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Iain M. Banks’ Culture (Finally) Heads to the Big Screen

…but not adapted from the story you might think…

SlashFilm reports (via ScreenDaily) that an Iain M. Banks Culture story is headed for the big screen. That story is the short fiction piece “A Gift from the Culture” in which a female member of the Culture, now re-gendered and living among humans as one of them, is asked to commit an act of terrorism to cover some gambling debts.

It’s a great story (see my review here) and while it may not be based on one of the more widely-known Culture books, I think this will play out well on the screen…not only because of the story itself, but because short fiction seems to be better suited towards a standalone film.

Maybe this will finally be the push I need to finally start diving into the Culture novels…

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

15 Comments on Iain M. Banks’ Culture (Finally) Heads to the Big Screen

  1. Avoid Matter–the story’s amazingly entertaining, and full of wonderful details…but it goes absolutely nowhere. There’s no big pay-off at the end: the story just stops–and the reader’s left sitting there thinking, “Uhhh…did somebody forget to publish the final chapter or something?”

    That said, Consider Phlebas and Excession are both brilliant, and the other Culture novels are excellent is as well. Excession‘s my favourite simply because it focuses extensively on the Culture’s Minds and the goofball ships that contain them. You really can’t beat a starship that calls itself Attitude Adjuster.

  2. I still haven’t read this short story. Mayhaps you could bring that doorstop The Space Opera Rennaissance in? That said, any of the other Culture novels would require a ginormous budget and probably would have to be filmed in IMAX just to do them justice.

    A short story seems like a good place to start, but having not read it, I’m concerned that the stuff that makes the Culture really cool doesn’t play a big part.

  3. TheAdlerian // October 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm //

    Almost all the culture novels are about a giant game played by the Culture AI. The book, The Player of Games is the best overt example. The Culture AI are so smart that they use subtle moves involving people, events, etc and the goal is to undermine and demoralize their enemies.

    Matter was exactly about that, but it was written without clues. The Culture saw a world they couldn’t get their hooks into and hatched a very complex plot which eventually planted an agent there. Once the agent is in place, then it’s the end for the opposition. It was seemingly about nothing, because it was about a subtle plan.

    Meanwhile, I see Banks’ Culture as a parallel about how a country like the US destroys other countries through music, pop culture, TV, and movies rather than with violent war. Sometimes we wage “Culture War,” get it?

    He’s a great writer. You have modern politic, economics, and all that with great fantasy.

  4. Matte Lozenge // October 22, 2009 at 6:10 pm //

    The Culture novels attain a uniform, good level of quality generally. They tend to blend together, with occasional set pieces and sequences standing out. The first four — Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Use of Weapons, and Excession — are stronger than the more recent Inversions, Look to Windward and Matter. Feersum Endjinn is about the same quality as the first four Culture novels, although its phonetic spelling is a tiresome gimmick. My favorite Banks space opera is The Algebraist. It’s fully in the spirit of the Culture novels, even though technically it’s not the same universe.

  5. TheAdlerian // October 22, 2009 at 8:39 pm //

    Look to Windward:

    It mirrored the events of 911, and came out shortly before.


  6. Please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck…

  7. joshua corning // October 23, 2009 at 2:42 am //

    Use of Weapons is the only exceptional book of the series…all others are fun but come no where near it.

    Read that one and you have pretty much read all of them.

  8. I had never read Banks until this summer, when I read Consider Phelbas.  I will never read another Banks’ novel again.  The characters are boring and he never made me like or dislike any of them.  Plus, he wasn’t very good at creating suspense.  The train scene at the end is so drawn out, as to make it unreadable. 

    That being said, I think the description of his universe sounds interesting, so maybe the directors and script writers can do better than the creator.

  9. Yet another post at this blog trumpeting material the post’s author has not read. Pathetic. A note to all of you: Read a book.

    Also, yes, Use of Weapons is an exceptional space opera but it is also the least challenging of the Culture novels; a fanboy telling you it is his favourite is telling you he would rather go back to reading Alan Dean Foster (NTTIAWWT).



    “Yet another post at this blog trumpeting material the post’s author has not read.”


    Dude, he said he read the short story that’s been optioned. Maybe you should drop your SF nerd desire to be smarter than everyone else in the room and brush up on your reading comprehension skills before criticising others.

  11. I have to revise my earlier comment, I have read the short story in question, I just didn’t remember it without some further prodding. The fact it didn’t make that much of an impression on my, and the lack of the widescreen aspects of the other Culture novels, doesn’t bode well for me.

    And Use of Weapons is my favorite Banks Culture novel. I didn’t realize I’d rather go back and read Alan Dean Foster. Maybe I’ll go find some Flinx books.

  12. This could be awesome! I’m glad they picked up this story, but I’m quite worried about how they are going to treat the transgender/gay angle of the story…. I suspect they are just going to “straighten it up” and turn the main character into a badly disguised “woman in pants”, 50’s comedy style, or just give him a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend.

  13. Joshua Corning // October 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm //

    Also, yes, Use of Weapons is an exceptional space opera but it is also the least challenging of the Culture novels

    No idea how a scifi novel or any novel can be “challenging”. I have read all the culture books and if i found them challenging i would have stopped reading them. Why read something for enjoyment that is hard to read?

    I guess a “challenging” novel in my view would be a badly written novel.

  14. Rudi Dewilde // November 6, 2009 at 12:48 pm //

    I still have to read the first bad Iain M. Banks story. He’s my favourite living author. I don’t know what’s the matter with Matter (oh: the pun!) as I enjoyed it very much. The only one I had trouble with was Feersum Endjinn, but that’s because my knowledge of English, and especially the slang was not up to par.

    My favourites are The Algebraist and Player of Games. But my favourite book ever is from Iain Banks without the M.: The Wasp Factory isn’t SciFi, but serious weird stuff anyway…

    I hope they do his culture novels justice. It will makes the Star Wars universe look very, very bleak, I think (although I still love it too).

    I can’t wait to see it…

  15. i love all his books, the excession being my personal fave but i dont see a mega (by todays blockbuster budgets)amount of wonger being needed to make a great movie of THE STATE OF THE ART.good eco message inside too.if i ever get to be a billionare i would make them all into very tasty movies.dream on…..

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