Orbit's Culture art book is finally coming out

It's been a long wait

Orbit's Culture art book is finally coming out
Image: Orbit Books

A little over five years ago, Orbit Books announced that it was publishing a book from Iain M. Banks' estate about his popular space opera series, The Culture, which would include Banks' (who died in 2013) sketches and illustrations, commentary from his friend Ken MacLeod, and a bit more. In 2021, that project diverged into two books: an art book featuring the sketches, and a companion nonfiction book that MacLeod would curate. Now, we finally have a date for when we'll get to check that out: November 2023.

Introducing an extraordinary collection of drawings faithfully reproduced from sketchbooks Banks kept in the 1970s and 80s.

Orbit has formally announced that the book (titled The Culture: The Drawings) is now up for preorder: it'll run $60 and it'll drop on November 7th. In addition to a regular edition, Orbit's UK branch will sell a special edition with some extra bells and whistles (foiled cloth and a presentation box).

As Orbit's UK Publisher Anna Jackson notes in the post, "Iain meticulously designed every element of the Culture’s universe long before the novels were published. The whole of the Culture – from language to nomenclature, from ships to weapons – already existed as intricate sketches, notes, and tables many years before it appeared in any of his fiction." This should make for a really interesting thing to look through for that reason: these types of notes and thinking help underpin the world that he created, and I'm excited to see what we can glean out of it, especially as I've been reading Consider Phlebas this past week (and have plans to read more of the Culture books in the near future.)

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Additionally, that second volume by MacLeod is also on its way: expect that in 2024.