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Books by Iain [M] Banks

Iain [M] Banks is the author of twenty-three novels and one short fiction collection to-date. All twenty-four of Iain's books are published in the UK by Abacus and Orbit (both imprints of the Little, Brown Book Group) and a number of his science fiction titles are published in the US by Orbit (an imprint of the Hachette Book Group).

Click on the covers below for more information about the relevant book. Or, alternatively:

UK Editions

US Editions

Notes & Brief Synopsis

The Hydrogen Sonata, UK & Australia hardback The Hydrogen Sonata, US hardback

The Hydrogen Sonata [2012]

The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization.

Stonemouth, UK & Australia hardback Stonemouth, US hardback

Stonemouth [2012]

Stonemouth

Home to sea fog. Gangsters. Lost love. And a suspension bridge . . .

Surface Detail, UK & Australia hardback Surface Detail, US hardback

Surface Detail [2010]

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.

It begins with a murder.

And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Transition, UK edition Transition, US edition

Transition [2009]

A world that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, between the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, frozen in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse, such a world requires a firm hand and a guiding light. But does it need the Concern: an all-powerful organisation with a malevolent presiding genius, pervasive influence and numberless invisible operatives in possession of extraordinary powers?

Matter, UK edition Matter, US edition

Matter [2008]

In a world renowned within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one brother it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one - maybe two - people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, it means returning to a place she'd thought abandoned forever.

The Steep Approach to Garbadale, UK edition  

The Steep Approach to Garbadale [2007]

The Wopuld family built its fortune on a board game called Empire! - now a hugely successful computer game. So successful, the American Spraint Corp wants to buy the firm out. Young renegade Alban, who has been living wild and evading the family tentacles for years, is run to ground and persuaded to attend the forthcoming Family Gathering.

The Algebraist, UK edition  

The Algebraist [2004]

It is 4034 AD. Humanity has made it to the stars. Fassin Taak, a Slow Seer at the Court of the Nasqueron Dwellers, will be fortunate if he makes it to the end of the year.

Seconded to a military-religious order he’s barely heard of – part of the baroque hierarchy of the Mercatoria, the latest galactic hegemony – Fassin Taak has to travel again amongst the Dwellers. He is in search of a secret hidden for half a billion years. But with each day that passes a war draws closer – a war that threatens to overwhelm everything and everyone he's ever known.

Dead Air, UK edition  

Dead Air [2002]

After a wedding breakfast people start dropping fruits from a balcony on to a deserted carpark ten storeys below, then they start dropping other things; an old TV that doesn't work, a blown loudspeaker, beanbags, other unwanted furniture ... Then they get carried away and start dropping things that are still working, while wrecking the rest of the apartment. But mobile phones start ringing and they're told to turn on a TV, because a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Centre...

Look to Windward, UK edition  

Look to Windward [2000]

It was one of the less glorious incidents of the Idiran wars that led to the destruction of two suns and the billions of lives they supported. Now, eight hundred years later, the light from the first of those ancient deaths has reached the Culture's Masaq' Orbital. For the Hub Mind, overseer of the massive bracelet world, its arrival is particularly poignant. But it may still be eclipsed by events from the Culture's more recent past.

The Business, UK edition  

The Business [1999]

Kate Telman is a senior executive officer in The Business, a powerful and massively discreet transglobal organisation. Financially transparent, internally democratic and disavowing conventional familial inheritance, the character of The Business seems, even to Kate, to be vague to the point of invisibility. It possesses, allegedly, a book of Leonardo cartoons, several sets of Crown Jewels and wants to buy its own State in order to acquire a seat at the United Nations.

Inversions, UK edition  

Inversions [1998]

In the winter palace, the King's new physician has more enemies than she at first realises. But then she also has more remedies to hand than those who wish her ill can know about.

In another palace across the mountains, in the service of the regicidal Protector General, the chief bodyguard too has his enemies. He also has at least one person he cares for deeply and who cares for him, though neither can risk saying so.

A Song of Stone, UK edition  

A Song of Stone [1997]

The war is ending, perhaps ended. For the castle and its occupants the troubles are just beginning. Armed gangs roam a lawless land where each farm and house supports a column of dark smoke. Taking to the roads with the other refugees, anonymous in their raggedness, seems safer than remaining in the ancient keep. However, the lieutenant of an outlaw band has other ideas and the castle becomes the focus for a dangerous game of desire, deceit and death.

Excession, UK edition  

Excession [1996]

Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared.

Now it is back.

, UK edition  

Whit [1995]

A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing...

Innocent in the ways of the world, an ingénue when it comes to pop and fashion, the Elect of God of a small but committed Stirlingshire religious cult: Isis Whit is no ordinary teenager.

When her cousin Morag — Guest of Honour at the Luskentyrian's four-yearly Festival of Love — disappears after renouncing her faith, Isis is marked out to venture among the Unsaved and bring the apostate back into the fold.

Feersum Endjinn, UK edition  

Feersum Endjinn [1994]

Count Sessine is about to die for the very last time ...

Chief Scientist Gadfium is about to receive the mysterious message she has been waiting for from the Plain of Sliding Stones ...

And Bascule the Teller, in search of an ant, is about to enter the chaos of the crypt ...

Complicity, UK edition

Complicity [1993]

A few spliffs, a spot of mild S&M, phone through the copy for tomorrow's front page, catch up with the latest from your mystery source - could be big, could be very big - in fact, just a regular day at the office for free-wheeling, substance abusing Cameron Colley, a fully paid-up Gonzo hack on an Edinburgh newspaper. The source is pretty thin, but Cameron senses a scoop and checks out a series of bizarre deaths from a few years ago — only to find that the police are checking out a series of bizarre deaths that are happening right now. And Cameron just might know more about it than he'd care to admit...

Against a Dark Background, UK edition Against a Dark Background, US edition

Against a Dark Background [1993]

Sharrow was once the leader of a personality-attuned combat team in one of the sporadic little commercial wars in the civilisation based around the planet Golter. Now she is hunted by the Huhsz, a religious cult which believes that she is the last obstacle before the faith's apotheosis, and her only hope of escape is to find the last of the apocalyptically powerful Lazy Guns before the Huhsz find her.

The Crow Road, UK edition  

The Crow Road [1992]

'It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach.'

Prentice McHoan has returned to the bosom of his complex but enduring Scottish family. Full of questions about the McHoan past, present and future, he is also deeply preoccupied: mainly with death, sex, drink, God and illegal substances...

, UK edition

The State of the Art [1991]

The first ever collection of Iain M. Banks's short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, 'The State of the Art'. This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast.

Use of Weapons, UK edition Use of Weapnons, US edition

Use of Weapons [1990]

The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks or military action.

The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.

Canal Dreams, UK edition

Canal Dreams [1989]

Hisako Onoda, world famous cellist, refuses to fly. And so she travels to Europe as a passenger on a tanker bound through the Panama Canal. But Panama is a country whose politics are as volatile as the local freedom fighters. When Hisako's ship is captured, it is not long before the atmosphere is as flammable as an oxy-acetylene torch, and the tension as sharp as the spike on her cello…

The Player of Games, UK edition THe Plater of Games, US edition

The Player of Games [1988]

The Culture - a human / machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy.

Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game ... a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death.

Espedair Street, UK edition  

Espedair Street [1987]

Daniel Weir used to be a famous - not to say infamous - rock star. Maybe still is. At thirty-one he has been both a brilliant failure and a dull success. He's made a lot of mistakes that have paid off and a lot of smart moves he'll regret forever (however long that turns out to be). Daniel Weir has gone from rags to riches and back, and managed to hold onto them both, though not much else. His friends all seem to be dead, fed up with him or just disgusted - and who can blame them? And now Daniel Weir is all alone.

Consider Phlebas, UK edition Consider Phlebas, US edition

Consider Phlebas [1987]

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

The Bridge, UK edition  

The Bridge [1986]

The man who wakes up in the extraordinary world of a bridge has amnesia, and his doctor doesn't seem to want to cure him. Does it matter? Exploring the bridge occupies most of his days. But at night there are his dreams. Dreams in which desperate men drive sealed carriages across barren mountains to a bizarre rendezvous; an illiterate barbarian storms an enchanted tower under a stream of verbal abuse; and broken men walk forever over bridges without end, taunted by visions of a doomed sexuality.

Walking on Glass, UK edition  

Walking on Glass [1985]

Graham Park is in love. But Sara Fitch is an enigma to him, a creature of almost perverse mystery. Steven Grout is paranoid - and with justice. He knows that They are out to get him. They are. Quiss, insecure in his fabulous if ramshackle castle, is forced to play interminable impossible games. The solution to the oldest of all paradoxical riddles will release him. But he must find an answer before he knows the question. Park, Grout, Quiss - no trio could be further apart. But their separate courses are set for collision.

The Wasp Factory, UK edition  

The Wasp Factory [1984]

Frank - no ordinary sixteen-year-old - lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.

All Iain [M] Banks Titles, Publication Order

  • The Wasp Factory [1984] | UK
  • Walking on Glass [1985] | UK
  • The Bridge [1986] | UK
  • Consider Phlebas [1987] | UK | US
  • Espedair Street [1987] | UK
  • The Player of Games [1988] UK | US
  • Canal Dreams [1989] | UK
  • Use of Weapons [1990] | UK | US
  • The State of the Art [1991] | UK
  • The Crow Road [1992] | UK
  • Against a Dark Background [1993] | UK | US
  • Complicity [1993] | UK
  • Feersum Endjinn [1994] | UK
  • Whit [1995] | UK
  • Excession [1996] | UK
  • A Song of Stone [1997] | UK
  • Inversions [1998] | UK
  • The Business [1999] | UK
  • Look to Windward | UK
  • Dead Air [2002] | UK
  • The Algebraist [2004] | UK
  • The Steep Approach to Garbadale [2007] | UK
  • Matter [2008] | UK | US
  • Transition [2009] | UK | US
  • Surface Detail [2010] | UK | US
  • Stonemouth [2012] | UK | US
  • The Hydrogen Sonata [2012] | UK | US

Iain Banks Titles, Publication Order

  • The Wasp Factory [1984] | UK
  • Walking on Glass [1985] | UK
  • The Bridge [1986] | UK
  • Espedair Street [1987] | UK
  • Canal Dreams [1989] | UK
  • The Crow Road [1992] | UK
  • Complicity [1993] | UK
  • Whit [1995] | UK
  • A Song of Stone [1997] | UK
  • The Business [1999] | UK
  • Dead Air [2002] | UK
  • The Steep Approach to Garbadale [2007] | UK
  • Transition [2009] | UK
  • Stonemouth [2012] | UK | US

Iain M Banks Titles, Publication Order

  • Consider Phlebas [1987] | UK | US
  • The Player of Games [1988] UK | US
  • Use of Weapons [1990] | UK | US
  • The State of the Art [1991] | UK
  • Against a Dark Background [1993] | UK | US
  • Feersum Endjinn [1994] | UK
  • Excession [1996] | UK
  • Inversions [1998] | UK
  • Look to Windward | UK
  • The Algebraist [2004] | UK
  • Matter [2008] | UK | US
  • Transition [2009] | US
  • Surface Detail [2010] | UK | US
  • The Hydrogen Sonata [2012] | UK | US

The 'Culture' Books, Publication Order

  • Consider Phlebas [1987] | UK | US
  • The Player of Games [1988] UK | US
  • Use of Weapons [1990] | UK | US
  • The State of the Art [1991] | UK
  • Excession [1996] | UK
  • Inversions [1998] | UK
  • Look to Windward | UK
  • Matter [2008] | UK | US
  • Surface Detail [2010] | UK | US
  • The Hydrogen Sonata [2012] | UK | US

See the extensive Wikipedia entry on the Culture for more information on Iain M Banks' best-known milieu.