A Few Notes on the Culture, by Iain M Banks
Francis Tseng

FIRSTLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: THE CULTURE DOESN'T REALLY EXIST. IT ONLY EXISTS IN MY MIND AND THE MINDS OF THE PEOPLE WHO'VE READ ABOUT IT. That having been made clear: The Culture is a group-civilisation formed from seven or eight humanoid species, space-living elements of which established a loose federation approximately nine thousand years ago.