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

Plot Summary

Impact Analysis book cover I am writing a Fan Fiction novel called Impact Analysis, 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 summary of the plot of Impact Analysis, in chapter order. Warning: spoilers.

See also the list of characters which I am working on, and which accompanies this chapter-by-chapter synopsis.


An encounter on the Island within what we will later learn is Island Rock. Kitzean Mso and other Contact personnel are attacked by a female member of the aliens known as the Islanders. Before the Drone Schoma Xantic can intercede to protect the humans, the female is killed by another Islander known as the Old Man.

The sudden brutality - and mundane typicality - of this encounter causes Mso to wonder aloud what the Culture will decide to do to about the inhabitants of Island Rock.

1: Angel Descended

The chapter opens with a flashback: a young Kitzean Mso is aboard the Culture cruise ship Just Passing Through when it was captured by the Affronter Battle-cruiser Kiss the Blade. The Just Passing Through was liberated by the ROU Progressive Intercession a few days later. Although unharmed, the formative experience causes Mso to become a highly respected Contact agent, one who asked to be Stored until until events occur where her skills and experience could be usefully deployed.

An encounter between Kitzean Mso and the widow Aneme Crossmaddows on the latter's deathbed. Mso is mistaken for an angel. Mso admits to have been watching Aneme for her entire life, but nevertheless asks Aneme for details of her life. Aneme speaks about the horrific death of her husband Jeremias Crossmaddows from the Zombie Plague and, ultimately, at her own hand.

For many years afterwards, Aneme had had a reputation as a witch, or wise woman, tended to the sick and needy; this has strengthened considerably her inate sense of right and wrong, truth and falsehood. Impressed by her intuitive capabilities, Mso invites Aneme to leave her home world just before her death and join the Culture.

The chapter closes with a signal communication between the GCU Meretricious Persiflage and its home GSV Imagine a Swift Exit. The Meretricious Persiflage confirms that it has collected Mso and Aneme; the Imagine a Swift Exit advises the GCU not to rush, but be particularly cautious on its return journey.

2: First Encounter

The GCU One Hand Clapping leaves the GSV Hence, or Otherwise on what is apparently a standard Contact exploration mission. The Hence, or Otherwise is launched by the Superlifter Can't You Drive Faster?, shortly after its sister ship GCU Extended Adolescence left on a similar mission.

The One Hand Clapping has a crew of thirteen: two drones, five women, four men, one person who was in the process of changing from a woman to a man, and one other who had remained determinedly androgynous for a great many years. The human crew include Kitzean Mso, Sharo Emshala and Lezert T'wou. The drone crew members are Schoma Xantic and Quenlily Sikralis.

The One Hand Clapping and its crew make an initial encounter with Island Rock. They determine that Island Rock is unthreatening and non-sentient, despite its very considerable technological sophistication. They also observe that the Rock has an unimaginatively sophisticated hyperspace connection to the Grid.

3: Strange Attractors

4: Rural Idyll

5: Backwards Chaining

6: Opposing Spin

7: Awakening Spirit

8: Cover Story

9: Phase Space

10: Orbital Insertion

11: Created Image

12: Remote Entanglement

13: Pastoral Care

14: Shell Dynamics

15: Inspection Visit

16: Emergent Property

17: Final Judgement