A sequel is an admission that you've been reduced to imitating yourself.
The Culture's General Service Vehicles (GSVs) are very large and self-sustaining ships. Progressively new classes of GSV grew increasingly large and earlier models were redesignated Medium Service Vehicles (MSVs) or even Limited Service Vehicles (LSVs).
Still, an older MSV is still a considerably capable machine; this story explores what happens when an MSV arrives in a galaxy which has never been explored by the Culture before.
This story also considers the concept of a Hegemonising Swarm, which Mr. Banks mentions in passing in several places but is never explored in detail.
This story is quite definitely a sequel to Galactic Recession; you are recommended to read that story before embarking on this one.
The GSVs are fast and very large craft, measured in kilometres and inhabited by millions of people and machines. The idea behind them is that they represent the Culture, fully. All that the Culture knows, each GSV knows; anything that can be done anywhere in the Culture can be done within or by any GSV. In terms of both information and technology, they represent a last resort, and act like holographic fragments of the Culture itself, the whole contained within each part.
From A Few Notes on the Culture by Iain M. Banks.
As always, this work represents my own interpretation of the nature of Mr. Banks' universe and the individuals to be found therein; any errors of commission or omission are, of course, entirely my own.
Please feel free to read and comment by email on the story.
My first Culture novel is called Impact Analysis. This story explores the lengths to which some Minds will go in order to test the Culture's own society.
I have written a second novel set in the Culture universe created by Iain M. Banks. This one is called Dark Matter and examines the way in which the fractured and frequently secretive nature of the Culture's Minds sometimes plays out.
I have started work on a third Culture novel. This one is provisionally entitled Unseen Footprints. This is still very much a work in progress: just a few draft chapters and lots of notes. More to follow soon.
Apart from being set in the same fictional universe, these three books share no characters or plot so they can all be read independently.
I have also written numerous other short stories set in Mr. Banks' Culture universe.
Phrontisterion explores the fate of a Group Mind composed mainly of rather grumpy retired Drones.
Galactic Recession is a story about an Eccentric Culture ship and its crew travelling to a galaxy far beyond our own.
Butterfly Happiness explores the attitude of the Culture to the Sublime.
Unusual Circumstances examines a time towards the very beginning of the Culture, and explores some of the politics and personalities involved.
Door Bell explores a meeting between a well-known author and an enigmatic visitor who seems to know more about the author's fiction than he does himself.
On a Pale Horse, Darkly explores what happens when a deep sea diver is asked to help resolve a conflict of desires between Minds.
Never a Coincidence is a sequel to Unusual Circumstances and further investigates events at the very beginning of The Culture's existence.
City of Glass follows the Contact section in action on a planet not entirely dissimilar to Earth, where some of the inhabitants have developed a curious denial of reality.
Mind in the Making explores how new Culture Minds are created, and the activities of other Minds in supporting their development.
Rocks and Stars follows the Culture's Quietudinal Service (Quietus) in action and explores what that organisation might do with the dead of other species.
Death and Paradise is another story about the Culture's Quietus service and explores what happens when relics of the dead are found in a system where the Culture has started constructing a new Orbital.
Artistic Expression explores what happens when the Culture is challenged by two powerful remnants of civilizations which have mostly Sublimed.
Letters to an Alien introduces the Culture to a newly-Contacted society by means of letters between a young child and the local Culture representative.
The Gaia Principle considers circumstances when the Culture's Contact section can - and cannot - intervene in the development of another society, regardless of how reprehensible the result might be.
Retrospective State explores more of the actions and consequences of Culture ships during the early part of the Idiran war.
Star Crossed is a slice-of-life story set in the Culture, albeit with a twist in the tale.
Beneath the Ice explores how Culture Minds manipulate the presentation of data to minimise psychological damage both to individuals and to the society as a whole.
Doing Enough explores more of the work of the Culture's Contact section and touches on the approaches which might be used to influence the development of more primitive civilizations where gross social inequalities remain.
Vivarium Orbital examines the relationship between ordinary Culture citizens and the Minds which run their lives, and indeed the relationship with individuals from other species.
Care and Feeding is a story about life in the Culture, and how everyday life can sometimes be much more important than one might imagine.
You may also like my collection of fifteen interlinked science fiction and fantasy short stories under the title Four Square Less One. Can you work out the connection between the stories?
I am now working on a second (and still growing) collection of short stories under the title ...Then a Miracle Occurs. An eclectic collection of science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance and ghost stories - often more than one at a time. Includes my all-time favourite short-short story Hearts and Flowers.