The Culture Vs Earth
April 28, 2017 5:04 AM   Subscribe

 
(Available for the next 28 days)
posted by Artw at 5:06 AM on April 28, 2017


oooooh.

That's the one where the Culture has a mission to '70s Earth, right?
posted by MartinWisse at 5:07 AM on April 28, 2017


Yes, I hadn't imagined it sounding quite so plumby in my head though. Not unpleasing though, sort of gives it a Hitchhikers vibe.
posted by Artw at 5:26 AM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Unless Radio 4 have re-made it, I think this is a few years old. I'm at work at the moment, I'll have to have a listen when I get home.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 5:48 AM on April 28, 2017


There was talk about A Gift from the Culture getting a movie but I'm not seeing much trace of it after 2009.
posted by Artw at 5:59 AM on April 28, 2017


I skipped this when I read (well listened, but same difference) through all the culture books last year.

Is this worth listening to or should I read the non dramatized version first?

> (Available for the next 28 days)

Solvable, some nice person might rehost for those geographically challenged if asked.
posted by adventureloop at 6:40 AM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


The character of Linter seemed to have caught the same diseases a lot of BBC science fiction has: "Despite humanity's many flaws, isn't Earth special?" which we can say as the only known example of intelligent life in the universe, but The Culture has run into numerous "mainline" humans on various planets before, what makes Earth so special again? Why did Linter suddenly fall in love with Earth?

I'm kinda with everyone else's perspective from The Culture. Linter was crazy, but he's not harming anyone else, so he has the freedom to act crazy if he wants to, even if it means being senselessly killed in 1970s New York.
posted by jrishel at 6:57 AM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


An orbiting GSV's effectors manipulated my hard drive into containing a ~100MB .m4a of this content. Memail if you would like to investigate further this deviation from Contact procedures.
posted by Skorgu at 7:23 AM on April 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


Can you get the BBC World Service to play Mr David Bowie's "Space Oddity" for the good ship Arbitrary and all who sail in her while you're at it?
posted by Artw at 7:26 AM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Reading "Use Of Weapons" right now; why has this not become a movie?
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:27 AM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


It has a complicated plot and it would be expensive and Shyamalan has kind of ruined twists for a while?

Really the only way you could do a Culture adaptation would be as an HBO-style 8-10 ep series. Lord knows you could work in enough sexposition to keep HBO happy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:14 AM on April 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


This did capture the Culture novels' particular kind of humor pretty well, if a bit more concentrated and amplified than in the books. I agree with jrishel that Linter's obsession with Earth was a bit odd in this radio play, but it's not too out of place in that universe - it reminds me of Gurgeh's ennui and desire for real danger in The Player of Games. You'd think Linter would have seen planets like Earth before in his time with Contact, but perhaps he's new. I haven't read the original short story. I wonder if it handles the issue more adroitly.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:14 AM on April 28, 2017


Yeah, I feel like much of Banks' work has great movie making potential. _Consider Phlebas_ would be great; it is basically a James Bond movie except with shape changers and aliens and space ships and ring worlds and giant explosions and despair. And now that we are finally seeing good sci-fi movies being made (The Departure), it is possible that there could be a Banks' movie where the quality of the movie is on par with the source material.
posted by Balna Watya at 8:18 AM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


A big-budget Culture movie would probably do wonders for the US, honestly. When have we ever seen an actual leftist utopia in pop culture? We only ever see dystopias lately. Having a well-known positive vision of the future to aspire toward would be a beautiful thing.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:37 AM on April 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Star Trek beyond basically had an Orbital.
posted by Artw at 8:39 AM on April 28, 2017


Hah, I just realized I completely left out Star Trek in my previous comment. I think the Culture offers something a bit more potent than Star Trek though, from a political point of view.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:42 AM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have no idea how you'd film Use of Weapons without severely compromising something, most likely the overall narrative structure.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:13 AM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


Arrival exists, everything is up in the air.

But yeah, I'd go for a long running series encompassing all of them, much like the approach The Expanse takes.

Of course some of them are set thousands of years apart, which might present some trickiness.

I'd probably make it the career of Diziet Sma and hang everything around her, TBH.
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yup. Replacing Balveda in CP with Sma wouldn't be a horrible crime.

In TPoG you could maybe replace Mawhrin-Skel with Skaffen-Amtiskaw and it would be a misdemeanor against God but not a felony. And you could tell the story in a more Use-of-Weapons-y way so the action on Azad is always paired with some what-came-before on the Orbital with Sma and Skaffen manipulating him.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


...Single SC agent, having lots of sex...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:33 AM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


Dammit now I want this show.

And Banks back as well.

Damnit.
posted by Artw at 11:57 AM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


2.05 - STATE OF THE ART ADAPTATION Alex Fitch talks to writer Paul Cornell about dramatising Iain M Banks' novella "The state of the Art" for the afternoon play on Radio 4 with a cast including such luminaries as Anthony Sher and Patterson Joseph
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:08 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


And It's adapted by the only author more sadistic than Banks. What Ian did to Zakalwe is nothing compared to what Paul Cornell did to the gang in shadow police. So... good match I guess...
posted by uandt at 12:16 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I always thought a shiny blockbuster of Surface Detail would be the best place to start a Culture movie series. You've got a bond villain and a reincarnated vengeance quest tying the narrative together. You've got a semi-naive earth-like society's eyes to view the culture through. Crazy set-piece events like the war in heaven, various worlds' interpretations of hell, and miniature naval battle sports. Plus, just imagine the field day a good art director could have designing the different looks of Contact, Quietus, warship, and mainstream parts of the Culture. Then you've got the after the credits scene Zakalwe reveal to tease the Use of Weapons followup movie that kicks off the Sma cycle.
posted by cirrostratus at 12:22 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'll be signing your storage media of choice in the lobby after the program.
posted by Skaffen-Amtiskaw at 5:18 PM on April 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


I have no idea how you'd film Use of Weapons without severely compromising something, most likely the overall narrative structure.

Just do it like it's written. If you have ten episodes, you start episode 1 with a title card reading (1), and partway through you cut to a new title card (X) and start telling that story. Ep2 is (2) and (IX). The last episode's title card is

10
I
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:24 PM on April 28, 2017


I think the Culture offers something a bit more potent than Star Trek though, from a political point of view.

I have strong opinions on this matter and have done so for a while.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:32 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


I did a Culture series marathon a few years back and ended up confused by how it got its reputation as "leftist". The first few books set it up to seem vaguely leftist, but as the series goes on this looks more and more like a comforting mythology (and in hindsight the passage from The Player of Games that was the most direct statement of the Culture's ideals reads more like propaganda than anything else).

By the end the Culture is run by a rigidly caste-based technocratic elite of apparently conscious AIs bound by their design to want to keep humans as pets. Meanwhile the humans compete for the few things of real value in their post-scarcity society, like Contact postings, until social pressure drives them to commit suicide after a few hundred years. The Culture's freedom from conservatism and tradition is as much a feature of neoliberalism as of anything left-wing; if there's a message for leftists there, it seems to be "if these are the conditions required for your utopia to work, it's not going to happen on Earth and if it did you might not like it".

(Actually what I think happened is that Banks originally modelled the Culture on Le Guin's Ekumen but decided, somewhere around Excession, that it was going to be more fun to use it as a parody of real-world politics. That's why the first part of the series and the second part don't fit together very well.)
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:01 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


"I have strong opinions on this matter and have done so for a while."

Me, too. Is it you and I who disagreed? Well, most people seem to disagree with me because, despite the author's own statements, I've felt that there was a strong subtext of satirizing or critiquing liberal interventionism and liberal utopianism. Most of the Culture books are more about the Culture's interface with the rest of the galaxy than about what it's really like within the Culture itself. I'm kind of agnostic on the question of whether the Culture is an optimistic blueprint of a future leftist near-utopia, or a sly critique of that aspiration. Not a rightist critique, certainly, but let's just say that there's a reason that much of the narrative involves Special Circumstances' ironic, paradoxical, world-weary cynicism of the spy. Well, and the Minds, too.

I find the work much more interesting for this reason. Not that I wouldn't like to see a Culture-esque future, because it's pretty great, all things considered. But utopianism is dangerous when it is facile (and it almost always is).

Also, on preview, what A Thousand Baited Hooks wrote.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:13 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


That was beautifully done, but I question whether anyone not conversant with the original story, or at the very least with the Culture in general, would be able to make sense of it.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:30 PM on April 28, 2017


author's own statements, I've felt that there was a strong subtext of satirizing or critiquing liberal interventionism and liberal utopianism

I don't think it's even necessarily subtext, except to note that in the same way that we don't spend much time looking at life within the Culture, we don't spend much time looking at the Contact runs that go straightforwardly and smoothly. We end up looking mostly at the (presumably relatively few?) things that SC gets involved with, which are by their nature (or by SC's nature) going to be morally ambiguous. Or, in this case, looking at the presented-as-morally-ambiguous decision to leave Earth as an uncontacted control.

It can be an optimistic vision of a left utopia and a sly critique of one at the same time.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:50 PM on April 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


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