Just finished reading Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks.
I love Banks' Culture novels, they're always a lot of fun to read and I wasn't disappointed this time. This one revolves around the existence of virtual afterlives of various species throughout the galaxy. Many intelligent species host massive simulations where individuals can be uploaded to, where they can live forever in an environment of their choosing, or until they get bored with it all and want to terminate, or be frozen for a period of time and so on. The novel focuses on the virtual hells though, rather than the wonderful but boring virtual heavens.
The descriptions of the environment and the events of the main virtual hell made me physically wince, and stop reading on several occasions. Wow. That's some nasty shit right there.
The story revolves around a battle between groups of species that are for and against the existence of virtual hells, of course with the Culture being against, but not getting directly involved for political reasons. As always, the Culture AIs are hilarious in their dealings with their people, and other species, but in particular, I loved the SC ship called "Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints". I was laughing out loud on the bus, its avatar was awesome. Another ship with an excellent name was the "Me, I'm Counting". Brilliant.
An excellent, well written and fast paced book.
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