A novel set in the Culture universe created by Iain M. Banks

List of Characters and Places

Dark Matter book cover I am working on a Fan Fiction novel called Dark Matter, set in the Culture universe, as invented by Iain M. Banks and used as the setting for many of his own works.

This page provides a list of characters from Dark Matter, in alphabetical order. I've included all pan-humans, aliens, drones and ships, including non-Culture ships in this list, as well as Orbitals, other habitats and other places. Warning: spoilers.

See also the plot summary.


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

277-Plains-Animal-Weapons-Platform [Top]

A Castophrenic Widowhood warship. Its crew members include Queen-Captain Winter-Garden-Yellow, Madam-Officer (Third Class) Rain-Forest-Gray, Abbess-Weaponeer (Second Class) Summer-Veldt-Brown, Dame-Machinist Sun-Savanna-Orange and Duchess-Lieutenant Autumn-Ocean-Blue.

Absolutely No You-Know-What [Top]

A Continent-class General Service Vehicle (GSV) which refitted the Very Fast Picket (VFP) Negotiation Is Overrated as a Rapid Offensive Unit (warship).

Allochthonic Presence [Top]

Allochthonic; one that originated or was formed in a place other than where it is found, especially a rock formation that has been displaced.

A Limited Service Vehicle (LSV) which is part of a secret group called the Keepers of the Mantidae Vivarium which has been attempting to influence the development of the Castophrenic Widowhood. The other members of the group are the LSV Anterior Mandibuliform and the GSV Tangible Influence.

Amphisbaena [Top]

Amphisbaena, n., a mythical serpent with a head at each end.

An ancient Medium Service Vehicle (MSV) which accepts an invitation to join the Incident Group known as the Coleopterologists.

Anterior Mandibuliform [Top]

Mandibuliform; having the form of a mandible; said especially of the maxillae of an insect when hard and adapted for biting.

A Limited Service Vehicle (LSV) which is part of a secret group called the Keepers of the Mantidae Vivarium which has been attempting to influence the development of the Castophrenic Widowhood. The other members of the group are the LSV Allochthonic Presence and the GSV Tangible Influence.

Autumn-Ocean-Blue [Top]

Part of the crew of the Castophrenic Widowhood ship 277-Plains-Animal-Weapons-Platform. Other crew members include Queen-Captain Winter-Garden-Yellow, Madam-Officer (Third Class) Rain-Forest-Gray, Abbess-Weaponeer (Second Class) Summer-Veldt-Brown, and Dame-Machinist Sun-Savanna-Orange.

As a Duchess-Lieutenant, she is second-in-command of the ship, answering only to Queen-Captain Winter-Garden-Yellow.

Bryoni Matlyen [Top]

Full Name: Llyfith Grabouldsa Xavyer Bryoni Matlyen dam F'seuch.

Bryoni Matlyen was the only human crewmember aboard the LCU Extended Adolescence when it was suddenly attacked by a ship of the Castophrenic Widowhood. He was badly injured when the LCU sought refuge within a Dorskey's Leviathan.

Matlyen and the LCU are rescued from the Leviathan by the GOU Reformed Pacifist and makes a recovery aboard the GOU, where he meets the drone Harunda-Lua.

Castophrenic Widowhood [Top]

A level-eight civilization which shared the galaxy with the Culture and others. Historically, they have had almost nothing to do with other civilizations, and have stayed out of sight of everybody until they suddenly declared war on the Culture. Their ships have considerable abilities to move in hyperspace without being easily detected, as well as sensors which are similarly difficult to detect in operation.

Adult female members of the Castophrenic Widowhood have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks. Their elongated bodies do not have wings, but all have forelegs that are greatly enlarged and adapted for catching and gripping prey; they resemble greatly enlarged praying mantis. They are carbon-based oxygen-breathers with a large brain and an impressive range of senses, including sensitivity ot radio waves and a direct awareness of gravity. They have a natural sense of 4D space ("hyperspace") and hate artifical gravity, even spin-generated gravitational effects.

Castophrenic Widowhood society is rigidly hierarchical, generally enforced by brutal and sometimes lethal force. Males are dumb grubs, farmed in vast quantities and used for both mating and foodstuffs, often at the same time.

Cathedral [Top]

A specific and rather unusual element of the Delphic Chaosarium.

The specific object in the cluster which had long ago been named Cathedral was amongst the largest in diameter, but definitely the least massy; it was also the least symmetrical. For reasons which remained inscrutable, one hemisphere was entirely solid, as far as could be determined, while the other was pierced by such a bewildering array of openings and cavities that it was very nearly entirely empty space, retaining just enough material, it seemed, to support its multiply-pierced surface. The overall impression was of some vast baroque church, its arches and columns and vestries all somehow converted to three dimensions and spun in a remote region of space. Since the material, whatever it was, which formed the walls of the artifacts was uniformly polished to a dull mirror finish, the interior of the Cathedral shone with reflected starlight, adding to the air of veiled mystery within.

This element is chosen for a visit by Histoker, Valbada and Formali-Kai

Chirality Test [Top]

Chirality is a property of asymmetry; an object or a system is chiral if it is distinguishable from its mirror image.

A General Service Vehicle (GSV) which accepts an invitation to join the Incident Group known as the Coleopterologists.

Coleopterologists [Top]

Coleopterologist, n., a person who studies or practices coleopterology (the science that studies beetles).

A Culture Incident Group set up to coordinate activity against the Castophrenic Widowhood in the volume around the Delphic Chaosarium.

The members of the group are the GSV Obambulatist, the GSV Absolutely No You-Know-What, the MSV Amphisbaena, the GSV Chirality Test, the GSV Rarely Disappointed and the LSV Road Less Travelled.

Delphic Chaosarium [Top]

An enigmatic artifact in deep space discovered by the GCU Pretentious Twaddle, consisting of hundreds of spheres in continuous motion, orbiting one another while never colliding. Even the Culture's mathematical and modelling capabilities could not accurately predict the future positions of all the objects. It was therefore a place of special interest to the Culture's Contact section.

For reasons initially unknown, the Castophrenic Widowhood demanded that the Culture turn over the Chaosarium to their control. The Culture rejected this ultimatum.

Diplomacy Through Other Means [Top]

A Torturer-class Rapid Offensive Unit (ROU) which is dispatched by the GSV Rarely Disappointed and the Coleopterologists (together with the More Zeal Than Common Sense) to investigate the region of space where the GCU Rambunctious Frippery discovered the Eater of Planets.

Dorskey's Leviathan [Top]

A huge space-borne creature which hunts and eats the Pleiadic Nauticum.

An image of a huge dark tubular shape blotting out the stars flashed across Matlyen's field of view. His first thought was that it must be a ship; something alien, unknown. As the viewpoint drew closer to the creature, the apparent regularity of form collapsed as monstrous welts, swellings, ganglions, cysts, vents and protrusions could be seen on its surface, all in continual chaotic motion, squirming and writhing as if in response to exotic internal processes, some kind of intensely energetic physical reaction under barely-managed containment. As he watched, one orifice opened showing a hint of dull red fire within, while another suddenly spurted a cloud of black gas; whether this was for steering or propulsion, or merely excrement was uncertain.

Eater of Planets [Top]

This ancient and mysterious artifact was discovered many years ago in interstellar space by the GCU Rambunctious Frippery. It converts rocky planets into miniature black holes and has been doing this for millions of years; however, the resulting black holes cannot be located.

The Rambunctious Frippery and the GSV Rarely Disappointed place the AI mind of the artifact in a simulation, and then destroy the object itself.

Empress-High-Admiral [Top]

The supreme leader of the Castophrenic Widowhood. Her name and location are unknown.

The Empress-High-Admiral directs all nearby ships (including 277-Plains-Animal-Weapons-Platform) to converge on the Delphic Chaosarium and take control.

Extended Adolescence [Top]

The Extended Adolescence is a Scree class Limited Contact Unit (LCU) with a normal crew of 5. When attacked by the Castophrenic Widowhood, it only had Bryoni Matlyen on board.

The badly-damaged LCU is recovered by the GOU Reformed Pacifist from the interior of the Dorskey's Leviathan. Matlyen recovers aboud the GOU, while the Mind of the Extended Adolescence is incorporated into the same substrate as the Reformed Pacifist.

It is later rebuilt as a General Contact Unit (GCU) and renamed itself the Mature Reflection.

Formali-Kai [Top]

Roosh Formali-Kai; Full Name: Roosh Formali-Kai Za-Handraden Xato Roul.

A retired Special Circumstance drone, now several centuries old. Despite its outdated technology, it was re-activated and updated for the emergency of the Castophrenic Widowhood declaring war. It is generally irrascible, sometimes snarky, but can be urbane when it wants to.

Part of a group assembled on the ROU Negotiation Is Overrated, together with Valbada and Histoker.

It is transported to the LSV Road Less Travelled by the ROU, in the vicinity of the Delphic Chaosarium.

Greased Lightning [Top]

A Cliff class Superlifter which launches the ROU Negotiation Is Overrated from the GSV Absolutely No You-Know-What.

Histoker [Top]

Qu-el Histoker; Full Name: Perojamb Alkatishsa Catoban Qu-el Histoker da'Mussolaen (M).

A squat, powerfully-built Special Circumstances agent. Part of a group assembled on the ROU Negotiation Is Overrated, together with Valbada and Formali-Kai.

He is transported to the LSV Road Less Travelled by the ROU, in the vicinity of the Delphic Chaosarium.

Harunda-Lua [Top]

Goart Harunda-Lua; Full Name: Goart Harunda-Lua Bo-Handraden Xato Moux.

An outdated ex-SC drone, demilled some centuries before. It is described as being a squat cylinder in a shade of pale eggshell.

The drone was the only passenger aboard the GOU Reformed Pacifist when the ship rescued Matlyen and the remains of the LCU Extended Adolescence.

Keepers of the Mantidae Vivarium [Top]

A secretive group of Culture Minds set up to direct the development of the Castophrenic Widowhood.

The group consists of the GSV Tangible Influence, the LSV Allochthonic Presence and the LSV Anterior Mandibuliform.

Matlyen [Top]

See Bryoni Matlyen.

Mature Reflection [Top]

The name chosen by the Mind of the former Limited Contact Unit (LCU) Extended Adolescence when it is rebuilt as a General Contact Unit (GCU).

More Zeal Than Common Sense [Top]

A Torturer-class Rapid Offensive Unit (ROU) which is dispatched by the GSV Rarely Disappointed and the Coleopterologists (together with the Diplomacy Through Other Means) to investigate the region of space where the GCU Rambunctious Frippery discovered the Eater of Planets.

Negotiation Is Overrated [Top]

Previously a Very Fast Picket (VFP), and refitted as a Rapid Offensive Unit (warship) aboard the Absolutely No You-Know-What.

Transports a Special Circumstances unit consisting of Formali-Kai, Valbada and Histoker to the Delphic Chaosarium at the start of the war with the Castophrenic Widowhood.

Noibalt [Top]

Finark Noibalt (M). A slender young-looking man who is the human representative of the LSV Road Less Travelled. Greets Formali-Kai, Valbada and Histoker on their arrival, and later invites the humans to a welcome party.

Obambulatist [Top]

Obambulate, vt., to walk about, to wander aimlessly; vi., to walk up to, so as to meet.

A General Service Vehicle (GSV) which accepts an invitation to join the Incident Group known as the Coleopterologists.

The Obambulatist heads for the Delphic Chaosarium to support the Road Less Travelled against the threat from the Castophrenic Widowhood.

Obby [Top]

The Avatar of the GSV Obambulatist. It is described as a black creature like a metre-scale centipede.

Pleiadic Nauticum [Top]

The adult form of the proto-sentient photo-plasmid creatures known as Pleiadic Nauticum principally inhabited the cool upper reaches of brown dwarf stars. Their larval stages and the immature young travelled vast circulating stellar convection currents which swept them alternately into the deeps and back to the surface as they matured.
As a species, they had evolved the ability to migrate between the stars at sub-light speeds, when the old home star cooled too much to allow for their growth, or simply to spread themselves more widely across the galaxy. When enough full-grown adults had amassed at the surface, the individuals would mesh themselves together to form a giant living infrared telescope, scanning the skies looking for small dark stars which might become their new homes.
Periodically, the Nauticum would set sail across the void, spawning in vast waves and shoals, red-brown ovoids spiralling away from the old dwarf star in huge numbers, and rapidly cooling to black as they entered their frozen hibernation state. Mature adults had limited control of gravitational forces - natural AG, to a close approximation - and used it to undertake interstellar journeys lasting hundreds of thousands of years.

Pretentious Twaddle [Top]

A General Contact Unit (GCU) which accidentally discovered the Delphic Chaosarium hundreds of years ago.

Rain-Forest-Gray [Top]

Part of the crew of the Castophrenic Widowhood ship 277-Plains-Animal-Weapons-Platform. Other crew members include Queen-Captain Winter-Garden-Yellow, Abbess-Weaponeer (Second Class) Summer-Veldt-Brown, Dame-Machinist Sun-Savanna-Orange and Duchess-Lieutenant Autumn-Ocean-Blue.

Rambunctious Frippery [Top]

A General Contact Unit (GCU) which discovers the Eater of Planets in interstellar space. The GCU reports this discovery to the Rarely Disappointed.

Rapid Planned Disassembly [Top]

An Abominator-class GOU which is requested to support the Culture's defence of the Delphic Chaosarium.

Rarely Disappointed [Top]

A General Service Vehicle (GSV) which accepts an invitation to join the Incident Group known as the Coleopterologists.

Reformed Pacifist [Top]

The General Offensive Unit (GOU) Reformed Pacifist rescues the injured Matlyen and the badly-damaged LCU Extended Adolescence from the interior of the Dorskey's Leviathan.

Road Less Travelled [Top]

An ancient Limited Service Vehicle (LSV) which accepts an invitation to join the Incident Group known as the Coleopterologists.

The LSV is the Culture's coordinating presence in the volume immediately around the Delphic Chaosarium and takes amajor role in protecting the artifact from the Castophrenic Widowhood.

Spring-Jungle-Green [Top]

Tsaritsa-Admiral Spring-Jungle-Green is Queen-Captain Winter-Garden-Yellow's immediate superior in the complex hierarchy of the Castophrenic Widowhood.

Summer-Veldt-Brown [Top]

Part of the crew of the Castophrenic Widowhood ship 277-Plains-Animal-Weapons-Platform. Other crew members include Queen-Captain Winter-Garden-Yellow, Madam-Officer (Third Class) Rain-Forest-Gray, Dame-Machinist Sun-Savanna-Orange and Duchess-Lieutenant Autumn-Ocean-Blue.

As an Abbess-Weaponeer, she is in charge of the ship's weapons systems.

Sun-Savanna-Orange [Top]

Part of the crew of the Castophrenic Widowhood ship 277-Plains-Animal-Weapons-Platform. Other crew members include Queen-Captain Winter-Garden-Yellow, Madam-Officer (Third Class) Rain-Forest-Gray, Abbess-Weaponeer (Second Class) Summer-Veldt-Brown, and Duchess-Lieutenant Autumn-Ocean-Blue.

As a Dame-Machinist, she is responsible for communicating directly with the sentient AI which controls the ship.

Tangible Influence [Top]

A General Service Cehicle (GSV) which is part of a secret group called the Keepers of the Mantidae Vivarium which has been attempting to influence the development of the Castophrenic Widowhood. The other members of the group are the LSV Allochthonic Presence and the LSV Anterior Mandibuliform.

Unnamed Entity [Top]

An (initially) unidentified entity seeking to escape its incessant pain by seeking the help of others. It encodes requests for aid in the photospheres of stars. It gets a rapid response, but is forced to wait for an intervention from the others.

Valbada [Top]

Foklane Valbada; Full Name: Gailloff Mersoitsa Yaybool Foklane Valbada dam Leflotha (F).

A tall, lithe and athletic woman woth powerful shoulders; an augmented Special Circumstances agent. Part of a group assembled on the ROU Negotiation Is Overrated, together with Histoker and drone Formali-Kai.

she is transported to the LSV Road Less Travelled by the ROU, in the vicinity of the Delphic Chaosarium.

Winter-Garden-Yellow [Top]

Part of the crew of the Castophrenic Widowhood ship 277-Plains-Animal-Weapons-Platform. Other crew members include Madam-Officer (Third Class) Rain-Forest-Gray, Abbess-Weaponeer (Second Class) Summer-Veldt-Brown, Dame-Machinist Sun-Savanna-Orange and Duchess-Lieutenant Autumn-Ocean-Blue.

As a Queen-Captain, she is in overall charge of the ship and the crew, which she enforces with merciless brutality.