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An effector is a multi-purpose electro-magnetic manipulation device. Effectors were distant descendents of electronic countermeasure equipment employed by stage three civilizations.[1]


Effectors may be applied with great precision and control.[1] They may be installed in objects as small as pan-humans[2], suits[3], drones[4], and knife-missiles.[5]

They were typically the most sophisticated and powerful weapons installed on most Culture spacecraft.[1]


Effectors may read both machine and biological data storage devices, including mind-states from neural laces[4][6][7] and memories from biological brains.[1][8] They may also monitor brainwaves.[9]

Effector scans may be used to detect fields.[6] Effectors produce detectable[10] radiation.[11]

Culture effectors of the 21st century CE were reportedly able to detect a pan-human buried under a hundred kilometres of rock from "the next stellar system" and describe the pan-human's last meal. Additionally, an effector, in conjunction with a a sensing field a light-second diameter across, could detect a hyperspace signal from a pocket-sized transmitter from well over 2500 light-years away.[12]

Communications device[]

An effector set to low-power could create a two-way communication channel.[4][13]

Control system manipulation[]

Effectors may be used to manipulate machines[4] and electronics.[14][15] This may take the form of interfering with the machine's operations[6], disabling systems.[16], or outright subversion and take-over.[17]

Effectorized minds may not even consciously realize they are under attack.[4] A machine may defend itself against effectorisation by quarantining or shutting down affected portions of itself.[4][6] A final measure would be to use independent automatic subsystems to initiate a self-destruct rather than allow itself to be subverted.[18][13]

A large ship from a Level 7/8 civilization could successfully engage a fleet of several hundred million Level 4/5 ships[19], simply by slightly outpacing the fleet and effectorising the ships into attacking each other.[20]

Effectorisation could take place from a range of many light-years.[3]

Animal brains and nervous systems also suffer similar effects when effectorised.[21] Effectorisation may cause pain[22] and unconsciousness.[9][23] Similarly, effectors may induce involuntary muscle action, which may be used for medical purposes.[24][25]

Energy weapon[]

Effectors may be used to kill biological life[23] and melt equipment.[26]

They may also create auroras.[27]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Excession, chapter 2.2
  2. Matter, chapter 10
  3. 3.0 3.1 Use of Weapons, chapter 3.Eleven
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Excession, chapter 1.2
  5. Use of Weapons, chapter 1.Three
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Excession, chapter 10.7
  7. Look to Windward, chapter 13
  8. The State of the Art, chapter 3.3
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Player of Games, chapter 3
  10. The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 3
  11. Excession, chapter 10.3
  12. The Player of Games, chapter 1
  13. 13.0 13.1 Excession, chapter 4.2
  14. Consider Phlebas, chapter 4
  15. Use of Weapons, chapter 1.Two
  16. The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 21
  17. The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 7
  18. Excession, chapter 10.11
  19. Surface Detail, chapter 9
  20. Surface Detail, chapter 20
  21. Excession, chapter 1.3
  22. Excession, chapter 8.6
  23. 23.0 23.1 Consider Phlebas, chapter 3
  24. Excession, chapter 10.10
  25. Use of Weapons, chapter 3.Fourteen
  26. Use of Weapons, chapter 3.Ten
  27. The Player of Games, chapter 4