Consider Phlebas : Culture

  • by Iain M. Banks
  • Narrated by Peter Kenny
  • Series: Culture
  • 16 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say

"Dazzlingly original." (Daily Mail)
"Gripping, touching and funny." (TLS)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Culture is a magnificent and enticing vision.

I don't know why I'd never heard of Banks or the Culture before. After finally discovering and consuming what little of the series we've got on offer here at Audible, I've started to see references to it everywhere. Go figure. But if you, like me, are into the kind of science fiction that rewards a thinking and speculative approach, then you'd do well not to let this series pass you by. Iain is deathlessly funny in the blackest of black ways, and the narrator's quick and cunning reading really highlights the flippantly grim nature of the galaxy in which the Culture thrives--seriously, tried listening to some other Culture books with another narrator who tried this whole somber style, really didn't work out.

Consider Phlebas is the story of a war between the hyperliberal semi-transcendental post-human Culture civilization, the quintessential 'good guys' of a near-endpoint technological civilization, and a race of near-immortal warrior-poet types spreading their religion to the galaxy. Yeah, yeah, it sounds preachy, but it ain't. Through three or four intertwined narratives (the Culture books almost always do that Charles Stross thing where stories with unclear connections come together to a harmonious narrative), we get to know the civilizations we're looking into and watch as they breach the territory of a genuinely transcendent godlike mega-species, the Culture to rescue one of its own artificial intelligences, their enemies to capture that same mind for the technology it will offer them. But the plot, elegant though it is, isn't even the best part; it's the beautifully flowering exposition of the society of the galaxy, which Banks pulls off with an impossible grace. You'll wanna go there.

Just get it! You won't regret it, swear.
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- Hyacinth

First story of Culture, told from outside

This is the first novel in the Culture "series". It's told from outside of the Culture, as the main protagonist is actually an agent for the opposing side. As far as the story of his mission & his journey - it's pretty crazy. I thought some parts were completely crazy and had trouble getting into some of the characters. However, it is worth it in the end for the wrap up of the adventure.

In this novel we first meet the huge GSV's of culture's fleet, Special Circumstances agents, AIs, orbitals, and drones - all the pieces of Banks's big crazy world. The middle journey in the book which takes place through an abandoned orbital, so a completely bonkers introduction to them, but gets across the enormity of what it is to you.

The drones in Banks's stories are often my favorite characters but I wasn't a huge fan of the one here. He was a little too whiny and annoying.

Even though this story is "first" you can read the novels in any order as they don't really share characters.

Once you've finished this one, pick up Player Of Games!
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- wendy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-06-2011
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio