Matter

Culture, Book 8
Narrated by: Toby Longworth
Series: Culture, Book 8
Length: 17 hrs and 58 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (893 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In a world renowned even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one man it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one - maybe two - people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she'd thought abandoned forever.

Only the sister is not what she once was; Djan Seriy Anaplian has changed almost beyond recognition to become an agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances section, charged with high-level interference in civilizations throughout the greater galaxy.

Concealing her new identity - and her particular set of abilities - might be a dangerous strategy, however. In the world to which Anaplian returns, nothing is quite as it seems; and determining the appropriate level of interference in someone else's war is never a simple matter.

Matter is a novel of dazzling wit and serious purpose. An extraordinary feat of storytelling and breathtaking invention on a grand scale, it is a tour de force from a writer who has turned science fiction on its head.

©2008 Iain M. Banks (P)2014 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about Matter

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

What happened to Peter Kenny?

Any additional comments?

I have loved this series, and the narration has been no small part. While this narration is decent, it was made worse in the inevitable comparison to the previous narrator, Peter Kenny, who was excellent.

As for the book, of course Banks is wonderful. A bit overdone at the end, but clever throughout.

14 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Flawless

I cannot recommend this highly enough. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book a few years ago, but the narrator brought another dimension to the story that blew me away.

In my humble opinion Iain M Banks is a master of this genre, rivalled only by Alastair Reynolds. This story is beautifully written and totally absorbing from the beginning. The characters are wonderfully realised, the story lines fast paced and believable with an underlying humour that I found delightful.

As is often the case when I read Banks, I found myself marvelling at his insights and observations. He is a formidably intelligent man.

Toby Longworth is a brilliant narrator and this story suits his talents to a tee. It takes real talent to bring characters to life as he did in this book.

Loved it and will listen to it again for sure.

7 people found this helpful

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Another great culture novel

It's hard to identify a "favorite" Culture novel, and since this one is so atypical my heart says it can't be this one, but by the numbers I feel like it might just have to be. While the titular civilization of the Culture series is its main draw for some people, I've always felt that the main strength of the Culture universe is showing the way in which varying people's coexist and interact in the galaxy. There's a reason that Contact is the main focus of most Culture stories. This novel is perhaps the closest study of how multiple levels of civilizations interact and what that interaction looks like to individuals lucky or unlucky enough to find themselves at the heart of that interaction. While the focus on a "primitive" civilization might put people off, it's truly fascinating to see inside the mind of a non-spacefaring people for whom vast, galaxy spanning empires and stellar engineering are not a theoretical possibility but a fact of everyday life, affecting the entire history of their civilization. It ends up being a fascinating deconstruction not only of far future sci-fi, but the kind of post-renaissance adventure story the book initially masquerades. The main themes of Culture novels are all present here and in rare form: identity, power, and civilizations and values colliding. If the book has any faults, it's that we only have time to focus deeply on one people in the fantastic web of civilizations we're given so many tantalizing glimpses of) The book misses Peter Kenny's signature and inspired narration (and his wonderfully executed Northern accents most of all), but Longworth really does an excellent job in his place. His icy American accent is something I don't think I'll soon forget, and the avuncular Sancho Panza style character is thoroughly charming. If it didn't mean we wouldn't have Kenny, I'd say Longworth would be capable of carrying the whole series.

2 people found this helpful

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A fun lower tech foray into the culture universe

Albeit linear, Matter tells a fairly interesting story of a industrial era society growing up under the mantle of their galactic superiors. It has all of the requirements for an enjoyable culture novel including sarcastic drones and ship Minds, intelligent and respectable adversaries, typical Banks anarcho(nihilist)communist philosophizing, an entertaining and unpredictable plot, and fantastical sci-fi constructs. Occasionally the physical descriptions are more verbose than necessary, but overall this is a very fun adventure in an untypical culture setting with characters that I find more enjoyable and developed than usual for the series. On top of this, Toby Longworth does a stellar, five out of five reading performance that really seals the deal.

While not the best single novel from the series, Culture fans will not regret picking this one up.

2 people found this helpful

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Great book!

Really liked the book, it's a very interesting story. My only real complaint is that Peter did not read it. The guy that did, did a good job... but it's not the same.

2 people found this helpful

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A stellar performance

What did you love best about Matter?

This is a great book, though not one of the best in the Culture series (The Use of Weapons and the Player of Games will always loom large over the series as some of the best SF of all time). But Longworth's performance really elevates the book and he does a stellar job of giving different speech patterns to the different characters and making them come alive. Highly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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Fun, immersive and enjoyable.

Other reviewers are going to do a better job with a story synopsis if that’s what you’re interested in, so I’ll leave that out. I would say however that I liked the humor, character arcs, balance of tension and action, and descriptions of environments and emotions. The prose is creative and evocative without being too wordy. I enjoyed the readers voice and portrayal of the various characters, though a few times I had a bit of difficulty telling some of the minor ones apart. It’s a minor gripe however towards a very gifted and talented performer, will be looking forward to hearing other works he’s narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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Great Change of Pace for The Culture Series

Great writing to introduce such stark contrasts in how the Culture operates and thrives. One of the best opportunities to show another side of the culture. Previous entries in the series offer comparisons between high technology cultures and how The Culture molds with them, but (without spoilers) Matter offers something a little more fresh.

1 person found this helpful

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great story, but reader mumbles a bit.

I love the story, and have read it before in written form. However, I had trouble understanding the reader sometimes. He seems to do different voices by mumbling in different ways. It's a bit like listening to someone tell a story through a door; if you listen carefully you can hear each word, but the moment your attention wanders it just turns into sounds.

1 person found this helpful

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love it

Fantastic story. I love the Culture series because it posits an optimistic view of humanity's long-term future. what if we could someday actually grow up? what if our cultural evolution eventually led us into a genuine common commitment to the greater good? what, in that case, would an old fashioned cruel and cutthroat society (such as our own) look like from that mature and compassionate perspective? Banks ponders such questions in the most compelling way!
in addition to a captivating story rich with intrigue and complexity and excitement, this audiobook is a truly marvelous performance.

1 person found this helpful