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Consider Phlebas Audiobook

Consider Phlebas: Culture Series, Book 1

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Publisher's Summary

The first Culture novel, now available as an unabridged audio download.

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction - cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

Consider Phlebas is a space opera of stunning power and awesome imagination.

©1987 Iain M. Banks (P)2010 Hachette Digital

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (207 )
5 star
 (67)
4 star
 (79)
3 star
 (42)
2 star
 (16)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
3.9 (177 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.4 (178 )
5 star
 (103)
4 star
 (54)
3 star
 (13)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
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  •  
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 12-24-10
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 12-24-10 Member Since 2013

    When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1324
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    Overall
    "Peter Kenny makes the book worthwhile"

    I enjoyed Iain M. Banks' book because of an excellent narrator. I am not sure that the story itself is so great... although it falls probably in the genre of tragedy.

    This is the first book in Banks' Culture series and is a must to read or listen to should you be interested into being initiated into his universe where man and machine have become equals in the sphere of existence. Set against the background of the Culture (humans and machines) and Iderian war, Horsa, the main character, must find his own way through the maze of loyalties. Horsa chooses against artificial life, just to... well read or listen the book to find out.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Ashton, Australia 11-21-10
    Peter Ashton, Australia 11-21-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Routes of The Culture"

    A good listen. All the technological depth and character development you could want in a sci-fi novel. If you like "Ring World" or "The Mote In God's Eye", you'll probably like this more.
    Only four stars out of five because it mainly lacks the humour of his later books. "Matter" (by the same author) was just brilliant!

    Though this is Iain M Banks' first sci-fi novel, it is a 2010 audio production.
    Once again, Peter Kenny excels as narrator.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr Dunure, United Kingdom 11-28-11
    Mr Dunure, United Kingdom 11-28-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Classic, intelligent sciFi"

    Read this years ago: an absolute classic of sciFi. The novel works on many levels - as a story line, as a set of believable characters, and as a created world of its own. The sciFi environment which envelops the characters is convincing and deeply thought through - right down to the subtlety of the relationship between humans and the highly evolved AI computer systems who jointly form the 'Culture'. The novel is told through the character of an enemy of the Culture, again a thoroughly thought through interpretation of how a genetically modified species might interact with other species and cultures. Mostly though, the sciFi world created is convincing enough to allow the reader just to enjoy the battle of wits between the two principal characters.

    Some of the scenes in the book are reflective of the extremities of behaviour which might be expected by extrapolating extreme character traits over immense populations, and I must confess I found them a bit strong - but they do contribute to the depth of characterisation and the sense of urgency in the story line.

    The performance from Peter Kenny is well paced and compelling - to quote Jerry Pournelle in the golden days of Byte magazine - 'recommended'.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niklas 01-16-17
    Niklas 01-16-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic narrative but shallow plot"

    He has a fantastic way of paining the environment in vivid ways and with surprising detail. The plot however feels shallow in the big picture and leaves you feeling less than satisfied.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronan Joseph 08-13-16 Member Since 2016
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    3
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    "a classic story narrated by a truly great orator"

    the narrator perfectly put across the varying moods of the story and personified each of the characters. the story itself is of course well-loved, but I was impressed with how well Peter Kenny brought the story to life. this audiobook was much superior in my opinion to reading the paperback

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Chatswood, Australia 07-03-14
    Michael Chatswood, Australia 07-03-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "outstanding reading, so-so plot"
    Would you try another book from Iain M. Banks and/or Peter Kenny?

    I'd try Iain Banks again. I read another book of his which is very good. But this one tales off badly, despite some good ideas. It's like he was a chess player who learnt a lot about openings but had no experience in end games. It goes off like a damp squibb.Ok, this is the first in the series, and others say later books are better and this is necessary background. That might be so. But it doesn't stand alone.Granted, this was one of his first books, written nearly 40 years ago, but it's not that the technology is dated. He just didn't know where his story was leading; at least within this book.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    More of a sense by the end of why we should have been interested in the book


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Peter Kenny's reading is outstanding. His capacity for different voices and accents, consistently maintained is very impressive. He makes the listening very interesting, and rarely if ever gets the sense of a sentence wrong.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig South Yarra, Australia 05-25-13
    Craig South Yarra, Australia 05-25-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "very, very good"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Consider Phlebas to be better than the print version?

    Yes - the narration is superb with a neutral english accent and with varied, unique and pitch-perfect accents to each character.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Kraiklyn - amoral and generally incompetent but not stupid and with irrepressible self-belief. "Easy in, easy out."


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Escaping the mega ship immediately following its collision with the iceberg


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    For a mostly serious story, in places it can be very funny.


    Any additional comments?

    I somehow missed Iain Banks' works when growing up. Unlike most greater than decade-old sci-fi it has dated extremely well and am enjoying catching up on them all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard auckland, New Zealand 02-15-13
    Richard auckland, New Zealand 02-15-13 Member Since 2007

    BasicListener? I listen with both ears!

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Culture Book 1 - Not a classic but a solid effort"
    What did you love best about Consider Phlebas?

    The unassuming pace is interesting like listening to a day dream


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Horza does kind of grow on you as the tough secret agent persona wears away. None of the characters are easy to like. And the ones that do... well...


    What about Peter Kenny’s performance did you like?

    Passable attempt at alien voices. The mapping of an unknown alien voice to known earth accent is always a tough one like why do French slum dwellers inherit a cockney accent in Les Miserables. Why do Culture supercomputers get the sound of a pompous nineteenth century English fop?


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. the slower patches are pleasant and necessary but do not engender a sprint read


    Any additional comments?

    This story is more than the sum of its parts.
    The after taste is interesting and since it is part of a loose series it is enough to hit the buy now button a couple more times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • scotty
    cannock, United Kingdom
    4/9/12
    Overall
    "A Truly Great Sci-Fi Novel"

    Consider Phlebas (CP) is without doubt a conceptually stunning piece. The breadth and depth of the concepts and constructs is breath-taking. There are throw-away ideas in CP that would be an entire book for another author.

    OK, CP is a linear tale lacking some of the structural fun and games of the later novels and character names can be a bit of a challenge, remembering who's who, but all credit to the narrator for helping out with strong vocal work. Seriously, have you ever tried to narrate even a chapter of a book? Creating, remembering and switching voice personas is extremely challenging, so a quick round of applause for Mr Kenny.

    Banks' style is engaging and the action or fight scenes are incredible but without doubt the single most captivating aspect of the book is The Culture and the Minds that enable it. All of the incredible robotic menace of the Matrix or Terminator genres is tossed on its head by the super-artificial intelligences that provide for the needs of every citizen... Because the AI's seem to want to keep people around and happy. Is it symbiosis? No, what do organics add to the AI's? Interest and entertainment certainly but it does seem to be an almost 'master-pet' or 'farm' relationship except there seems to be no negativity.

    I digress. Stunning concepts. Intelligent prose. Challenging ideas. Gripping action.

    What more do you want?

    Seriously, I'd give it 5 stars but I know what's coming later in the series and if you think this one is good, the later novels will knock your socks off!

    Enjoy!

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    Beulah, United Kingdom
    3/1/11
    Overall
    "Enjoyable"

    This is the first of the Culture novels and the second one I have read after 'Matter'. This book introduces a fascinating universe and I can see why Banks has kept it alive through the series of books he has set in it. the story is pretty easy to follow once you have adapted to the names, characters, technology and politics and it is fast-paced enough not to become bogged down like other space operas I have read. The story is linear and self-contained with a good ending. Well narrated and recommended to those that like the genre - it is a good example of its type.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Adam
    Chard, Somerset, United Kingdom
    12/16/10
    Overall
    "Ideal Banks for Audio"

    Coming back to Banks thru Audible I found this a gripping reintroduction to his work - weaving threads of characters thru the whole with his typical skill & artistry and totally absorbing as an audio book.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    12/26/10
    Overall
    "A good book brilliantly read"

    Peter Kenny's reading is 5 star. Consider Phlebas is Iain M. Bank's first sci-fi novel. Whilst a great rolling space opera it lacks the tightness and narrative tricks he applies to his non sci-fi novels and later sci-fi works, so only 4 stars.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Toby
    Frome, United Kingdom
    6/14/11
    Overall
    "Underwhelmed"

    Having heard and read so many positive reviews of Iain M. Banks' work I was looking forward to this book. Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I just didn't "get it" but for whatever reason I found this book very ordinary despite the good narration and voice characterisation by Peter Kenny. From the beginning of the story I found it hard to engage with the various characters and by the end of the book I just didn't really care about any of them or the societies they represented. Although the pace was pretty good some of the scenes seemed superfluous such as the episode with The Eaters. I wasn't sure of the purpose of that scene, it almost appeared to be there just to add to the word count. The ending of the book and it's epilogues just seemed to lead to nowhere particularly interesting. Certainly not a dreadful book but also not as good as I had been lead to believe.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • RMB
    11/21/10
    Overall
    "A truely excellent book"

    Whilst I'm the first to accept that individual taste is exactly that, the only rating so far is a single star and it prompted me to write something to balance that view. I still consider this to be the best of the Culture novels and is actually the easiest to get into.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Anthony
    London, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Phlebas Considered"

    I'll confess up front that I'm a huge admirer of Iain Banks' science fiction. Banks has created an epic utopia/dystopia that is utterly involving, thought provoking and rewarding.



    Peter Kenny is a brilliant narrator and brings life to the many characters that are introduced throughout this first 'Culture' novel.



    Highly recommend this and the series as a whole.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sue Bayliss
    London, England United Kingdom
    12/14/12
    Overall
    "There is nothing like a bit of Banks"

    I like Iain Banks work, so am bias. It's been many years since I read this book and thought I would try the audio book. It didn't disappoint. If you like science fiction give it a try.



    I also like Peter Kenny narration of the book very much.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Stuart
    Southampton, United Kingdom
    6/12/11
    Overall
    "Sorry, I just didn't enjoy this"

    I got this as I love sci-fi and this had a lot of good reviews but I just couldn't get into it. I found the main characters situations strange and found the plot a little disjointed.

    Its a shame really as I am looking for another sci-fi author, other then Alistair Reynolds.

    In the end I got to 11 hours and simple found I did not care so did not finish it. Shame.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Ozzymandias
    Mistworld
    9/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Boring, poor dialogue, and not very descriptive"

    This book is quite typical of many modern science fiction writers who write very boring stories without much description of the universe, poor dialogue, uninspiring character development and no story dynamics.

    In much of this story, you are rattling around on someone's head and they are quite boring. Not very much occurs and when something happens the description is stilted and not very engaging, there is no real sense of forward motion in the story - you feel bogged down in someone's boring mind. The decisions the main character makes are often rather silly, for someone who is some super shape-shifting spy he is rather lame.

    If you think about words as fuel, this book is very environmentally unfriendly, equivalent to a stretched hummer being driven by a heavy footed oaf.

    Dialogue - small amount, poor and uninspired and not much character interaction. I expect a good writer to come up with clever dialogue that is engaging and draws the reader into the story drives the plot, fleshes out the characters - instead we get lazy dialogue - no one on the ship really says anything to each other so no dialogue required there. Great - less actually thinking required on the writer's part - less fun for the reader. Thanks.

    Scene description - the more alien the world you are describing, the more effort you need to commit in the act of description. It is rather lazy to expect the reader to do all the work for you. In addition, we are writing science fiction here folks, there should be some science in your fiction.

    Plot - not much actually happens, when you get to the end of the book you think well that was a waste of time, I have not been entertained nor have I been educated.

    Narrator - the narrator was mediocre, he was clear but the different characters did not come across well at all. Let's just read all the characters in pretty much the same voice eh? Given that there was so little dialogue in this book, I think he should have made much more of an effort with them. The producer probably had some skill, might have been a noise gate there or maybe good mike use from the narrator.

    It's not good enough to simply say that the story takes place in an expansive universe, a good writer can make a small flat feel expansive by use of description, dialogue, character development and dynamics. This story felt very claustrophobic, I spent much of the feeling trapped in a very boring situation just waiting for it to end. It's 471 pages that you could write up in 10 and have a much more exciting and interesting experience.

    I'm not a writer, just punter that has paid good money to be entertained and this experience is disappointing. I wish Brandon Sanderson would write Science Fiction - he'd clean up.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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