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The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture) Hardcover – October 9, 2012
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"One of Banks' best Culture novels to date."―Booklist on The Hydrogen Sonata
"It's fantastically good fun that throws in some big ideas about life, the universe and everything, and like the unabashed leftie that he is, Banks manages to get in there a few sizable shots at unthinking, dogmatic religiosity for good measure."―SciFi Now
"Banks's charming prose and the scale of his imagination continue to delight Culture vultures."―SFX
"The Culture, the post-scarcity, hedonistic, Machiavellian, libertarian, arse-kicking science-fiction society created by the late Iain M. Banks...one of the most enduring and endearing visions of the future."―The Guardian
"Incomparable entertainment, with fascinating and highly original characters, challenging ideas and extrapolations, and dazzling action...sheer delight."―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
You might not expect that from the initial premise, where yet another civilisation, the Gzilt, have reached that stage in their evolution where, tired of existing with the mundane realm of matter and energy, they've made the collective decision to Sublime, crossing over to that indefinable place (between the seventh and eleventh dimensions we discover here) where all advanced cultures and civilisations eventually accede and effectively retire. Some are surprised that the Gzilt have decided to make the big jump at this stage in their development, but with only 23 days left until the Instigation, many have already crossed over, leaving only a small remainder of their people to take care of the final ceremonies and housekeeping formalities, fending off Scavenger races and generally dealing with any last minute business that might crop up. Inevitably, one ship turns up with a big surprise for the Gzilt, and suddenly chaos erupts.Read more ›
My title refers to the fact that when I read some of the text, I hear the narrator from "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy," especially when Banks capitalizes words in sentences. For example I might write that the story revolves around A Really Big Secret, but when Banks writes something like that, you grin. (Well, I do.) Probably also has to do with Brit phrases creeping in now and then. All good with me. There is definitely a lot of humor in the book. Remember, Luke, Leia & Han in the garbage compartment? Banks goes one better (or should I say worse?) here, and it is perfectly plausible.
The truth about composer's intent for the piece of music called "The Hydrogen Sonata" has such irony as to be both sad and terribly funny. Banks has a lot of nice touches in the book. But the book is, as my title indicates, mostly serious. The humor is secondary or tertiary.
The book is a minor travelogue. Some very interesting places are visited. Imagine a race like McDevitt's Monument Builders, but building on a planetary scale. We visit an Orbital (a Ringworld type object), where in a remote desert section, an AI is building an analog to a waterworks...Read more ›
There doesn't seem to be a problem with narrative drive or pacing. The book zips along and there is plenty of action. It could be the characters. While the primary Mind Mistake Not... is the most fleshed out character, the humanoid protagonist is thinly drawn. There certainly isn't a scene stealer like Demeisen or Skaffen-Amtiskaw in this book. What was the point of the familiar other than a lost opportunity? No other Gzilt had a familiar. Then there is the question of motivation. The entire Gzilt society is behaving (appropriately) like a High School senior class in May, but what is the motivation for everyone else?
The book feels quickly written and disconnected. At this point, if Banks writes a culture novel, it will translate to a certain amount of money. I'd hate to think this was his motivation, but it doesn't feel like it was a story he 'had' to get out of his system.
The Hydrogen Sonata has all the elements of a Culture novel that I'm deeply interested in such as an important musical reference, plenty of chatter among Minds, and a setting that allows for the examination of deep philosophical questions. Does it matter? This question comes up multiple times. Arguably, it is the point of the book. It is also how I feel after finishing it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very Good book that's a real page turner. I couldn't put the book down. It is very fascinating read.Published 1 month ago by Mark Peters
I've been a huge fan of the culture series and have read all the books up until this one. While the writing quality remains high, I just can't stand the glib dialogue between the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Josh Alwitt
I love Banks's writing not only for the thoughtful hard SF elements, but the sophisticated imagining of what one might call a liberal paradise of the far future. Read morePublished 1 month ago by James Conant
I liked this one, but would have preferred a more hi-tech battle type story lines like a couple of previous ones.Published 3 months ago by Ij Bergman
Others have well described the universe of the culture.
This book was attractive for the potential discussion of 'the Sublime,' a realm including but not limited to this... Read more
One of the two or three best space opera writers ever. Not the best of the culture series but a worthwhile addition and the final one due to his passing a couple of years back. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Konrad Underkofler
For me, I love the culture storylines with plots which in the end appear relatively insignificant in the overall scheme of life in that universe. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ckell
Fun and packed with ideas, including lots of smart material about super-scale mentalities, FTL travel, and transcending spacetime. Reads fast and engages the imagination.Published 5 months ago by thenostril