Glanded Drugs in the Culture universe by Iain M. Banks

CP | PoG | UoW | tSotA | aGftC | Exc | Inv | LtW | Matter | SD | tHS

A list of glanded drugs available to Culture citizens, as mentioned in the novels, together with my interpretation of their effects. Ordered by novel. Some drugs are unnamed, but the effects are described, or at least hinted at.

Note that the capitalization of drug names is inconsistent in the books, although they all appear in italic font. I have retained the original cases here.

A short list of the named glanded drugs appears in the wiki here.

Consider Phlebas: book cover

Consider Phlebas

  • (unnamed, multiple) - "a dizzying sense of concentricity, as though she was the nucleus of the landscape"

The Player of Games: book cover

The Player of Games

  • (unnamed) - "a mild buzz"
  • (unnamed, possibly multiple) - "Everything parameter-centred, near as damn" physiological metrics
  • (unnamed) - "soothing drugs", "feel groggy"
  • Sharp Blue - concentration
  • Edge - concentration
  • Focal - concentration
  • (unnamed) - "memory and learning-enhancing secretions"
  • Crystal Fugue State - enhances the effets of grif (and other alcoholic drinks?)
  • Expand - enhances sexual appetite
  • Snap - "the Culture's favourite breakfast drug"
  • (unnamed, multiple) - "to stay carnally sober in the midst of the subtly exhibited orgy"

Use of Weapons: book cover

Use of Weapons

  • snap - mood enhancer
  • calm - calming effects
  • recall - relieves memories

The State of the Art: book cover

The State of the Art

  • softnow - calming
  • slow - "suddenly they all seemed to be moving in slow-motion"

A Gift from the Culture

  • (unnamed) - "soothing and cool"
  • (unnamed) - pain removal

Excession: book cover


  • quicken - speeds mental processing
  • (unnamed) - keeps one "bright and awake and receptive"
  • (unnamed) - enhances orgasms
  • calm - calms
  • gain - avoids need for sleep, temporarily
  • charge - "love of action, movement and the blessed need to be doing something"
  • Diffuse - fuzzy thoughtfulness
  • somnabsolute - sleep with no dreams at all

Inversions: book cover


  • (none mentioned)

Look to Windward: book cover

Look to Windward

  • (unnamed) - "gland-addled meanderings"

Matter: book cover


  • (unnamed) - enhance gaming skills

Surface Detail: book cover

Surface Detail

  • (unnamed, multiple) - enhanced senses and reactions
  • softnow - calming
  • Winnow - removes the effects of hangovers
  • (unnamed) - pain relief
  • edge - concentration
  • sperk - improved military performance
  • focal - concentration
  • drill - improved military performance
  • gung - improved military performance

The Hydrogen Sonata: book cover

The Hydrogen Sonata

  • (no references)