Inversions is Iain M. Banks’ stealth Culture novel. It’s told from the point of view of two people who don’t know the Culture exists, but from their reports, the Culture’s role is quite clear to the familiar reader. (The unfamiliar reader who nevertheless is reading through an SF lens will understand it just fine, though a few of the details might be hazy.)
After I finished this, I realized that I’d spent so much time decoding the stealth Culture references that I wasn’t actually sure what I thought it it as a book. And, you know, I’m still not sure. For some reason it’s hard for me to get past “this is what was going on from the point of view of someone who knows about the Culture” to any other assessment of the book.
I can say that the book’s two strands do connect up in a satisfying way, in both their obvious and stealth-Culture natures. I didn’t feel there was anything obviously excessive or indulgent, as is the case in some other Culture books. I have a quibble or two with some of the characterization, but that may be a matter of the limitations of the point-of-view characters. But, on the whole, I don’t seem to have much of an emotional reaction to it beyond appreciation for its craft.