Inversions is a science fiction novel by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks
, first published in 1998. It is implied to be set in his Culture
universe. However, this is not made explicit within the book, and unlike most other recent editions of Banks' science fiction novels, does not carry the tag 'A Culture Novel' on the cover.
The book takes place on a fictional planet based on late-Middle Ages Europe. It alternates chapter-by-chapter between two concurrent storylines. One storyline follows Vosill, a king's personal doctor, told from the point of view of her apprentice. The other follows DeWar, the bodyguard of the military dictator of a nearby country.
At one point DeWar tells the dictator's son a fairy story of a "magical land", which clearly parallels The Culture as it is described in Banks' other novels.
The initial hardback printing of the book contained the following "Note on the Text", which was omitted from subsequent paperback editions:
This Text, in two Parts, was discovered amongst the Papers of my late Grandfather. One Part concerns the Story of the Bodyguard to the then Protector of Tassasen, one UrLeyn, and is related, it is alleged, by a Person of his Court at the time, while the other, told by my Grandfather, tells the Story of the Woman Vosill, a Royal Physician during the Reign of King Quience, and who may, or may not, have been from the distant Archipelago of Drezen but who was, without Argument, from a different Culture. Like my much esteemed Grandfather, I have taken on the Task of making the Text I inherited more comprehensible and clear, and hope that I have succeeded in this Aim. Nevertheless, it is in a Spirit of the utmost Humility that I present it to the Society and to whoever might see fit to read it.
Doctor Vosill also spoke of a dagger (a disguised Culture knife missile) she habitually carried as having been useful in "uncultured places," and the Epilogue contains this suggestive passage:
the Doctor had been invited to dine with the vessel's captain that evening, but had sent a note declining the invitation, citing an indisposition due to special circumstances.
Special Circumstances is the "black ops" division of the Culture's Contact unit.
Wikipedia, Iain Banks net, Space.com,