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I just found out about the Culture series by Iain Banks. It sounds like there are similarities between the fictional universe of the Culture series and the Exodemic fictional universe. I want to make a comparison between these two fictional universes and the ideas found in The Space Odyssey series by Arthur C. Clarke. thumb|300px|right In 1948 Clarke wrote a story about an alien artifact on the Moon. The aliens are "very, very old", having developed space travel long before humans. I started reading science fiction not long after Clarke published Rendezvous with Rama and I think that was the first work by Clarke that I ever read. I was charmed by the idea of aliens who were vastly more sophisticated than humans, aliens who seem not to be interested in humans.

I later saw the 2001: A Space Odyssey movie and was annoyed by the silly light show and other stuff inserted into the film by Kubrick. I never bothered to read the book until after 2061: Odyssey Three was published. I liked the idea of aliens coming to Earth long ago, altering the course of human development, but largely staying out of day-to-day Earthly affairs. I'm sure that my thinking about the Exodemic fictional universe were influenced by Clarke.

According to Wikipedia, The Culture is a civilization that formed about 9,000 years ago. My concept of the Exodemic fictional universe is that it includes an alien civilization that is hundreds of millions of years old. This raises the issue of how a civilization could exist for so long and still be interested in "primitive" species such as humans. My answer is: careful social engineering combined with a way to let life forms develop past such a "primitive" level when they want to...as long as they do not interfere with the primitives. How this works is explored to a limited degree in The Start of Eternity.

According to Wikipedia, The Culture "needs to intervene in the affairs of less enlightened and often less advanced civilisations". In the Exodemic fictional universe there is also "intervention", but there are also rules that limit intervention by advanced cultures into the affairs of less advanced cultures.

I'm rather human-centric, so stories in the Exodemic fictional universe are about Earth and human affairs. According to Wikipedia, The State of the Art includes a story about a spaceship from The Culture visiting Earth, but not interfering with humanity.

It appears that my emphasis in the Exodemic fictional universe is very different from that of Banks. Earth seems to have only a small role in the Culture series. I wonder why Banks prefers to write about aliens rather than humans.


A FEW NOTES ON THE CULTURE by Iain M Banks

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