Look to Windward - Ian M Banks
His eyes flicked open. He stared straight ahead. Where there should have been the awful white furred face above him, jaws hinging open, or the cold stars spinning slowly as he tumbled, there was instead a familiar figure, hanging upside down from a branch inside a large, brightly lit circular space. He was sitting up in a sort of cross between a bed and a giant nest. He blinked, ungumming his eyes. It did not feel as though it had been blood keeping them shut. He squinted at the creature hanging a few metres in front of him. It blinked and turned its head a little. Praf?' he said, coughing. His throat felt sore, but at least it was properly connected to his head again.
The small, dark creature shook its leathery wings. 'Uagen Zlepe,' it said, 'I am charged with welcoming you. I am 8827 Praf, female. I share the bulk of the memories associated with the fifth-order Decider of the 11th Foliage Gleaner Troupe of the dirigible behemothaur Yoleus which was known to you as 974 Praf, including, it is believed, all those regarding yourself'
Uagen coughed up some fluid. He nodded and looked around. This looked like the interior of Yoleus' Invited Guests' Quarters, with the sub-divisions removed. `Am I back on Yoleus?' he asked.
`You are aboard the dirigible behemothaur Yoleusenive.'
Uagen stared at the hanging creature in front of him. It took him a moment or two to work out the implications of what he'd just heard. He felt his mouth go dry. He swallowed. 'The Yoleus has . . . evolved?' he croaked.
`That is the case.'
He put his hand up to his throat, feeling the tender but whole flesh. He looked slowly up and around. 'How was I,' he began, then had to stop and swallow and start again. 'How was I brought back? How was I rescued?'
`You were found in the without. You wore a piece of equipment which stored your personality. The Yoleusenive has repaired and reconstructed your body and quickened your mind-life within said body.'
'But I wasn't wearing any . . Uagen began, then his voice trailed off as he looked down to where his fingers were stroking the skin around his neck where, once, there had been a necklace.
'the piece of equipment that stored your personality was where your fingers are now,' 8827 Praf confirmed, and clacked her beak once.
Aunt Silder's necklace. He remembered the tiny sting at the back of his neck. Uagen felt tears well in his eyes. 'How much time has passed?' he whispered.
Praf's head tipped to one side again and her eyelids flickered.
Uagen cleared his throat and said, 'Since I left the Yoleus; How much time has passed?'
'Nearly one Grand Cycle.'
Uagen found he could not speak for a little while. Eventually he said, 'One . . . one, ah, galactic, umm Grand Cycle?'
8827 Praf's beak clacked a couple of times. She shook herself, adjusting her dark wings as though they were a cloak. 'That is what a Grand Cycle is,' she said as though explaining something obvious to someone just hatched. 'Galactic.'
Uagen swallowed on a dry, dry throat. It was as though it was still ripped out and open to the vacuum. 'I see,' he said.
I treasure my Ian M Banks books; the world is worse off for his passing