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The Hydrogen Sonata [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Iain M. Banks , Peter Kenny
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (340 customer reviews)
RRP: 24.77
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Book Description

29 Jan 2013

The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilisation.

An ancient people, organised on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture ten thousand years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they've made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilisations: they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.

Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted - dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over nine thousand years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago. It seems that the final days of the Gzilt civilisation are likely to prove its most perilous.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Audiogo; Unabridged edition (29 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619695480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619695481
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 12.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (340 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 520,339 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


25 years after Banks's first Culture novel he is as exuberant, slyly funny and mind-stretchingly imaginative as ever (SUNDAY TIMES)

Epic in scope, ambitious in its ideas and absorbing in its execution (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

One of the most enduring and endearing visions of the future (GUARDIAN)

Sharply satirical and packed with brilliant action scenes, this space opera proves British SF's big beard still plays the best tunes (BBC FOCUS) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A Sunday Times bestselling Culture novel from the UK's leading SF writer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
100 of 107 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to what I like... 11 Oct 2012
As a long time Iain M. Banks fan I must admit I have been a bit disappointed with some of his latest stuff. For example Surface Detail and Matter, while good reads, left me feeling like maybe the prime had been passed. So I didn't have huge expectations for this latest Culture novel. However I was very relieved to find that The Hydrogen Sonata was what might be described on a back cover as a rip-roaring return to form for this master of whatever it is he does when he writes a good Culture Novel.
In Short, if you loved 'Excession' and 'Look to Windward', if you love the way Mr. Banks can craft a single paragraph that somehow manages to take the plot forward, deepen the mystery, enrich the characters and be an elaborately crafted joke while commenting on the contrasts between The society of the Culture and our own, then don't be afraid to go into this book with high expectations.

....Well, I liked it anyway.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mundane disclosure first: I have been a huge Iain (M) Banks fan for a long time, so I won't pretend full objectivity. In fact, had this been a new author's work it would have been a 5 star review. Banks novels set the bar so highly for me that I may be slightly more critical of them than I would be otherwise.

For fans of the Culture series, however, this is a worthy addition: not quite the best (Player of Games remains my all-time favourite, followed closely by Consider Phlebas and Look to Windward - the latter not shared by everyone, I know, and I also have a lot of time for Surface Detail). I found myself, however, looking for any opportunity to return to this whenever possible and, as so often with Banks's novels, am disappointed it's over.

The humour of the Minds is sparkling in this book - Banks's gods in the machines (literally) always remind me of slightly squabbling Olympians, with all those human foibles the Greeks projected onto their deities. However, there is one element that does grate with regard to the book: lots of people die in this novel - including some significant characters (no spoilers) - but the culture of the, ah, Culture is such that the major ones are pretty much all backed up (there is one exception to this, but even that is not, in the end, completely final). I offer this in contrast to the (early) George R R Martin novels, where you come to feel greatly for major characters who then die. Gone. That's it - no coming back (and even Martin baulks at this in later novels). Banks seems to have written himself into a tight spot re. tragedy where the Culture series appears unable to deal with it on the profoundest level. And yet, in Consider Phlebas I really felt the waste and tragedy of the Idiran war.

One note re.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just doesn't compare to previous work 23 Oct 2012
I'm really sorry to write what will be a fairly negative review of this book. I have greatly enjoyed many of Banks' previous works - particularly his sci-fi and I absolutely feel that he helped to create a genre within the genre as the uncontested king of space opera. Despite my growing preference for his earlier works - some of which constitute masterpieces in my view - I was still excited to get the newest offering. Unfortunately I was ultimately disappointed.

I can't deny that the writing style remains almost as good, but for me, there is none of the passion and conviction that Banks used to demonstrate. The characterisation is weaker, the narrative / plotting equally so -I got to the end of the book and thought - "Well, so what? I don't care!". Which is really sad. I think ultimately, this book explores a topic that possibly merited a short story and with a braver editor it may have made a great novella - instead I found myself reading what is essentially technical rhubarb and - shock, horror - skim reading pages. If I want weapons specs there are better authors out there for that type of sci fi - what I want from Banks is the grandiose - the awesome. I think perhaps the attempt to cover the issue of subliming is meant to cover that from a philosophical perspective - but I don't think he achieved it. The eventual denouement is practically 'phoned in' I'm afraid.

I've read earlier books several times each, connected with the characters, thrilled at the plotting, held my breath at the amazingly complete, exciting - stunning worlds (galaxies/ universes / realities) that Banks created.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hydrogen Sonata (A Culture Novel) 16 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have read all of Iain M Banks books so you can consider me a fan. I enjoyed The Hydrogen Sonata but not for the first time with his books I found the ending somewhat abrupt and unsatisfactory. I felt there could have been so much more but the ending felt rushed as if a deadline had to be met and was more important than taking the story further. Iain M Banks is a great writer but sometimes I think it would be better if he spread the story across two or three books allowing greater depth. All to often the lead up is great and the nearer you get to the end it starts to fizzle out.

Don't get me wrong as I stated earlier I enjoyed it and don't regret buying it but it's not one that I will be reading again unlike the 'Player of Games' which I have read several times.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 2 days ago by Brent Shooter
5.0 out of 5 stars Complexities upon complexities. Fascinating.
Unfortunately the last of Iain M Banks. Sadly missed.
Published 9 days ago by J. W. Mclachlan
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read
It was a very interesting read. I wanted to finish it one go.
Published 10 days ago by Rohit (NZ)
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best book I've read. Entertaining then got bored half way...
Not the best book that I have ever read. Entertaining then got bored half way through. Have up in the end.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect eulogy for Banks and the Culture Universe
Iain Banks' writing has been formative part of my life. I was very upset to hear of his illness and his passing; and glad he had time with his loved ones. Read more
Published 1 month ago by saigon
1.0 out of 5 stars Severe anti-climax
It really saddens me to say that the final Culture book is a disappointing end to a (usually) excellent series. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Youngs
4.0 out of 5 stars Final Culture Novel
The Hydrogen Sonata was originally an unplayable piece if music, written as a joke/protest for an instrument yet to be invented, which grew in reputation and notoriety. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David Buchan
5.0 out of 5 stars sublime
The last of the Culture books, and a fitting end with jokes, explosions,deaths and daft names a plenty. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Paul the Work Avoider
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
Iain Banks was a brilliant science fiction author, and this is one of his best. The Culture novels don't have to be read in sequence, you can dip in and out as you like, and this... Read more
Published 2 months ago by D. Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended Hyrdrogen Sonata
Great Sci-fi tale well written by the ever reliable Iain M Bank. This is an excellent story full of real characters and atmosphere.
Published 2 months ago by Stephen Sawyer
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