumbago 09:44, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
The epilogue took place a galactic cycle after plot events - the time taken for the behemothaur to revisit the same area of space after orbiting the galactic centre. From elementary astrophysics thirty years ago at Canterbury Uni., a mean orbital period of not less than 30 million years is about right, but the actual figure will vary from star to star. Regardless, the Chel are referred to in the epilogue as the SECOND most reviled culture ... which raises the distinct possibility that the "Culture" is the most reviled. One wonders what, in Banks' mind, the Culture might have done to so piss off the behemothaurs. A clue: the Behemothaurs are noted as a civilisation which is bad news in that those peoples doing them violence statistically always come to a bad end. Special Circumstances might have taken a dim view of that.Sdoradus (talk) 09:50, 17 October 2010 (UTC)
Just checked - the 30 million years was the period of oscillation above and below the galactic plane. A better estimate of a galactic cycle at the sun's distance from galactic centre would be about 250 million years. So basically the last time we were in the current point of the orbit was at the Permian extinction event (the great dying).Sdoradus (talk) 08:44, 19 November 2010 (UTC)


I changed the date in the summary, because my reading of the book was that the Chelgrian war was much more recent than 800 years; probably within four decades. The 800 year figure is related to the time since the Twin Novas battle in the Idiran War, as referred to (but not by name) in the Analysis section. blech 11:37, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

  • Thanks Paul. I had just reread it without noyicing, but I think you're right. Guinnog 14:11, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I've added a link to my "Chelgrian" page, it's in the style of the "Idiran" page. I've also taken care not to duplicate too much information already here Conscious Bob 19:21, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

So, who did it?[edit]

Who were the involveds who gave the Chelgrians the tech for the attack? IMO, the clues in the book all fit perfectly with one answer, and seem designed to point to that answer while not actually writing it out. So have anybody else figured out who did it :). Thue | talk 20:30, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

GSV Lasting Damage[edit]

Here is the information from the page for the GSV Lasting Damage before the page was deleted by our good friends the deletionists.

The GSV Lasting Damage was a fictional General Systems Vehicle belonging to Iain M. Banks' fictional society The Culture. Its Mind later became the Hub of the Orbital Masaq. In this capacity it is a major character in the novel Look to Windward.

History The Lasting Damage was one of the GSVs that formed the Culture's offensive forces during the early part of the Idiran-Culture War. During this time the Lasting Damage embarked on a mission behind enemy lines aimed at disrupting the Idiran forces so as to buy time for the evacuation of a group of Culture Orbitals. Evidence at the time showed that its mission was successful, but that it was hunted down by the Idirans and destroyed.

As was common practice, before embarking on its mission, the Lasting Damage had transmitted a copy of its Mind State to another vessel. After its presumed destruction, this Mind State was embedded within a new GSV and it continued to participate in the conflict.

However, against all odds the original Lasting Damage had managed to survive, its Mind having escaped in a smaller vessel. It deliberately waited before trying to return to Culture space to avoid detection, and its survival was not known for some time. Upon its return, its successor renamed itself Lasting Damage II, and it took up the name Lasting Damage I. They became part of the same fleet, and fought together for most of the Idiran-Culture War.

Towards the end of the conflict both the Lasting Damage I and II were involved in the Twin Novae Battle. Before this battle the two Lasting Damages exchanged Mind states. During the battle the Lasting Damage II was destroyed. Afterward, the Lasting Damage I merged its mind state with that of its successor and concealed details of which of the two vessels was actually destroyed.

Significantly, at some point during the conflict, the Lasting Damage was tasked with the destruction of an orbital. This was done despite the fact that a number of people were still (willingly) on the orbital. This action deeply affected the Lasting Damage's emotional outlook on war and death.

Aftermath Some time after the Idiran-Culture War, the Lasting Damage decided to become the Hub of the Orbital Masaq. It continued in this role until it committed suicide 807 years after the end of the Twin Novae Battle as the light of the second nova reached the orbital. In most respects, the Mind was fully sane at that time (and took care that its suicide would not hurt those under its care on the orbital).

As all citizens of the Culture (biological or artificial) are effectively immortal, choosing death at some point is relatively commonplace (though not so much with Minds). The choice to suicide is usually made after one feels that one has either lived one's life to the fullest, or has experienced something after which continued life would be too much of an effort.

Retrieved from ""

If possible it would be good to fold that information back into this article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:38, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Excession time setting[edit]

Just sorting the chronology and tie-ins of the various Culture books, since I like to read these things in (chrono)logical order. The present article indicates that Look to Windward places Excession somewhere 200 or 300 yrs ealier, is that right? If so then the chronology given in the main Culture article,, is different, since there the two books are just a bit over 100 yrs apart. Which is correct then? Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nrlsouza (talkcontribs) 10:50, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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