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Matter [Abridged, Audiobook, CD] [Audio CD]

Iain M. Banks , Toby Longworth
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Jan 2008

There was nobody of her own kind within several thousand light years of where Djan Seriy Anaplian sat. However, news from her home world of Sursamen would still reach her.

Djan Seriy Anaplian is, after all, a member of Special Circumstances - a troubleshooter for the Culture, intervening when necessary to ensure that order and balance is maintained throughout the galaxy; and Special Circumstances get to hear about most things. The news itself, unfortunately, is not good. Her father has died. Her brother too, it seems. Both in the latest war against a neighbouring kingdom.

Anaplian must journey home, but while she does so, another will seek her out. For someone on Sursamen believes her to be their last hope. What neither of them know is that she might also be the last hope for the entire world.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio; Abridged edition (31 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781405503983
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405503983
  • ASIN: 140550398X
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 13.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 893,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, THE WASP FACTORY, in 1984. He has since gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels.

Product Description


You can always expect the unexpected with an Iain M. Banks novel. So sit back and enjoy a tale with more than a twist or three in Matter. For a start, it's a rattling good story: a man accused of something he didn't do. Lots of action, lots of mind-boggling imaginative thought in this excellent piece of SF, read by Toby Longworth (Daily Express)

You can, if you must, draw clever comparisons between the conflicts in Matter and what's happening in Iraq. Or you can just sit back and listen to Toby Longworth's tongue-in-cheek reading of a very funny book (The Guardian)

There is now no British SF writer to whose work I look forward with greater keenness (The Times)

Confirms Banks as the standard by which the rest of SF is judged (The Guardian)

Book Description

The dazzling new Culture book from the most exciting science fiction writer of modern times - a tour de force of brilliant storytelling, world-building and imagination.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves 21 Feb 2008
I would agree with those who have said that this one's slow (by Banks' standards) until the last couple of hundred pages (when it focuses more fully on the Culture's involvement in the plot) in which it absolutely zips by. In the first section of the book, detailing the goings on on the Eighth level of the Shellworld, we have to make do with short interludes and the descriptions of the Shellworlds themselves for our dose of Hard Sci-Fi - the rest of it is all a bit 'swords and chainmail'.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a decent read, but Banks' Sci-Fi will always, for me, be marked against his very best Culture work, and against those standards it falls a bit short, hence only three stars.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets... 30 Jan 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've just wolfed down Iain M Banks' latest novel in a couple of days, and I agree with the earlier posters that it's up there with his best work. All the pleasures you'd expect from a Culture book are present and correct: the unstoppable inventiveness, the political machinations, the sense of a universe so vast that it defies understanding. But to me there seems to be an extra element (or perhaps I was just too blind to notice it in his previous books) of acute and thoughtful reflection on very serious and current topics concerning the relationship between more and less developed nations (species, in the book) and how these issues play out in present day world affairs. It's an excellent book, and a showcase for the contention (implicit in much of Banks' work) that science fiction is absolutely as capable of engaging with serious and relevant themes as writing in any other genre.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An average return to the world of the culture 21 May 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Matter is Banks' return to the world of the Culture after a lay-off of 8 years ( Look to Windward 2000) and focuses on the often mentioned mentoring aspect of the Culture, and more specifically
the shadowy Special Circumstances division within the Culture. The story focuses on the Shellworld Sursamen (Shellworlds are ancient artificial planet consisting of fourteen nested concentric spheres internally lit by tiny thermonuclear "stars", whose layers are inhabited by various different species. )

On the 8th level of Sursamen live the Sarl, a Humanoid race lead by the royal household of Hausk.
The story begins with Ferbin Hausk , prince of Sarl and heir to the throne witnessing the murder of his father the king at the hands of his friend and right hand Tyl Loesp. Ferbin is forced to flee his home with his man servant Choubris Holse and makes his way to the tower superstructures that support the individual levels within the shellworld and provide transport to the surface. His aim is to find his sister whom left Sursamen 15 years previous to join the Culture .

Presuming Ferbin dead, Tyl Loesp is installed as regent until Oramen , youngest of King Hausks children and now heir to the 8th is of age . Oramen is a studious youth , who having expected his role as 3rd son ( King Hausks oldest son was killed during the unification of the 8th) graciously accepts Tyl Loesp as his regent and mentor, having no idea of the truth behind his warlike fathers death nor Loesps true motives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
er by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read all of Iain M Banks Books and this one Matter #8 in the Culture series is a good strong tale of familial strife set against the background of impossible planet sized structure.

To recap The ten books of the Culture are: Consider Phlebas, 1987; The Player of Games,1988; Use of Weapons, 1990; The State of the Art, 1991; Excession, 1996; Inversions, 1998; Look to Windward,2000; Matter,2008; Surface Detail, 2010; The Hydrogen Sonata, 2012.

The tale of Matter is the tale of a strange homeland called a Shellworld. This is described on p63 as:

The Shell Worlds are mostly hollow. Each had a solid metallic core fourteen hundred kilometres in diameter. beyond that, a concentric succession of spherical shells.

Each of the shells forms a level of the Shell world, and distinct civilisation live on each including water worlds, gas worlds, fixed stars and moving stars. The levels are connected by vast lifts, and sometimes the custodians of the Shellworld allow the inhabitants of different levels to pass from one to another, sometimes with evil intent.

As always with Banks culture stories e have an amazing unthought-of science fiction setting, and this is just the start. A prince is falsely accused of fratricide, who has to flee... So starts a long journey to find a long lost sister and ultimately to save his world.

I really liked this book. I liked the artefact at its heart. I like the way it is only partly understood, and quarrelled over by great powers of the galaxy. I loved the story of the innocent fleeing finding himself on the most amazing pan-galactic road trip.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't come close to the earlier books 12 May 2009
One of my favourite books of all time is Consider Phlebas where I loved Horza and really wanted him to survive everything that happened to him. This book is nothing like that. Much of the book focuses on describing the Shellworlds and setting the scene. A lot of it is irrelevent though and not related to the story. I actually skipped some of it.

I didn't really engage with any of the characters like I did with Horza or Sharrow (Against a Dark Background). The terrible injustice didn't matter to me. I quite liked Oramen and the dramas unfolding around him but that amounted to nothing really.

The book was so slow and then when it got going it didn't really end with a bang, I felt it kind of fizzled out.

I loved the early books which were more character based and less sci-fi. I like to be told a story and there wasn't enough of that for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Culture fans will obviously need to read it, but..
I grabbed this almost at random from a bookshop (almost, because I had enjoyed other IMB books) and only checked the reviews later. Read more
Published 29 days ago by DB
5.0 out of 5 stars A romp through the ideas of Science Fiction
Iain M Banks' Sci Fi novels novels are a romp through the ideas of Science Fiction – always interesting and always surprising. Read more
Published 1 month ago by MR D MCMILLAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Typical Banks, full of imagination and characters. A proper culture novel anyone who likes other books in the series will probably like this too
Published 3 months ago by Picster
3.0 out of 5 stars science fantasy
I'd recommend this but I sometimes find I need to concentrate more on Banks sci-fi more than his normal fiction.
Published 3 months ago by john grant milner
4.0 out of 5 stars The Culture at bay (slightly)
I have always been a fan of the space opera sub-genre of science-fiction, so the Culture series has long been a favourite. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Robin Monks
3.0 out of 5 stars weighty matters
A gift from my sister for my birthday. I've read most of the Culture books. Except for The Algebraist and Surface Detail. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Scubber
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous work!!
Slowly working my way through the rich world of the Culture. I have managed Use of Weapons, and Excession and stand poised to begin player of games on my kindle.. Read more
Published 6 months ago by F. J. Green
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoying every page
Matter is a sad reminder of what a loss he is. Full of imaginative sweeps and outright villainy - and memorable characters.
Published 9 months ago by Y. Hewett
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Complex and imaginative, worth reading many more times, what a pity IMB has gone, so there'll be no more Culture novels.
Published 9 months ago by Greywolf
4.0 out of 5 stars It grows on you.
I enjoyed this book more the second time I read it. Won't go into a large plot synopsis but its the not the space Oprea that Excession was. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. Sandy McDonald
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