- 02 February 2010
- By John Howell
Iain M. Banks' Culture universe is finally heading for the big screen, with Empire Online reporting that his short story, A Gift From The Culture, is to be filmed by British production company Film and Music Entertainment in partnership with director Dominic Murphy (best known for directing White Lightnin'). A Gift from the Culture was originally published in the UK's science fiction magazine Interzone and also appeared in Banks' short story collection, The State of the Art.
Iain M. Banks' culture novels are Space Opera at its best, set within a vast interstellar civilization known as “The Culture”. Culture novels such as Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games and Use of Weapons are fantastic, detailed, speculative flights of fancy, intense blends of politics, high technology and epic adventure. Bank’s Culture is a socialistic, utopian society where advanced technology has brought stability, wealth and comfort to all who live under its influence. Death and disease have been conquered and powerful artificial intelligences (AIs) called “Minds” administer and assist only when necessary to protect others from harm. Sounds like a great place to hang out!
Culture stories frequently focus on a Culture spy or diplomat who enters a developing world and attempts to nudge them closer to the Culture’s ideal vision of a perfect social order. They typically intervene with the assistance of one of the Culture’s AI “Minds”. The Culture novels have grown more and more unwieldy over time however, with the later Culture books such as Matter featuring very detailed writing and a lot more padding than they should.
According to Empire Online, director Dominic Murphy is also writing the movie's script. The short story A Gift From the Culture tells the story of Wrobik, a member of the Culture who is living in exile. After amassing vast gambling debts, criminals blackmail him, trying to force him to commit an act of terrorism, coercing him into using a gun that only a member of the Culture can fire to shoot down a starship. The story also involves gender swapping, moral dilemmas, and the usual epic settings.
If you're not familure with Banks’ science fiction work, you may have come across his other dark, mainstream novels he writes under the name Iain Banks (without the "M") including The Wasp Factory, The Business and Crow Road.
Like the upcoming Dune movie based on Frank Herbert's massively detailed Dune universe, and the upcoming Asimov Foundation film adaptations, Banks' Culture novels are not going to be easy to translate into film. The rewards for getting it right though are immense. There's a lot there to enjoy. Hopefully this is but the first of many Culture based films that will grace our screens in the near future.
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