I am working on several novels and stories set in the Culture universe created by Iain M. Banks. This task is tractable only because so many kind people had contributed to descriptions and annotations of the novels.
So, here I have gathered together a collection of resources I have found useful in my self-imposed tasks.
http://www.iain-banks.net/: the official web site for Iain M. Banks.
There are a great many references to Iain M. Banks work and the Culture in Wikipedia. A selection of the articles follows.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iain_Banks: Wikipedia page for Iain M. Banks.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Culture: Wikipedia page on the Culture.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_series: Wikipedia page on the Culture series of novels.
https://theculture.fandom.com/wiki/List_of_spacecraft_in_the_Culture_series: Wikipedia list of Culture Ship Names.
The Marain Language
Marain is the language used throughout the Culture and is described by Banks here.
There's a splendid tool for translating and displaying the Marain language at http://marain-tools.netlify.com/.
An elegant script version of the Marain language glyphs by Daniel Solis is described here. Download links for Marain Script (updated) and Marain Ancient (updated).
Note that Daniel does not provide script versions of all of the glyphs identified by Iain Banks and that they do not map to the phonetic sounds that Banks defines either.
An essay on the Culture universe was written by Iain Banks back in 1994. I have reproduced this essay in its entirety here.
This page gives an explanation of the colours used by drones to convey emotions.
This is a list of Culture craft from the books, as well as some plausible names not in the books.
A Fandom wiki on the Culture can be found at http://theculture.wikia.com/wiki/The_Culture_Wiki. One very useful page is the Culture Timeline.
A useful guide to Iain M. Banks writing and characterization can be found at Gizmodo. There's also Gizmodo's introduction to all the books.
There's a Reddit page on the Culture, as well as a page dedicated to Culture Fan Fiction and a page for the Marain language.
Also, this Reddit comment lists a considerable number of interviews with Iain M. Banks, which gives at least some insight into the great man's personality, passions and politics
Another post on Reddit lists user "flairs" which might make excellent names for Culture ships.
Stange Horizons has an Interview with Iain M. Banks from 2010.
TVTropes has an interesting write-up on culture ideas and themes.
Evidence suggests that Iain M. Banks made use of this Dictionary of Unusual Words as the source for some of his names.
There is now a list of names of characters, places and species found in all the Culture novels and stories. This is an extended and corrected version of this document.