The State of the Art This novella chronicles a Culture mission to Earth in the late Seventies and also serves as a prequel of sorts to Use of Weapons by featuring one of that novel s characters Diziet Sma Here Sma argu

  • Title: The State of the Art
  • Author: Iain M. Banks
  • ISBN: 9780929480060
  • Page: 233
  • Format: Hardcover
  • This novella chronicles a Culture mission to Earth in the late Seventies, and also serves as a prequel of sorts to Use of Weapons by featuring one of that novel s characters, Diziet Sma Here, Sma argues for contact with Earth, to try to fix the mess the human species has made of it Another Culture citizen, Linter, goes native while Li, who is a Star Trek fan, argues thatThis novella chronicles a Culture mission to Earth in the late Seventies, and also serves as a prequel of sorts to Use of Weapons by featuring one of that novel s characters, Diziet Sma Here, Sma argues for contact with Earth, to try to fix the mess the human species has made of it Another Culture citizen, Linter, goes native while Li, who is a Star Trek fan, argues that the whole incontestably neurotic and clinically insane species should be eradicated with a micro black hole The ship Arbitrary has ideas, and a sense of humour, of its own.This trade first edition only includes the novella and no extra collections.

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    About "Iain M. Banks"

    1. Iain M. Banks

      Iain M Banks is a pseudonym of Iain Banks which he used to publish his Science Fiction.Banks s father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, living in Edinburgh and then Fife.Banks met his wife Annie in London, before the release of his first book They married in Hawaii in 1992 However, he announced in early 2007 that, after 25 years together, they had separated He lived most recently in North Queensferry, a town on the north side of the Firth of Forth near the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge.As with his friend Ken MacLeod another Scottish writer of technical and social science fiction a strong awareness of left wing history shows in his writings The argument that an economy of abundance renders anarchy and adhocracy viable or even inevitable attracts many as an interesting potential experiment, were it ever to become testable He was a signatory to the Declaration of Calton Hill, which calls for Scottish independence.In late 2004, Banks was a prominent member of a group of British politicians and media figures who campaigned to have Prime Minister Tony Blair impeached following the 2003 invasion of Iraq In protest he cut up his passport and posted it to 10 Downing Street In an interview in Socialist Review he claimed he did this after he abandoned the idea of crashing my Land Rover through the gates of Fife dockyard, after spotting the guys armed with machine guns He related his concerns about the invasion of Iraq in his book Raw Spirit, and the principal protagonist Alban McGill in the novel The Steep Approach to Garbadale confronts another character with arguments in a similar vein.Interviewed on Mark Lawson s BBC Four series, first broadcast in the UK on 14 November 2006, Banks explained why his novels are published under two different names His parents wished to name him Iain Menzies Banks but his father made a mistake when registering the birth and he was officially registered as Iain Banks Despite this he continued to use his unofficial middle name and it was as Iain M Banks that he submitted The Wasp Factory for publication However, his editor asked if he would mind dropping the M as it appeared too fussy The editor was also concerned about possible confusion with Rosie M Banks, a minor character in some of P.G Wodehouse s Jeeves novels who is a romantic novelist After his first three mainstream novels his publishers agreed to publish his first SF novel, Consider Phlebas To distinguish between the mainstream and SF novels, Banks suggested the return of the M , although at one stage he considered John B Macallan as his SF pseudonym, the name deriving from his favourite whiskies Johnnie Walker Black Label and The Macallan single malt.His latest book was a science fiction SF novel in the Culture series, called The Hydrogen Sonata, published in 2012.Author Iain M Banks revealed in April 2013 that he had late stage cancer He died the following June.The Scottish writer posted a message on his official website saying his next novel The Quarry, due to be published later this year , would be his last The Quarry was published in June 2013.

    611 thoughts on “The State of the Art”

    1. There are some authors whose short fiction I enjoy much more than their novels. Iain Banks is not one of them. A couple of these are great, but I think for the most part that he really excels when he has maximum literary space to explore a story and develop his characters. 'A Gift from the Culture' and 'The State of the Art' are definite high points in the collection.Individual stories:Road of Skulls: 2/5Nothing particularly special.A Gift From the Culture: 4/5I dug this one a lot. It had a noir [...]


    2. My husband overheard me muttering to myself about this book being out of print in the US, so he secretly ordered it for me from the UK. When it arrived, I somehow assumed I'd ordered it for myself and forgotten about it, so I just tossed it on the to-read stack without comment. He had to hint and prod a bit before admitting he'd bought it for me as a gift. He's sweet; I'm a dork. Anyway.Every Culture book I've read so far has been better than the last. Though this one is actually a short-story c [...]


    3. The first two stories are OK, but nothing special.The third one is quite funny. I can't count the number of times I've seen a hapless spaceman get rent limb from limb by a bug-eyed monster. But what's the monster's motivation? Banks comes up with a lovely answer.#4 is also a nice perspective flip in a classic SF scenario. The guy in the space-suit needs to walk a long way across the surface of a hostile planet to reach safety. We always see it from the guy's point of view. How about the suit?#5 [...]


    4. The only other Banks book I have read is Player of Games which I loved. I think, as a compilation, this book fell a little short for me. I actually love short stories, so I was left feeling a little disappointed.A couple thoughts on the individual stories:Road of Skulls - I felt like this wasn't quite long enough or focused enough.A Gift From the Culture - I liked this one. Kind of a little slice of life showing someone who has left the culture for something much more gritty.Odd Attachment - I l [...]


    5. The State of the Art is a collection of short stories, some of which relate to the Culture novels and some of which don’t (or at least, don’t overtly). I actually wasn’t much impressed by Iain M. Banks as a short story writer, it seems: the best of the stories was the titular story itself, which is both a Culture story and rather longer than the other stories in the collection, which gave it more space to interest me, and more space for him to set up the kind of story that’s grabbed me i [...]


    6. A thoroughly interesting read. "The State of the Art" isn't all sci-fi, and only a couple of the stories included here make mention of the Culture and its related technologies. There is also a rather chilling story to be discovered in "Piece", which I shall not spoil here.I found that I enjoyed the short stories - of a misunderstood vegetable life-form, a traveller writing, a journey across a war zone, a Culture exile and clumsy interstellar bin-men - more than the title piece. They're admirably [...]


    7. It took me quite some time to get really into this collection because -you'll laugh- I didn't actually realise it was a collection of short stories when I grabbed it from the library. I saw the author, the title and the fact that it was "Culture #4".So the first chapter takes us along a road that has been paved in the skulls of defeated enemies in a cart, only it bears no resemblance to the second chapter which is about a culture citizen who has joined another civilisation covertly. Well, maybe [...]


    8. From BBC Radio 4 - Afternoon Drama:The State of The ArtBy Iain M. BanksDramatised by Paul CornellThe Culture ship Arbitrary arrives on Earth in 1977 and finds a planet obsessed with alien concepts like 'property' and 'money' and on the edge of self-destruction. When Agent Dervley Linter, decides to go native can Diziet Sma change his mind?The Ship Antony SherDiziet Sma Nina SosanyaDervley Linter Paterson JosephLi Graeme HawleyTel Brigit ForsythSodel Conrad NelsonDirected by Nadia Molinaric [...]



    9. I finished this short story/ novella collection one day before Luke returns from Brazil. So we will record a podcast about this part of our book-club very soon :-)


    10. State of the Art is a Culture novella with a few additional short stories tacked on, only one of which could be classed as part of the series. The short stories themselves are merely OK, and none of them really stand out.The novella shows what happens when a Culture team arrives to assess Earth, circa 1977, and decide if they will make first contact. This is done in a clever and realistic way, as the Culture agents spend a year visiting the planet, whilst the ship hacks every computer there is a [...]


    11. A collection of short tales, the shortest being about two pages long, the longest, eponymously titled, over a hundred and is the main filler here. Not all the tales are about the Culture, or set in the Culture Universe, but 'State of the Art' is, and is the most fleshed out and most interesting story in the collection. It deals with the Culture discovering the Earth during 1977, and sends down agents to study and learn from our planet. As it's Iain Banks, you probably do not need to be told the [...]


    12. "The State of the Art" is a small masterpiece. It is ostensibly science fiction. Aliens from highly developed society study human condition in 1970's. Beneath this plot Banks seeks the true meaning of human nature. Why are we so destructive and obsessed with material prosperity? Banks's answer is very dire but I felt slight hope from Linter's love for human being.


    13. Sort of in the Culture series, sort of not quite. This is the (first?) collection of Iain M. Banks short stories, paired with a Culture novella which gives the book its title. Taking up half the book The State of the Art tells the tale of the Culture's first contact with Earth, some time in the '70s. Told in the form of a mission report by Diziet Sma, and later translated by Skaffen-Amtiskaw, (prior to their appearances in Use of Weapons).Sma is assigned to the Contact group, on board The Arbitr [...]


    14. Reviewing the novella, The State of the Art:Storyline: 2/5Characters: 3/5Writing Style: 3/5World: 3/5Banks's name keeps coming up when I come across science fiction awards or mentions of notable series, so I keep reading the Culture novels to see what it is all about. This one - too short to be a novel, but too long for a short story - was about as valuable to me as a DVD's deleted scenes. Large numbers of people must love those (why else would they keep sticking them on the home version of the [...]


    15. A slim collection of short stories (well under 200 pages), most of which show off the author's macabre wit. The worst of the lot is "Scratch", a late cold-war-era story that depicts the escalation of human misery as the world's superpowers square off for world destruction, a premise which it tackles originally by giving us only mass-media noise, scraps of television commericals, fragments of radio announcements, etc.: the story is at least a fascinating failure. Three stories take place in the u [...]


    16. Read this book after a discussion with James and the realisation I had this on my kindle. After having read the last Culture novel so recently, I was a little apprehensive but I am glad to say that I did not need to be concerned.It is a book of two halves - the first a collection of stories, and the second a longer Culture story.The collection of stories show the breadth of Banks' imagination, and I really enjoyed them. They are varied, technically well written and laced with typical Banks humou [...]


    17. Iain Banks is my most adored author; State of the Art, his only work I hadn't read. What might have been comparable to a theologian stumbling across the Dead Sea Scrolls, sadly, was not to be. The meat of this collection, the Culture novella, trooped along in a heavy-handed, right-on manner. At times, it sounded like a squealing monologue from Robert Lindsay in the UK sitcom, Citizen Smith. It was of some interest filling in a few inconsequential timelines in the Culture's early history but not [...]


    18. It's hard to rate a short story collection because of all the different feelings each story provokes. Banks has a lot of fun with his short fiction and you can tell he used it to wander off (what was already) a very unusual path. Stories both playful and morbid.The chunk of this book is taken up by The State of the Art which is set in the Culture universe. I really enjoyed the story even though it's the most blatant statement of his worldview. I'm not sure I agree with his some of his conclusion [...]


    19. This collection of stories is a small but significant contribution to Iain M. Banks’ inimitable Culture Series. I didn’t have much of a reaction one way or another to the smattering of Culture-based short stories, so this review will focus entirely on the book’s eponymous novella. “The State of the Art” is a brief but striking juxtaposition of Banks’ ultra-progressive Culture civilization and Earth circa 1977. When a Culture ship and some members of Contact arrive to study humanity [...]


    20. This Audiobook comes with 5 or 6 Culture short stories and the novella length "The State of the Art".The short stories were mostly too uh short to amount to much but I did enjoy the whimsical "Clean up" about an alien factory ship dumping their garbage across the globe."The State of the Art" was a thoroughly enjoyable listen. I always presumed "The Culture" were what humanity evolved into, so having Culture agents monitoring humanity in the 1970's was quite a twist on my assumed knowledge. The p [...]


    21. A collection, including the title novella and some assorted short fiction from banks. Road of Skulls - more an introduction than a story,this short prelude is chock full of references, 'in'-jokes and served its purpose of making me go "OH YEAH! I am totally thrilled to be starting another book by Iain Banks!" A Gift from the Culture - set in the 'Culture' universe (as one might have guessed from the title; most of the stories here can be construed to be set in the same universe, although they do [...]


    22. Última generación (The State of the Art) es una recopilación de cuentos de Iain M. Banks, y se considera como un libro de La Cultura, aunque realmente solo dos de los cuentos pertenecen a esta. En estos relatos se encuentra el Banks de las space opera, donde hace uso de su imaginación y de su capacidad para mostrarnos escenarios que no son lo que parecen, para de esta manera abrirnos los ojos a realidades que no nos son tan ajenas como pueda parecer, todo ello rodeado de un humor muy caracte [...]


    23. Originally posted on my blog, SpecFic Junkie.The State of the Art left me cold in a good way. Frequently bizarre and often haunting, Iain M. Banks uses the Culture setting to weave a variety of compelling (and dark) tales.After enjoying Consider Phlebas and falling in love with The Player of Games and Use of Weapons, I've been meaning to pick up the next Culture book for some time. And hark! When I went to visit the library, there it was.Iain M. Banks isn't exactly known for his short fiction, b [...]


    24. This anthology of Culture and non-Culture stories is illustrated. So, right out of the gate, it's not going to be a one-star book. Impossible. +1 hitting the ground. Illustrated with german-expressionist wood(or lino)cut-style drawings before each story. In the ebook format, too, which some publishers seem to be skipping, to my disgust. (*cough* NOS4A2ebook *cough*)The stories themselves were all new to me, with the exception of A Gift From the Culture, which was the first thing I ever read by M [...]


    25. The fourth "Culture" book is actually a series of short stories and whilst they all have some sort of science-fiction base most aren't even explicitly Culture stories. That's not necessarily a bad thing though because almost everything here is great. Road of Skulls: More a descriptive piece than anything about a carriage travelling along a road made of skulls. It has a neat little twist at the end which is very clever. A Gift from the Culture: A story about a person from the Culture trying to li [...]


    26. Just generally not very good writing, to me at least. Short stories:Road of Skulls: short and pretty flimsy, only the very ending is much interesting.A Gift from the Culture: pretty decent. Has a kind of interesting premise but it's hard to sympathise with someone who leaves utopia in general given it's far beyond our own experienceOdd Attachment: vaguely amusing, pretty gross, a little confusing, ehDescendant: best story of the book, about a human and their sentient spacesuit. Not perfect but i [...]


    27. This is the shortest Banks book I've ever seen. Yes I know it's a short story collection but even so I was somewhat surprised to see how thin it was on delivery. However volume and quality are different things entirely and all the story's contained are worthy additions to the Banks portfolio.Hmm OK Scratch maybe not then, but that's probably because if I'm honest I simply don't understand it at all. (Someone explain please, I'd like to learn.)The main feature the titular, The State of The Art is [...]


    28. A collection of eight short stories from the sci-fi side of Bank's imagination, two of which are directly about The Culture, the AI-assisted utopian society which he wrote nine full length novels about before his early passing in 2012. One of those stories, the title piece, is actually novella length and consists of half of this book.The first story, 'Road of Skulls', is like a page from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy written by Banks; 'Odd Attachment' is a humorous first-contact story tol [...]


    29. Shouldn't this be considered Book 3 of the Culture series? I just read somewhere that the titular novella, is a prequel to Use of Weapons, which I'll be reading next. Oh well, is filled with hiccups.It's a shame if it's true that Iain Banks didn't write many short stories because I really enjoyed the ones in this collection, in particular "A Gift from the Culture" (puts the character in a very tight situation - this one really deserved to be a novella or continued in future short stories and/or [...]


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