Consider Phlebas

Book 1 of the Culture series

Iain M. Banks

Illustrated by Dániel Taylor

The first of Iain M. Banks’ ‘Culture’ novels dives into the heart of an interstellar war. Dániel Taylor provides the spectacular images for Folio’s edition of Consider Phlebas.

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‘Banks has created one of the most enduring and endearing visions of the future.’
  1. Guardian

Iain M. Banks’ first science-fiction novel introduces one of the most iconic creations in speculative literature: the Culture, a far future interstellar civilization populated by humans and sophisticated artificial intelligences. From Horza’s last-minute escape, that starts the book with a literal bang, to the space pirates, orbital stations, deadly games and vast icebergs that populate this epic space opera, Banks barely gives the reader a moment to catch their breath. With an imagination as vast as the Culture itself, Banks was one of the true innovators of the genre, and Consider Phlebas is an electrifying first step into a remarkable universe. For this special illustrated edition, artist Dániel Taylor has created a breath-taking collection of images capturing the exotic thrills of a modern science-fiction classic, including a special hidden illustration printed on the inside of the slipcase. The binding is blocked in blue and orange foils, with a field of burning stars continuing onto the exterior of the slipcase; a spectacular finishing touch on an unmissable collectors’ edition.

Bound in blocked cloth

Set in Garamond with Scene as display

560 pages

Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations

Blocked slipcase with printed illustration inside

9½˝ x 6¼˝

The Culture was every single individual human and machine in it, not one thing. Just as it could not imprison itself with laws, impoverish itself with money or misguide itself with leaders, so it would not misrepresent itself with signs.


Bora Horza Gobuchul is a Changer, one of a rare group of humanoids able to transform their appearance through a series of precise changes to their body chemistry. It makes him the perfect secret agent, one used skilfully by the Idirans in their war against the Culture. When one of the enemy’s most sophisticated artificial Minds goes to ground inside a Planet of the Dead, Horza is the obvious choice to capture it. First, he must navigate a violent and restless galaxy where the super intelligent machines of the Culture are always a few steps ahead. Catapulted across war-torn space, he throws in his lot with a rag-tag group of mercenaries onboard the Clear Air Turbulence, but Horza’s trials are only just beginning.

The Times named Banks one of the 50 best writers since 1945, and he remains celebrated today for his dry wit and keen-eyed observations of what it is to be human in an often-inhuman galaxy. Dániel Taylor’s illustrations are both intriguing and effortlessly cool, playing with a dizzying sense of scale and the strangeness that is ever present in Consider Phlebas. Using a crisp monochrome palette with deep orange highlights, he transports the reader to the distant corners of the Culture universe, making this exquisitely bound Folio edition an essential volume for devoted fans and newcomers alike.

Iain M. Banks (1954–2013) was a Scottish novelist educated on both the East and West coasts of Scotland.  He studied at the University of Stirling, gaining a degree in English with Philosophy and Psychology and, while there, appearing as an extra in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Banks’ first novel, The Wasp Factory, was published in 1984 to widespread controversy. Declared a work of ‘unparalleled depravity’ by one newspaper, the book made Banks’ name as an exceptional new talent and has since been acclaimed as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. Banks saw himself as a science-fiction writer but was encouraged by his then-editor to make a clear distinction between his literary and science-fiction by the simple addition or omission of his middle initial, M (the family name of Menzies).  Alternating between these genres, Banks wrote 14 literary novels including The Crow Road, which was adapted for television by the BBC, and ten science-fiction novels. The first of these, Consider Phlebas, launched the ‘Culture’ series of space operas for which Banks is best known today. He also wrote short stories, poetry and a travelogue, Raw Spirit.  His final novel, The Quarry, was published shortly after his death in 2013.

Dániel Taylor is an artist and graphic designer from Budapest who has been a full-time professional illustrator since 2015. His work, produced digitally, is inspired by 20th century Surrealism, science fiction and comic-book art; it has been commissioned by clients including Marvel, Playboy, Disney, Adobe and New Scientist. Dániel has exhibited his art in London, Paris and Munich.


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