The Hydrogen Sonata (A Culture Novel) Hardcover – 4 Oct 2012
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"Scotland-resident Banks' Culture yarns, the science-fiction equivalent of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, brim with wit and wisdom, providing incomparable entertainment, with fascinating and highly original characters, challenging ideas and extrapolations, and dazzling action seamlessly embedded in a satirical-comedy matrix."
-- "Kirkus Reviews "on "The Hydrogen Sonata"
"One of Banks' best Culture novels to date."-- Booklist on The Hydrogen Sonata
"This rich, sweeping panorama of heroism and folly celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Culture, Banks's far-future semi-utopian society.... The action tumbles along at a dizzying pace, bouncing among a fascinating array of characters and locales. It's easy to see why Banks's fertile, cheerfully nihilistic imagination and vivid prose have made the Culture space operas bestsellers and award favorites." ""Publishers Weekly"""
"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""" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
An outstanding new Culture novel from the UK's leading SF writer - always the biggest annual event in British SFSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Being a long-term fan, I approached The Hydrogen Sonata with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation; would it be everything I'd come to expect from one of my favourite authors or would it be a bit of a let-down? Being the last Culture novel, I wanted it to be good. I wanted another Excession and I wasn't disappointed.
It's all there; the grand, sweeping, space-opera of old. The heroes and villains are beautifully written and, of course, there's the ships. For many fans, the ships "are" The Culture, their Minds the driving force behind The Culture's continued existence. Hugely powerful and with all the personality traits of their human charges, they're just....well, you have to read the books. The ship to ship banter alone can justify the cover price. And their names. If there was a book of just Culture Ship Names, I'd buy it. In the meantime, there's wikipedia.
I finished The Hydrogen Sonata with a mixture of satisfaction and sadness; satisfied that it was everything I hoped it would be and sad that there wouldn't be any more. And it underlines what a great loss to the genre that Iain's untimely death was.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just read "The Hydrogen Sonata" for the third time. It is, in my opinion, the best of Mr Banks's fiction books. I have read them all over the years. Read morePublished 2 months ago by confabulous
I have been reading Iain M Banks for my whole adult life, beginning with Consider Phlebas back in 2000. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jonathan Green
A brilliant book and the passing of the author is a sad loss to the literary world...Published 4 months ago by A J Taha
I haven't read all the Culture novels: just the first two and now this one. I can appreciate what Banks is trying to do and find much of it enjoyable, but still find it slightly... Read morePublished 4 months ago by S Litton
Harder to get into than many of Banks' other Culture novels, The Hydrogen Sonata is nonetheless an ultimately satisfying read.Published 5 months ago by Mr. C. R. Blessing