EXCESSION by Iain M. Banks
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Culture ambassador Byr Genar-Hofoen is called away from his diplomatic mission to the warlike Affront aliens in order to undertake a secret mission for the Department of Special Circumstances. Thousands of years ago, a star vanished, and now a mysterious thing–not a planet, not a ship, but another entity: an Excession–has appeared. Is it a weapon? An ally? A group of sentient ships plots in secret, while eccentric ships act as double agents, meddling in the affairs of ships and humans. And somehow connected to it all without knowing it, a woman living in a simulated world waits to give birth.
In this immersive, unique, and thoroughly imagined science fiction novel, the reader must piece together seemingly unconnected or loosely connected characters and events which gradually come together into a rich image of galactic life and the prideful folly of political entities and sentient individuals (both organisms and machines). Sometime humorous, always thought-provoking, this novel will appeal to fans of hard sci-fi. At times, it was reminiscent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but be prepared for a much denser read that demands focus, attention to detail, and occasionally, a willingness to think about math.