The Algebraist

Narrated by: Geoff Annis
Length: 24 hrs and 3 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (722 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For short-lived 'quick' races like humans, space is dominated by the complicated, grandiose Mercatoria, whose rule is both military and religious. To the Dwellers who may live billions of years, the galaxy consists of their gas-giant planets - the rest is debris.

Our human hero, Fassin Taak, is a Slow Seer privileged to work with the Dwellers of the gas-giant Nasqueron in his home system Ulubis. His work consists of rummaging for data in their vast, disorganised memories and libraries. Unfortunately, without knowing it, he's come close to an ancient secret of unimaginable importance....

©2004 Iain M. Banks (P)2005 W.F. Howes Ltd

What listeners say about The Algebraist

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    5 out of 5 stars

A masterpiece.

Extremely imaginative yet very real. Excellent characters who feel real. A distant future on a galactic scale. The tech is fascinating but not fantasy. A fast moving story well told. The narrator is perfect. Neither overly dramatic nor attempting to blow your mind, just extremely well done.

6 people found this helpful

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Whimsical Fun

Ian Banks departs from his Human-centric Culture novels to explore a twist in his post-scarcity society theme. The Agebraist explores how humanity might interact woth a civilization so old, with individuals living as ling as billions of years if they can avoid accidents, that scarcity and all conception of the seriousness of trivial life has been lost. The Quick, the general term for species who live lifespan in the order of decades or centuries, or even millenia, seem to buzz about them in so much tumult and chaotic intensity.

Banks's Dwellers are humerous, their society a lampoons of civilization's foibles and vanity, and the story manages to be exciting while frequently relying heavily on dialog. Very much worth a listen.

With regards to the presentation, it is solid but starts out with an odd "pause for commas" approach that takes some time to adjust to. By the 20% mark either I or the reader had fully adapted to the rhythm and made for an enjoyable British accented presentation.

4 people found this helpful

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okay after you get into it

Abit difficult to get started with. Characters are somewhat wooden. I had expected a little more from Iain Banks

4 people found this helpful

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Wonderful story.

It kept me riveted until the end. It has a lot of science fiction ideas that I haven't seen before. Great read and quality narration.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent characters and world building

Another classic from Banks. Captivating story and interesting characters, especially the enigmatic Dwellers. A bit tough to follow in the beginning due to the amount of characters with weird names. In addition, the narration jumps between characters very abruptly at times, so listeners have to stay on their toes.

Reasonably realistic physics despite there being a galaxy-spanning civilization and FTL travel through wormholes.

Warning: some description of horrific torture. Thankfully it doesn't last that long.

Overall an excellent book.

2 people found this helpful

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I love Iain M. Banks, so sad to have lost him

The Algebraist captured in one book what I so loved about the Culture series-Banks' ability to weave both a great story and a grand universe as a backdrop.

3 people found this helpful

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Space Opera//Mcguffin

This is one of Banks' best works, not as grand in scope as the Culture series but maybe even better for it as it doesn't take itself too seriously. The alien races in this book are phenomenal, Dwellers may be my favorite aliens. Geoff Annis' narration is spot-on, you will not be disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

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Finally! The unabridged version!

I listened to this 12 years ago on cassette tape from my library and I really enjoyed the story and the narration by Geoffrey Annis is perfect. I wanted to listen to it again but I could never find a version to buy on CD or a digital version to download. Thank you Audible for making the unabridged version available for download. I can't wait to listen to this story again! A master SF work by Iain M. Banks.

11 people found this helpful

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Interesting but odd

This book had a very interesting take on space opera. I enjoyed the outright alien-ness of the dwellers and other aliens. But the author was prone to rambling on sometimes, and switching to different times in the characters lives without warning. Plus there where some characters that really didn't serve any purpose. Sometimes the explanations reminded me of Douglas Addams style of writing, which was fun. Overall it's a good book. Just takes some getting used to the author's style.

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excellent performance of a non-culture sci-fi

Another great sci-fi story from IMB. tremendously inventive and interesting. I struggled through the late middle section, but was rewarded with a bang up ending. I love all IMB's work and this one is no exception. performance was wonderful.

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  • Martin
  • 12-05-17

Spoiled by awful narration

I jumped at the chance to get hold of the unabridged version of this book which had previously only been available in its severely abridged seven-hour version. To be fair, it is probably not one of IMB's best works, butt is still a hugely entertaining story. Unfortunately, the narrator is very poor indeed. He has clearly acquainted himself with the rather arcane names of places and people typical of IMB, but he seems to have failed utterly to plan ahead in his reading, so the intonational contour of what he reads is frequently wrong, and he often fails to get the tone of the dialogue right as well as making occasional errors with the pronunciation of words (he obviously doesn't know the words hegemony or exigencies for example). He then proceeds to ham it up with overdramatic rendering of action sequences. I shall certainly be looking out for his name as one to avoid in future.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Samuel99
  • 03-26-18

Narrator does not understand sentences

This could be a good book but it is difficult to assess, given the awful narration. The narrator Geoff Aniss makes listening a difficult and painful process and I've never had to rewind so much.
His main problem is the way he continually breaks up sentences with apparent semi-colons at random places; before continuing with the story. It's actually made me; feel angry, because this books comes from an amazing author and has effectively been; mauled.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Toadjuggler
  • 02-03-18

Hooray and oh dear.

Brilliant book by my favourite writer.

Please get it re-recorded by Peter Kenny. Mr Annis just doesn't get Iain Banks and it comes through in his reading. I lost track so many times and it took me three goes to get through it, so disappointing.

I actually first joined Audible to listen to Iain M. Banks' books but this really doesn't cut it.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Brandon
  • 11-13-18

A welcome reboot of Banks' most intriguing work

This was a long time coming. 'The Algebraist' is perhaps one of Banks' lesser-read works, at least if my friends are anything to go by, and the original audio - by Anton Lesser - was of poor quality, from an auditory point of view, although his delicate tones and nice range of character voices are pleasing, ultimately.

If you haven't read it, and like the Iain M Banks canon, you need to. If you haven't read any of his novels before, it's not the place I'd begin, although it is a work of rare treasures, with civilisation-building to rival the best of Banks (and SF in general), some great characters and all the wonder of life on/in a gas giant planet.

My only slight disappointment here was the choice of Geoff Annis for narrator. Don't get me wrong, Annis' buttery Yorkshire tones are very listenable, but his range of character voices is limited, and this can get slightly confusing and a tad dull at times, especially during multi-character conversations.

The other Banks SF works are mainly voiced by the brilliant - for my money, unmatched - Peter Kenny (with the exception of 'Matter', which Toby Longworth brings to spectacular life (and runs Kenny a creditable second in my 'All Time Banks Narrators' (yes, I'm a nerd...)).

It's a shame Kenny wasn't picked for the Algebraist, but I'd happily buy a THIRD cut to hear his take on the insane Archimandrite, the prim Colonel Hatherence and the curious, arcane Dwellers of Nasqueron.

Altogether, a qualified 'buy' for Banks fans; otherwise try 'Matter' or 'Surface Detail' and come back to 'The Algebraist' when you've bathed in the glory that is Iain M Banks (RIP).

10 people found this helpful

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  • Anony-mouse
  • 03-22-18

Sadly no Peter Kenny

The story is very good in typical Iain M Banks way (not a Culture series novel but in the same vein) but is let down by the narration. Geoff Annis gives an ok narration but doesn’t have the range of Peter Kenny and so is let down by poor female vocals and very bad American-ist accents. I’d still say it’s worth buying.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 11-12-17

Not The Culture But A Great Listen

A little over long but a great listen, have previously listened to the abridged audio book but enjoyed this a lot more. Not quite Banks at his best but still a brilliant!!!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Nick
  • 11-05-18

Brilliant

I have the abridged version of this book and have kistned to it several times. I began this book rather wishing Anton Lesser or Peter Kenny had read it; influenced, no doubt, by reviews that were less than complimentary about Mr. Annis, however I really enjoyed the narration and will seek out other books narrated by him.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Steve K
  • 10-06-19

Nothing new.<br />

I had the pleasure of reading the book when it was first published. listening to the story, read by a superb narrator, has added to the drama and given me a new perspective on the tale. But whatever form you choose, the truth is that the story remains a magnificent Iain Banks creation. For those that continue to love his work this is not a surprise.

2 people found this helpful

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  • GadgetMaven
  • 07-03-20

An ok story but too long-winded in parts

This would have made a good short story but as with some of Bank’s books there are too many diversions and introspections that lend nothing to the story. It was hard not to switch off at times. Contrary to some other reviewers, I found the narrator to be the saving grace!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr Seagull
  • 09-23-19

A Great Book

before I had only heard the abridged version, Big Mistake unabridged form now on as abridged cuts so much out

1 person found this helpful

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  • Matthew willey
  • 11-27-17

Fantastic addition to the Iain M. Banks Audiobook

Thank goodness audible returned to this book and decided to re-record an unabridged version of it. Having had the abridged for many years I now realise what I have been missing.
There are many intersecting storylines and only together do you get as good impression of the novel as a whole. There is one scene in particular, where a couple stand looking at an evening sky, and begin to see bright points of light appear. It's a sign of terrible things but it is months away still, and their calm evening continues. Touches like that are brought back to life in this new version.
The narration is good and well paced, the range of voices is wide but not over emphatic. I will forever know the system as &quot;Ooloobis&quot; rather than his pronunciation &quot;Ullabis&quot; but I can live with that.
Without having prior knowledge of the book, the abridged version would be almost incomprehensible. This is a lovely reintroduction to a vast, sprawling classic.
Thanks guys!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-26-20

Spectacular in creativity

Banks as usual engrossing. Whilst not the Culture series he still finds a way to entwine and balance pure Sci Fi with humanity soul.

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  • Peter
  • 02-26-20

Gave up waiting for something to happen

I listened for 4 hours then I gave up waiting for something to happen. Too much background info and not enough action for my liking. Narrator has a pleasant voice and reads well but the characters sound very similar, I prefer distinct voice differences for each character.

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  • Brad
  • 10-01-19

Narrators choice

You guys need to get this re-recorded with Peter Kenny. I bought both versions that audible has made, but neither stack up to the man that has become the voice of iain m banks,

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-08-19

Epic Banks

Performance was a little lacklustre at times but the story is a classic Banksian epic

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  • philschl
  • 04-11-19

My favourite so far

The storyline is complex and thrilling enough to enjoy this book twice. Wonderfully intricate science fiction.

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  • Suzanne
  • 08-02-18

Too Convoluted

This is one of those rare moments I admit defeat. Could not finish it. After reading other reviews I was looking forward to this book . Main character was boring. Other characters better.

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  • Chris
  • 04-01-18

This will no doubt become a classic.

Where does The Algebraist rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Possibly the best so far. I have read the book (twice so far) and enjoyed the audio book. It is interesting to hear an audio book from a book you know well.

What other book might you compare The Algebraist to, and why?

I would compare it to Dune. This may seem far fetched, but the underlying theme in regards to artificial intelligence in both works in a vast and complex environments.

What does Geoff Annis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I think so. Despite having read the book at least twice, there were quite a few times I better understood what was going on in. I liked his dweller voices, they were so much like what I imagined what they were like when I read it.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

This would have to be a Series, I don't think you could do this in just a single movie.

Any additional comments?

I think this work is better than his culture novels, even "Excision" my favourite. It paints a great picture of a dysfunctional multi-species society, and the strange chaotic world of the dwellers. Throw in a heinous villain, add mysterious worm holes run by the dwellers and throw in some unexpected AI's and you have a great yarn.

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  • Friedrich Clausen
  • 12-29-17

Effortless storytelling

I had first read The Algebraist in book form and it’s even better the second time around in audio form.

The story flows naturally without feeling contrived. The universe Iain M. Banks has created is deep and complete. Were Mr Banks still with us I’d say a whole series could be written about the Dwellers alone.

An excellent journey and worth every minute.

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  • simmax
  • 12-15-17

good

consistently interesting a much better story and plot than many of the authors other books