The Culture series 📚

This is a repost of the original from my previous blog at

The last two years I have been reading the Culture series by Iain M. Banks. It's a grand space opera set in an incredibly immersive universe – in fact quite overwhelming at times.

As a kid I used to love reading fantasy, dreaming away into magical worlds filled with heroes and monsters. Becoming older, I have a hard time immersing in those fantasy worlds to the same extent, and only a few series has really managed to grasp my attention.

Sci-fi and space opera has in many ways become the replacement for my childhood dives into far-away imaginative worlds, and has given me many of the same delights and escapes from reality.

The Culture series has so far been the number one sci-fi experience. Much because the universe is both so far away from reality that you can enjoy it for its fiction, and at the same time there are plenty of ties to todays society and social structures – which makes it feel not that distant at all.

The Culture is an advanced constellation of both human and alien species coming together to form a solidarity galaxy-spanning society, run in large by Minds. Minds are highly sophisticated AI's. Sophisticated to the point where they can't really be labeled artificial anymore. Minds can run space ships and Orbitals, which can be hundreds to thousands of kilometers wide and long. Massive things, where billions of beings can spend their entire lives, travelling through the universe. It is immensely entertaining when Banks explores these concepts, and especially when he connects them with more primitive civilisations – similar to, or even less developed than todays inhabitants of Earth.

I think the top factor that makes this series so appealing to me is the way it gives hope for a prosperous future, beyond the challenges we are currently facing on planet Earth. Environmental issues, energy shortages, poverty, disillusioned and spurned leaders waging war for no reason, are still all factors in the less developed civilisations, but there are also clear paths for advancement to a more advanced, more civilised version of their societies.

The concept of Change Agents that are silently injected into civilisations to (unknowingly to most of them) bend and groom them for first contact and the next steps. It's mind boggling to think upon, and vastly entertaining to read about. Consider this in the context of our own civilisation, you quickly start to look at Elon Musk in a very different light...

It's really a fresh breath of air, which at the same times gives a good sized sliver of hope for the Earth based civilisation most of us are a part of – for the time being.