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She came from one of the more disreputable aristocratic families. Sharrow was once the leader of a personality-attuned combat team in one of the sporadic little commercial wars in the civilization based around the planet Golter. On an island with a glass shore - relic of some even more ancient conflict - she discovers she is to be hunted by the Huhsz, a religious cult which believes she is the last obstacle before their faith's apotheosis. She has to run, knowing her only hope of finally escaping the Huhsz is to find the last of the ancient, apocalyptically powerful but seemingly cursed Lazy Guns. But that is just the first as well as the final step on a search that takes her on an odyssey through the exotic Golterian system and results in both a trail of destruction and a journey into her own past, as well as that of her family and the system itself; a journey that changes everything.
A space opera by the British author who many believe to be its best proponent and who certainly was the first of the modern British writers to return to the form.
"Dazzlingly original." -- Daily Mail "Gripping, touching and funny." -- TLS The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender. Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.
The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, provably, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization.An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture ten thousand years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they've made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilizations; they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted - dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over nine thousand years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago.It seems that the final days of the Gzilt civilization are likely to prove its most perilous.
Iain Banks writes some of the very best space opera ever penned and this novel is no exception.
The Twin Novae battle had been one of the last of the Idiran war, and one of the most horrific: desperate to avert their inevitable defeat, the Idirans had induced not one but two suns to explode, snuffing out worlds and biospheres teeming with sentient life. They were attacks of incredible proportion -- gigadeathcrimes. But the war ended, and life went on. Now, eight hundred years later, light from the first explosion is about to reach the Masaq' Orbital, home to the Culture's most adventurous and decadent souls. There it will fall upon Masaq's 50 billion inhabitants, gathered to commemorate the deaths of the innocent and to reflect, if only for a moment, on what some call the Culture's own complicity in the terrible event. Also journeying to Masaq' is Major Quilan, an emissary from the war-ravaged world of Chel. In the aftermath of the conflict that split his world apart, most believe he has come to Masaq' to bring home Chel's most brilliant star and self-exiled dissident, the honored Composer Ziller. Ziller claims he will do anything to avoid a meeting with Major Quilan, who he suspects has come to murder him. But the Major's true assignment will have far greater consequences than the death of a mere political dissident, as part of a conspiracy more ambitious than even he can know -- a mission his superiors have buried so deeply in his mind that even he cannot remember it. Hailed by SFX magazine as "an excellent hopping-on point if you've never read a Banks SF novel before," Look to Windward is an awe-inspiring immersion into the wildly original, vividly realized civilization that Banks calls the Culture.
In a world renowned even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one brother it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one - maybe two - people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she'd thought abandoned forever. Only the sister is not what she once was; Djan Seriy Anaplian has changed almost beyond recognition to become an agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances section, charged with high-level interference in civilisations throughout the greater galaxy. Concealing her new identity - and her particular set of abilities - might be a dangerous strategy, however. In the world to which Anaplian returns, nothing is quite as it seems; and determining the appropriate level of interference in someone else's war is never a simple matter. MATTER is a novel of dazzling wit and serious purpose. An extraordinary feat of storytelling and breathtaking invention on a grand scale, it is a tour de force from a writer who has turned science fiction on its head.
The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game...a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death.<P><P> Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"
Eighteen-year-old Kit is weird: big, strange, odd, socially disabled, on a spectrum that stretches from "highly gifted" at one end, to "nutter" at the other. At least Kit knows who his father is; he and Guy live together in a decaying country house on the unstable brink of a vast quarry. His mother's identity is another matter. Now, though, his father's dying, and old friends are gathering for one last time."Uncle" Paul's a media lawyer now; Rob and Ali are upwardly mobile corporate bunnies; pretty, hopeful Pris is a single mother; Haze is still living up to his drug-inspired name twenty years on; and fierce, protective Hol is a gifted if acerbic critic. As young film students they lived at Willoughtree House with Guy, and they've all come back because they want something. Kit, too, has his own ulterior motives. Before his father dies he wants to know who his mother is, and what's on the mysterious tape they're all looking for. But most of all he wants to stop time and keep his father alive.Fast-paced, gripping and savagely funny, The Quarry is a virtuoso performance whose soaring riffs on the inexhaustible marvel of human perception and rage against the dying of the light will stand among Iain Banks' greatest work.
Orbit is pleased to present a selection from each of our upcoming titles for Fall 2010. Inside you'll find everything from king-stealing thieves, to zombie-hunting couples. We have the newest Iain M. Banks novel Surface Detail, Greg Bear's triumphant return to deep space SF with Hull Zero Three, new novels from urban fantasy greats like Lilith Saintcrow and Jennifer Rardin. We're especially pleased to introduce debut author, Rachel Aaron, with her three rip-roaring fantasy adventures in three months.
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. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release - when it comes - is at a price, and 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 war - brutal, far-reaching - 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.
There is a world that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, between the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, frozen in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse. Such a world requires a firm hand and a guiding light. But does it need the Concern: an all-powerful organization with a malevolent presiding genius, pervasive influence and numberless invisible operatives in possession of extraordinary powers?Among those operatives are Temudjin Oh, of mysterious Mongolian origins, an un-killable assassin who journeys between the peaks of Nepal, a version of Victorian London and the dark palaces of Venice under snow; Adrian Cubbish, a restlessly greedy City trader; and a nameless, faceless state-sponsored torturer known only as the Philosopher, who moves between time zones with sinister ease. Then there are those who question the Concern: the bandit queen Mrs. Mulverhill, roaming the worlds recruiting rebels to her side; and Patient 8262, under sedation and feigning madness in a forgotten hospital ward, in hiding from a dirty past.There is a world that needs help; but whether it needs the Concern is a different matter.
The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action. The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought. The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman's life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a burnt-out case. But not even its machine could see the horrors in his past. Ferociously intelligent, both witty and horrific, USE OF WEAPONS is a masterpiece of science fiction.
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