- Surface Detail by Iain M Banks – review - Naomi Alderman - The Guardian - Saturday 23 October 2010
- Surface Detail, By Iain M Banks - Roz Kaveney - The Independent - Friday, 15 October 2010
- Iain M Banks: Surface Detail - Alastair Mabbott - Herald Scotland - 11 Oct 2010
- Book review: Surface Detail, by Iain M Banks - Francis Spufford - Scotsman.com
- Surface Detail, By Iain M Banks - Doug Johnstone - The Independent - Sunday, 7 November 2010
- Surface Detail by Ian Banks - Sam Wood - Northwords Now (http://www.northwordsnow.co.uk/)
- Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks - Abigail Nussbaum - Strange Horizons - 13 June 2011
- Book review: 'Surface Detail' by Iain M. Banks - Jeff VanderMeer - Los Angeles Times - 1 January 2011
- Surface detail hides deep questions in new Banks novel - Clare Wilson - New Scientist - Reed Business Information Ltd. - 11 November 2010
- Russell Letson reviews Iain M. Banks - Russell Letson - Locus Publications - Wednesday 29 December 2010
|Author||Iain M. Banks|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
Among a member of a human-like species, Lededje Y'breq wears a full-body tattoo which brands her as a slave of the powerful tycoon Veppers, who frequently rapes her and, when she tries to escapes, kills her. Neither knew that an eccentric Culture ship had implanted into Lededje brain a "neural lace", which at the woman's death sent a copy of her memories to the General Systems Vehicle Sense Amid Madness, Wit Amidst Follow.
The rulers of the elephant-like Pavuleans, who form large herds, maintain a Hell with which they punish for ever those whose conduct the ruler dislike. Prin and Chay volunteer to sent copies of their souls into this Hell, hoping to return and expose the atrocities, but only Prin is able to escape.
For a long time there has been a battle between high-tech civilisations about whether Hells should be maintained or destroy. So far this has only be waged in simulations, which the pro-Hell group seem to be winning, and some of the anti-Hell ones seem ready to transfer the war to the real universe. The Culture was excluded from the virtual contests because it earlier mismanaged an intervention in the religious affair of the Chelgrians,<book> but regards Hells as atrocities.
Veppers turns out to be a major controller of Hell worlds.
For a long time there has been a battle between high-tech civilisations about whether Hells should be maintained for controlling the undesirable or destroy as atrocities. So far this has only be waged in simulations, which the pro-Hell group seem to be winning, and some of the anti-Hell ones seem ready to transfer the war to the real universe. The Culture was excluded from the virtual contest because it earlier mismanaged an intervention in the religious affair of the Chelgrians,<book> but regards Hells as barbaric.
A member of the human-like Sichultian species, Lededje Y'breq wears a full-body tattoo which brands her as a slave of the powerful tycoon Veppers, who frequently rapes her and, when she tries to escapes, kills her and has her body curn.:1-16 Neither knew that an eccentric Culture ship had implanted into Lededje brain a "neural lace", which at the woman's death sent a copy of her memories to the General Systems Vehicle Sense Amid Madness, Wit Amidst Folly. The GSV gradually revives in virtual mode all of Lededje's memories, leaving the traumatic death to the end. The GSV then offer to create for the girl a new human-like body, which Lededje grateful accepts.:57-94 At the same time, Veppers has her origin body burnt, but his doctor, Sulbazghi, found the traces of the neural lace in the furnace and his security lead, Jasker, recognized that it was a Culture devise for storing minds.:101-114
Similar personality copying techniques allows the soldier Vateuil to fight and die in a variety of environments, including as a human-like sapper and as a mainly energy being which moves between layers and fractures of ice.:17-29<book>
- Re-check Vateuil r|Banks2010SurDetPapBack|page1=115-145
Culture agent Yime Nsokyi is sent into a desperate mission in which she dies, and realises that it was a training mission in a virtual world, as part of the Culture's plans include its survival in the most extreme conditions.:31-44
The rulers of the elephant-like Pavuleans, who form large herds, maintain a computer-created Hell with which they punish excruciatingly and for ever those whose conduct the ruler dislike. Prin and Chay volunteer to sent copies of their souls into this Hell, hoping to return and expose the atrocities,:45-55 but only Prin is able to escape:95-100 while Chay suffers for what subjectively seems to be decades, until she is old. Back in the physical world, Prin becomes more determined to expose and abolish the system. <book>
For VanderMeer, Lededje's murder, resurrection and quest for revenge are the core of the book, but may be linked to the controversial about the Hells, in which the commando Vatueil and the two Pavuleans fight in their different ways.
Alderman says the book make clear the conflicts of objectives, for example whether the needs of Lededje or Chay should be sacrificed in order make certain that the Hells are destroyed.
Clare Wilson says that Surface Detail asks whether conscious beings need need religion to keep them good - still an important question among humans, and illustrated by the scenes of the elephant-like Pavuleans.
For Doug Johnstone, Surface Detail combines fantastic technologies, wide leaps of imagination and serious moral concepts - illustrated by "human"-interest stories, most of which have consequences for the security of the galaxy. He comments that the intertwining of plot thread is rather bewildering for about the first 100 pages, in typical Banks style, before the connections become clear. Johnstone and Clare Wilson regard Surface Detail, with its combination of philosophy ideas and action-packed plot, as one of Banks's best Culture novels.
Francis Spufford says that Surface Detail show how Banks can display "frivolous high spirits", "moral outrage" and "infernal cruelty". He says that, while the torments and injustices described in Matter suggests that the physical universe cannot have a creator, Surface Detail by contrast shows how a group of civilisations have used computer-generate virtual worlds to produced Hells in which these civilisations torture their dead for ever.
Kaveney says that, while Surface Detail provides readers horrible scenes, its energy is entertainment. However, he says, new readers of the series may find it difficult to understand just how ruthless the Culture can be when pursuiting an objective.
Kaveney says that Banks makes readers care strongly about Lebedje's mission for justice, and for Yime, a Special Circumstances agent assigned to restrict Lebedje from killing Veppers. In Kaveney's opinion, the various AIs make a less powerful emotional impact as they are not likely to die, but may be entertaining.
Alderman says the most vivid character is the Culture's Abominator-class warship Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints, and she and Wilson note the glee with which the war machine destroys an enemy fleet instantly. Wilson describes the Abominator as arrogant and foul-mouthed, while Spufford notes that the killer "the personality of a depraved teenage boy".
Alderman says the descriptions of some characters, such as the Special Circumstance agent Yime Nsokyi, as less vivid.
Alderman says, "The novel's real power lies in the absorbing questions it poses about the value of the real, as opposed to the virtual, about who or what is expendable, and whether a society is better held together by threats or by promises."
VanderMeer says that the displays of the Pavulean Hell are terrifing, and it becomes difficult to regard Prin and Chay's (?) terrors as virtual experiences. In particular, Chay appears to age and, after resisting the demons for many hears, is sent to a monastery-like Refuge. On the other hand, VanderMeer regard Veppers a one-side standard villain who soon becomes boring, while Vatueil's virtual exploits become repetitive and draw the reader's mind from the important events in the real word. The book, he says, has enough excitement and energy, but seems too long and with too (?) ... in the virtual worlds.
Roz Kaveney says the book shows in detail the technologies and politics, which mainly will of interest to long-term followers of the series.
- Banks, Iain M. (2010). Surface Detail. Great Britain: Orbit Books. p. 627. ISBN 978-1-84149-895-9.
- Johnstone, Doug (Sunday, 7 November 2010). "Surface Detail, By Iain M Banks". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2011. Check date values in:
- Alderman, Naomi (Saturday 23 October 2010). "Surface Detail by Iain M Banks – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2011. Check date values in:
- VanderMeer, Jeff (1 January 2011). "Book review: 'Surface Detail' by Iain M. Banks". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
- The mismanaging of the intervention in the religious affair of the Chelgrians is one of the major themes of Look to Windward. See Daoust, Phil (Saturday 2 September 2000). "Brushes with doom". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2011. Check date values in:
- Spufford, Francis (26 October 2010). "Book review: Surface Detail, by Iain M Banks". Scotsman.com. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- Kaveney, Roz (Friday, 15 October 2010). "Surface Detail, By Iain M Banks". The Indepentent. Retrieved 4 October 2011. Check date values in:
- Wilson, Clare (11 November 2010). "Surface detail hides deep questions in new Banks novel". New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- Gallo, Irene (Sat Jun 25 2011). "Announcing the 2011 Locus Award Winners". http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/06/announcing-the-2011-locus-award-winners. Retrieved 6 October 2011. Check date values in:
|date=(help); External link in