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.
When the Chelgrian Ziller, a composer of great renown now living in self-imposed exile, learns that an emissary from his home world is being sent to Masaq' Orbital, he fears the worst: that the Chelgrians want him to return.
A considerable debt is owed to the Chelgrians, but Ziller is an honoured guest on their world and the Culture would not force him to leave. They know that they are facing a slight diplomatic problem.
However, Ziller is not the only thing on the Chelgrian emissary's mind. If his mission is successful, it will illuminate the Culture's future as well as its past.
'Confirms Banks as the standard by which the rest of SF is judged.' – Guardian
'In terms of sheer storytelling prowess and verve, Look to Windward is a work of genius.' – SFX
'A great book.' – New Scientist
'It's a gymnasium for the imagination.' – Evening Standard
'A mordant wit, a certain savagery and a wild imagination.' – Mail on Sunday
'Spectacular ... the field needs his energy, skill and invention.' – The Scotsman
'Banks' mind-expanding future history is unrivalled for imaginative sweep, startling ideas, and savage but wry sense of humour. One of the very best just got even better.' – Starburst
'Banks keeps ratcheting up the suspense' – Guardian 'Banks is a phenomenon' – William Gibson
Iain Menzies Banks (officially Iain Banks, 1954-2013) was a Scottish writer. Iain Banks read English literature, philosophy and psychology at Stirling University. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Fife.
Banks sprang to public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. Since then, Banks has gained great popular and critical acclaim. The Times has acclaimed Iain Banks ”the most imaginative British novelist of his generation”. As Iain M. Banks he writes science fiction and as Iain Banks he writes literary fiction. Much of Banks's science fiction deals with a vast interstellar civilisation, the Culture.