Look to Windward

Iain M. Banks
Look to Windward Cover

Look to Windward


I took two Iain M. Banks books away on holiday, this was the other one. Look to Windward is also set in his Culture universe, this time centring on some visitors to a Culture Orbital. An Orbital is a massive artificial habitat orbiting a star inhabited by tens of billions of people (human, alien, AI), all run by a single AI. As the story opens the Orbital is gearing up for ceremonies to mark the appearance of light from two supernovas that are 800 light years away. They weren't natural, they were caused by a weapon wielded during a war that the Culture was involved in - and the AI that runs the Orbital, called Hub, was a warship during that war. While the weapon wasn't used by the Culture they feel responsible & guilty for their involvement in a war that lead to such terrible acts & terrible loss of life. Hence the marking of the light reaching the Orbital. One of the non-Culture protagonists is Ziller, a composer in self-imposed exile from Chel, who is composing a new piece for the occasion. Quillan, another Chelgrian has recently arrived on the Orbital, ostensibly with the mission of meeting with Ziller & persuading him to return home. But all is not what it seems here & we find out (along with Quilan) via flashback spaced out through the story. Quilan is also a veteran of war - a war caused by the Culture's meddling in his civilisation's politics, for which they now feel terribly guilty.

Click the link below for my full review.