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Extended Audio Sample Surface Detail, by Iain Banks Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (6,128 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Iain Banks Narrator: Peter Kenn Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Culture Series Release Date:
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It begins in the realm of the real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder—and it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Lededje Y’breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. She is prepared to risk everything for her freedom, but her release, when it comes, is at a price. To put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

Benevolent, enlightened, and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful—and arguably deranged—warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A brutal, far-reaching war is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it’s about to erupt into reality.

It started in the realm of the real, and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the center of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.

Surface Detail is a breathtaking achievement from a writer whose body of work is without parallel in the modern history of science fiction.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Banks’ labyrinthine and devious ninth Culture space opera novel adeptly shifts perspective between vast concepts and individual passions.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[His] Culture novels have showcased his prodigious talent for world building, featuring extravagant vistas of super advanced technological civilizations and their virtual-reality playgrounds…Banks never lets up in a dizzying array of characters, mind-bending ideas, and dazzling action.”


  • Winner of the 2011 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Dave | 2/20/2014

    " Another, excellent Culture book. The breadth of his universe is phenomenal. The book has so many characters / plot lines that in the beginning it is a bit tough to follow, but after a bit they all start to converge and slam together for a very satisfying finale. Probably not the best book to start with in Culture stories, but a good read all around. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Fred | 2/13/2014

    " Lots of story lines to keep track of in this book, but I found it to be very interesting and enjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jack | 2/12/2014

    " Each of Banks' Culture novels cements my already-high opinion of the man and what he writes. His handling of even minor characters is deft and clear. The plot lines interweave neatly, sometimes lightly touching and sometimes tying in directly. I've resigned myself to the fact that Banks does not really try to create aliens - every intelligent being is easily understandable in terms of motivations and reactions and even cultural constructs to us 21st century Westerners, which is as impossible as any bit of technological handwaving. As long as I can dismiss that concern, the rest of the story carries along nicely. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Dan | 2/9/2014

    " the best Culture novel I've read so far. "

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About the Author
Author Iain Banks

Iain Banks (1954–2013) was a Scottish author considered one of the most powerful, innovative, and exciting writers of his generation. He wrote mainstream fiction under the name Iain Banks and science fiction as Iain M. Banks. Following the publication and success of The Wasp Factory in 1984, he began to write full time. His first science fiction book, Consider Phlebas, was released in 1987, marking the start of the popular Culture series. His books have been adapted for theater, radio, and television. In honor of his science fiction work, an asteroid was named for him in 2013, and asteroid (5099) Iainbanks now resides in the main asteroid belt of the Sol system.