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The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks
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The Hydrogen Sonata (edition 2012)

by Iain M. Banks

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6893013,825 (3.89)1 / 38
Member:Bal
Title:The Hydrogen Sonata
Authors:Iain M. Banks
Info:Orbit (2012), Hardcover, 528 pages
Collections:Novels, Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Science Fiction, The Culture

Work details

The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks

2012 (7) 2013 (6) AI (6) culture (26) culture series (4) ebook (13) far future (5) fiction (63) First Edition (4) hardcover (5) Iain M. Banks (4) Kindle (16) library (3) novel (13) own (3) owned (3) read (13) read in 2012 (4) read in 2013 (6) science fiction (153) Scottish (5) series (7) sf (54) sff (6) signed (3) space opera (25) The Culture (39) to-read (35) unread (4) wishlist (5)

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
A very good, if at times, melancholy, swan song for a modern SF master. Overly long, & in need of severe editing & pacing in the middle third, it remains readable throughout. An elegant premise, with much in the way of satirical comparisons to the modern world, it concerns a young aliens journey into looking into the foundation of the Culture, & the difficulties of a civilisation about to Sublime. Worthy of a look for Culture fans, & certainly that for SF fans. Not his best, but far, far from his worst. Goodbye, Mr Banks, it's been good. ( )
  aadyer | Jul 17, 2014 |
Another wonderful book in the Culture Series - Ian M. Banks manages to capture the hard science fiction, but with interesting characters that a reader really cares about. In this book - the Gzilt Civilization is preparing to Sublime - that odd place where cultures go when they reach the end of a civilization. What the sublime is... no one is quite sure, except you become more than you are. This isn't a book about the sublime. Its a book about an ancient mystery that has come to light - and for a Culture Mind, there is no greater allure. On top of it, we have two civilizations with low-tech that want to raise their tech-level, using what is left behind of the Gzilt worlds.

So... this is the setting that we come to, and it is big. We have small stories and big stories, old and new, all weaved together in something that make for an excellent book. Its not just a great Science Fiction Book, but great literature. I've read other stories in this series (Consider Phlebias, and Player of Games). I enjoyed reading both of them, but I think that this book is where everything comes together perfectly.

I love how the Hydrogen Sonata (or as its official name "T.C Vilabier's 26th String-Specific Sonata For An Instrument Yet To Be Invented" is used as a metaphor for the entire story - It adds a level this book that is quite beautiful.

Highly recommended. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Jul 15, 2014 |
...and another half star but not quite 4. Loved it of course as I love all the culture books. Not quite sure about all the ship Minds dialogue. Probably because I can't read it fast enough - began to pall. Loved the Elevenstring and enjoyed hearing more about subliming..... ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
Um. Meh. There is the usual amusing chatter between ships with silly names, and the idea of Subliming was quite interesting, and Cossont's mother was very funny, but the plot was in the end an essentially pointless runaround with a very flat ending. And the whole thing was way too long. (And what was Zaphod Beeblebrox doing in there, masquerading as one Ximenyr?). Not the best way for IMB to bow out.

While I'm at it, I have a gripe about sci-fi in general which is pertinent here: I find aliens who aren't increasingly annoying. There wasn't any point whatever in making the Gzilt anything but human: why bother? It didn't even generate any good gags. ( )
  sloopjonb | May 24, 2014 |
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Dedication
To the memory of
Paul Gambol
and
Ronnie Martin
With thanks to Adèle, Tim, Les, Joanna and Nick
First words
In the dying days of the Gzilt civilisation, before its long-prepared-for elevation to something better and the celebrations to mark this momentous but joyful occasion, one of its last surviving ships encountered an alien vessel whose sole task was to deliver a very special party-goer to the festivities.
Quotations
She hadn't forgotten all her military training; one point she certainly recalled being taught was that anything that looked like an outrageous coincidence was probably enemy action.
It would be far preferable if things were better, but they're not, so let's make the most of it. Let's see what fresh fuckwittery the dolts can contrive to torment themselves with this time.
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Haiku summary
To Sublime or not?
The Sonata is a fugue
With exploding ships!

To Sublime or not?
Politicians scheme and fix
But the ayes have it.

To Sublime or not?
Nosey Minds may interfere:
Methusela knows.

No descriptions found.

Suspected of involvement after the Regimental High Command is destroyed as they prepared to go to a new level of existence called Sublime, Lieutenant Commander Vyr Cossont must find a nine-thousand-year-old man to clear her name.

(summary from another edition)

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