Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Quote Of The Day

Caption: My copy of Consider Phlebas, the first of Iain M. Banks' science fiction novels about the Culture, one possible future for humanity.

Image credit: Cujo359

P.Z. Myers, discussing what an ideal culture might look like:
Actually, my ideal community is The Culture. Spaceships optional.

This Is Not The Church Of The FTB
[link from original]

As someone who has read just about all of Iain M. Banks' Culture novels, I'd have to agree. The Culture is a society where people need little or no governing, because they know how a civilized society should behave and they behave that way. There's no poverty, and at least within its own boundaries, no war. While the Culture is an element in each novel, it is not a series like the Foundation novels. Each novel is about different worlds, all of which are richly imagined and interesting, if not necessarily attractive, places.

Of course, a society with no conflict would be a very uninteresting place to write about, so nearly all Banks' novels revolve around the doings of Special Circumstances, a group that's a cross between our special forces and the Foreign Service. Its job is to meet, communicate with, and sometimes interfere in the alien cultures around it. While its methods might be a little underhanded at times, it never approaches the absurd ways our society, and previous dominant ones, have interfered with other societies for comfort or profit.

In fact, it's hard to imagine much of anything that's happened in the last decade or so happening in the Culture, despite the nearly complete freedom of action all its citizens enjoy.

It would be a lovely future, if only we could figure out how to get there from the almost mirror image universe we live in now.


Expat said...

Now you've gone and dunnit. Now I've got to dig out me copy of The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert and re-read it and answer you from that POV. Anon.

Cujo359 said...

That's one of his I never read. Kinda gave up after "Hangers-On Of Dune", or whatever it was...