I was wondering what you all think of the Culture's propensity to meddle in affairs (via their Special Circumstances section) of other civilsations/cultures that doesn't directly concern them. I always got the impression that the Culture Minds went out of their way to 'fix' problems in other civilisations (usually, with civilsations lower on the technological ladder than their own and in a covert manner) and, in some way, to affect the evolution of these foreign cultures so as to make them compatible along their own social and ethical lines. Not that the Culture's ethical mores are anything to be scoffed at. In fact, from most perspectives, it would be beneficial for these other civs to adopt many Culture standards in their own societies. However, do you think it's ethical in any way for the Culture to arrogate this galactic sense of responsibility to blight out repression and barbarous modes of being wherever they find it, and without being invited to do so? Granted, with the extremely long view that the Minds take, at some point in the future, there MIGHT be a clash between the Culture and some unchecked 'barbarous' civ that is able to climb the technological heights that the Culture has already reached. So, by intervening at an early stage, they're preempting any possible future negative scenarios/clashes that might affect the Culture. But even with this fantastic long view that the Minds are able to take, I find it difficult to imagine that something totally random and unexpected wouldn't occur that could grossly deviate from Mind calculations and expectations. I wonder how much of that randomness element the Minds take into consideration with their calculations and plans when taking the Very Long View. I also wonder whether the possibility of some distant future threat to the Culture is justification for meddling in the present. Now, the empire of Azad from "The Player of Games" is a horribly repressive civilsation. An extreme version of where we see certain reflections of what *could* be our own (at least, certain aspects) and all the more horrifying for that. The effect of Gurgeh's game and the machinations of the Minds leads to a breakdown of that system of government that, hopefully, can turn out to be much more harmonious and free (that's what the reader is led to believe, in any case). Yet, Azad is so far away from most of the Culture and so far behind technologically that I find it hard to believe it can have any direct consequence to the Culture civilsation. Did the Culture even need to meddle with them to help ameliorate any possible future threats to their own civilisation from the Empire of Azad? Or was this purely an instance of moral outrage? I'm interested in finding other examples where the Culture has meddled in the affairs of other civs that would have not directly affected or really been relevant to the Culture? I'm also thinking of "Inversions". I've decided to start rereading the Culture novels this year before I get to "The Hydrogen Sonata", which I haven't read yet. I just finished "The Player of Games" a couple of weeks ago and so these questions have kind of been on my mind.