Ethereals aren't all "people". Some of them are things or places. Since
distance isn't really a concept in the Marches, they can be very large
The Culture is a fictional place: a post-economic interstellar utopia, created by an SF writer in the eighties. No one believes in it, but there's a whole load of SF fans, many of them strong-willed and imaginative types, who would like it to exist.
It's a pretty moral place, in many ways. It isn't much into Roman Catholic styles of morality, or a whole lot of laws, but it has some very clear ideas about human rights, and alien rights, and machine rights, and it "does" something that's never been possible on Earth: it tries its level best to help all its billions of citizens realise all their potential. Or reach their destiny, as it's sometimes known.
Dominic is very suspicious that Eli has something to do with this one. Very suspicious indeed.
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