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The Hydrogen Sonata | [Iain M. Banks]

The Hydrogen Sonata

The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, provably, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization. An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture 10,000 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 civilizations; they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.
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Publisher's Summary

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

An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture 10,000 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 civilizations; 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 civilization are likely to prove its most perilous.

©2012 Iain M. Banks (P)2012 Hachette Audio

What Members Say

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4.2 (377 )
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  •  
    Philip 01-06-15
    Philip 01-06-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Worthwhile reading for Culture buffs... only"

    Required reading for all Culture buffs but overall an unexciting story.

    Probably the best Culture book at giving great incites into how Minds work. Shows how supreme intelligence and curiosity can lead to unnecessary meddling with negligible outcomes.

    Main characters uninspiring, story never really takes off despite its potential. Narration very good.

    Typically expansive in its description of the worlds and races that make up Culture space and beyond.

    Definitely worth the read but don't expect it to be an exciting ' page turner'.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shane SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 01-23-14
    Shane SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 01-23-14 Member Since 2013
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    18
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    "Best so far"
    What other book might you compare The Hydrogen Sonata to and why?

    Terrific culture novel that goes into lots of detail about ships and the sublime. Great listen right after surface detail.


    What about Peter Kenny’s performance did you like?

    Peter Kenny's performance is incredible as always.


    Any additional comments?

    I listen to these while running and only wish there were more culture novels w/ Peter Kenny narrating now that I have finished all of them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fred Tucker, GA, United States 07-14-13
    Fred Tucker, GA, United States 07-14-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Not the best Culture book, but not bad."

    Not the best Culture book, but Peter Kenney continues to deliver. If you are a fan of the Culture series, you will enjoy this book, but it's not the best of the series. The audio performance is as good as ever by Peter Lenney.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexander B. Shepard 03-04-13
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    "Classic Iain M Banks, strong performance"
    If you could sum up The Hydrogen Sonata in three words, what would they be?

    classic space opera


    What did you like best about this story?

    The space opera, the epic scale, the politics.


    Which character – as performed by Peter Kenny – was your favorite?

    Probably one of the spaceship AIs


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Epic Space Opera


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    springn1 Alma, MI United States 11-20-12
    springn1 Alma, MI United States 11-20-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Good I.M. Banks book"

    Not Banks best work, but definitely entertaining. The narrator does a good job with different voices so it's easier to distinguish the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RCBJR Minnesota 11-19-12
    RCBJR Minnesota 11-19-12
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    "Good reading story (probably), hard to listen to."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Hydrogen Sonata to be better than the print version?

    Having not read the print version, I can't say, but there were some characteristics of the book that made listening to it more demanding. I think the narrator was quite good and I'm impressed by how smoothly he delivered it all. The long ship names were a distraction which I felt detracted from my ability to pay attention to the story. (Was that a ship name or was that part of a sentence that I just breezed past without paying attention?)I'm not a good listener anyway. Being a visual person, I prefer to read text, but I spend so much time in the car that it's the only way to do it. I suspect a second listen will fill in any gaps.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Hydrogen Sonata?

    No particular moment stands out, but the antagonistic undecagon string was a memborable object.


    Have you listened to any of Peter Kenny’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not heard Peter Kenny before.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eleanor 11-06-12
    Eleanor 11-06-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Seemed like a rehash of other Culture novels"

    Peter Kenny is a great reader for Banks's books, but using the same reader for all the Culture audiobooks really emphasizes how many of the characters in Hydrogen Sonata were borrowed from previous books. The Mistake Not ... seems like a saner (and therefore not as entertaining) version of the Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints. Septame Banstergain is very similar to Veppers. Cossant, like Yay, is just not that compelling of a character, even with her high-tech body manipulation, but unfortunately, unlike Player of Games, she's a major character in this book. The book also just seems kind of light -- it touches on government coverups and conspiracies, but has none of the psychological weight of Player of Games, Use of Weapons or even the Hells in Surface Detail.
    Having said all that, it was still fun to listen to, and had the usual Banks build up to a crazy epic confrontation at the end.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victor Juez Palm Springs, Fl United States 09-15-13
    Victor Juez Palm Springs, Fl United States 09-15-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Not my cup of tea"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The story didn't flow for me.


    Has The Hydrogen Sonata turned you off from other books in this genre?

    yes it has


    What about Peter Kenny’s performance did you like?

    the performance was very good


    Was The Hydrogen Sonata worth the listening time?

    no it wasn't for me


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim 05-05-13
    Jim 05-05-13 Member Since 2015

    I collect physical books - SciFi/Fantasy & History. I also listen to Audible for over ten years now.

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    "I don't know what to say Iain...."

    This book, like all your others was fantastic. But that does not matter to me right now. YOU DO. My best to you and your family & friends.

    --
    Jim D
    Pennsylvania, USA

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Halifax, NS, Canada 12-19-12
    David Halifax, NS, Canada 12-19-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Banks treading water"

    Banks is treading water with this entry in the Culture series, which is mildly amusing but lacks the brilliance and profundity of some of the others. It's formulaic, featuring all the usual Banks archetypes (eccentric Ships, goth heroine, cranky robots, slimy politicians, and of course a gratuitous castle just when you were starting to wonder if he'd forgotten to include one). There's an interesting theme buried somewhere about old age, memory, and what we leave behind us, but it's left unexplored amid the explosions and snarky dialogue, and the mystery that keeps the plot moving forward doesn't really add up to anything in the end. But hey, it's still a Culture novel, and it moves along at a fair old pace, and it has some fun ideas and enjoyable setpieces - just don't expect anything earth-shattering.

    Peter Kenny is, as always, a god among audiobook readers.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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