• Excession

  • Culture Series, Book 5
  • By: Iain M. Banks
  • Narrated by: Peter Kenny
  • Length: 15 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (397 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared. Now it is back.

©1996 Iain M. Banks (P)2013 Hachette Digital

Critic Reviews

"Gripping, touching and funny." ( TLS)
"A dizzying adventure." ( Daily Mail)
"Explosive but tender." ( Sunday Times)

What listeners say about Excession

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A perfect team(?) at the top of their game

Peter Kenny has brought a whole new experience to my understanding the writing of Iain Banks. Mr Kenny seems to have a number of uncanny knacks of what I believe a true storyteller should have, an ancient art form that went out of favour with the invention of the printing press and now, thanks to audio books, is making a comeback.
A little too dissimilar to how Messrs. Kubrick and Clarke created the universe of 2001 apart but together to be comparable, Mr Kenny was not a co-creator yet he is a collaborator. His obvious skill, talent and intelligence as an actor, most essentially I believe with radio-play experience, has given him a gift permitting him to join Mr Banks in 'The Culture' in a way I think few others could hope to achieve.
I would encourage any fan of story telling, whether written word or film or stage play or photojournalism etc., who don't mind a bit of the ol' spec-fic to give this a go. While I believe there are other readings by Mr Kenny as powerful as this, none are better and this will forever remain a performance not to be missed.

2 people found this helpful

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My favourite Culture series book

Complex, witty and thought-provoking. Ian Banks at his very best. Sleeper Service is surely one the best heroic characters of all his books. I must add that Peter Kenny does the most superb job as narrator. His range of accents and nuanced delivery is delightful I wish he'd get to work on Terry Pratchett's body of work next!

1 person found this helpful

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One of the best Culture books

Such a good story - the wit of the Minds is fantastic to listen to. Peter Kenny's narration is absolutely flawless.

1 person found this helpful

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Mr Banks on top form

Would you consider the audio edition of Excession to be better than the print version?

Mr Kenny is a superb complement to this excellent book. I had to smile as he subtly changes the voice of a character as they moved between sexes. Very slick!

What other book might you compare Excession to and why?

Its up there with "Consider Phlebas" in terms of breadth of story, large ideas and character detail. Compulsive reading for Culture addicts.

What about Peter Kenny’s performance did you like?

See above, but I also liked the conceit of giving the ship minds british regional ( and occasional colonial :-) ) accents that really rather suited their personalities. Really a very impressive rendition.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Hard to imagine it being a film, but I bet it is "the way many people want the future to be", which is the function of good sci-fi; to inspire.

Any additional comments?

Great writer at the top of his game. If we lose him it will be a big loss to our collective imagination, so my best wishes to the man.

1 person found this helpful

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I think this is better read on paper!

There's a lot of in jokes in this title, and streams of numbers and names thrown around.
Personally, I think it would be easier to follow and grasp certain situations if you read this in physical book form as the nature of audiobooks don't always alow for 100% fokus ar any given time!

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Good

Voice performance was exceptional,overall story is interesting but just too long, especially the communication between ships with an infinite number of dates (?) grew really annoying for me

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Wonderful yarn well told. A classic Culture story

Beautifully narrated
I would love more of these in the series.
These are all the more precious because there are no more

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Great performance

Classic Banks space opera. As always the first hour is very confusing, but then you get a grip on the story and you are in for a great ride. Brilliant performance from Peter Kenny

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One of the Best Culture Novels

I read “Excession” in print several years ago. Just finished the audiobook version now. Truly excellent. The narrator, Peter Kenny, is marvellous. The whole book is an engaging tale from The Culture series. Excession spends more time with the Minds and ships of The Culture than perhaps any other Banks novel. Well worth the time. RIP Iain M. Banks, thank you.

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Interesting as always

This one is a bit hard to follow as it’s incredibly complex. Even more so than the other stories.

However, the concept is as always unique and fascinating.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Marc
  • 03-22-13

Superb story, better narration

This book is classic sci-fi covering all scales. There are human stories, various races, Culture Ship Minds and even, from certain viewpoints, the microscopic. Although it contains a huge amount of technical information on the Ships (the story being largely concerned with these) it never becomes bogged down in pointless detail and remains constantly fascinating. It treads a fine line between fleshing out the Culture universe as a whole and maintaining a strong element of mystery. It's great to see the all-powerful and infinitely intelligent ship Minds totally stumped and humbled by something they can't even begin to explain.



Peter Kenny's reading is of such a high standard that this constitutes, to my mind, a definitive edition of the story. This reading manages that rare feat of actually improving on the original work. Here's hoping that Iain M. Banks keeps on writing them and that Peter Kenny keeps on reading them!

22 people found this helpful

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  • Marc
  • 11-05-13

One of my all time favourite banks books

Would you listen to Excession again? Why?

I would listen to this again and again. Its a fantastic story, and performed to perfection. I've read the book several times, and will most definitely listen to this book again and again.

What about Peter Kenny’s performance did you like?

Not only is it a fantastic story in true banks style, but the performance of Peter Kenny is just astounding. Only Peter could take such a challenging book (those that have read the book will understand) and turn it into an fantastic adventure into the culture universe. His range of voices are second to none and his consistency of character personalities and styles boggles the mind. How does he do it! Not only am I a huge fan of Banks, but now a huge fan of Peter Kenny.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book is one of the funniest in the culture universe. The ships personalities and egos are simply amazing and make this book easily one of banks greatest.

Any additional comments?

Peter Kenny has done this book an immense justice. The paper version of this book can be hard to read with all the ship names and chatter, but Peter Kenny pulls it off and makes this one of the best audio books I've ever listened to. Well done Peter!

Not bought it yet? Why not!

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Raymond Moffat
  • 03-14-13

Masterpiece!

I have waited a long time for 'Excession' to be available on Audible and was frankly worried that it couldn't be converted into an audio book but I needn't have worried! Peter Kenny's narration is superb, his interpretation of the characters is spot on and the book is wonderfully presented! I believe this to be 'Iain M. Banks' finest work and I have read them all, it is a true Sci-fi masterpiece on an epic scale, the characters, both the ships AI's, as well as the people, both Contact and alien, are well rounded and interesting, you want to hear their stories and you are sad when the book comes to it's thrilling climax! Lets hope there is a sequel soon! 5*

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous Coward
  • 04-07-13

My favourite fiction book of all time

And really done justice by the reader who is just BRILLIANT. Characters are well voiced, the story is just awesome, I loved it so much when I read it the first time that I turned straight back to the first page and read it all over again. I'm going to do the same with the audio book.



I was so sorry to hear that Iain M. Banks had cancer and wish him all the very best

7 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 03-06-18

Not one for Audio

Totally my fault, I LOVED the book (read it a few times), and one of the main reasons was the wonderful names of all the ships, cracks me up.

But I should have read the reviews before, while the ships are talking to each other, there's a lot of code.. and more code and more binary stuff... When you read it you can just skip ahead, but listening to every digit was just painful, and in the end utterly lost the rhythm of the actual story (which is brilliant). Sorry.

Author 15 out of 10.
Narration 15 out of 10.

Just for me wasn't meant to be listened to.

Take with the usual critical pinch of salt.

6 people found this helpful

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  • David Knowles
  • 01-04-14

Baffling

I love the culture series but this one completely baffled me. I listen in the car on my commute but found that I couldn't remember what had happened in the last listen and worse than that couldn't get into the book no matter how hard i tried. Navigating the book is near impossible as the chapter numbers appear to be duplicated and random. Most of the book seems to be taken up by communications between Culture ships which is tiring to listen to. The main human characters don't get much of a look in and the fact that their names keep changing as well as their genders, even in the same paragraph, does not make for an easy entertaining listen and as a result a main character is difficult to identify or care about. I think Mr Bainks has over indulged himself here, and although I'm sure its all very clever, as a book a it's a bit of a damp squib and I was just relived to finish it. Last couple of Culture books have disappointed. The majority of the earlier Culture books are superb, this has put me off buying any more. Maybe The Culture series has had it's day, well for me anyway, but if "From: The-smug-ship-name, tra point 5.2.3.42 to the what-on-earth-is-that-all-about mid point 7, stutter low pulse frequency 9.6.21.3..... " floats your boat then you may love it. Ho hum.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 04-14-13

YOU WILL BE AMAZED (OR NOT GET IT AT ALL)!

Ian M Banks has an imagination almost beyond compare. I had not read any of his 'Culture' novels, so did not know what to expect. I don't think this novel would have worked has an audio book without the sheer brilliance of the narrator Peter Kenny.

With its mixture of weired aliens and sentient space ships the size of small planets able to travel at thousands of times the speed of light. The human's seeming to be a only a part of the overall scheme of things. The story is a vast intertwining saga of beauty and madness.

Excession is a story which will appeal to the open minded (or the insane!) Science Fiction fan. For me it was a joy, but be warned, some of you will just not get it!







5 people found this helpful

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  • Ian Jamison
  • 04-17-15

Simply outstanding.

If you could sum up Excession in three words, what would they be?

Clever, clever, clever...

What did you like best about this story?

The story is my favourite of the Culture series. I've been a fan from the very beginning, and am only just starting to get into Audiobooks. I was, I must confess a little sceptical that this could be pulled off satisfactorily in this medium - Excession is involved, complex and quite challenging in all kinds of ways. It is, however, simply brilliant. The story's quality shines through, and the performance (for such it is - rather than just a reading) substantially enhanced it.

Which character – as performed by Peter Kenny – was your favourite?

Peter Kenny's performances (in this, and in other Culture novels - which I'm now working my way through) is utterly brilliant. These novels must present an enormous challenge in the range of characters (human, non-human, machine intelligences etc) who have to be brought to life and differentiated - and he does so with a brilliant range of voices and accents - none of which ever grate (as it would be so easy to do), or do anything other than add to the clarity of the story. It's really amazing.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Of course - but who has got 20 + hours?

Any additional comments?

Even if you're not a sci-fi fan, then Kenny's readings of the Culture novels will be a joy (although, in all honesty, if you're not a sci-fi fan already, then this is probably not the one to start with!)

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeremy
  • 04-15-13

Minds alive

There's a lot about the Minds in this Culture classic. And the better for it. As Iain himself said: wouldn't it be nice to have gods like culture minds! Two groups of like minds (ha!) has different ideas on how to manage a particulrly cruel civilization with a incursion from another universe(s) to complicate matters. The usual wheels within wheels stuff with thoughtful genius from Banks throughout

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr J.
  • 03-20-13

Best Culture Novel

I read the paperback a good few year ago and the audiobook version is great. If you follow the Culture series, then this one is a must with plenty of minds and SC involvement with great creativity!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chris O'Neill
  • 02-25-16

A rollicking Culture Novel

Loved it - Banks' humour comes out loud and clear in Kenny's excellent narration and voice craft. Highly recommended!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-02-22

Classic Banks

Probably the best of the Culture novels. Recommend that you read “Consider Phlebas “ first but not essential.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-24-21

Not a good fit for an Audio book.

The story itself was quite good, and it was well read, however all the dates and times and other meta-data attached to the Mind's conversations are really long... Like inflating a 10 line conversation to about 15 minutes kind of long. He reads out every dot and number. Fine for a book, but bad for an audio book. I would recommend just reading this one.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-26-20

Brain strain

I bought the hard copy years ago cause I’m a big fan of Ian Banks’ non sci-fi books. I got a few chapters in and gave up cause I found it difficult to follow and get a clear picture where what was going on, I.e. which drone was which or AI. Then there was the endless pages of AI code language which I found super tedious.
So though if I got the audio book I’d be able to follow better and get a clearer picture into the story. I was wrong, I gave up at the same point I did in the copy.
This book for me is Boring and complicated.

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  • KJ
  • 10-20-19

Great Novel, terrible Audiobook

I love this novel. I own hard copies, soft copies and have read it numerous times. I was really looking forward to it on Audiobook. However, the narrator's American(?) accent is bad. His breathy, stupid female accent is worse. When he does an Amercianised female voice, I had no choice but to refund the audiobook. Do yourself a favour and pick up a soft or hard copy of this book, and leave the audio version alone.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Elliot
  • 08-21-18

Not the best in the series

The Culture series so far has been a wonderful and deep exploration into Banks’ universe, full of incredible characters and stories. However, I found Excession left a little to be desired. I felt that the author tried to set up too many plot points and characters, to the point of some seeming entirely pointless.

The book wasn’t terrible, but I found it to be a little tedious and lacked the excitement of his other entries. The premise was interesting and I expected an exciting story, however it fell flat through most of the book.

On a positive note, Kenny’s performance is, as always, wonderful.

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  • Gareth
  • 12-17-17

It's a great book

the only issue is that the communication between the ships Minds may be hard for some to follow but it's totally worth it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-14-17

Favourite culture novel

Awesome. Very well crafted. suspense. action. the lot. read very well, infodumps clear and quickly passed through, accents great.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jacob
  • 04-07-16

pretty good but suffers from transfer to audio.

this novel would be more enjoyably in print because of the technical text devices it uses.