From: Jamal MacCaffral, Triaan'i Udom Junior School, Daan'a, Kanzanea, Ziemia
To: Ambassador Kuboul Rabaransa Losaet Ingeta Ngoh dam J'salf, c/o GCU Pretentious Twaddle
Dear Ambassador Ngoh,
From: GCU Pretentious Twaddle, currently in orbit around Ziemia
To: Jamal MacCaffral, Triaan'i Udom Junior School, Daan'a, Kanzanea, Ziemia
Yes, of course I remember you. I am glad to hear that my answers were helpful to you.
In the greater galaxy, there are many, many more species which would look human to you and me. We even have a term for this: pan-human. For some reason, evolution seems to converge on the human pattern for intelligent beings quite often.
However, the Culture did not start as a single species. A long time ago, eight different humanoid species came together to form a single society. Even back then, biological technology allowed our genes to be blended, modified, improved to make us what we are today.
Now, there are trillions of Culture people all over the galaxy, but very few of them live on a planet. Some live on our great ships, the General Service Vehicles. Some live in Rocks and other semi-mobile habitats. Most live on Orbitals, rings three kilometres wide but three million kilometres across which provide plenty of living space.
In the vastness of the galaxy, though, the human form is very much in the minority. There are thousands of other common forms, billions of other species. Many are strange, indeed, sometimes almost impossible to understand. The Culture tries to be friends with all of them.
The Culture does make a great many intelligent machines, although they are not really computers as you would understand it. My colleague here is a machine, a kind called a drone; it is called Formali-Kai and is a very old friend of mine; indeed, it has been friends with my family for millennia. Actually, drones are people too, and have the same rights and privileges as any of our biological citizens.
The Culture is basically run by very smart machines; these are called Minds. They exist almost entirely in hyperspace and are immensely smarter than any human. Fortunately, the Minds genuinely like us. They seem to be fascinated with us, humans and drones alike. Our lives and loves, our society, the way we interact with one another: every aspect of our lives. The Minds look after us.
Kuboul Rabaransa Losaet Ingeta Ngoh dam J'salf